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Five documents regarding salt production in Ordos

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 December 2009


The notebooks of the late Reverend Antoine Mostaert (1881–1971) contain five documents relating to salt production in the Banner of Otoγ, South Ordos: they appear in notebook 11 (Otoγ) as NT. 46 (May 1920), Nr. 61 (October 1921), Nr. 62 (1886), Nr. 67 (no date), and Nr. 68 (1921, no month or day). These texts are in transcription, evidently copied from originals kept at the Banner administration. Although Fr. Mostaert is mentioned in one of the documents, none was addressed to him, so we cannot assume that the archives of the church of Boro-Balγasuna possessed copies of these documents, unless somebody had copied them from the originals.

Copyright © School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 1977

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1 See Serruys, H., ‘In memoriam A. Mostaert’, Zentralasiatische Studien, v, 1971, 911Google Scholar; van Hecken, J. L., ‘Antoine Mostaert, apôtre des Mongols et doyen des études mongoles’, Neue Zeitschrift fur Missionswissenschaft, XXVIII, 1972, 3043, 8194, 185–99Google Scholar; Aubin, Françoise, ‘Le père Antoine Mostaert’, T'oung Pao, LVIII, 1972, 218–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

2 Boro-Balγasun was a mission station in Otoγ Banner in the southern part of the Yellow River Bend. It served about 1,000 Mongol Christians originating from every banner of Ordos.

3 See my ‘A socio-political document’, Monumenta Serica, XXX, 19721973, 590–1, 594, 602Google Scholar, and a forthcoming paper, ‘Documents from Ordos on the “revolutionary circles”’, to appear in the Journal of the American Oriental Society.

4 On the duγuyilang see my forthcoming paper ‘Documents from Ordos on the “revolutionary circles”’. These ‘circles’ were groups of people, mostly commoners, protesting against maladministration of the banners and excessive taxation, and trying to halt the immigration of Chinese farmers.

5 R. Geerts, a chemist and engineer, had been in China since 1888, and died in Lan-chou in 1922, or shortly thereafter (written communication from J. van Hecken, 26 June 1975).

6 For Uuba, see my ‘A socio-political document’, 542.Google Scholar

7 Most of these details regarding salt production in Otoγ come from a written communication by van Hecken, J., 23 12 1974.Google Scholar

8 For Čaγdurab, see van Hecken, J., ‘Les princes borigid des Ordos’, CAJ, XVI, 2, 1972, 140–1.Google Scholar Čaγdurab died in 1881, and since in 1886 he is still mentioned, it can only mean that no successor had been appointed.

9 Nigen erge temdeglegsen: usually we have a longer expression, e.g. dōrben erge nemegsen, γurban erge temdeglegsen ‘with four additional honorary ranks and registered three times’, cf. Mostaert, ‘Annonce de la mort de l'Empereur Te-tsoung et de l'Impératrice douairière Ts'eu-hi aux Mongols de la bannière d'Otoγ (Ordos)’, in Franke, Herbert (ed.), Studia Sino-Altaica: Festschrift für Erich Haenisch, Wiesbaden, 1961, 147–8.Google Scholar If the present text is complete, it is somewhat unusual.

10 arliy-iyar aruysan sayid, lit. ‘commissioner employed by imperial command’ renders the Chinese ch'in-ch'ai … (ta) ch'en ‘commissioner dispatched by the Emperor’.

11 Duuli: according to the Wu-t'i Ch'ing-wen chien , Peking, 1957, 374Google Scholar, duuli renders the word ‘circuit, district under a province’. I presume, however, that duuli really renders two words tao-li , to indicate the tao-t'ai . The names of the districts constituting the tao in question are only in abbreviated form: Yen-an , Yü-lin , and Sui-te . The seat of the Yen-Yü-Sui tao was located in Yü-lin, . Ch'ing-shih, 64 (Taipei ed., 1961, 11, 908b).Google Scholar

12 Ögeddekü ügei, lit. ‘not going upward’, i.e. ‘unable to improve their living conditions’.

13 Namely Chinese.

14 Bolqula here seems to have the meaning of bolbasu indicating the subject. Poppe, N., Grammar of written Mongolian, Wiesbaden, 1954, pp. 141–2, § 499.Google Scholar

15 aqa irugai, lit. ‘border-map’, Ting-pien was adjacent to Otoγ territory.

16 Beyile: the prince of Otoγ was the only one in Ordos to hold this title.

17 These are evidently the three lakes Baya and Yeke Siker, and Oboγa-yin Toγorim. See Mostaert, Dict, ordos, p. 615ab. Originally they formed but one lake known as Siker-ün dabusun. See Haltod, M., Mongolische Ortsnamen, Wiesbaden, 1966, p. 170aGoogle Scholar: siker dabusun. Siker ‘sugar’ refers to the liquorice roots dug up in that area.

18 Nan (for ngan)-biyen-ting is An-pien-t'ing , before it became a hsien. Ngan ia local pronunciation.

19 Batu bičig is a statement of free and willing acceptance of a settlement or a punishment. There is also the expression küsen batulaqu bičig ‘statement of willing and firm intent’. Cf. my ‘Socio-political document’, p. 575Google Scholar, n. 22, and Dict, ordos, p. 57b.Google Scholar

20 The text has degeu, a word I cannot identify. Possibly the original should have been transcribed as dakiu, the two forms being closely similar. I owe this suggestion to Charles Bawden.

21 anultai, lit. ‘menacing’.

22 Nere büküi-yin: in other documents of a later date, the same expression but without the genitive suffix, seems to mean ‘the aforementioned’.

23 Meaning the borders of China Proper.

24 Egün-i qaγučin dürim-i: the attributive eyün-i in the accusative, with the word to which it refers. Normally the attributive remains unchanged.

25 Tosigara- ‘to be mistaken as to ownership of cattle’. Dict, ordos, pp. 126b127a.Google Scholar

26 aqu, evidently is for aqa.

27 I guess that tamiki here really means qara tamiki ‘opium’. Plain tobacco would hardly be considered an offence.

28 Semerken-iyer: cf. Dict, ordos, p. 572aGoogle Scholar: semērken < sem-iyer ‘quietly, stealthily, etc.’. -ken forms a diminutive.

29 Šensi Gansu-yin bügüde akiruγči sayid must render the Chinese Tsung-tu Shan-hsi Kan-us tengch'uti-fang Ch'ing-shih, 117 (11, 1387).Google Scholar

30 Tayisi tayibu seems to stand for t'ai-tzu t'ai-fu ‘Grand Instructor of the Heir-apparent’.

31 Jegün ordun erkem sayid must render the Chinese tung-kung ta-ch'en another title borne by the T'ai-tzu t'ai-fu. Ch'ing-shih, 115 (11, 1357a).Google Scholar

32 Čogou iγan appears in other Ordos documents, and may well be what in the modern Khalkha of the MPR is written tsokhon zaaj, probably meaning ‘noting, pointing out, etc.’. I owe this suggestion to Charles Bawden.

33 This is only a tentative translation of a difficult sentence.

34 Tinggim, tanggim, tangkim ‘hall, palace’. Leasing proposes a Chinese origin, tang , with a question mark, Mongolian-English dictionary, 1960, 777.Google ScholarT'ing could also be considered, but whether t'ing or t'ang, the second syllable remains unexplained.

35 Lit. ‘deciding and establishing’.

36 Onoγdul- = onoγdūl- from onoγdaγul-, causative of the passive of ono- ‘to reach, to guess, to understand’. For onoγdaγul- in the sense of ‘to calculate, count’ see Dict, ordos, p. 513a.Google Scholar

37 Quang is Chinese k'uang ‘basket’.

38 Emegel evidently here means a pack saddle which enabled an ox to carry more than a bag slung over its back without saddle (ayidang).

39 i.e. the tael is calculated at 2,500 copper coins.

40 Kōke čai ‘blue/green tea’ means tea pressed into bricks, often used as currency. Dict. ordos, p. 697b.Google Scholar

41 Bos should be written bös. Bös, yoruy, and dalingdui/dalingbu indicate various sorts of cotton goods.

42 Ütegerekü ‘to pay attention to’ (Dict, ordos, p. 764b).Google Scholar Kowalewski, p. 518a, ütegerekü ‘consumer ‥; oublier les bienfaits’ seems to be another word.

43 Probably meaning: for a consideration have allowed salt to be carried from the lakes without full payment of the fees.

44 Ögkü ba qudalduγulu: a nomen futuri and a converbum imperfecti, as objects of bayilγa-; an unusual construction.

45 Burula- must be for buruγula- ‘to flee’, meaning here, I think, that for a fee officials have let Chinese exploit the lakes free of charge.

46 Arbii- ‘to increase, to multiply’; arbiil ‘increment’.

47 Siüi: Chin, shui .

48 Goo-se: Chin, kao-ssu (local pron. for shift) .

49 Gereči bičig, lit. ‘testimony-letter’.

50 Mostaert writes the Mongol written form in the margin of his transcription: guu-yn-s. van Hecken, J. (letter of 23 12 1974)Google Scholar writes Ying-hsiu, Kao. YinGoogle Scholar is always locally pronounced ying. Van Hecken also notes that Kao was from Yü-lin.

51 Kelelčge bol- ‘to have a discussion’. This expression occurs in several documents from Ordos from this period.

52 The prince of Otoγ, originally bore the title of beyile, but after 1911 the Republican Government, in order to ensure their loyalty to the new government, had granted most princes higher ranks. See ‘A socio-political document’, 632, 562Google Scholar: sidkegči da asay giyün-wang noyan ‘Judge of the Confederation, Prince (of the Banner Otoγ), (holding the title of) Giyun-wang, chief (of government)’. Instead of sidkegči da sometimes we find sidkegči terigün.

53 Qayirčaγ ‘box’ indicates the containers, or pans, in which the water from the lakes was allowed to evaporate. Dict, ordos, p. 347a.Google Scholar

54 Pase is Chin, p'a-tzu .

55 Soo-šui is Chin, ts'ao-shui (or ts'ao-t'ou ), a tax paid by the Chinese for grazing their animals on Mongol pastures. Dict, ordos, p. 585b.Google Scholar

56 Qamaraγtai nuur is another lake in Otoγ. Dict, ordos, p. 330b.Google Scholar

57 I correct kelelčiü in the transcription.

58 Pai-sar is Chin, p'ai-shai-erh (pron. -sa-).

59 Qatung is Chin, ho-t'ung : a contract written in duplicate, each party holding a copy, usually with the date written on the very line of separation, so that the two copies can be authenticated by putting them together.

60 Dabusun-u qauli no doubt is the equivalent of Chinese Yen-cheng ‘Salt Administration’.

61 Whereas in the introductory line tana is not the pronoun ‘to you’ but an enclitic of respect, here tanu is definitely the genitive of ta ‘you, your’.

62 Yen-giü is Chin, yen-chü ‘salt office’.

63 Quwa-ding yen-giü seems to be the same office, or a successor of quwa-ma-či ding-biyen-ü dabusun-u kereg of the 1886 document.

64 For ulayan amin see Dict, ordos, p. 20bGoogle Scholar: utasu sintei ulayan ami ese tasarun ‘tant qu'on est en vie (mot à mot: aussi long-temps que la vie rouge qui est comme un fil ne se brise pas)’. In another document from 1906 we find basically the same expression couched a little differently: ebesün tedüi üčüken ulayan amin-iyan uttmn absarlau ‘we put our red lives as insignificant as a blade of grass under your protection’. For similar expressions, see my article ‘Documents on “revolutionary circles”’, n. 45.

65 Ulamilayulan, lit. ‘making him transmit’.

66 T'ien Ch'ing-po was Mostaert's Chinese name.

67 Dabusun-u ed-ün urγan: I do not know to which office in the salt administration this name refers.

68 Čaydan bayičaγaγči ‘guarding examiner’.

69 In the margin of his copy, Mostaert notes the name Ruxton. In a letter dated 12 September 1975, J. van Hecken wrote to me that in his notes he found the information that sometime in 1920 an English-speaking gentleman by the name of Rixton, employed by the Salt Gabelle, passed through San-sheng-kung (near the north-western corner of the great bend, on the left bank of the river) and stayed at the mission. In spite of the irregular spelling of the name, no doubt this is the same man.

70 This, I believe, refers to the $ 6,000 loan advanced by the church.

71 I understand this to mean that the $ 6,000 borrowed from Kao were now returned to him. ‘Lease’ here may not be a very accurate term: the lakes had been leased to Kao as repayment for the $ 6,000 advanced by him.

72 This may refer to future repayment to the church.

73 I supply the -ü- in türiyesülekü.

74 Since the introduction of this letter mentions only Huang, I suppose that here, too, only he is addressed, and that the plural is employed as a mark of respect.

76 Yosuyar bolγau: in several documents from Ordos we find this expression which I think means ‘to make official, to approve’. For this instrumental case, compare yeke daγun anistaqubar bolγabai ‘he made it so that a great noise would be heard’. Poppe, N., The twelve deeds of Buddha, Seattle, 1967, p. 28, fol. 11r, 1. 8; p. 82.Google Scholar

76 Čüi-šui goyar qoriyan: in the margin, Mostaert notes the Chinese equivalent: ch'üeh-shui liang-chü .

77 Yeke musing (mâsing) < (ma-shih ‘horse fair’) is Ting-pien hsien on the Chinese side of the Great Wall. Dict, ordos, p. 456a.Google Scholar

78 Unaya, properly spelled unuya ‘mount, pack animal’ (Dict, ordos, p. 733a).Google Scholar

79 Qudalduju güilgekü: the latter word signifies small-scale trade (Dict, ordos, p. 276a).Google Scholar

80 Ken ali, lit. ‘which ever’.

81 I believe that this ‘price’ refers to the tax collected by the Banner, apart from the yearly sum paid by the salt administration.

82 Kü-ping is Chinese k'u-p'ing ‘treasury scale’ for weighing silver.

83 Dang is dan, Chin, tan ‘single’.

84 For qala- ‘to add a layer’, see Dict, ordos, p. 326a.Google Scholar

85 Γuyači-bar qulaγun yabuγsan ‘falsely stealing-walking’ seems to mean ‘smuggling’.

86 Responsibility of tools left to those actually doing the salt extraction.

87 Lit. ‘pulling each other’.

88 A regular tax on camels carrying salt is mentioned above in article four. I do not know what the temegen-ü tataburi abqu qoriyan is.

89 I have no information on the baya temdeg-ün qoriyan.

90 Bayiγulqu: one would expect the converbum imperfecti, like yabuγulu üiü bolumui.

91 The text has qoyar instead of qoyaduyar.

92 The text has no date, but a final note by Mostaert says ‘tenth year (of the Republic)’.

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