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Huangjinshi 黃金史

Jul 10, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Huangjinshi "Golden History" (Mongolian Altan tobči) is a history of the Mongols written during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644). There are several books with this title, with different content.

The first book is called Menggu huangjin shigang 蒙古黃金史綱 "The outlines of the golden history of the Mongols" and was compiled between 1627 and 1634 by an unknown author, written in Mongolian. Together with the Menggu mishi 蒙古秘史 "Secret history of the Mongols" and the Menggu yuanliu 蒙古源流 "The origin of the Mongols" it belongs to the three great histories of the Mongols.

The content of the Huangjinshi covers - besides the origin of the Mongols and the history of the dynastic founder Čingghis Qan (r. 1206-1227) - the final decades of the Yuan dynasty 元 (1279-1368) when Toγon Temür ("Tuohuan Tiemur 妥歡帖睦爾"; as Chinese emperor called Yuan Shundi 元順帝, r. 1333-1368) left the imperial capital Dadu 大都 (modern Beijing) and withdrew to the Mongolian steppe. It was Ligdan Qan 林丹可汗 who later rose against the domination of the Ming empire. The "Golden Outlines" give an overview of the Mongol imperial house, their relations to other steppe federations like the Oirats (Chinese: Wala 瓦剌) and the Ming empire, the propagation of Lamaism, and much more. The book - only available in a manuscript form - was brought to Europe by a Russian scholar named Vassilijev (?). In China it was only published in 1927, and translated into modern Chinese in 1980.

A second book of this title is the Da huangjin shi 大黃金史 "Great golden history", written by a Mongol author named Lobsangdanjin (Chinese "Luobusang Danjin 羅卜桑丹津") between 1628 and 1649. Some scholars even postpone it to the early 18th century. It focuses on the spread of Buddhism and Lamaism and makes use of the many sources on the history of the Mongols. It was printed in the People's Republic of Mongolia in 1937, and in the Autonomous Region of Inner Mongolia in 1983.

A third book with a similar title is the "Golden history of Čingghis Qan", only known from an anonymous and not exactly dateable manuscript that was discovered in 1958 in a stone cavern of a tomb in Inner Mongolia. Its language is much more a kind of vernacular Mongolian than the Huangjin shigang. The latter was certainly used for the compilation of the "Golden history of Čingghis", at least in the part describing the life of the Great Khan and his ancestors.

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