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Monumenta Serica
Journal of Oriental Studies
ISSN: 0254-9948 (Print) 2057-1690 (Online) Journal homepage:
Mongol Altan “Gold” = “Imperial”
Henry Serruys
To cite this article: Henry Serruys (1962) Mongol Altan “Gold” = “Imperial”, Monumenta Serica,
21:1, 357-378, DOI: 10.1080/02549948.1962.11731026
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Published online: 27 Apr 2016.
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" 1mperial "
C. I. C. M.
In my paper "Notes on a Chinese Inscription of 1606 in a
Lamaist Temple in Mai-ta-chao , Suiyüan , ,,' 1 have translated the
four characters Tα -Ming Ch仰而 uo 大明金圄 as " Golden Country
of the Great Ming , " meaning : "Golden Country within the Ming
Empire ," and in note 24 1 wrote : " The name Chin-kuo ls not the
resumption of the dynastic title of the Chin Dynasty (1115-1234)
destroyed by the Mongols. Chin ‘ Gold , Golden' here is nothing
but a translation of the name Altan (qaran). However , this is the
only instance 1 know of where the name of Altan-qaran in its
Chinese translation is being used as a sort of dynastic name. . •
The name of the Altan-qaran (1507-1582) spelled An-tα-hα
title rather than a name -_ appears at the beginning of the 1606 inscription , set .up by his grandson's widow , and
1 was under the impression that it was the element altα饥" gold "
in this title that had been adopted by his successors and relatives in its Chinese equivalent as a sort of dynastic title. On
second thought , however , it seems improbable that a personal
name or title should give rise to a dynastic title or to a collective name designating the ruling family. Although ch切 in the
aforementioned expression in fact is the exact equivalent of
Mongol altα饵, and Ch切 -kuo "Golden Kingdom" of the 1606 inscription no doubt designates the region ruled by the qaran's sons
and relatives , the name chiη=α ltα饥 is not deri ved from the
qaran's name.
俺答啥,一 a
gold " has the second meaning of " imperial" and Ch切­
kuo , as 1 hope to show in the following pages , should be rendered
as "imperial country , empire." The Mongol custom of calling
" golden" everything connected with the emperor , especially
JAOS 78 , No. 2, 1958 , pp. 101-113.
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Cinggis-qan , goes back to Yüan , and even pre-Yüan , times. We
find several instances of this employ of the word altα饵 in the
Secγet History , where everything belonging to Cinggis , to his own
person , his household or his government , etc. , is called "golden."
For example:α ltαn bosoqα"golden doorsill , "2α ltα n αγqamji
" golden leash , .i. e. imperial government , "3α ltαn jilo' α" golden
rein , i. e. imperial government , "4α ltα饥 αmin "golden , i. e. the
emperor Cinggis' , life. 川
In the Sino-Mongol inscription of 1362 from Kansu , we find
the expressions α ltαn beye "golden body , i. e. imperial person ,"
and α ltα饥 éiγαi "golden face , i. e. imperial presence ,时 both
referring to Cinggis-qan.
After Cinggis' death , his body was called αltαn beye " Golden
Body" and α ltαn kegüγ"Golden Corpse; m and the Yüα饵-shih
2) Yüa饵 -ch'ao pi-shih ~ 137: 4.23b; ~ 203: 8.28b. Ant. Mostaert , "Sur le Culte
de Sarang Secen et de son bisaieul Quturtai Secen chez les Ordos," HJAS 20 ,
1957 , p. 556 , note 82 , quotes the following text: Altan bosoraη -u alta饵 büse­
t仿 köbeg位 d-i baγ ar u 饵 tegegüγ sögödkenem bile. altan tomor ι -tu be γîyed-i Jeg锐饵
tegegür sögödkenem bile: "Les fils du s e.uil d'or (=les fils du qaran ) , à la ceinture d'or , nous les faisons agenouiller du côté droit. Les brus à la couronne d'or ,
nous les faisons agenouiller du côté gauche."
3) Yü四n-ch'ao pi-shih ~ 254: Supp l. 1.20a; ~ 256: Supp l. 1.35a.
4) Op. cit. , ~ 256: Supp l. 1.36a; ~ 275: Supp l. 2.29a.
5) Op. cit. , ~ 233: 10.7a. Ant. Mostaert , S 阳• quelques Passages de l' Histoire
Sec 吟 te des Mongols. 1953. pp. [242]. (153) (HJ_4S 14. 1951. pp. 392. 403). The
expression altan amin .. golden , imperial life." appears also twice in Sarangsecen's chronicle Erdcni-yi饵 tobci , once in reference to Cinggis-qan , and once
to Altan-qaran (E. Haenisch. Eine Urga-Handschrift , 35v , 79v; Script ι Mon­
golica II. part 2. pp. 90 , 224; part 3. pp. 80. 206; part 4, pp. 93. 218. J. I. Schmidt.
Geschichte de γ Ost-Mongole饵, pp. 84. 242). The Chinese authors of the Mengku y议皿饵 -1印 (chien-cheng) 蒙 l汀源流(姿在) rendered altan am切 in the first
passage as 至等之身 (3.19b) .. most respectable person." and in the second passage (7.8a) as 大言" great longevity."
6) Fr. W. Cleaves , "The Sino-Mong. Inscription of 1362 in Memory of Prince
Hindu." HJAS 12. 1949 , pp. 62 [41. 邸. and 67 (45) , 91.
7) Erdeni-yin tobci. Haenisch. Urga-H,白白 dschrift. 42r; Scripta Mong. II , part
2, p. 110; part 3, pp. 97-98; part 4. pp. 111; Schmidt. Geschichte. p. 108. In the
Meng-ku yüan-l 印 4.8ab we read 金身 "Golden Body." but instead of translating altan kegür literally the Chinese text adopts a freer version:'" estab!i shed
funeral mound and chamber ..." Note that here chin shen = altan be归 refers to
the dead emperor. whereas in the 1362 inscription (note 6) the same expression
means the person of the living emperor. As we shall see below. Yang Ming
(note 45). too. uses the same expression in two different meanings.
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in the description of the imperia1 buria1 ceremonies calls the horse
1ed by a fema1e Mongo1 shaman and destined to become the
deceased ru1er's grave-escort: "Horse of the Go1den 80u1 ,川" Go1den 80u1" referring , of course , to the sou1 of the 1ate emperor.
In Mongo1 literature , the imperia1 government , apart from
leαsh and 何仰, is a1so compared to a golden yoke. In the Carαn
teüke 9 we read: kündü qαrαn-u jasαrα ltαn borolra metü ebderesiügei : "the government of the respectab1e emperor is as a golden yoke and indestructib1e ," and the same expression appears
in two patent-1etters dating from 1725 and 1736 granted by the
8ecen-qan of the Qa1qas to the 1ama Lubsang-bayidub. IO
Cinggis' throne inherited by his descendants is called in the
co10phon of the Mongo1 trans1ation of the Pγαinãpã俨αmitα sut俨α
" golden throne " : bordα cinggis qαrα饥-u α ltα倪志αbcα ng-duγsα ruju
ele... buyαntu dα切n secen qαrαn-u ene éα r- du 俨 "when Bu~antu
Daiön 8e己en qaran sat on the Go1den Throne of the 8aintly Cinggis qaran , at that time... >>1 1 During the Ch'ing period , in a
survey of the history of the printed Mongo1 Ganjur , the Manchus
adopted a similar expression and called the Manchu imperial
throne:α yul-ügei αγslα n-tu α ltα饵 siγege饥" the golden throne with
fearless lions. '>12
Cinggis-qan's own family and his numerous descendants are
collective1y known asα ltα低 uγur "the golden , i. e. imperial ,
family or clan. >>1 3 There exist 1iterally count1ess instances of the
8) y,侃侃 -8hih 77.17b; Cho-ke叼 lu 辍耕辈革 30.7b 8a. P. Pelliot , Notes on Mω 'co
Polo 1, 1959, p. 332.
9) Caran teüke , facsimile in W. Heissig , Die Familien- und K仿chenge8chichts8chreibung der Mo饵 gole饵 1 , 1959 , 3v; the same text on p_ llr with törö instead
of 5ωαr.
10) 巳 Zamtsarano ," Zalovannaya gramota Seèen-xana , dannaya lame LubsangBaidubu ," in S. F. Ol'denburgu k pyatide8yatileti百 u 悦。uc饵 o-obsce8t ψen饵 oi deyatel'nosti , 1882-1932: Sbor悦 ik Statei , Leningrad 1934 , pp_ 185-194. Line 22 on both
facsimiles. Zamtsarano's" 1752" is a misprint for 1725.
11) L. Ligeti , Catalogue du KanJur Mo 忧 gol imp 叫 mé 1, 1942 , Nr. 746 , p. 167.
12) Ligeti , Op. cit_ , pp_ 334 , 336.
13) B. Y. Vladimirtsov , Obscest 何呢nyi St 俨oi Mo饵 golov. Mo饵 gol' ski i kocevoi
ltwdalizm , Leningrad 1934, p_ 99 (French trs l., M_ Carsow , Le Régime 80子。 1 de8
Mo饥 gols. Le Féodali8饥 e 悦 omade , 1948, p_ 127) says that "the power of Cinggisqan's family over his people is manifest from the fact that one of the members
of the
alta饵 uγ ur
w i11 become emperor , qan ," and in a note he explains the term
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alta饵饥俨ur: "the golden family; this is what they caIIed the fam iI y of Cinggis-
qan." In the same note Vladimirtsov refers to Ra吕 id-ad-Din's Chronicles in Berezin's translation (" Istoriya Mongolov. Vvedenie: 0 Turetskix i Mongo l' skix Ple.
menax ," Trudy Vost. Otd. Russk. Arx. Obscestva V, 1858, p. 147. Th.e relevant
passage is on p. 160 of L. A. Xetagurov's new translation Rasid-ad-Di饵, Sbor饵ik
Letopisei , voI. 1, part 1, 1952). The expression altan urur飞 however, does not
appear on the page referred to by Vladimirtsov. Ra吕 id-ad-Din , in fact , is speaking of the origin not of the Mongols proper , but of the tribe of the Qonggirad ,
and he quotes a tradition according to which three sons were born of the "Golden
Vessel" (Berezin: Zolotoi Goγsok; Xetagurov: Zolotoi S08ud). The Persian expression is bastú-i zarri.侃. In a note Xetagurov explains that ba8tú means a clay
pot or other vessel to put fat , oil , etc. ln. Rasid-ad-Dîn apparently felt that
this expression would not be understandable to his Persian readers and he added
same sort of an explanation: the Qonggirad ancestor is compared to a golden
vessel , especially since the Mongols ha ve the custom of saying "we ha ve seen the
Lord's Golden Face" when they have met their ruler; and" by this they mean
his golden heart." Ra运 id-ad-Dln
further adds that similar expressions exist among
other tribes. This explanation , however, applies only to the word gold , golde饵,
but does not help us to understand vessel. In the same section of the Qonggirad ,
Ra益 id continues to explain various origins and genealogies , and he teIIs us that
the third of the three aforementioned Qonggirad princes became the ancestor of the
Qorulas tribe , and he adds the foIIowing comment: "although the root of the Qorulas
is such that they derive from the .4lta饵 -xodogo (in Berezin's reading, op. cit. ,
p. 154; Xetagurov , op. cit. , p. 165, reads: altan kuduke) , i.e. Golden Vessel , they
are all branched off from the same root as the Qonggirad and the Ikires tribes."
Berezin gives the original in Arabic script , but Prof. John A. Boyle , University
of Manchester , in a letter dated from Febr. 21 , 1961 , informed me that the Arabic
must be read alta饵 qodoqa. Unlike bastú-i-zarri饵, the original here is Mongo I.
Berezin discovered this himself as he noted on p. 282: altan qotoro: zolotoi gorsok
"golden vesse I." (1 owe this information to Prof. Owen Lattimore who also
graciously lent me his copy of Berezin's translation). Kovalevskii , Dict. Mo. Ru.
Fr. , p. 917a also lists the word: "pot , poterie." This modern reading qotor o. is
the reason why Berezin Bpelled altan xodogo instead of qQdoqa of Ra运id-ad-Din's
text. The original Mongol form was qotora. Mohammedan sources Ii st the word
as qudura , and qutara. Cf. N. N. Poppe , Mukaddimat-al- .4.dab , pp. 184 , etc. , 446.
Ra运 id-ad- Di n seems to have taken alta饵 qotorαfor a thing , and translated the
name into Persian: bastû-i-zaγrì饵, and his translators have foIIowed him. 80 did
P. Pelliot and L. Hambis (Histoire des Campag饵 es de Gengis Kha饵, vol. 1, 1951,
p. 60) who speak of Ra吕 id's "fantastic account" of the origin of the Qorulas ,
descended from "la Cruche d'Or." There can be no doubt that altan qotorolqotora
is a personal name. Ant. Mostaert , Dict. ordo8 , p. 591b, lists a personal name
with almost the same 吧leaning: altan sarulra (in written Mo.) "golden bucket."
Whether in Rasid-ad-Dl n's chronicle , altan had been added to the personal name
of the ancestor of the Qonggirad princes on account of an alleged "imperial"
origin , is another question we need not go into here.
But why did Vladimirtsov refer to the Qonggirad passage if the expression
alta饵 1f rur did not appear there? Probably , he intended to refer not to bastúi-za俨γ4饵 of p. 147 of Berezin's translation , but to altan qodoqa of p. 154 and failing to understand it tacitly corrected it into altan urur. Indeed , theoretically
speaking , in Arabic script a misspelling of qodoqa for uruqlurur is not an impossibility. But such a correction , if this was what Vladimirtsov intended , is to be
rejected in this particular case.
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use of this expression and we shall review some of them here.
The colophon of the Bodistw-α 己αγ~-αα wαtα俨-un tανilbu俨.
(" Commentary on the Bodhicαγyãvα tãrα) of 1312 does not comprise the complete expression α ltα n uγur, but the author Cosgi回
odzir certainly had it in mind when he wrote the following words:
qαrαn tair仰伊 tun-lur-α uγUr-iyα俨 qα mur-i medegci burqα饥 bol­
t饥Tαi "Let the Qaran , (together) with the Tairiu and the Qatun ,
with (all) the (imperial) Family , become all-knowing Burqan. "14
Prof. Fr. W. Cleaves quotes two more parallel passages expressing
the same prayer in almost identical form. The first one is from
another Yüan work , the Dolurα n ebügen neγet 说 odun-u suduγ
(" Sfitra of the Stars named the Seven Ol d Men [=Big Dipper])"
一 "Let the Qaran (who is) Lord and the Qatun with the Golden
(imperial) Family , • • • find , in the end , the felicity of the Burqan. >>1 5
The second text is taken from the Quturtu PIα时α俨α ksa kemekü
neγetü sudu俨(" Sfitra of the Five Sublime Protections "): "By
the incomparable merit (which they have acquired) in suggesting
to have (this book) copied , the illnesses and misfortunes , beginning with (those of) the Qaran , Qatun , (together) with those
of the Golden (= imperial) Family , and of all living beings ,
clearly clearing up without vestiges , let all the desires whatever
which they have desired all be realized. >>1 6
Prof. L. Ligeti's Cαtα logue contains many more instances.
For example , in No. 1061 , Il lede bolursα n sudu俨(" Sfitra rendered public ") : su饥-tu bordα (yin) α ltαηuγur-un u俨ur- t 饥 γtδ俨 üg­
sen: "born into the descendants of the Golden Family of the
Fortunate Saint , "17 and in the lndex of the printed Ganjur :α ltα饥
14) Fr. W. Cleaves , "The Bodistw-a ca 叫 -a awataγ -un tayilba.俨 of 1312," HJAS
17, 1954, pp. 54 [12-141 , 85.
15) HJSA 17, 1954, p. 124. The passage is quoted from L. Ligeti , Catalo{]ue ,
No. 1123, pp. 303-304. In an Uighur version of the same siitra we read altun
urur. L. Ligeti , "Notes sur le Yitikäη sudur ," As'iatica , 1954, p. 398.
16) HJAS 17 , 仿创. Quoted from Ligeti , "La Collection mongole Schi1ling von
Canstadt à la Bibliothèque de l'Institut ," TP 27, 1930, pp. 131-132. The same
text on p. 101 of P. Aalto , "A Catalogue of the Hedin Collection of Mongolian
Literature" in Co饵价 ibutions to Ethη o.(}raphy , L切 guisti例,。η d History 01 Religio饵,
Stockholm , 1954.
17) Ligeti , Catalogue , p. 287.
uγur αura
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kücün jun-u dalai metü delgerekü bolturai: "may
(the Emperor' 的 Golden Family (and his) power expand like a
lake during summer. "18 Since this latter text refers to the Ch'ing
Dynasty , it is probable that what we have here is either a
borrowing from the Mongols , or a translation into Mongol of the
Manchu ais仰 gwγ。 "Gold Clan , " name of the imperial clan of
the Manchu Dynasty.
Sarang-se 己 en relates how Moliqai-ong on the point of being
attacked by Molon-qaran who owed him the throne , addressed
himself to Heaven in the following words : degere t饥gγi möngke
M 饥ede. ded αnu ejen bordα ci mede. qαn üre-dür cinu tusa
kü俨gelügei bi. qα叫r u 仰 u nαduγ qoo俨 kimüi. αltαn urur-iyα饥
molon qaran. α lbαtu bol饥 rsα n moliqαι ong qoyαγ-un qαγα 切rαn
qoyα俨-i ilrαqui-加n qα kiqui qα圳俨lα qui ja俨lir-i να n ci mede: "You ,
Supreme Heaven , Eternal , decide! You , Second Lord Saint (i.e.
Cinggis) , decide! 1 have given assistance to your imperial descendant; in return he does me harm. Decide a benevolent and
commiserating decree to discern the black and the white (i.e.
right and wrong) between the two of Molon-qaran of your own
Golden Clan and Moliqai-ong who has become his subject. "19
The expression α ltαn urur appears further in the colophon
of a Mongol translation of the Suvαγ饥αpγαbhiisα sut γα , Altαn
gerel (" Golden Light 勺 or Quturtu degedü α ltαn gerel-tü erketü
sudu俨低ur ud - un qαrαn neretü yeke kölgen suduγ(" M.a häyäna
sütra named Sublime and Superior , having Golden Light , Powerful , King of the Sütras 勺, made around 1579 on orders of the
Altan-qaran of the Tümed himself. 20 The relevant lines read:
仰e nom-i äglige bolran tügegsen say切 buνα n-u küéün-iyeγ. 阴阳n
qα tu饱问 yαrud-bαrα tuγtαyigi altα低 u俨时'切αγα侃侃侃 sun urtu
bolju. . .: "through the power of the good merits (accumulated by)
18) Ligeti , Op. cit. , pp. 337--338.
19) Erdeni-yi饵 tobci , Urga-Handsch γ. , 60r; Scripta Mong. 11 , 2, p. 164; 3, p.
146; 4, p. 162. Schmidt , Geschichte , p. 172. The Me饵 g-ku y悦目饥 -liu 5.24b translates ;
kuei-i 贵裔 "noble descendant."
20) On the Alta饵 Gerel , see W. Heissig , Die Pek仰 ge γ lamaistischen Blο ck­
drucke in mo饵 golischer Sp γαche , 1954 , p. 52 (57); W. Heissig , Fα m.- und Kircheng.
1, p. 107; Ligeti , Catalogue , N. 176-178, pp. 55-56. Parts of the colopohn in W.
Heissig , "Zur geistigen Leistung der neubekehrten Mongolen des späten 16. und
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making this book a gift and distributing it , lengthening the lives
of the Qaran , the Qatun , and Bayarud-baratur tayiji , 21 together
with the Golden Family. . . " It should be pointed out that the
qaran mentioned in this Altα饵 geγel is not a Yüan emperor , but
the Altan-qaran of the Tümed , also a descendant of Cinggis-qan ,
and the words α ltα饥 urur here seem to refer no飞 so much to the
whole group of Mongol princes descended from Cinggis-qan , but
rather to the Altan-qaran's house alone , which is an important
restriction. The expression α ltαn uγur understood with this restriction corresponds to the Chinese expression Chin-kuo "Golden
Country" of the 1606 inscription. Chin-kuo , of course , is but a
very free translation of α ltα低 uγur, but it indicates the very
area of Southern Mongolia ruled at that time by the Altan-qaran's
sons and brothers and their immediate successors , the only Mongol
princes who since 1570 considered themselves vassals of the Ming
frühen 17. Jhdts ", Ural-Altaische Jah γ büche γ26 , 1954, pp. 102-104. Prof. Heissig
says that this sütra was first printed in 1659, but the very colophon which he
quotes from a ms. copy contains the words tamara curu1 keme也 1ω'lîr bolursa饵­
dur: "when he issued an order to cut printing blocks... ," and altan gerel-i
qabtasun-dur curlaraJu tamaralan kemen: "saying to cut the Altan Ge γ el on
blocks and print it." In both cases Heissig translates the word "to cut" as "to
write." What we have here is not merely an order to copy the text , but to have
it carved out in wood blocks in preparation for a printed edition. Whether this
order to print the Altan Ge γ el was carried out at this time is , of course , another
question. Er. Haenisch has published the Kalmuck version of this sütra: Die
Westmongolische Fassung des Goldglanzsüt γa 饵 ach eine 俨 Handsch 叫ft de γ Kgl.
B份 1. in Kopenhιgen , 1929. Also" Kapitel xvii von Jalavähana aus dem Kalmückischen Text des Altaη Ge γ el ," Asiatica , pp. 198-213.
21) Bayarud-baratur tayi 击, according to W. Heissig , is Altan-qaran's son. 1
am inclined to believe that he was his grandson. On him see H. Serruys , Ge饥 ea­
logical Tables of the Descendants of Dayan-qa饨, 1958, pp. 70 ,87 , 101-102. The spelling
tayigi instead of tayiJi is due to Chinese infiuence. At this particular time , Chinese *ki began to be palatalized and was the regular transcription for Mongol
Ji. During the Ming period and throughout the Ch'ing period , Mongol tay iJ i was
rendered in Chinese as t'ai-chi (<*ki) 台吉
In tayigi , however , we find the
original pronunciation -gi (ki) of the Chinese transcriptions wrongly retransposed
into the Mongol spelling. In the Altan-qaran's letter - or rather its rewritten
version by Chinese copyists at the Ming court - from 1580, we find the same
word tayHi spelled as taigi; in the same letter , the word J 仰 ong (< Chin. chü忧­
wang 郡王) usually transcribed chi-nang 吉巍 in Ming texts , is retranscribed into
Mongol under the form ginaη g. A. Pozdneev , "Novootkrytyi pamyatnik Mongol'skoi Pis'mennosti vremën Dinastii Min" in Vostocniya Zametki. SPbg. , 1895.
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If the expression α ltαnuγur and its Chinese equivalent Chi饵,­
kuo were used at times with a narrower meaning referring to a
special section of Southern Mongolia , α ltαnuγur continued to be
known and used in other parts of Mongolia in its original meaning
indicating the whole clan of Cinggis-qan , the Yüan emperors and
all their descendants. In the patent-letters of 1725 and 173622 we
read: bordα cingg句-ü饵 αltαn uγur α nu suu jαli yeke-tü qub创α4
secen qara饥-u bανirulursαn tö俨说: "the government set up by
Qubilai-se己en-qaran , whose fortune and power are great, of the
Golden Family of the Saint Cinggis. . .
Altα n uγur further occurs in many shamanistic prayers ,
wishes, songs, some of them apparently of great antiquity collected by B. Rintchen in Outer Mongolia. It should be pointed out ,
however , that these texts have undergone various infiuences and
many religious elements have become associated with the imperial
family. For example in a prayer formula for the newly-weds ,
the latter are said to "continue the fire and the hearth of the
Golden Family" (α ltαn urur-饥n ral rolumtα jalrαju) ;23 and a
prayer to the spirit of the Fire partially reads as follows:α ltα饥
饥俨ur- un αCitαn jidkülten-i duγαddαn... αltαn urur-iyαn tedkün
Mηα qu bolturai: "mindful of the benevolent and the zealous
of the Golden Family ,. • • protecting your own Golden Family, may
you be happy. "24
Altαn u俨ur appears in the titles of several books or chronicles devoted to genealogies of the imperial family, for example,
the Altαnuγur-t αη -u todα teüke. α ltαnyαsutα n-u sedkil-ün cinggel.
altαn kürdün 侃侃gran kegesütü kemekü b记切(" Genealogy of the
Imperial Family , delight of the heart of those belonging to
the Imperial Clan, book called Golden Wheel with Thousand
22) Zamtsarano , op. cit. , lines 19-20 of both facsimiles.
23) B. Rintchen, Les Matê 俨iaux pou γ l'Etude du Chamanisme Mo饵 gol 1, 1959,
p. 3 ij "Bénédiction aux jeunes mariés."
24) Rintchen , Op. cit. , pp. 9-10 , "Bénédiction du Feu." This association of
the Mongol cult of the Fire with the imperial family is confirmed by several other
passages: pp. 27 , 32-33, etc. Other passages where the Golden Family is mentioned: pp. 63 , 64 , 67. 68, 84.
/l LT AN
Spokes ,") 25 and Cinggis ejeη-ü α ltαn uγur-un teüke. Gα nggα-yin
neretü b记 ig (" History of the Imperial Family of the
Lord Cinggis , book named Course of the Ganges") compiled in
1725 by Gombojab , himself a member of the imperial clan. 26
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u俨 usqal
This widespread use of the expression α ltα低 urur, and especially its employ towards the end of the Ming by the nobility of
Southern Mongolia in a more restricted sense , suggests as we have
seen that the Chinese characters Chin-kuo in the 1606 inscription
render the words α ltα nuγur. They indicate the area of Southern
Mongolia whose rulers under the Altan-qaran's initiative had
recognized the Ming overlordship. Chin-kuo then is derived from
the expression α ltαn urur , not from the personal title or name
of the Altan-qaran. But besides the 1606 inscription , there are
other traces of the use of the word chin to refer to the ruling
princes of Southern Mongolia , especially the Tü med.
In the Kuei-sui hsiω chih 黯艇际志 27 we find the Chinese
versions of two inscriptions from 1576 and 1641 respectively , erected in a Lamaist temple by the Altan-qaran's grandson , Bayarudbaratur , referred to in the colophon of the Altα n geγel already
mentioned above. It is unfortunate that the compilers of this
modern gazetteer did not consider it important enough to reproduce the Mongol versions as well. Without the Mongol text ,
most probably the original , it is difficult to explain the Chinese
version satisfactorily. The temple in question , called Hua-yen25) Published by W. Heissig , in Monnmenta L 仰 gnaγ um Asiae Maio γi8 , Series
Nova 1, 1958. See also W. Heissig , Fam.- u. Kircheng. 1, pp. 134 sq. , and L. S.
Puckovskii , Mongol'skie Rnkopisi i Ksilografy Iη stituta Vostokovedeniya 1, 1957 ,
pp. 45-47. .4 ltan yaSlt "golden bone , golden clan" has the same connotation as
altan urur. See for example Ant. Mostaert , "Sur le culte de Sarang Secen ,"
HJAS 20 , 1957. pp. 556, 562: alta悦目 asutu abaqai-naγ: "les princesses aux os d'or"
-and in note 103: ".. c'est-à-dire qui descendent de Cinggis." An expression
para l1 el to altan yasu is alt ω~ obor "imperial clan name." In a text from E3enqorô copied by S. D. Dylykov (i n Filologiya i Istoriya Mongol'skix Narodov , p. 274)
we read: Bo γ'} igid altan obortu: ha ving the golden clan name Bodigid."
26) Published by L. S. Puckovskii , Ganga-iin u 俨 usxal , 1960; also Puckovskii ,
Mong 川 kopisi. . . , pp. 39-44. Heissig, Fam.- u. Kircheng. 1, pp. 113 sq.; on the
author: Heissig , Die Pek. lamaist. Blockdrucke. 1954, p. 90 , n. 7, and passim.
27) Kuei-sui hsien chih (1934; prefaces dated 1934 and 1935) , vo l. 3, section
Inscriptions (" Chin-shih chih "), pp. 5b , 6a.
ssu 辈殷寺, was built in 1576 and the first inscription was made
on the occasion of the dedication of the temple. This temple was
located "at Su-mu-ch'in 森木沁 (Sumu己i [n] : arrowmaker) eighty
li east of the seat of the county (Kuei-sui) behind [i. e. north of]
the Eastern Ridge of Nai-mo-pan-钮 'un 乃莫板村 28 on the Northwestern Earth Mound 西北士 W J on the west bank of the Black
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River 黑河"
1 do not intend at this moment to translate or discuss the
full text of this 1576 inscription. It will su由ce for our purpose to
quote the following sentence: "From the Yüan Dynasty , the Gγeαt
Chin , and the Liao on , those achieving meritorious works became
few (but) Bayarud-tayiji perceiving that the performing of meritorious works is the first good thing. . . " Since we cannot avail
ourselves of the Mongol version of this sentence for the purpose
of comparison , it is difficult to explain why the Chin and the Liao
dynasties should be mentioned after the Yüan , and why the Chin
should be listed second and the Liao last , while in fact the Liao
is the oldest of the three foreign dynasties and was succeeded
by the Chin , which in turn was supplanted by the Yüan. Furthermore , we wonder why the Chin dynasty should be called T,α
(Great) when the name of the Yüan is not preceded by this
adjective. And since only a reigning dynasty is ever called "great ,"
as in the inscription of 1606 (Ta-Ming) , is not tαbefore Chin
altogether superfluous?
1 admit that 1 have no definitive solution to those questions ,
but as a tentative explanation 1 would observe , first that here we
28) The name Su-mu-ch'in is listed among the villages of the Second District (Kuei-sui hsie饵 chih , vo l. 1, "Yu-ti chih , " 21a-22a); the name Nai-mo-pants'un is not listed as such , but at the end of the list (Second District) appears
the name Ch'ien-hou Nai-mo-pan-shen 前後乃莫根巾 "Front and Back [i. e.
Southern and Northern] Nai-mo-pan-shen." "Pan-shen" renders the Mongol
bayis 切 g "house." The list of the villages of Kuei-sui hsien comprises many names
combining a numeral with the element pan-she饵 : bayisi饵 g. This makes it certain
that we should read 饵 'un: Village Naima(叫 -b αyis 切 g: "Eight
Houses." This village must consist of two sections: one called Ch'ie饵" South ,"
and the other Hou: "North." Nai-mo-pan-shen is not found on the map of the
Kuei-sui hsie忧 chih , but the village Su-mu-ch'in situated in the vicinity is indicated almost due east of the city of Kuei-sui , souíh of the Pingsui railroad , on
the right (west) bank of the Ta-Hei-ho.
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have not to do with the Jürced-Chin dynasty. 1 strongly suspect
that the original had the expression αltα低 u俨ur " imperial family"
referring to the Altan-q aran's branch of the Borjigid clan. This
would explain the word chin = αltα饵, and in a way also the word
ta: the translator may have thought it appropriate to add this
adjective to the name of a "reigning house , " namely that of the
Secondly, if the Mongol original version contained nothing
about the Jürced-Chin dynasty , it is very doubtful that it mentioned the Liao. But the translator , whether Chinese or Mongol ,
once he had translated the Mongol altα饵"俨ur with ta-Chin may
easily have been confused. He may have been led to associate
this αltα饥-Chin with the Jürced-Chin dynasty , and since in the
minds of the Chinese the three foreign dynasties are always
closely associated , he may have thought it advisable to complete
the series by adding the name of the Liao as well , although he
had to list them in the reverse order. Of course, this is nothing
but mere speculation, and until the Mongol original becomes
available no final solution is possible.
The same Kuei-sui gazetteer 29 makes mention of another
stele with two different inscriptions both in a Mongol and a
Tibetan version. Once again we know nothing at all of the
contents of the Mongol versions , most probably the originals, but
the gazetteer provides us with a Chinese translation of the
Tibetan versions of the two inscriptions. The first text is dated
from the year hs仰-ssu 辛巳: 1581 or 1641. The first date seems
to be out of the question since the text mentions both the third
Dalai-lama bSod-nams rgya-m钮'0 and the fourth Dalai-lama Yontan rgya-mts' o. The third Dalai-lama died in 1588 while on a
visit in Mongolia. The introductory sentence of this particular
inscription reads as follows: "In the village [Nai-mo-pan-shen:
Naima (n) -bayising] there was a tayiJi by the name of Bayarud ,
a descendant of the Chin Dynasty 金朝. He was a believer in
the Yellow Religion of the Lamas..." With regard to this inscription we have to make the same observation already made in
Kuei-sui hsien
"Chin-shih chih " 6ab.
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connection with the 且rst inscription of Naiman-bayising: since
neither the Mongol text , nor the Tibetan text , no doubt also a
translation from the Mongol , is available , we cannot know how
closely the Chinese translation follows the Tibetan and how faithfully the Tibetan version renders the Mongol origina l. Bayarudbaratur was not a descendant of the Jür己ed-Chin dynasty; he was
a grandson of the Altan-qaran and a member of the altα饥-u俨饥 r.
There can be no doubt that Chiη-ch' α 0 , this time through a Tibetan intermediary , corresponds to altα n-urur, and again 1 suspect
that either the Tibetan or the Chinese translator did not fully
understand the Mongol expression and possibly thought of the
.iürced-Chin dynasty.
Thus far we have established that such expressions as Chinkuo and Chi饥 -ch' α。 "Golden , or Imperial , Country" and " Golden ,
Imperial , Dynasty" are derived neither from the Chin Dynasty
nor from the name of the Altan-qaran , although undoubtedly he
was the most outstanding personality of this "imperial" house
in Southern Mongolia. But what about the title of the Altanqaran itself? What is its origin? The Mongol chronicler Sarangse己en who gives so much information concerning the life of this
ruler of the Tümed , does not touch upon the question of the
origin of his title. W. Heissig mentions a tradition according to
which the Third Dalai-lama gave him the title of Altan -q aran
deriving it from the title of the Altα n-Gerel sütra , but Heissig
rejects this tradition as unfòunded. 30
Altan , either alone or in various combinations is used as a
personal name by the Mongols , and there is a certain possibility
that α ltα饥 was the qaran's original personal name. 31 Indeed the
first time the Mongol writer Sarang-se己en refers to the qaran , he
calls him Ilede-altα饥 in Schmidt's text , followed by the Chinese
translators. 32 But this is a corrupt reading possibly stemming from
a double graph of the word α ltα饥. The Urga ms. and the Ordos
mss. all read al归队 33 Later Sarang-se己en relates how "Altan"
Uγ al.Alt. Jah 俨 büche 俨 26 , 1954, p. 102.
See Ant. Mostaert , Dict. ordo8 , p. 17ab: altan.
Schmidt , Geschichte , pp. 198-199; Meng.ku yüa饵 -liu 6. l1 a.
Uγga-Handschr. 67v; Scr. Mong. II , 2, p. 184; 3, p. 164; 4 , p. 181.
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requested the title sutu qαrα饵" Fortunate qaran " from the Great
Qaran of the ðaqars, Darayisun-ködeng. The reason for this
request was that "sutu-qαTα饥 is the traditional title of a subordinate qaran , "34 which of course is a completely mistaken interpretation of the word. Yet 1 am inclined to think that Sarangsecen in both passages calls him Altan retrospectively from the
title Altan-q aran by which he became traditionally known.
The Altan-qaran was also known as Gegen qaran "Brilliant ,
Illustrious , Qaran , "35 or Gegen-altan-qaran.36 In the Bolor-erike
his title is written as Altan-gegen -q an , and in the Gαηggαψ in
U俨usqαl as Altan-gegegen. 37 The author of the Wα饥 -li wu-kung
lu 离唇武功镣38 lists 21 sons of the jinong , Altan-qaran's elder
brother , including a number of mistakes and duplications , and 1
wonder if Ko-ko-a-pu-hai 草草阿不孩 is not to be read Gege (叫·
αburω"Prince Gegen ," for the Altan-qaran.
We find the same
name in a more modern work , the Meng-ku yu-mu chi 蒙古游
牧言己 .39 In Buddhist works he is sometimes called Altα饵饥 om-u饵
qαrα饵" Altan , qan of the Law , or the Religion. "40
It seems to me that the title Altan-qaran is an allusion at,
or is derived from , the expression α ltαn-u俨ur. If this supposition is correct, "Altan -q aran" means "imperial qaran." If at
first glance this explanation seems a little far-fetched , it should
be remembered that Sarang-se己en , speaking of the Altan-qaran ,
at least once uses the expression α ltα低 α悦切 "Golden , Imperial ,
Life" as for an emperor. Furthermore , let us not forget that
34) Schmidt. Geschichte. pp. 200-201.
35) H. Howorth. History 01 the Mo饵 gols 1. p. 418. quoting another publication
of Schmidt's.
36) .1lta饵 tobci (C仰 ggis-qar a饵 -u cadir). p. 123; C. Bawden. The Mongol
Ch γ onicle .4 lta饵 Tobci. pp. 106. 193.
37) Bolo γ Erike. Sc俨 • Mo饵 golica 111, part 5 (Kalgan ed. , p. 681). pp. 339 sq.;
Ga饵gga.yi饵也俨usqal 19a.
Wan-li ω u.kung l饵 • ch. 7. p. 22.
39) Meng.ku yu-mu chi. Shanghai ed.. 1939. ch. 2. p. 46.
40) Ligeti. Catalogue. p. 167; W. Heissig. Fam.. u. K价cheng. 1. p. 46. n. 2.
Sarang-secen (Schmidt. Geschichte. p. 237) further relates that the third Dalai-lama
during his visit to Southern Mongolia bestowed upon the Altan-qaran the title
Se l: en.qaran "Wise qaran" on account of the fact that the qaran was believed to
be the reincarnation of Qubilai-secen-qaran. If contrary to expectation the title
M.S. Vo l. XXI 24
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during the 17th century there has been a series of qarans in
northwestern Mongolia who are all known as Altan-qaran , although they also had personal names beside their "dynastic title."
Here again it is very probable that the title altαn-qαrαn was
derived from the customary expression α ltαn urur , and presumably also with a limitation of the original meaning to indicate
exclusively the rulers of this northwestern section of Mongolia.
These altan-qarans were descendants of Cinggis-qan and Dayanqan , but appropriating the title alta饥 they inte:r~,ded to limit its
meaning to their own particular group.41 Miss Sastina who has
studied two letters by one of the northwestern Altan-qarans to
the Tsar' of Russia makes the important observation that if these
Mongol princes adopted the title altα饵, documents and chronicles
originating in other parts of Mongolia entirely ignore it. 42 This
confirms our impression that the northwestern princes did what
Altan-qaran was not inherited by his heirs and successors , this other tit!e of
Secen-qaran was: his son Sengge is often referred to as Ch' 公 ch'i饵 g.ha: Cece饨
ISecen-q四 (n).
Thus in the entry of August 4, 1583 , in the Wan-li (ch.
138; Mindai Mammõ shir 肘 , M仰到 tsuroku-shõ , Mõko he饥 8 , p. 484); again under
the date of January 1, 1584 (Wa饥 -li shih-lu 143; Mõko hen 8, p. 500) where he is
said to have requested this title from the Ming court. The fact is that the title
did not originate with the Ming , and that Sengge was using it already before.
His death is mentioned in ch. 170 of the Wan-li shih-lu(Mõko he侃 8 , p. 553). See
also M切 g-sh仇 20.6b, 8a; 327.28a; Meng-ku yu-mu chi , 2, p. 47. Wan-li 切 u-kung
lu , ch. 8, p. 193. Sengge's son and successor , Cürüke , bore the same title (Mõko
he饵 8 , pp. 678 , 694; 9 , p. 27; Ga饵 gga-yin u γ usqal , p. 19b; Bolo γeγike , Scγ . Mo饵 g.
111, 5, p. 343). The autho~ of the Wan-li wu-kung lu (ch. 8 , p. 212) does not
seem to have known that Cürüke , too , has borne this name and attributes it to
his late father. 1 am not aware that Cürüke's successor (his grandson) Busurtu
was known as Secen-qaran. But Sarang-secen tells us that the other Bu 吕ur tu
of the Ordos (a descendant of the Altan-qaran's elder brother) bore this title.
His wife was also known as Sece饵 "Wise." See Schmidt , Geschichte pp. 264-265;
268-269; W. Heissig , Uγ al-Alt. Jah 叶剑 cher 1954 , p. 109. Besides them , numerous
other princes and princesses bore the name Secen.
41) For a su~mary of the history of the Altan-qarans in Northwestern Mongolia , see N.P. Sastina , "Altyn khany zapadnoi Mongolii v. 17 v. ," in Sovetskoe
Vostokovedenie 6, 1949 , pp. 383-395 , and Russko-Mo饵 gol'skie posol'skie ot倪。正 eniya
17 veka , 1958, chapter 1. After the Kalmucks , these were the first Mongols to establish regular contacts with the Western world and a few pieces of correspondence
in Mongol between them and the Moscow government have been preserved.
42) N.P. Sastina , "Pis'ma Lubsan-taidzi v Moskvu. Iz Istorii Russko-Mongol'
skix otnosenii v 17 v." in Filolog句 a i Istoriya Mongol'sk仰 Narodov," 1958 (27 5288) , p. 287.
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the Altan qaran of the Tümed had already done before them. A
Russian document from 1616 indeed states that " Altan" was not
the personal name of the qaran , and another document from 1618
calls the Altan-qaran's people and territories "Golden Horde. "43
The Russians must have become early aware that" Altan-qaran "
was a title. The only difference between the northwestern princes
and the Tümed seems to have been that in the northwest we
find that a series of rulers inherited this title , whereas in the
case of the Tümed ruler of the 16th century , as far as 1 know ,
his successors for some reason did not assume the same title ,
although a Chinese equivalent Chi饵-kuo remained in use for several years after his death.
There is , however , a difficulty to this explanation of altan =
"golden , imperial , pertaining to the family or the descendants
of Cinggis." One of the Mongol documents from the end of the
Hung-wu period preserved in the Huα-1, ι例辈夷器器 is a report
by Mongol officers in the Ming service concerning a rebellion by
some of their own men. At the end of the document , in gratitude to the emperor for his generous treatment , the reporting
officers promise him faithful service , and in their text they call
the Ming capital , Nanking, αltan qoton " golden , or imperial , city. "44
The term altα饵 "golden , imperial" refers here to the Ming
imperial house , not to anything pertaining to Cinggis-qan or his
43) L.M. Gataullina and others , Mate γ ialy po Istor Ï'i Russko-Mongol'skix otnosenii 1607-1636, 1959 , pp. 53 , 73. H. Howorth , History of the Mongols 1, pp. 464465 , quoting J. E. Fischer , Siberia , suggests that the title Altan-qaran is derived
from a place name alta饵 radasu悦 meaning not "golden meadows" but "golden
nail , post or picket." For this expression see my review of B. Rintchen , Chamanis饥 e 1, Sources littéraires , in Monumenta Se 叫 ca 19 , 1960 , p. 553. Altan radasu饵
is a place name appearing in several areas , but it is not likely to have been the
origin of an "imperial " title.
The Ch'e饵 g-hua sh伪 -lu 137.4b (Mõko he饵 4 , p. 369) under the date of February 28 , 1475 , mentions one "Altan wang of the Oyirad." This , too , could well
be a title rather than a personal name.
44) Hua-i i-yü 2B.24a. E. Haenisch , Sino-Mongolische Doku 饥 ente 哑om Ende
des14. Jah γhu忧 derts , 1952 , pp. 17, 26. For the exact date , see my "The Dates of
the Mongolian Documents in the Hua-i i-y吧," HJAS 17, 1954, pp. 426-427. Regarding this Mongol "rebellion" see my Si饵 o-Jü γccd Relations duri饵 g the Yung-lo
Period , 1955, pp. 68-69 , and "The Mongols in China during the Hung-wu Period ,'~
Méla饵 ges chinois et bouddhiques 11 , 1959, passim.
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clan. A similar adaptation occurred in the middle of the 15th
century. Yang Ming 榻铭, also a Mongol in the Ming service ,
who remained with the Cheng-t'ung emperor during the latter's
1449-1450 captivity in Mongolia and who later wrote a short
account of his and the emperor's experiences, uses twice the word
"gold , golden" to refer to his Ming emperor. In one passage
he says: "the Grandfather's (yeh-yeh 能麓, i. e. the emperor)
Golden Person is here ," and in another place , this time addressing
the emperor himself , he says the following: "if Your Majesty
should have an accident [i. e. should the Emperor die] we will
carry Your Golden Person (Chi悦 -she饥金身) back to the Court;
should an accident happen to us , we want the Grandfather to
bury us in deep earth.'时 Such an extension of the meaning altan
to designate the imperial house of the Ming is quite understand8.ble coming from Mongols who had gone over to the Ming. When
the Chinese emperor became their lord it was entirely natural
for them to continue to attach the meaning of "imperial" to
altα饥. From this employ of altαn for "imperial Ming" one might
be tempted to conclude that in the expression Ta-Ming chin-kuo
of the 1606 inscription , the two words Chin-kuo stand in apposition to Ta-Ming: the Great Ming who are the "Golden Empire."
After all the Altan-qaran and his relatives , too , had recognized
the overlordship of the Ming. But I cannot believe that such an
interpretation is correct. The cases of αltα饥 qoton for Nanking
and α ltα悦-beye for the Cheng-t'ung emperor on the one hand , and
on the other hand Ta-lvl切g Chin-kuo for Altan-qaran's territories
are not quite paralle l. Even if the Altan-qaran and his close
relatives in 1570 had recognized the Ming emperor as their overlord , their position towards the Ming remained essentially different from that of such Mongols as had crossed into China at the
end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th centuries: the
Altan-qaran and his congeners in Ordos, Tümed , and other southern territories never became subject to effective Ming control.
The Ming emperor never ruled them. Indeed , the Ming often "appeased" the Mongol princes with gifts. The fact that when Sarang
-se己en records favors , rescripts etc. , emanating from the Ming
note 7.
Che叼 .t'侃侃 g
l切 .jltng llt 正就晦戎绿 ( hui.pien 19) 缸,
17a. Cf.
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court , he uses the word siγα" yellow " neverα ltα n perhaps is an
indication that the Mongols of Southern Mongolia continued to
consider the Ming government from a point of view completely
different from that adopted by Mongols settled within the China
borders. Thus when the captive Cheng-t'ung emperor was sent
back to China in 1450, a group of Mongols who had been in
charge of him during his captivity were granted dαyidu-yin yeke
M俨α ne何 "the great ‘ yellow' title dα yidu."
The term sirα
indicates the Ming-imperial origin of this grant. 46 Similarly ,
when Sarang-se己en relates how Quturtai-se己en qung-tayiji (Altanqaran's nephew and Sarang-se己en great-grandfather) was granted
an honorary title by the Ming , he again uses the word siγα : qαs
tαmαra sirαb记 ig: "a jade seal and a ‘ yellow' rescript. '147 Since
Quturtai-se己en qung-tayiji had recognized the Ming together with
his uncle the Altan-qaran , the Mongol historian would certainly
have written α ltα饵 if he had felt that in the eyes of the Mongols the Ming emperor had inherited the position previously
occupied by Cinggis-qan and his successors.
Another expression to be mentioned is al tamα ra altαn jiruqu ,
literally "vermilion seal and golden , or imperial , patent-letter, "
or with the word order reversed , α l jiruqu α ltαn tαmαrα" vermilion patent-letter and golden seal." Whatever the order of
the words , the meaning of this expression is "an imperial patentletter with vermilion seal affixed." The two patent-letters of 1725
and 1736 granted by the prince of Se己en-qan to the lama Lubsangbayidub48 contain the sentence α l tαmara altan jiruqu so仰叮叮­
sα饵, which was translated by C. Zamtsarano 49 as: "granted a
vermilion seal and a golden patent-Ietter." But this translation
is none too accurate. Altα n is not to be taken in its literal sense
46) Schmidt , Geschichte , p. 170; Sc γ ipta Mo 饵 g. II , 2, p. 162; 3, p. 143; 4, p.
160; Uγga.Handschγ. , 59r. The Chinese translation of the Me四 g-ku yüan-liu 5.27a
is very unsatisfactory. See also H. Serruys , "Ta-tu , Tai-tu , Dayidu ," in Chinese Culture 2, 1960, pp. 73-96. 1 ought to apologize to the reader for the many misprints
in this paper: 1 never had the opportunity to correct the proofs.
47) Schmidt , Geschichte , p. 242 , Uγga-Handschr ,. 79v; Scr. Mong. II , 2, p. 223;
3, p. 206; 4, p. 217. The Meng-ku yüan-liu 7.8a reads huang ch'üan 黄券" yellow
4必8) 运
49) Zamtsarano仇, op. Cω£仅亿
tι. , pp. 18
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but in the symbolic meaning "imperial." Further the lama was
not granted a patent-Ietter α nd a vermilion sea l. Al" vermilion"
does not refer to the seal itself but to the red seal impression
on the document , and thus we should translate: "an imperial
patent-Ietter with vermilion seal affixed." Even when the word
order is reversed the meaning remains the same. Sarang-secen
relates how Dayan-qan granted a title to one of his underlings
with anα l jiruqu α ltα n tamα 内, literally "vermilion patent-Ietter
- golden sea l.川 One may , of course , argue that here we have
a grant consisting of two objects: a diploma and a seal , but it
is doubtful that the qaran granted golden seals to his underlings.
1 am rather inclined to believe that here we have the standard
expression "imperial patent with red seal , " but with the terms
reversed. As Zamtsarano has indicated , the same expression in
reversed form appears also in the Gαmη teüke.
50) Schmidt , Ge8chichte , p. 194 , misunderstood the expression; Uγga-Hand8ch 1'., 66r; Scr. ","[ong. !I, 2, p. 181; 3, p , 161; 4, p. 178_ The Chinese version ,
lVIeng-kn yüan-lin 6.9a , reads: ch'ih-yü ch 川 -yin: "imperial edict and golden
sea l." Tbe Mongol al Jiruqn may be compared with the Chinese expression c/mch'ao 米纱 "vermilion receipt , i.e. receipt or voucher authenticated through
apposition of a red sea l." Yüa性 tien-chang 24. 1b and Yüan-shih 93.9a , where ch'ie饥
锋 seems to be a scribal error for ch' ao. Also /n川tg-ch'i H 契 "contract authenticated through apposition of the red official sea l." Cho-keng 11ι17.7b. The Yüa乱
ti ω -chang 22 .4 a further has an expression ch"ih-li 亦应: "red (seal) registers."
See H. Schurmann , Ecο nomic Strnctlu'e of the Yiian Dyna8ty , 1956, pp. 68 , 77, 82 ,
85 , 205. A contract not yet authenticated by the proper governmental agency
was called pai-ch'i 白绍 "white contract." During the Ming , vassalletters accompanying the tribute from foreign countries were called Pai-t'ou-p仰。白鼠去 if the
native prince's seal was not affixed (one reason for not affixing this seal was the
death of the prince).
_ 51) Zamtsarano , op. cit. , p. 19 1. W. Heissig , Fam.- u. Ki;'chengesch. 1, Facsimile
Cα ran teüke , 20r. For the al t 日悦目ra and the /c öke tarnara , see P. Pelliot , "Notes
sur le ‘ Turkestan ' de M. W. Barthold ," T P 1930, pp. 35-36. The word al has
an alternative form el. Cf. Ant. Mostaert , Dict. ord ο s , p. 234a , and Fr. W. Cleaves ,
"Mong. Names and Terms in the History of the Nati ο n ο'f the .4 rchel飞 " HJ.4 S 12 ,
1949 , p. 41 1. See also M. Brosset , Deux Historiens .4 1' 悯énie时 , K川'acos de Gantzac ,
川 ii 8. , Ollkhtanes d'OI川-h 日 , x s. , St Pbg , 1870 , p. 141: "Il s [les Mongolsl 且 rent
aussi la paix avec le roi [Héthouml et lui donnèrent un eltamghι [el tarnaral ou
diplome , suivant leur usage." For the need of an al tamara on a document see
Rasid-ad-Din (Sborni /c Letopisei , t r. Yu. P. Verxovskii , vo l. 2, 1960, p. 54) , and
Juvaini (tr. J. A. Boyle) , The History ο'1 the Wογ ld Cunqll 们·ογ , p. 215. We find
thís el/ α 1 in several personal names: Cinggís-qan's daughter Al-altu 也 (Y必αn-ch' ιo
pi-8hih S 238: 10.13b) is referred to as El-altlυ 1 in the Yüan-shih 122.2b, and as
El-qatun ín the Yiω n-shih 109.2b (perhaps for El-altl川; cf. Juvaini , tr. Boyle ,
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the "golden book" which contained the history
of the imperial Mongol family52 and was used , at least through
an intermediary, by Rasid-ad-Dfn for his chronicles, undoubtedly
got its name from the same Mongol custom , and probably the
various Altα饵 tobèis "summarizing the history of the early qans"
were called "golden " for the same reason. Other names , however ,
were equally acceptable , and Sarang-secen called his famous
chronicle E'俨deni-yin tobði "Precious Summary."
The qaran's residence was called the Great Golden Ordo53
but "golden" in this case has more than a purely symbolic
meaning: the golden ornamentation of the imperial tent has been
described by various travellers. John de Plano Carpini describes
it in the following terms: "... where another tent was set up ,
and it is called by them the Golden Orda; and here it was that
Cuyuc [Güyüg] was to have been placed on the throne on the day
of the Assumption of Our Lady [15th August]; but it was deferred
on account of the hail which fell , to which 1 have referred
Hist. 01 the World CO饵 queror, p. 47, note) , and Al.altan in the Altan tobci ((;切ggis'
ðadir , p. 26; Bawden , Op. cit. , p. 132). Rasid-ad-Din (Sbor饵 ik Letopisei ,
vo l.1, part 2 [trsl. 0. 1. SmirnovaJ , Table facing p_ 72) spells her name Il -alti.
She was given in marriage to the Idiq-qut of the Ui ghurs, and Rasid relates an
anecdote about her: when this Idiq-qut offered his submission to Cinggis-qan
and requested a present in return , namely a vermilion-red garment and a golden
belt , Cinggis-qan understood that the Idiq-qut was asking for his daughter: alfel
(vermilion) + altun f alta饵 (gold) (Sbornik Letopisei , vo l. 1. pa l' t 2, p. 163). In
Shamanistic texts, the god of Fire is called Al-ra1ayiqa悦。 r EI-ra1aqan .. red fire
god." Cf. B. Rintchen , Les Matéri四ux... 1, Sou1'ces littéraires , pp. 76, 32 , 33.
Moreover we meet with such names as El-Bolod (M仰 g Che饵 g-t'u饵g shih-lu 80 ,
Mõko he侃 2 , p. 617, and passim) , El-quri (Hung-hsi sh伪 -lu 5B; Mõko hen 2, p.
14) , El-tem锐俨 (Y'创 an-shih 32.2a; Fr. w. Cleaves, HJAS 12, p. 53 , n. 173; Yu叼 -IIJ
shih-lu 119; Manshü hen 1, p. 306) ,且-tegüs (Yüa饵 -sh伪 114.8b; Cleaves , HJAS
13, p. 35 , n. 35) , El-yir饥 is (Cleaves , HJAS 12, p. 50 , n. 92). etc.. where el could
be either alf el .. vermilion , " or elf il .. subject , submissive."
52) P. Pelliot et L. Hambis. Histoire des Campagnes de Gengis Khan 1, p. xv;
1. P. Petru吕 evskii's Introduction to Rasid-ad-Din's chronicle (Sbornik , vo l. 1. part
1, p. 25; part 2, pp. 16-17); W. Barthold , Turkestan dow饨 to the Mo叼 01 1nvasio饵,
1928, pp. 44-45. Texts kept by the Darqad of E5en-qorô are called Altan debte俨
and Alta饵 bicig; the first one is written with gold ink on black paper. S. D.
Dylykov , .. Edien- x:oro , " in Fil. i 1st. Mo 饵 g. Narodov , p. 229.
53) Rasid-ad-Din , Sbor饵 ik Letopisei , vo l. 1, part 2, p. 230. Also in the Alta饨
tob Ci (6ωggis-qara饵 -u èadir , p. 104).
qar a饵 .u
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previously. This tent rested on pillars covered with golden plates,
fastened with gold nails and other woods , and the top and sides
of it were covered with baldakins; the outside , however , being
of other kinds of stuffs. "54 William of Rubruc only says that
" the house was all covered inside with cloth of gold. "'5 The Dominican Friar Johannes observes that "the aforementioned leader
prepared himself a large and high bed supported by golden
columns , indeed a golden bed and covered with very precious
things , on which he sits , glorious and honored , and covered with
precious garments. The doors of this palace are entirely of gold
• • • "56 P'eng Ta-ya 彭大雅 describes the Golden Ordo as follows:
" The ruler's tent faces the south and is set up alone. In front
are arranged (the tents of the) concubines and wives , then the
bodyguard and 。而 cials , and then the ruler of all the Tatars. The
place where the hunting tent is set up is called Ordo. His
Golden Tent [commentary: "the pillars are made of gold , hence
the name "] (is the place where) all the wives and concubines
assemble (with the ruler). It alone is called Great Ordo. "57
It is not clear how the name Golden Ordo>" Golden Horde"
came to be the name for the famous Mongol appanage in South
Russia. B. Grekov and A. Yakoubovski observe that this vast
kingdom is known in Oriental literature as Ulus of Jö缸, or as
Blue Horde , but in Russian literature as Golden Hoγde.
54) After W. W. Rockhill , The Jonrney of William Rnbruck , 1900 (reprinted ,
Peking 1941) , p. 22; A. Van den 飞,y yngaert , Sinicα Franciscana 1, 1929, pp. 118
55) Rockhill , op. cit. P. 172; Van den Wyngaert , Sinica Franc. 1, p. 249.
56) After H. Ðörrie , "Drei Texte zur Geschichte der Ungarn und Mongolen... ,"
Nachl'ichten de r Ak. der WiRS. in Gο ttingen I, Phil.-Hist. Klasse , 1956 , Nr. 6 , p.
57) Hei.Tι shih.lioh 黑能享略 (I(llo.hsiieh 1i'en.k' It, vo l. 25 , 1936) , p. 58. Hsü
T'ing í右运 adds the following comment: "When arriving in the grassland , we
thought that the Golden Tent had been set up because of the arrival of the Sung
envoys in order to display power and grandeur." Hsü goes on to explain how the
tent is made , and that the columns are covered wlth gold. For a description of
Ogedei's palace in Qara-qorum see Rasid-ad-Din , Sbontik Letopisei , vo l. 2 , p. 40 ,
and Juvaini , The Hist O'l'Y , pp. 236-237
58) G. Grekov et A. Iakoubovski , L α Hu l'山 d' ο1' , 1939 , p. 39. W. Barthold
(trs l. M. Donskis) , Histoire des Turcs d'Asie C川 trale , 1945 , p. 145; G. Vernadsky ,
The Mongols of Russi 日, 1953, p. 140.
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The Mongols , however , were not the only Asians to possess
a Golden Ordo , or a Golden Tent. For example,已inggis' former
ally , later turned enemy , Ong-qan of the Kereyid had anαltα饥
terme "golden expanded tent , "59 and chroniclers and travellers
have left descriptions of the Golden Tents or similar constructions
of various rulers. 60
It has been suggested that alta饥 "gold , golden" became the
symbol of the qaran because of the association in Chinese philosophical systems of yellow , the color of gold , with the center:
"yellow became the imperial color. "61 It is doubtful , however ,
that the origin of this Mongol , indeed general Central Asiatic ,
idea of taking gold as a symbol of the supreme ruler , is to be
sought in China. 1 am unable to solve the problem and 1 only
wish to point out that the Mongols , too , have a system of associations of colors with directions and in their view it is blue that
is most often identified with the center and the Mongol people. 62
One final point to be mentioned is that α ltαn appears in a
number of expressions with Buddhist connotation:α ltαn delekei
" golden world , the world , "α ltα n nom "golden Religion , "63α ltα饵
59) Yüa性 -ch' αo pi-shih ~ 184: 6.48a; ~ 185: 6.50b; ~ 187: 7.2a.
60) For example , Juvaini , The Histo γ 凹, pp. 612, 614 , 618; Ibn Battuta (trsl.
H.A.R. Gibb) , T l' avels in .4sia and AI1'i ca (Broadway Travellers , 1953) , p. 148;
V. Minorsky , "Tamin ibn Barh's Journey to the Uighurs ," in BSO.4S 12 , 1948, p.
283; Clavijo (trsl. G. Le Strange) , E饥 bassy to Tame 叫 ωte (Broadway Travellers ,
1928) , pp. 238-244. Compare also the description of the four Na-po , especially
the winter Na-po of the Ch'i-tan , in K_A. Wittfogel and Feng Chia-sheng , Histo l' y
01 Chinese Society , Liao (907-1125) , 1949, pp. 132-133.
61) G_ Vernadsky , The Mongols and Russia , pp. 121-122, 140. For the Chinese
systems of associations of colors with seasons and cardinal points , see Jos. Needham , Science αnd Cω ilisatio悦 4饥 Chi饥日, vol. 2, pp. 261-265; vol. 3, p. 640.
62) See W. Heissig , Fam.- u. Kircheng. !, pp. 26 , 73, 145, 149.
63) For example: altaη 饵 om-uη kU γ düη-i 0 γcirulurci eγde忧 i qaran "Erdeni
qaran , who turns the wheel of the Golden Religion" on lines 2-3 of the facsimile
"97" between pp. 242 and 243 of Materialy po Isto l' ii Russko-Mo 饵 gol'skix otnos切 ii
1607-1636_ The 17th century translators of this document have mistaken
alta饵悦。 m "golden Religion" for "α lt α旧如 umu(叫"一 "golden bow ," hence their
translation "zolotoi luk" in documents 109 and 110 (see my paper "Three
Mongol Documents from 1635 in the Russian Archives ," in Cent 俨臼 l .4siatic Jou γnal
7, pp. 1-41). Here A.ltan is placed too far from the name Erdeni-qaran to be taken
as the personal title of the qaran as in the expression alta饵 , nom-un qara饵,
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"golden wheel (of religion) , "αltα?也 lingquα" golden
lotus ," orα ltαn önggetü lingquα"gold colored lotus , "αltαn
jiγüke "golden heart ," etc. 1 do not know whether or not these
expressions are in any way inspired by the Mongol use of the
word altan for "imperial , " therefore , 1 must leave this question
temporarily unanswered. 1 may mention , however , that the name
of the sütra α ltα n gerel "Golden Light" is the translation of its
original Sanskrit title Suvα俨饨αp俨αbhäsα süt俨α.
discussed above. Cf. note 40. That this latter expression altan cannot be joined
appears from the fact that in the same text of the Prajnapå 俨 amitá ,
other qarans are mentioned by name and if alta饵,饥 om.un qara侃 was not a per.
sonal title. it would become impossible to know which qaran is referred to in
this particular line.
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