Mongols

Mongols

[mong-guhl, -gohl, mon-]
Mongols, Asian people, numbering about 6 million and distributed mainly in the Republic of Mongolia, the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region of China, and Kalmykia and the Buryat Republic of Russia. Traditionally the Mongols were a predominantly pastoral people, following their herds of horses, cattle, camels, and sheep on a seasonal round of pasturage, and, when encamped, living in felt-covered yurts. Shamanism was the traditional religion of the Mongols, but Buddhism was introduced in the 16th cent.; competition between the two produced Lamaism, a combination of both. The Mongols have a written language; the earliest extant work written in Mongolian dates from 1240. The origin of the Mongols is obscure, but it is believed that many of the so-called Huns, who invaded Europe, as well as the Khitan, who founded a dynasty (916-1125) in N China, may have been Mongols. However, it was not until the early 13th cent. and the creation of the Mongol empire by Jenghiz Khan that the numerous Mongol tribes, hitherto loosely confederated and constantly feuding, emerged in world history as a powerful and unified nation. The Yasa (Jasagh), or imperial code, was promulgated. It laid down the organizational lines of the Mongol nation, the administration of the army, and criminal, commercial, and civil codes of law. As administrators the Mongols employed many Uigurs, whose script they adopted. From their capital at Karakorum the Mongol hordes swept W into Europe and E into China, and by c.1260 the sons of Jenghiz Khan ruled a far-flung Eurasian empire that was divided into four khanates. They were the Great Khanate, which comprised all of China and most of E Asia (including Korea) and which under Kublai Khan came to be known as the Yüan dynasty; the Jagatai khanate in Turkistan; the Kipchack khanate, or the Empire of the Golden Horde, founded by Batu Khan in Russia; and a khanate in Persia. Actually, the Mongol hordes (particularly those who conquered Russia and penetrated as far as Hungary and Germany) included large elements of Turkic peoples; they came to be known collectively as Tatars. Timur, who conquered most of the Jagatai khanate in the 14th cent. and founded a new empire, claimed descent from Jenghiz Khan, as did Babur, who in the 16th cent. founded the Mughal (i.e., Mongol) empire in India. The Mongols were completely expelled from China by 1382 and soon thereafter lapsed into relative obscurity.

See H. H. Vreeland, Mongol Community and Kinship Structure (2d ed. 1957); E. D. Philips, The Mongols (1969); F. W. Cleaves, ed. and tr., The Secret History of the Mongols (1982).

The name Mongol (Mongolian: Mongɣul; cyrillic script: Mongol) specifies one or several ethnic groups, now mainly located in Mongolia, China, and Russia.

Definition

A narrow definition includes the Mongols proper, which can be roughly divided into eastern and western Mongols. In a wider sense, the Mongol people includes all people who speak a Mongolic language, such as the Kalmyks of eastern Europe.

The name "Mongol" appeared first in 8th century records of the Chinese Tang dynasty, but then only resurfaced in the 11th century during the rule of the Khitan. At first it was applied to some small and still insignificant tribes in the area of the Onon River. In the 13th century, it grew into an umbrella term for a large group of Mongolic and Turkic tribes united under the rule of Genghis Khan under a same identity (mostly cultural).

The specific origin of the Mongolic languages and associated tribes is unclear. Some researchers have proposed a link to languages like Tungusic and Turkic, which are often included alongside Mongolic in a hypothetical group called Altaic languages, but evidence for this line of argumentation is rather weak.

Geographic distribution

Today, people of Mongol origin live in Mongolia, China (Inner Mongolia), Russia, and a few other central Asian countries.

The differentiation between tribes and peoples (nationalities) is handled differently depending on the country. The Tumed, Chahar, Ordos, Bargut (or Barga), Buryats, Dörböd (Dörvöd, Dörbed), Torguud, Dariganga, Üzemchin (or Üzümchin), Bayid, Khoton, Myangad (Mingad), Zakhchin (Zakchin), Darkhad, and Oirats (or Öölds or Ölöts) are all counted as tribes of the Mongols.

Other geographically dispersed Mongol peoples include the Moghol, Hazara, and Aimak in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran.

Mongolia

The population of Mongolia consists of 85% Mongols, numbering approximately 2.7 million. Among those, the Khalkha, Uriankhai and Buryats are counted as eastern Mongols. The Oirats, living mainly in the Altay region, belong to the western Mongols.

China

The Chinese census of 2000 counted 5.8 million Mongols (according to the narrow definition above). Most of them live in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, followed by Liaoning province. Small numbers can also be found in provinces near those two.

Other peoples speaking Mongolic languages are the Daur, Monguor, Dongxiang, Bonan, and parts of the Yugur. Those do not officially count as part of the Mongol nationality, but are recognized as nationalities of their own.

Russia

In Russia, the Buryats belong to the eastern Mongols. The western Mongols include the Oirats in the Russian Altay and the Kalmyks at the northern side of the Caspian Sea, where they make up 53.3% of the population of Kalmykia.. The Altay people are ethnic Mongols, but speak a Turkic language. Together they amount to roughly a million people.

See also

References

External links

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