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       The Han Dynasty needed some allies. Earlier in time the Hsiung-nu had defeated the Yueh-chih, who were an Indo-European nomadic group of northern China. (World History p.157) In 138 b.c.e Emperor Wu sent a courtier named Chang Ch'ien  to try to form an alliance with the Yueh-chih. In 126 b.c.e he returned with only two of his original staff only to report failure with the alliance but he came back with reports of blood sweating horses and many other promising things. (World History p.157)