The Secret History of the Mongols

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Secret History of the Mongols is the first literary work of Mongolia and tells the story of the clan of Genghis Khan . It was written after his death in 1227 and probably presented at the Mongolian Diet, the Kuriltai , which Ögedei Khan held in 1240. The author is unknown, but in all probability comes from the environment of the client Ögedeis. Possibly it is Schigichutuchu , the adoptive brother Ögedeis.


The secret story, which was only accessible to the ruling clan, tells the story of the Temüdschin clan who united the Mongolian nation in 1206 on the Kuriltai on the River Onon and was elevated to the status of "ocean-like ruler" - Dschinghis Khan. The Secret History shifts the beginning of Mongolian history to a mythical time. After that, the forefather of the Mongol ruling dynasty ( Bata-chiqan ) was sired by a blue-gray wolf (Mong .: Börte cinu-a) and a white doe (Mong .: Qugha maral). Later sources personalize the names Börte cinu-a and Qugha maral. The Secret History of the Mongols is the only historical source that depicts the blue-gray wolf and the hind as the ancestors of the Mongols. The two mostly appear in later sources (though mostly in personalized form), but not at the beginning of the genealogical information about the Mongols, which suggests that the information given in the Secret History was soon no longer widespread. After a cursory passage through the early generations, the work only becomes more precise when Temüdschin's great-grandfather Chabul is mentioned .

When Temüdschin was still a boy, the father, a tribal leader , was poisoned by a competing tribe, the Tatars . The nine-year-old learns of the murder in the tent of his future father-in-law, where his father had brought him. He immediately rushes back to his clan, but his father is dead when he arrives there. And it gets worse: after the death of the father, the whole clan turns away from the family.

In the next few years, the mother and her four sons made ends meet. Life is hard, and when one of the brothers, Bekter , Temüdschin takes away a fish that Temüdschin has caught , Temüdschin kills him. He has not forgotten the shame that was inflicted on him and his clan, and so he spends the next few years of his life gathering faithfulness around him in order to prepare his revenge.

With power, charisma and diplomatic skill, but also with cunning and cunning, he succeeds in destroying the hostile tribes one after the other and uniting the steppe peoples into Mongol ulus , the Mongolian nation.

The core of the new nation is the army . Temüdschin, now known as "Genghis Khan", gives the disordered nomad army a new order. He divides it into tens, hundreds, and thousands. Those who prove themselves to be able and brave warriors can hold a rank in the army, even without being a blood relative of the ruler.

After his elevation to Khan, Temüdschin subjugated the last steppe peoples. His next campaign of conquest is directed against the Manchurian Jin dynasty (1125–1234) , which ruled northern China. The attempt to establish diplomatic relations with the empire of the Khorezm shahs fails: the sultan has the 100-strong embassy executed and thus provokes the conquest and destruction of his empire.

Because the Tanguts refused the Khan the troops for the campaign against Khorezmia, the next campaign is theirs. It should be Genghis Khan's last: at the beginning of the punitive expedition in 1226, he had a riding accident and was seriously injured, but refused to end the campaign. The Tanguts are defeated, but the ruler feels his end is near. He arranges his succession - the new Khan becomes his son Ögedei - and dies the following year .

Genghis Khan is not portrayed as a hero without criticism , although the secret story has hagiographic traits. It is reported that the ruler of the Mongols was afraid of his mother and dogs throughout his life.


Page from the Secret History of the Mongols in Chinese Transcription, 14./15. century
Comic: The Secret History of the Mongols, drawing ink on paper, 21 × 30 cm, Ulaanbaatar 2001, Otgonbayar Ershuu

The original text, probably written in Uighur script , has not survived. Presumably all versions in this script were largely destroyed after the expulsion of the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty by the Chinese Ming Dynasty .

That at least one version in Mongolian script still existed into the 17th century is suggested by a Mongolian chronicle entitled Altan toci written by the Buddhist monk Lubsandandzin (bLobzan bsTan 'jin) around 1655 . This text, discovered in Mongolia in 1929, contained much of the Mongolian text of the Secret History.

The Secret History of the Mongols was preserved as part of an extensive Chinese book collection, which the third Ming emperor Yongle had collected and printed around 1410, as well as in some handwritten copies of this print. The Mongolian text was reproduced as a phonetic transcription in Chinese characters and provided with a gloss and a short Chinese paraphrase in Baihua style.

The rediscovery of the Secret History began in 1847 when the paraphrase was published without the main text by an unknown Chinese. The Russian scholar Palladius translated this paraphrase into Russian in 1866 and bought a copy of the entire text in 1872. He is said to have already worked on a reconstruction of the Mongolian original text and made a Russian translation of it. Palladius 'death in 1878 prevented printing, and the manuscript and Palladius' copy of the Secret History were initially lost. A few decades later it was rediscovered in the estate of the Russian Mongolist Posdneev .

At the turn of the century, the Japanese historian Naka came into possession of a copy of the entire text of the Secret History and submitted an annotated Japanese translation of the Mongolian text, but without releasing its original or the reconstruction of the Mongolian text, which made it impossible for other Mongolists to apply to tie in his work.

In 1903 the entire text was published by the Chinese scholar and book collector Ye Dehui under the title of the Chinese paraphrase "The Secret History of the Yuan Dynasty" ( Chinese  元朝 秘史 , Pinyin Yuáncháo mìshǐ ). In 1920 the French sinologist Paul Pelliot published this edition in the Journal asiatique and began to work on the recovery of the original text.

The sinologist Erich Haenisch published the Mongolian wording in 1941 together with a dictionary and a German translation. Pelliot's work was published posthumously in 1949 .

Based on the work of Haenisch and Pelliot, translations have been made into numerous languages.

See also


Б.Сумьяабаатар : Монголын Нууц Товчооны хэлбэрсудлал. - The Morphology of the Mongolian Secret History. 1997
  • Manfred Taube (transl.): Secret history of the Mongols. Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-406-53562-3 .
  • Michael Halliday : The Language of the Chinese 'Secret History of the Mongols' . Blackwell, 1956. (New edition in Jonathan J. Webster (Ed.): Collected Works of MAK Halliday [韩 礼 德 文集]. Peking University Press 北京大学 出版社, Beijing 2006; Volume 8: Studies in Chinese Language. [汉语 语言 研究] , ISBN 978-7-301-13009-4 , pp. 5–171)
  • Walther Heissig : The Secret History of the Mongols: Genghis Khan, Geser Khan and King Finster - epics that made history. Düsseldorf 1981.
  • Paul Pelliot : Histoire Secrète des Mongols. Restitution du texte mongol et traduction française des chapitres I à VI. Paris 1949. Posthumous oeuvres de Paul Pelliot 1, Librairie d'Amérique et d'Orient, Adrien-Maisonneuve
  • B. Sumiyabaatar / Б.Сумъяабаатар : Монголын Нууц Товчоо. Үсгийн галиг. - The Transliteration of the Mongolian Secret History (MSH = SHM), 1990
  • B. Sumiyabaatar: Монголын Нууц Товчооны хэлбэрсудлал. - The Morphology of the Mongolian Secret History. 1997.
  • B. Sumiyabaatar: Чингисийн алтан ургийн Угийн бичиг ба Гэрийн уеийн бичмэл. - The Genealogy of the Genghis's Mongols. 2002, ISBN 99929-55-52-X .
  • B. Sumiyabaatar: Чой Гихо, "Монголын Нууц Товчоон. Монгол үсгийн анхны галиг. - The first Mongolian transliteration of the Mongolian Secret History. 2005, ISBN 89-5726-275-X .
  • B. Sumiyabaatar: А. Позднеев. Транскрипция палеографического текста "Юань-чао-ми-ши". - A. Posdneew. Transcription of the paleografical text "Yuan-chao-mi-shi". 2005.
  • B. Sumiyabaatar: Монголын Нууц Товчооны толь. - Indexes to the Mongolian Secret History. 2008, ISBN 978-99929-895-7-9 .
  • B. Sumiyabaatar: Монголын Нууц Товчооны толь: Монгол • Нангиад, Нангиад • Монгол толь. Үсэг: А, Б. - The Dictionary of the Mongolian Secret History: Mongolian-Chinese, Chinese-Mongolian dictionary, "AB". 2010, ISBN 978-99962-842-1-2 .
  • B. Sumiyabaatar: Монголын Нууц Товчоон, Хэлбэрсудлал I. - The Mongolian Secret History. Morphology I. 2012, ISBN 978-99962-842-6-7 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Denis Sinor: The legendary Origin of the Türks. In: Egle Victoria Zygas, Peter Voorheis: Folklorica: Festschrift for Felix J. Oinas. P. 240.
  2. Denis Sinor: The legendary Origin of the Türks. In: Egle Victoria Zygas, Peter Voorheis: Folklorica: Festschrift for Felix J. Oinas. P. 242.
  3. Walther Heissig: Monggol-un niguca tobciyan. In: Heinz Ludwig Arnold (Hrsg.): Kindlers Literatur Lexikon. 3rd, completely revised edition. Verlag JB Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 2009. Quoted from: Kindlers Literatur Lexikon Online : (April 3, 2010).
  4. Erich Haenisch: The Secret History of the Mongols. From a Mongolian record from 1240 from the island of Kode'e in the Keluren River. Harrassowitz, Leipzig 1948, pp. 4-8.
  5. Walther Heissig (Ed.): The Secret History of the Mongols. based on the translation by Erich Haenisch. Diederichs, Düsseldorf 1981, pp. 281-283.