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In the Tarim Basin and Taklamakan Desert region of Northwest China, they settled in Khotan and Kashgar which were at various times vassals to greater powers, such as Han China and Tang China.

The Saka were pushed out of the Ili and Chu River valleys by the Yuezhi, thought by some to be Tocharians.

An account of the movement of these people is given in Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian.

Identification of these four tribes varies, but Sakaraulai may indicate an ancient Saka tribe, the Tokharoi is possibly the Yuezhi, and while the Asioi had been proposed to be groups such as the Wusun or Alans.

Grousset wrote of the migration of the Saka: "the Saka, under pressure from the Yueh-chih [Yuezhi], overran Sogdiana and then Bactria, there taking the place of the Greeks." Then, "Thrust back in the south by the Yueh-chih," the Saka occupied "the Saka country, Sakastana, whence the modern Persian Seistan." According to Harold Walter Bailey, the territory of Drangiana (now in Afghanistan and Pakistan) became known as "Land of the Sakas", and was called Sakastāna in the Persian language of contemporary Iran, in Armenian as Sakastan, with similar equivalents in Pahlavi, Greek, Sogdian, Syriac, Arabic, and the Middle Persian tongue used in Turfan, Xinjiang, China.

John Manuel Cook, in The Cambridge History of Iran, states: "The Persians gave the single name Sakā both to the nomads whom they encountered between the Hunger steppe and the Caspian, and equally to those north of the Danube and Black Sea against whom Darius later campaigned; and the Greeks and Assyrians called all those who were known to them by the name Skuthai (Iškuzai).

Sakā and Skuthai evidently constituted a generic name for the nomads on the northern frontiers." The Saka people were an Iranian people who spoke a language belonging to the Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages.

The Yuezhi, who originally lived between Tängri Tagh (Tian Shan) and Dunhuang of Gansu, China, In turn the Yuezhi were responsible for attacking and pushing the Sai (i.e.

Saka) west into Sogdiana, where around 140 and 130 BC the latter crossed the Syr Darya into Bactria.

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The Saka also moved southwards towards to the Pamirs and northern India where they settled in Kashmir, and eastwards to settle in some of the oasis city-states of Tarim Basin sites like Yanqi (焉耆, Karasahr) and Qiuci (龜茲, Kucha).