Within the Chinese religious market, Daoists and Confucians have often attempted to stigmatize Buddhism as a foreign religion. In the early Mongol Yuan dynasty (1206-1368), Daoist circulation of anti-Buddhist tracts such as Laozi huahu jing gave new life to these accusations, even as Buddhist and Daoist clergy came in conflict over government patronage and tax exemptions. Yet after the death of Qubilai Qa’an in 1294, conflicts over the application of Mongol clerical tax exemptions generated a new dynamic pitting the native clergy, Daoist and Buddhist, against the immigrant clergy, Muslim and Christian. Despite the presence of high-profile Tibetan Buddhists, the Buddhist clerical bureaucracy as a whole was able to picture Christian and Muslim clergy in ways that tapped into anti-immigrant feelings. This dynamic reached its apex in the policies of emperor Yisün-Temür (Taidingdi), who reigned from 1323 to 1328, and the reaction against them after his death. These tensions within the Mongol religious policy, which on paper treated the four main bodies of clergy (Buddhism, Christianity, Daoist, and Muslim) equally, shows the impact of the differing economic standpoint implicit in the native-immigrant dichotomy.
From the first decade of Mongolian independence after 1911, nationalist publicists and officials denounced the dominance of foreign merchants and capital in the Mongolian economy. Officials and historians declared co-operatives to be the road for simultaneous improving the peoples' living standards and also strengthening national independence. Yet examination of statistics and the vigorous debates at the early party congresses and Great Khural meetings from 1924 to 1927 shows that the co-operatives were neither effective in their mandate nor popular with the herders they were intended to help. From the beginning, the co-operatives appear to have answered the needs of the new state more than those of the herding populace.
Mobility in pastoral societies has often been treated as either a necessity for efficient pastoral production or else as a method of avoiding state power. Yet both the examples of itinerance in medieval Europe and the attested itineraries of medieval Inner Asian rulers suggest that power projection, not power avoidance, was a key component of Turco-Mongolian imperial mobility. By using new historico-geographical evidence, the itineraries of several pre-Chinggisid and Mongol empire figures—Ong Qa’an, Batu, Ögedei, and Möngke—may be mapped. The results show that imperial itinerance must be distinguished from pastoral mobility. They also show that movement in vast agglomerations of mob-grazing herds was not just a temporary response to military crisis but continued long into the peacetime of the Mongol empire. These results challenge a functionalist understanding of mobility and state structures in Inner Asia.
Works of the poet and essayist Saichungga, a founder of modern Inner Mongolian literature, written in 1945 gave voice to the Japanese-sponsored nationalist mobilisation in Inner Mongolia during the final months of World War II. This article presents one unpublished essay and eight poems, reading them in the light of Saichungga’s cultural nationalism, which focused on moral renewal and scientific and cultural revival. Expressing the supersession of Buddhist ethics by incorporating its chief metaphors, Saichungga expresses his romantic vision of national regeneration with complementary dualities: youth and age, rootedness and restlessness, and male and female.
That Mongolian sources were an important part of the famous Ilkhanid courtier and historian Rashīd al-Dīn’s historical methodology has long been recognized. Rashīd al-Dīn himself mentioned his patrons Ghazan Khan and Bolad Chingsang, and the “Golden Notebook” or Altan debter as his main sources. But careful analysis of his work enables us to go far beyond these flattering and misleading formulae. Close reading of his work reveals him returning to previously written chapters, revising and expanding them with new material, material more often than not secured from previously inaccessible Mongolian sources. These sources included The Authentic Chronicle of Chinggis Khan, an encomium of Tolui, several genealogies, service biographies of those who assisted in the founding of the empire along with their descendants, wise sayings and exemplary anecdotes, and oral reports given by envoys from the other Mongol domains. As exotic material to which other historians did not have access, Rashīd al-Dīn flaunted his Mongolian sources, citing the same material sometimes two, three, or even four times in his sprawling work. At the same time, he viewed Mongolian sources as needing commentary, a commentary he relied on sets of research assistants to provide, each working on different parts of the great project. Because they worked separately the teams of translators and commentators sometimes ended up providing contradictory readings of the ambiguous Uyghur-Mongolian script or differing annotation to the same passages. Exploring how Rashīd al-Dīn gathered and used his Mongolian sources thus supplies an example and model for how to use source critical methodologies to restore long-lost historical documents. It also sheds light on the Mongolian impact on the Ilkhanate and the way in which a great medieval historian crafted a meaningful narrative from disparate materials.