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Hun-t'o: tulum, floats and containers in Mongolia and Cetral Asia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 December 2009


In 1933, in a brief remark on the expression hun-t'o‘leather bag’, Peter A. Boodberg identified it as a Kitan word and proposed to explain it through the Mongol °huquta, huyuta (modern Mongol uyula, pronounced ūta) ‘bag, sack’. Boodberg referred to Pelliot's article of 1925 on the Mongol °h- lost in the modern language; but Pelliot in his paper does not even mention hun-t'o. Professor Boodberg's note remained largely unnoticed, due no doubt to its brevity, comprising as it did not more than a few lines in a longer article which appeared in a publication distributed in rather restricted circles.

Copyright © School of Oriental and African Studies 1981

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1 Boodberg, P. A., ‘Sino-Altaica II’ (12 1933)Google Scholar, in Hu T'ien Han Yüeh Fang Chu, 7, 1934. (Repr. in Selected works of Peter A. Boodberg, (comp.) Cohen, Alvin P., Berkeley, , Angeles, Los, London, 1979, 114.)Google ScholarPelliot's, P. article is ‘Les mots à H initiale, aujourd'hui amuie, dans le mongol des XIII et XIV siècles’, Journal Asiatique, Avril-Juin 1925, 226Google Scholar.

2 ‘Bugaku no kondatsu to iu meïshô ni tsukite’ (1933), in Haneda Hakushi shigaku rombunshu ū , II, Kyoto, 1958, 526–30Google Scholar. (French title: Recueil des ceuvres posthumes de Tôru Haneda. Summary in French at the end of the volume, pp. 116–17. Haneda spells kotatsu: hun-t'o.)

3 Chin T'ang-shu (Po-na-pen) 189B.7b. The Chung-hua shu-chü (Shanghai, 1959—)Google Scholar edition of the dynastic histories, punctuated and to a certain extent annotated, has no comment about hun-t'o here and in the other passages of the dynastic histories referred to in subsequent notes of this paper. In Sung-shih (chih 84) 131.6b, reference is made to ‘Brahman song’, and in (chih 95) 142.11b, to the ‘Brahman troop’ performing in a monk's garb.

4 Hsin T'ang-shu (po-na-pen) 34.4a.

5 Tzu-chih t'ung-chien (Ssu-pu pei-yao, Taipei, 1965, XXXIX, 2499a)Google Scholar: T'ang section, ch. 25. Also quoted in Haneda, , op. cit., pp. 526–7Google Scholar.

6 Because they wear them out so fast and carelessly.

7 Hsin T'ang-shu 118.10. Haneda (p. 527) further quotes a line from the T'ang hui-yao (oh. 34) repeating this information about the hun-t'o troops and the name su-mo-che.

8 Su, O, Tu-yang tsa-pien (in T'ang-tai ts'ung-shu, 1911)Google Scholar, first chi , p. 29a. The text, slightly abbreviated, appears in P'ei-wen yün-fu, p. 3714.2.

9 Sung-shih (chih 95) 142.11b.

10 P'ei-wen yün-fu, p. 3714.2. The Sung-shih 142.11b, besides the hun-t'o troops, also mentions the ‘sword troop’ (chien-ch'i tui).

11 Sung-shih 490.10b.

12 Yüan-shih (Po-na-pen) 154.15b. Yüan-shih (Taipei, 1967, III, 1654b)Google Scholar. Shao-min, While K'o, Hsin Yüan-shih (1921) 163.12aGoogle Scholar, has the same text as the Yüan-shih, without any explanation, Chi, T'u, Meng-wu-erh shih-chi, 1924, 65.9aGoogle Scholar, rephrases the text and drops the expression hun-t'o. In Sung times, a tribe near the Yellow River is said to have used inflated sheep skins to cross the river, but the name of this device is not indicated (Sung-shih 490.9a).

13 Yüan-shih 4.2b (Taipei ed., I, 20a).

14 Shih-tsung shih-lu (Ming shih-lu, LXXXI), ch. 239, p. 4854. Mindai Mammô shiryô. Minjitsuroku-shô. Môkohen 6, p. 194.

15 Wan-li wu-kung hi (ch. 7), Kuo-hsüeh wen-k'u, No. 36, Pei-p'ing, 1936, 25, 30. Needham, J., Science and civilisation in China, IV/3, 386–7Google Scholar, mentions a (dialect ?) form: cha-ha ‘raft’. The Huang-Ming Chiu-pien k'ao (1542) 8.12b says: ‘Now they fly across the Yellow River with their hun-t'o’.

16 Shen-tsung shih-lu (Ming shih-lu, cv), p. 3738. Moĥkohen 8, p. 657.

17 Chu-shih i-yü chieh-i ‘Explanation of foreign words in the Histories’, quoted from Haneda, op. cit., p. 528. For Ch'en Shih-yuan, see Goodrich, L. C. and Fang, Chaoying (ed.), Dictionary of Ming biography: 1368–1644, New York, 1976, 176–7Google Scholar, where this title Chu-shih… is not mentioned, and I have been unable to find any information regarding this work.

18 T'ung-ya (ed. 1666), 4.14b–15a. For Fang I-chih see Hummel, A. (ed.), Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing period, 232–3Google Scholar. The essential part of this text is quoted in Morohashi, , Dai Kanwa jiten, VII, 119–20Google Scholar.

19 The relevant Han-shu passage may be found in Dubs, H. H., History of the former Han dynasty, III, Baltimore, 1955, 39Google Scholar.

20 The text reads mu , but I follow Morohashi's reading huo : the play on the words huo-t'o and t'o-huo requires a reading huo. On account of this statement by Fang I-chih that hun-t'o is huo-t'o ‘skinned alive’, and also the same as t'o-huo, Morohashi (vi, 1120b), under the heading huo-t'o refers to the Cho-keng-lu , but this work nowhere comprises the words hun-t'o or huo-t'o. However, we find there the expression t'o-huo which has nothing to do with hun-t'o, skins, or hats, or dances. The author here is speaking of a certain Liu Yüan , an expert at fashioning statues of the Buddha. He says that po-huan (~ wan) ‘to fashion, to kneed ?’ is the same as t'o-huo. This may very well be a non-Chinese word, but I cannot identify it (Cho-keng-lu 24.8ab). The Yüan-shih 203.12b-13a (Taipei ed., in, 2142b) and the Hsin Yuan-shih 242.11b-12a, have a brief note on this Liu Yüan, but the word t'o-huo has been left out in both accounts.

21 Hsin-shih 2.86b. Also quoted by Haneda, p. 527. See Needham, J., Sc. and Civil, in China, II, 1956, 429Google Scholar.

22 Tz'u-yuan, Supplement, section , p. 62.

23 Tz'kai, , p. 125.

24 Kalmülcisches Wörterbuch, Helsinki, 1934, 410aGoogle Scholar.

25 Wu-t'i Ch'ing-wen chien, Peking, 1957, 1, 1076Google Scholar.

26 Manju ügen-ü toli bizčig, IV, 70ab.

27 Dict, ordos, 1942–4, 631b. Professor C. R. Bawden has kindly pointed out to me that subtul ‘to strip off’ is listed in Tsevel, Y., Mongol xelnii tov& tailbar, Ulaanbaatar, 1966, 857bGoogle Scholar.

28 Čeremisov, K. M. and Rumyantsev, G. N., MongoVskoRusskii slovar' (po sovremennoi presse), Leningrad, 1937, 398Google Scholar.

29 Arban ǰüg-ün eǰen geser qayan-u tuyuǰi orosibai, Peking, 1956, I, 24Google Scholar. Schmidt, I. J., Die Taten des Bogda Gesser Chan. Eine mongolische Heldensage. Mongolisch (second ed.), Osnabriick, 1965, 15, 1. 7Google Scholar . Die Taten des Bogda Gesser Chan…Deutsche Vbersetzung (second ed.), Osnabruck, 1966, 22Google Scholar. Tsevel, , op. cit., p. 555aGoogle Scholar, lists tulam (tulum) and tulamla- (tulumla-) with the same meaning as explained here. This reference, too, I owe to Professor Bawden.

30 Li Hsin-heng, Chin-ch'uan so-chi 1.7b-8a (in vol. x: I-hai chu-ch'en Ch'ien-Iung ed.). The hun-t'o par t of this note is quoted in Morohashi VII, 119–20, in Haneda, , op. cit., p. 528Google Scholar, and in the Tz'u-kai (, p. 126). The p'i-ch'uan part is quoted in Morohashi, VII, 95. Yang Yü , Shan-chü hsin-hua also has a word on coracles during the Yüan: ‘Wang hat…aus Rindhäutcn ein Boot angefertigt. Innen und aussen war es mit Lack bestrichen. In mehrere Teile zerlegt wurde es nach Shang-tu gebracht, wo er damit auf dem Luan-Fluss fuhr. Es konnte 20 Menschen aufnehmen. Die Leute in Shang-tu hatten noch nie ein (solches) Boot gesehen und unter den Zuschauern war keiner der es nicht bewundert hätte' (Franke, Herbert, Beitrdge zur Kutiurgeschichte Chinas unter der Mongolenhemchaft. Das Shan-kü sin-hua des Yang Yü, Wiesbaden, 1965, 105)Google Scholar. ‘Leather boats’ are already mentioned in the Chin-shu 123.8a.

Coracles from various parts of the world are described in Hornell, James, Water transport: origins and early evolution, Cambridge, 1946, 91180Google Scholar. (The 1970 edition was not available to me.)

31 The latest study of Mongol strategies and equipment is Richard, Jean, ‘Les causes des victoires mongoles d'après les historiens occidentaux du xme siecle’, CAJ, XXIII, 1–2, 1979, esp. p. 111Google Scholar.

38 An. Van Den Wyngaert, O.F.M., Sinica Franciscana, i, Quaracchi-Firenze, 1929, 80–1Google Scholar, § 12. The Mongol mission, narratives and letters…translated by a nun of Stanbrook Abbey, New York, 1955, 35–6Google Scholar. Lewis, Meriwether, The expeditions of Lewis and Clark (ed. Allen, Paul, Philadelphia, 1814Google Scholar; repr. 1966), II, 333, describes a device used by the Indians of the Rocky Mountains in the early nineteenth century, which seems to be similar to the Mongol device: ‘the Indians crossed on horseback, drawing at the same time their baggage alongside of them in small basins of deer skins’. But if these ‘basins’ are the same as those described with more detail further on (p. 400), they are really but a variety of coracle.

33 Dörrie, Heinrich, ‘Drei Texte zur Geschichte der Ungarn und Mongolen: die Missionsreisen des fr. Julianus, o.p. ins Uralgebiet (1234/5) und nach Russland (1237), und der Bericht des Erzbischofs Peter iiber die Tartaren’, Nachrichten der Akad. der Wissensch. in Gōttingen, i. Phil-Hist. Klasse, VI, 1956, 194Google Scholar.

34 Moule, A. C. and Pelliot, Paul, Marco Polo: the description of the world, I, London, 1938, 441–2Google Scholar. See also Hambis, Louis, Marco Polo: la description du monde, Paris, 1955, 297Google Scholar .

36 Hornell, J., op. cit., pp. 2034Google Scholar, esp. 29.

36 Wittfogel, K. A. and Chia-sheng, Feng, History of Chinese society, Liao (907–1125), Philadelphia, 1949, 116, n. 17Google Scholar.

37 Ts'ao-mu-tzu, 1875 ed., 4B.6a.

38 For Li Chen (Ch'i-ch'ang) (1376–1452) and his book, published in 1419, see Goodrich-Fang, , Diet, of Ming biogr., 805–7Google Scholar. The Chien-teng yü-hua appears in vol. xxxin of the Kokuyaku kambun taisei (1924–6) with the line cited here on p. 207 of the Japanese translation (with notes), and on p. 79 of the appendix with the Chinese text. The Japanese translator has misunderstood the word hun-t'o which he explains as ‘a container made with felt of black sheep’ (based of course on what is found in the T'ang-shu), and equates with the Mongol word quntaya which means ‘a small wine cup’. As we have seen, hun-t'o is much too early to have anything to do with the Mongol quntaya, and the Mongols did not make containers for liquids with felt; they used skins. A-la is explained as alak; this should be araki 'a drink distilled from milk’; however, there is a certain possibility that a-la is for ayiray ‘kumiss, fermented milk’. What I have rendered as ‘dress of single colour’ is written chih-hsü shang. The Japanese text indicates in brackets an alternative reading sun, but again, the footnote betrays a total misunderstanding of this term: the editor explains hsil-shang as Mongol bisii ‘single colour garment’. This fictitious hsü-shang: bisii has even been entered in the Morohashi dictionary (rv, 853c). The correct reading is chih-hsü (~sun) shang: ‘ǰisün-garment’. The word ǰisün has been discussed in many places, among others: Fr. Cleaves, W., ‘The Sino-Mongolian inscription of 1362 in memory of Prince Hindu’, HJAS, XII, 1949, 125, n. 212Google Scholar, where tana ‘big pearl’ is also discussed. Recently the Chien-teng yü-hua has been published as an appendix to Ch'ü Yu , Chien-teng hsin-hua , Shanghai, 1962. The relevant passage appears on p. 272. The text is in modern simplified characters; here we find the reading : ǰisün, but the footnotes (nn. 83–6) contain several mistakes. With regard to hun-t'o (n. 83) the editor refers to the T'ang texts, and again maintains that the hun-t'o was a container made with black felt; n. 84 explains a-la as ‘Arabian’, and n. 85 explains ta-na as a country in India! But n. S6 regarding jisün correctly refers to several passages in the Yüan-shih.

39 Hei-Ta shih-lüeh (Kuo-hsüeh wen-lc'u, No. 25), Pei-p'ing, 1936, 92–3.

40 For tüsürge and passages where it is found, see Cleaves, F. W., ‘Tomuy-a / Co-mu-hua’, BJAS, XVII, 1954, 448, n. 22Google Scholar. Pao, Kuo-yi, Studies on the secret history of the Mongols, Bloomington-The Hague, 1965, 14, 34 and 52, n. 42Google Scholar ‘wine pot’.

41 Pei-Lu Feng-su (Kuo-hsüeh wen-k'u, No. 29), Pei-p'ing, 1936, 13. H. Serruys, ‘Pei-lou fang-sou: Les coutumes des Esclaves Septentrionaux ‘, Monumenta Serica, x, 1945, 143. For Hsiao Ta-heng, see Diet, of Ming biogr., 544–6. Char, ku is also indicated in th e dictionaries aa k'o, ch'ileh. Fang I-chih, T'ung-ya 4.10b, mentions the ch'ih-i as a ‘leather bag’. In the Shih-chi and the Han-shu, the ch'ih-i is described as a bag made from horse leather. The ku-chi was an ‘inexhaustible’ container. Both expressions refer to South China rather than to the northern nomadic peoples.

42 Diet, ordos, p. 276b; Kalm. Worterbuch, 237a (Ramstedt's mo. kökür is a misspelling); Čeremisov, K. M., Buryatsko-Russkii sfovar', Moskva, 1973, 635bGoogle Scholar.

43 Noord en Oost Tartarijen, Amsterdam, 1785, I, 256bGoogle Scholar.

44 Poppe, N. N., Mongol'skii slovar Mukaddimat al-Adab, Moskva-Leningrad, 1938, 313b, 329b, 351b, 407b, 448bGoogle Scholar.

46 Chang Te-hui, Ling-pei chi-hsing Text in K'ou-pei san-t'ing chih (1758) 13.16b; Yao Ts'ung-wu ‘Chang Te-hui’ Ling-pei chi-hsing tsu-pen chiao-chu’ , in Kuo-li T'ai-wan Ta-hsileh wen-shih che-hsiieh pao, No. 11, 1962 (p. 23 of the offprint). Serruys, H., Kumiss ceremonies and horse races: three Mongolian texts, Wiesbaden, 1974, 4Google Scholar. These containers of kumiss for the ǰulay ceremony were known as ündür, or boro-ündür; the Kereyid, according to Rašid al-Dīn, also knew those containers as ündür, but apparently they were made differently: ‘very large bags sewn with hides and loaded on carts’. Rašid-ad. Din. Sbornik letopisei, Tom. i, 1 (tr. Khetagurov, L. A.), Moskva-Leningrad, 1952, 129Google Scholar.

46 Radloff, Wilhelm, Aus Sibirien. Lose Blātter aus meinem Tagebuche, i, Leipzig, 1893, 354Google Scholar. Radloff, Versuch eines Worterbuches der TUrk-Dialecte, repr. ‘s-Gravenhage, 1960, III, col. 1578: tûs ‘Baude aus Birkenrinde’.

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