The Ta-Yuan (大宛, pinyin: dàwǎn, Dayuan or Dawan, lit. “Great Yuan”) were a people of Ferghana in Central Asia, described in the Chinese Chronicles (Shiji) and in the Chinese Former Han History (Han Shu), following the travels of Zhang Qian in 130 BC/BCE, and the numerous embassies that followed him into Central Asia thereafter.
These Chinese accounts describe the Ta-Yuan as urbanized dwellers with Indo-European features, living in walled cities and having customs identical to those of the Greco-Bactrians, a Hellenistic kingdom that was ruling Bactria at that time in today‘s northern Afghanistan. The Ta-Yuan are also described as manufacturers and great lovers of wine.
Zhang Qian leaving emperor Han Wudi, for his expedition to Central Asia from 138 to 126 BC/BCE, Mogao Caves mural, 618-712 AD/CE.
The interaction between the Ta-Yuan and the Chinese is historically crucial, since it represents the first major contact between an urbanized Indo-European culture and the Chinese civilization, opening the way to the formation of the Silk Road that was to link the East and the West in material and cultural exchange from the 1st century BCE to the 15th century.