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Menggu yuanliu 蒙古源流

Jul 3, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

(Qinding) Menggu yuanliu (欽定)蒙古源流 "(Imperially endorsed) Detailed history of the Mongols" is a history of the rise, rule and downfall of the Mongols. The original name of the book was Zhenbao shigang 珍寶史綱 "Precious outlines of the history". It was written in Mongolian language by Sagang Ječen Hungdayiǰi 薩岡徹辰洪台吉 (b. 1604) and finished in 1662. In 1777, it was translated into Manchurian, and in 1790 also into Chinese. In the course of the translations the text was also somewhat revised. The last version is 8 juan "scrolls" or chapters long.

The first part of the book is mainly based on source materials in the so-called Red Annals (Tibetan Deb-ther dmar-po, Mongolian Hu-lan deb-ther, Chinese Hongce 紅冊), and the White Annals (Tibetan Debt-ther dkar-po, Chinese Baishi 白史), which is a source in Tibetan language. The content is very lengthy. It begins with the creation of the world, the origin of Buddhism and its spread from India to Tibet and the Mongolian steppe. The center of the book is, of course, the history of Čingghis Qan (r. 1206-1227) and his foundation of the Mongol empire. The reign of Qubilai (r. 1260-1294) is also described, but with a clear weight on the adoption of Tibetan Buddhism as the official Mongol belief.

The book goes on with a description of the loss of the Yuan empire 元 (1279-1368) by Toqōn Temür (1333-1370) and the split of the Mongol federation into Ölöds (Weilate 衛拉特, Wala 瓦剌, Western Mongols) and Uriangqais (Wuliangha 兀良哈, Duoyanwei 朵顔衛, Eastern Mongols).

The last part deals with the rise of the leaders Dayan Qan 達延汗 (r. 1487-1524) and Yendan Qan 俺答汗 and their reunification of the Western Mongols. Tümen 土們, called Ĵasaγtu Qan 扎薩克圖汗, leader of the eastern Čaqar Mongols 察哈爾, then challenged the Manchus, but their federation was finally defeated with the death of Lingdan Qan 林丹汗 (r. 1604-1634).

The text is partly written in prose, partially in rhymes, both in a very clear and understandable language. The Menggu yuanliu is a very important source fort he study of the Mongols' history after the end of Yuan dynasty. Contrary to the histories Menggu mishi 蒙古秘史 and the "Golden History" Altan tobči (Chinese Huangjinshi 黃金史), the Menggu yuanliu provides a lot of information on the social and religious history of the Mongols.

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