Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-79b67bcb76-pclkk Total loading time: 0.457 Render date: 2021-05-15T16:47:19.861Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": false, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true }

On border guards in OtoΓ (Ordos)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 December 2009


The notebooks of the late Antoine Mostaert (BSOAS, XL, 2, 1977, 338) contain two documents from Otoγ banner in Ordos, from 1907 and 1921 respectively, on the necessity of having border guards in order to prevent banditry. The letter of 1907 mentions an act of banditry committed by a group of Chinese Muslims. How frequent such crimes were around 1907, I do not know; but with regard to the ‘commission’ of 1921, the reader should know that the early 1920's were extremely turbulent years in Otoγ: as the result of a number of murders committed there, Mongols fought among themselves and at the same time had to face repeated irruptions of Chinese bandits and soldiers often more likely to behave like bandits than like upholders of the law. In a forthcoming paper, I hope to publish a number of documents relative to those murder cases and the impact they had on the daily lives of the people. In the meantime these two documents on the formation of border guards may be of some interest.

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

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.


1 Tamaya is the ‘great’ official seal of the Banner. This letter was not stamped with the tamaya but with the ‘small’ seal, called temdeg (see below).

2 The prince of Otoγ, Galdzangrulmawangǰalǰamsu, born in 1897, although a minor, was appointed to succeed as ruling prince in 1903. During the years of his minority (until he was 18), the Banner was administered by the ministers acting as regents. This is the reason why the text refers to the Banner seal being entrusted to the ministers. See van Hecken, J., ‘Les princes borǰigid des Ordos depuis leur soumission aux Mandchoux en 1635 jusqu'à leur disparition en 1951’, CAJ, xvi, 2, 1972, 141Google Scholar. Tōrō-yin noyan is ‘ruling prince’, or ‘Chief of Government’. See Mostaert, A., ‘Annonce de la mort de l'Empereur Te-tsoung et de l'Impératrice douairière Ts'eu-hi aux Mongols de la bannière d'Otoy (Ordos)’, in Franke, Herbert (ed.), Studia Sino-Altaica: Festschrift für Erich Haenisch zum 80. Geburtstag, Wiesbaden, 1961, p. 141, n. 1.Google Scholar

3 Niske- is the causative of nis- ‘to fly’. In the following line we have niskeber to be read niskēber from niskē ‘qui vole’. Dict, ordos, pp. 492a, 495bGoogle Scholar. For another expression with the same meaning, see Mostaert, A. and Cleaves, F. W., Les lettres de 1289 et 1305 dea Ilkhan Aryun et Ölǰeitü à Philippe le Bel, Cambridge, Mass., 1962, 3944.Google Scholar

4 In Otoy the ǰaryuči (lit. ‘judge’) was a functionary in charge of all matters dealing with Banner land cultivated by Chinese. See DO, 187b.Google Scholar

5 akiruyči strictly speaking was one of the higher officials of the Banner, but then many Mongols had the honorary rank of ǰakiruyči, and Namǰal seems to have been one of them.

6 Quyisa is Chinese hui-tzu ‘Mohammedan’, DO, 365a.Google Scholar

7 Yamutad are low-ranking Banner officials: < yamutan, yamu(n). DO, 395bGoogle Scholar. For such forms as yambutan, yambatan in the Qalqa ǰirum, see my paper ‘The Mongol term čigčin ~ sigčin’, Monumenta Serica, xxx, 19721973, 629.Google Scholar

8 DO, 61aGoogle Scholar; this Otoy place-name is not listed in Haitod, Magadbürin, Mongolische Ortsnamen, Wiesbaden, 1966, 25a.Google Scholar

9 Dam, damdam-iyar: DO, 116bGoogle Scholar, ‘passing on from one to the other’.

10 DO, 275aGoogle Scholar: g gür: Ling-chou. In an interlinear note, Mostaert says: ‘usually spelled güüger’.

11 Güičen (ülü) ögtebei. For ögle- (passive of ōg- ‘to give’) in this particular meaning, see DO, 529ab.Google Scholar

12 Quyay arad, lit. ‘armour-people’. For quyay ‘soldier’, see DO, 365bGoogle Scholar; Mostaert, A., introduction to Bolor erike: Mongolian chronicle (Scripta Mongolica, III), Cambridge, Mass., 1954, Pt. I, pp. 89, n. 31Google Scholar; Cleaves, F. W., ‘The colophon of the Bolor erike’, HJAS, XXVIII, 1968, pp. 9, 14, 30, n. 104Google Scholar; Serruys, H., ‘A socio-political document from Ordos: the dürim of Otoy from 1923’, Monumenta Serica, xxx, 19721973, p. 564: 2b.15, and 3a.13.Google Scholar

13 Notice the form čalayayirda-: in DO, 693aGoogle Scholar, we find čalayayida-; in Kowalewski, , 2098b, 2099a: čalayayira-, and calayarda-.Google Scholar

14 The sidkegči da was the third official of the administration of the Confederation, after the da (Chin, ta ) or terigün, or daruya, and the ded-da, or ded-daruya. In another document from Ordos he is called čiyulyan-u kereg-i tusalan sidkegči daruya ‘judicial magistrate assisting in the (administration of) Confederation affairs’. Sidkegči also indicates an office among the Darqad in charge of the cult of Činggis-qan. Žamcarano, Č. Ž. (tr. Loewenthal, Rud.), The Mongol chronicles of the seventeenth century, Wiesbaden, 1955, 53 (p. 75 of the Russian text).Google Scholar

15 The prince of Otoy had received the rank of Giyün-wang (Chin, , chün-wangGoogle Scholar) from the Republican government. In fact most Banner princes of Inner Mongolia had been given higher ranks in order to prevent a movement of independence similar to that in Outer Mongolia.

16 DO, 568bGoogle Scholar, spells sedan-dorǰi; same in other documents from Ordos.

17 Ayiladqal: DO, 39bGoogle Scholar; Mostaert, A., ‘Matériaux ethnographiques relatifs aux Mongols ordos’, GAJ, II, 4, 1956, 252.Google Scholar

18 The ǰalan-u ǰanggi was the official at the head of a qariya, subdivision of the Banner, comprising several sumu. DO, 182aGoogle Scholar: ‘Matériaux ethnographiques’, 251.Google Scholar

19 Lit. ‘since late years’. I have not found the form oyiranasi listed anywhere.

20 armin < ǰarim inu (DO, 188aGoogle Scholar). armin nigen ‘some one’ evidently can only mean ‘some’. In a piece from 1920 on the salt administration (BSOAS, XL, 2, 1977, 346Google Scholar) we find: ǰarim nigen.

21 Üimegül-, causative of üime- ‘to be in a state of disorder’. Another causative of this verb is üimege- (appears twice in a document from November 1913 (see my forthcoming paper ‘Documents from Ordos on the “revolutionary circles”’, JAOS, Doc. XX).Google Scholar

22 Urbamaylaqu: from urba- ‘to turn around; to revolt’; this verb also appears in a document from August 1907 in ‘Documents … “revolutionary circles”’, Doc. V, n. 86. Kowalewski, , 465Google Scholar, lists urbamtayai; DO, 743bGoogle Scholar: urbamayai ‘versatile, inconstant’. In an Ordos letter from 16 May 1906, we have urbamalya-, probably a copyist's error.

23 Egüni bičig: this expression, the demonstrative qualifier in the accusative followed by the substantive unchanged, appears in a number of documents from Ordos.

24 Olyon (in the preceding line: olyo-) ōg-, lit. ‘let find and give’.

25 No doubt income from taxes collected from Chinese farmers settled on Banner land. The ǰaryučis were entrusted with the collection of such taxes.

26 Mostaert writes the inscription of this seal in Mongol script: yeketen temdeg. Cf. DO, 381a, 667bGoogle Scholar: ikxet'en ( = yeketen) tomótan: ‘les autorités, les chefs responsables; les notables’. Yeketen temdeg means ‘great seal’, with the plural form yeketen as a form of respect. It is interesting that the ‘small’ seal of the Banner, as distinguished from the tamaya, is called ‘great’.

27 Tusiydltan: DO, 166bGoogle Scholar, ‘ceux qui ont une charge, une fonction publique …’; tusiyaltai ‘ayant une charge, une fonction publique’.

28 Dutitm-un: in the genitive.

29 In the dative; same in the following lines.

30 Uuǰang is Chinese wu-chang ‘officer of five’.

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

On border guards in OtoΓ (Ordos)
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

On border guards in OtoΓ (Ordos)
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

On border guards in OtoΓ (Ordos)
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *