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Place names on China's northern frontier

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 December 2009


The Ming government's grave concern with the Mongols appears on every written page of the history of that era. Moreover, this obsession with the danger threatening from the north is reflected in a great number of place names. Towers, fortresses, garrison towns of every kind and description built and repeatedly repaired along the border, carried names referring directly or indirectly to the Mongols. Whenever a new construction was begun, it had to be given a name, and every often a name indicating a role in the defence of the country: in fact, these names call to mind such Russian place names as Vladivostok Domination of the East, and Vladikavkaz Domination of the Caucasus.

Copyright School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 1982

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1 In fact the Vietnamese often followed the same practice: one may recall the now famous Dienbienphu Settle the Border

2 Books of easy access which I consulted regularly are for instance: Wang, shih-ch'iSan-Yn ch'ou-tsu k'ao, 1613Google Scholar. Cf. Wolfgang, FrankeAn introduction to the sources of Ming history, Kusla Lumpur, 1968, 215Google Scholar; Chang, YPien-cheng k'ao, 1547Google Scholar (Franke, 212); Wei, HuanHung-Ming Chiu-pien k'ao, 1541Google Scholar (Franke, 211)

3 Pelliot, P. Neuf notes sur des questions d'Asie Centrale, T'oung Pao XXVI, 1929, 251Google Scholar; William, Hung notes that the Taba (t'o-pa Wei) were also called to (the reading Hung prefers): A bibliographic controversy at the T'ang court, A.D. 719, HJAS, XX, 1957, pp. 75, 106, n. 17Google Scholar

4 Yan-ch'ao pi-shih, 58, 145, 194, 255, 265, etc

5 A goodly number of names of towers appear in ch. 45 of the Shan-hsi t'ung-chih , 1892

6 Mindai Mammshiry. Minjitsuroku-sh. Mkohen, 7, pp. 110, 122Google Scholar. (Ming) Shih-tsungshih-lu, LXXXVH, 7166, 7224Google Scholar

7 The Manchus did not, of course, abolish the entire system of towers; a skeleton system both along the borders and inland was retained for communication purposes; but once they had lost their defensive role very few were needed as compared to the Ming system

8 Mkohen, 1, p. 218Google Scholar. T'ai-tsu SL (ch. 200), VII, 3004Google Scholar

9 Mkohen, 1, p. 378Google Scholar. T'ai-tsung SL, XH, 1340Google Scholar

10 Chih Wen-ching kung ch'ien pei-cheng lu (in Chu-pen Ch'ienhou pei-cheng lu , published by the Tung-fang hseh-hui, n.d), 17 b. See Franke, W., Yunglos Mongolei Feldziige, Sinologische Arbeiten, III, 1945, 33Google Scholar

11 Mkohen, 1, p. 457Google Scholar. T'ai-tsung SL, XIII, 1765Google Scholar. Franke: Feldzge, 43

12 Mkohen, 1, p. 462Google Scholar. T'ai-tsung SL, XIII, 1771Google Scholar. Chin Wen-ching knng hou pei-cheng lu (Chpen ch'ien-hou pei-cheng lu), 2a

13 Kazakevich, V. M. (transl. by Rud. Lwenthal), Sources to the history of the Chinese military expeditions into Mongolia, Monurnenta Serica VIII, 1943, 330Google Scholar

14 Du Halde, J. B., Description de I'empire de la Chine et de la Tartarie chinoise, La Haye, 1736, iv, 399Google Scholar

15 Franke, Feldzge 33, besides referring to Kazakevich's original publication, notes that the photograph also appears in Wada Sei, Mindai no Mko to Mansh, which I have not seen

16 Ming-shih chi-shih pen-mo (Kuo-hsileh chi-pen ts'ung-shu chien-pien), Shanghai, n.d., ch. 21, p. 78Google Scholar. Ku, Tsu-y, Tu-shih jang-y chi-yao, Taipei, 1956, III, 805Google Scholar

17 Ta-Ch'ing i-t'ung chih (ed. 1897), ch. 411.7a

18 Mkohen, 1, pp. 3612Google Scholar. T'ai-tsuang SL, XIII, 1280Google Scholar. For Sha-hu ch'eng, See also Wada, Sei, Tashi kenkykohen, Tokyo, 1958, 589Google Scholar

19 Mkohen, 1, p. 385Google Scholar. T'ai-tsung SL, XII, 1352Google Scholar. Franke, Feldzge, 45

20 Mkohen, 1, p. 395Google Scholar. T'ai-tsung SL, XII, 1367Google Scholar

21 Mkohen, 1, p. 457Google Scholar. T'ai-tsung SL, XIII, 1765Google Scholar. Franke, Feldzge, 44. Chin, Yu-tzu, Hou pei-cheng lu, 3aGoogle Scholar

22 Mkohen, 1, p. 381Google Scholar. T'ai-tsung SL, XII, 1348Google Scholar

23 Mkohen, 1, p. 382Google Scholar. T'ai-tsung SL, XII, 1349Google Scholar

24 Chin, Yu-tzu, Hou pei-cheng lu, 4aGoogle Scholar. Not in the T'ai-itsung SL

25 Chan-ch'ih (Kuo-hsueh wen-k'u, Nr. 30), Peking, 1936, II, 178Google Scholar. The Li-ling t'ai is also mentioned several times in the Yan-shih (Po-na-pen), 21. 4b, etc. Li Ling was a Han general who surrendered to the Hsiung-nu, but why this particular station was named after him, I do not know. See Burton, Watson, Records of the grand historian of China, translated from the Shih-chi of Ssu-ma Ch'ien, New York, 1962, II 1524Google Scholar. In the K'ou-pei san-t'ing chih (1758), chs. 14 and 15, there are several short notes and poems from the Yan period on the Li-ling station, which seems to indicate that the name continued to fascinate travellers in Mongolia

26 For the imperial command to change the name: Mkohen 1, p. 395Google Scholar. Ts'ai-tsung SL, XII, 1348Google Scholar. Chin, Yu-tzu, Ch'ien pei-cheng lu, p. 13bGoogle Scholar. The Wei-lu station is mentioned several more times in the Shih-lu, e.g., in 1413: Mkohen, 1, p. 430Google Scholar. T'ai-tsung SL, XIII, 1698Google Scholar. The name appears also in the Huang-Ming Chiu-pien-k'ao, II, 4.14a

27 Ming-shih (Po-na-pen), 40.21a. Taipei, ed., 1962, I, 433aGoogle Scholar

28 Ta-Ch'ing i-t'ung chih, 409.2.2a. See my paper On the road to Shang-tu, supreme capital, AOH, XXXIII, 1979, 168Google Scholar

29 The list appears in many places, e.g. San- Yn ch'ou-tsu k'ao 3.26ab. Hung-tz'u was a modernized spelling of the older name Hung-ssu Red Shrine which we find for example in Mkohen, 5, p. 576Google Scholar, Shen-tsung SL, LXXII, 817Google Scholar; also in HM Pien-cheng k'ao, I, general map, p. la. The Shan-hsi t'ung-chih, 45.41b, 42b, cites such readings as and from older books, showing how place names often were spelled in various ways. The name Hung-ssu Red Shrine for a town is not so rare: there must have been more than one in Kansu and in the Ninghsia region: Pien-cheng k'ao, III, 4.55b (map of Su-chou area); Kan-su sheng hsin t'ung-chih (1909), 9.70a; Shuo-fang tao chih (1926), 5.17a

30 Mkohen, 6, p. 366Google Scholar. Shih-tsung SL, LXXXIII, 55534Google Scholar

31 Vol. II of San-Yn ch'ou-tsu k'ao comprises a general map of the Ta-t'ung district and several sectional maps of the area

32 All those names may be found both, on the maps, and passim in the text of the San- Yn ch'ou-tsu k'ao. West of Ta-t'ung there is another place name Tsu-ma , yielding no meaning, and I wonder if Tsu ma Stop the invading horsemen is not the original meaning

33 Mkohen, 1, p. 381Google Scholar. T'ai-tsung SL, XII, 1348Google Scholar

34 Ming-shih, 41.24b; Taipei, ed., 455bGoogle Scholar. Sha-hu-k'ou also has a Manchu-Mongol name of completely different origin, although I cannot explain it. J. B. Gerbillon who passed through Sha-hu-k'ou in the imperial train in 1696 calls it Chourge-touka. Du, HaldeDescription, IV, 4423Google Scholar. Hauer, E., Handwrterbuch der Mandschusprache, 195255, 870Google Scholar, lists both surgei jase ( = border), and surgei duha (passage, gate) but does not explain the word surge-i itself. See also Pozdneyev, A. M., Mongolia and the Mongols, II, Bloomington, 1977, 81Google Scholar. The Mongols adopted the Manchu name, and called the passage rge-yin qaala Gate of rge. Mostaert, A., Annonce de la mortde l'Empereur Te-tsoung et de l'Impratrice Douairire Ts'eu-hi aux Mongols de la bannire Oto (Ordos), in H., Franke (ed.), Studia Sino-Altaica: Festschrift fr Erich Haenisch, Wiesbaden, 1961, 141Google Scholar

35 Ch'ing-shih, Taipei, ed., 1961, 884aGoogle Scholar

36 TC I-t'ung-chih, 111.3ab. The Chung-kuo ku-chin ti-ming ta tz'u-tien, 819d, repeats the same mistake

37 Ming-shih, 41.25b. Taipei, ed., 456aGoogle Scholar

38 TC I-t'ung chih, 111.3ab

39 Shan-hsi t'ung-chih, 45.20b, 21b, 38a, et passim

40 Tu-shih fang-y chi-yao, 1859, 1862, 1863, 1864

41 For example, San-Yn ch'ou-tsu k'ao, II, map 6a; then again on pp. 55ab, 58a, etc

42 Wu-pei-chih, 227 (vocabulary) 21a. Na appears in the names of several Chinese border towns. Mostaert, A., Dict. ordos, 503aGoogle Scholar

43 Ming-shih, 41.24b. Taipei, ed., 455Google Scholar

44 Ch'ing-shih, p. 884a. TC I-t'ung-chih, 111.1a; Shan-hsi t'ung-chih, 45.20b; Tu-shih fang-y chi-yao, VII, 1857Google Scholar; on p. 1862 under the heading Pai-lu pu , P'ing-lu is written with lu .

45 Mindai Mamm shiry. Minjitsuroku-sh. Manshhen, 4, p. 135. Shen-tsung SL, CV, 4030Google Scholar

46 For example, Pien-cheng k'ao, I, general map 5a; II Ning-hsia sectional map 8a, 12b, 15b. HM Chiu-pien k'ao, 8(map), la

47 Ming-shih, 42.24a; Taipei, ed., 468bGoogle Scholar

48 Ch'ing-shih, 913b; TC I-t'ung-chih, 204: map of the Ning-hsia area; 204.1b

49 Tu-shih fang-y chi-yao, X, 2695Google Scholar

50 Mostaert, A., Dict. ordos, 308bGoogle Scholar

51 Pien-cheng k'ao, I, map p. 9a; most probably the same place as that mentioned in III, 4.4b, 44a

52 TC I-t'ung-chih, 202.1a

53 Pien-cheng k'ao, I, general map 6b; II, 3.5a, 28b, 37a, 39a, 43a, etc

54 Ming-shih, 42.21a, 24b, etc. Taipei, ed., 467b, 469aGoogle Scholar

55 Ch'ing-shih, 911. TC I-t'ung-chih 198.2b, and 199.2.1b. Both compilations indicate the old name

56 Pien-cheng k'ao, III, 4.55b (map), 61b

57 TC I-t'ung-chih, 204.2.5b. Shuo-fang tao chih 2.5b (map), 5.15a

58 Tu-shih fang-y chi-yao, X, 2703Google Scholar

59 Pien-cheng k'ao, 4.42a, 47a; 57b, 60b

60 TC I-t'ung-chih, 212.3b. Tu-shih fang-y chi-yao, X, 2721Google Scholar

61 Pien-cheng k'ao, I, general map 5b; II, 3.5a where it is listed in a series of strongholds

62 HM Chiu-pien k'ao, II, map; 2.5a. Ming-shih 41.13b; Taipei, ed. 450aGoogle Scholar; Ch'ing-shih, 845a

63 Ch'ing-shih, 886a

64 The date is uncertain: the Sui-sheng (1921) III, 19: 1736; 23: 1737 work finished. Ch'ing-shih, 885a: 1736; 'Sui-yan ch'i chih (1908) 2.8a: 1737 work finished; 9a: 1739; but this latter date seems to be that of the installation of governmental bureaux. See Mostaert, A., Introduction to Erdeni-yin Tobci: Mongolian Chronicle, Soripta MongolicaII, Cambridge Mass., 1956, Pt I, p. 88, n.15Google Scholar

65 See Serruys, H., the tribute system and diplomatic missions: 14001600, ml. Chinois et Bouddh, XIV, Bruxelles, 1967, 3345Google Scholar

66 The text is found in Wan-ch'an hsien chih (1742, ed. 1834), 8.6a10a; Ch'a-ha-erh sheng t'ung-chih (1935) 20.45a47b

67 Kan-su sheng hsin t'ung-chih, 9.38b

68 The Kan-su t'ung-chih, ch. 3 has a drawing of the old bridge; also 9.9b; 92.36a. Tu-shih fang-y chi-yao, X, 2628

69 Pien-cheng k'ao, II, Chieh-wen map, p. 49b; 52b, 58b. Kan-su t'ung-chih, ch. 3, map of Chieh-chou-Hsi-ku, and 9.51a

70 Pien-cheng k'ao, II, 3.2a, 5a, 5b, 8b, 16a, 20b. Kan-su t'ung-chih, ch. iii, map, and passim; Shuo-fang tao chih, 2.1b, 7b; 5.21b, and passim

71 A manuscipt version of the legend of the Mongol ancestry of the Yung-lo Emperor, in Hangin, J. G. and U., Onon (ed.), Analecta Mongolica, Bloomington, Mongolia Society, 1972, 245Google Scholar According to some archaeologists, Bars Qota is Ching-pien Pacification of the Frontier of the Kitan-Liao: Jagchid, S., The Kitans and their cities, CAJ XXV, 1981, 856Google Scholar

72 Fuchs, W., Der Jesuiten Atlas der Kanghsi Zeit, Peking, 1943,Google Scholar (Index), 141: Bars hoton

73 J. B. Du Halde, Description, IV, 245

74 Bawden, C. R., The Mongol Chronicle Altan Tobci, Wiesbaden, 1955, 65, and 1512,Google Scholar 56. The Mongol text will also be found in Altan Tobci: a brief history of the Mongols, Scripta Mong. I, Cambridge, Mass., 1952, II, 1212. Lubsan(g) Danzan: Allan Tobci. Zolotoe skazanie, perevod Shastinoi, N. P.. Moskva, 1973, 253Google Scholar; Jagchid, S. (Cha-ch'i Ssu-ch'in), Meng-ku huang-chin shih i-chu, Taipei, 1979, 179Google Scholar

75 Haenisch, E., Eine urga Handschrift des mongolischen Geschichtswerks von Secen Sagang (alias Sanang Secen), Berlin, 1955, 49:Google Scholar 49v, line 14. I. J.Schmidt, Geschichte der Ost-Mongolen, 136: 1. Gerbillon: Moltojo touke, in Du Halde, Description, IV, 164, 197, here identified as Kupei-k'ou. E. Hauer, Handwrterbuch, 663: Moltosi. Jagchid, loc. cit., hesitates between Kupei-k'ou and Tu-shih-k'ou, but no doubt is possible. The Mongol chronicles are mistaken

76 J. G. Ramstedt, Kalmckisches Wrterbuch, Helsinki, 1934, 232b; A. Mostaert, Dict. ordos, 276a; W. Radloff, Versnch eines Wrterbuches der Trk-dialecte, 's-Gravenhage, 1960, II, 759

77 Wu-pei chih, 227.21a

78 A. Mostaert, Textes oraux ordos, Mon. Serica Monograph Series, i, Peip'ing, 1937, 488. Folklore ordos (Traduction des textes oraux ordos), Mon. Serica Monograph Series, XI, Peip'ing, 1947, 520

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