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Of the documents from Chinese Turkestan available in the database of the International Dunhuang Project, only nineteen fragments are in the New Persian language, and written, not with Arabic, but with Syriac script. All of them originated from Turfan. Morgan also raises the issue of the language used in communications between the Mongols and the Papacy.

The question was whether the Pope would be able to find, in the area where he resided, someone who could read the letter. John makes it quite clear that original versions of the letter were carefully prepared in more than one language, including Latin. Clearly then, one option was to send a letter written in Russian or perhaps, at this period, it would be better to say Slavonic.

I do not believe anyone has ever suggested that Russian was a lingua franca in the Mongol empire. It is not very clear exactly what he may have meant here, but probably there were Turks who were closer to the Pope than any Persians. There were certainly Turks in Anatolia at this period, and even in the Balkans, besides those with whom the Crusader states had contact. Morgan seems convinced that it must have meant Persian, but this is by no means certain. We were given them on Good Friday, and carefully translated the letter with them into Ruthenian, Saracenic and Tartar characters.

Batu, after all, was ruler of the Qanate of Qipchaq, where Turkic the Cuman language was predominant. Also of significance is that William says that, during his return journey, Batu assigned him a guide who was an Uighur. It may be worth noting here that Persia had itself been under Turkic rule for a long time before the period of the Mongol conquests. The Seljuqs, who were, of course, Turks, had conquered Iran in the mid-eleventh century, and ruled there until about For example, he relates that:. Indeed, it has been suggested that the New Persian language developed at least partly under Turkic influence.

Whatever the case, it seems that the Turkic version of this formula was so familiar to whoever originally wrote the letter that he wrote it in Turkic, even though the rest of the text was Persian. Presumably, then, he was not familiar with a Persian version of the formula. This is also an interesting early use of the Perso-Arabic script for writing Turkic. Moreover, this was in or about , [ ] after Turkic should have begun to be replaced by Persian, according to Professor Morgan. A Chinese work dating from says the following regarding Mongol writing:.

Thus, it would appear that only the Uighur script and Chinese characters were in common use among the Mongols in the s. It is repeated by Morgan, quoting Igor de Rachewiltz, who based his opinion on an article by Huang Shijian. There is, in fact, a very great deal of evidence for the situation in China at that period. None of this evidence is at all convincing. Presumably this was because the first large group of Muslims with which the Chinese became familiar was the Uighurs although it must be noted that they were not all Muslims during the Yuan period; it was the Uighurs of the eastern part of the Qarakhanid realm — the oases of the western Tarim Basin — who were probably the Muslim Uighurs known to the Chinese.

Lacerating the face as a sign of mourning was very distinctively a Turkic custom. Killing oxen and horses for the funeral feast was also a steppe tradition, from the time when Turks were nomads as, indeed, many still were at this period. The Turkic custom of lacerating the face as a sign of mourning can be traced back several centuries before the Yuan period.

When Attila died in , it was part of the mourning ritual of the Huns.

Khan (title)

A Chinese princess, who had married the Qaghan of the Uighurs, was apparently expected to commit suicide so that she could be buried with him when he died. She avoided this fate by using the excuse that her late husband, by taking her as his wife, had shown his admiration for Chinese customs, which did not include such a requirement.

Cutting the face, weeping loudly, and killing oxen and horses would, therefore, seem to have been old Turkic customs, which had persisted even after the conversion to Islam. Zhou Mi was resident in Hangzhou at the time when he wrote his description of Islamic funeral customs, and the reference to burial in the Ju Jing Yuan makes clear that he was referring to Muslims of Hangzhou.

Its Muslim community probably represented a good cross-section of the Muslims in China at the period.

If, for Zhou Mi, Huihui were Turks, then it seems likely that Turks formed at least a substantial fraction of all Muslims in the Yuan empire, if not an outright majority. It is also known that a number of prominent Muslims in Mongol service were, or probably were, Turks, or, at least, speakers of a Turkic language. It must at least be likely that he had some knowledge of Turkic, even if it was not certainly his first language. A search of the History of the Yuan Dynasty has revealed no Muslims Huihui for whom there is any very definite indication of Persian origins.

There are, however, Persian inscriptions on surviving tombstones, which indicate that there must have been a significant number of Persians in China particularly in Quanzhou and Hangzhou during the Yuan period. Nevertheless, the surviving inscriptions are mostly in Arabic, with only a small minority in Persian. They include a number that are memorials to Muslims who were probably Turks.

For example, of the gravestones from Quanzhou described by Chen Dasheng, [ ] only some half a dozen bear inscriptions in Persian, all of which also bear Arabic inscriptions, while there are more than two dozen with inscriptions only in Arabic. The ethnicity of most of the deceased cannot be determined with any kind of certainty, but perhaps a dozen were probably Persians, while about half as many were Turks.

In this south-eastern port city, this preponderance of Persians is scarcely surprising. They had intermarried with them as already seen above , and eventually had submerged them under a wave of Turkic migration. If perhaps no more than a third of Muslims in Quanzhou were Turks, it is probable that, further to the north and west, the proportion of Turks was higher.

Since there were also many non-Muslim Turks, it is quite clear that Turks must have greatly outnumbered Persians. The Classified Peoples were a very diverse group, including many different peoples who were not Muslims. The Huihui were only one group among many included in this class. The idea that large numbers of Persians were among the Classified Peoples was rejected three decades ago. It should also be noted that by no means all religious inscriptions from Quanzhou are Islamic. The inscriptions on Nestorian tombstones from Quanzhou are in Syriac script, but the language used in the main body of most of them is Turkic.

Most Nestorian remains have been found in north-west China and Inner Mongolia, but there are a significant quantity from Beijing, Yangzhou and Quanzhou. There were also wealthy Chinese merchants. All people in the Yuan empire were categorised into one of four classes, of which the Semu ren formed one.

The question of who the Semu ren were is perhaps best approached by first considering who they were not. They were not Mongols, of course: the Mongols were the highest-ranked group, the privileged conquerors, at the top of the social scale in the Mongol empire. This was not its usage during the Yuan period, for Han ren included not just Chinese, but all the peoples who had been subjects of the Jin empire, including Jurchens and Khitans, among others.

It also excluded the Chinese of the south. It is quite often said that this classification of peoples under the Mongols was based on ethnicity or race. Nor were they the only group to be so divided. Among these were, of course, the Muslims or Huihui. These classifications were based on the perceived loyalty of the various peoples. Those who had submitted or had been subjugated first, like the Uighurs as seen above , and the Khwarazmians, were considered by the Mongols to be more likely to be loyal than were the Northerners of the Jin empire, who had held out against the conquerors until , and especially the Southerners of the Song empire, who had not been forced into submission until the s.

It is very difficult, if not impossible, to get any clear idea of how many of each of the various groups of Semu ren there were in the Yuan empire. Indeed, there is no good figure for the total of Semu ren. A very approximate notion of the relative importance of the various Semu peoples can be gained from how often they are mentioned in the Yuan shi. This can only give a very rough idea of relative numbers of these various Semu ren. Nevertheless, it seems clear that, although the Muslims were a major group, they were certainly not the majority of Semu ren.

Since many, if not most, of the Muslims were also Turks, it is entirely reasonable to conclude that there were far fewer Persians than Turks in the Yuan empire. Another approach to the same question results in a similar conclusion. In the early s, Igor de Rachewiltz produced a detailed study of Turks in the Yuan empire. He includes only those for whom biographical information is available, but draws upon quite numerous sources, both primary and secondary.

His figure is I now come to the question of the inscriptions on paizi , and on standard weights. First of all, it must be said that they are very few in number. Moreover, only about four carry inscriptions in any language other than Mongolian, and only one is known with inscriptions, not in five languages , but in five scripts. It was intended to be a universal script, that could be used to write any language, and was in fact often used for writing Mongolian, and sometimes also for writing Chinese, Sanskrit, Tibetan and Turkic.

An article published in lists, and gives brief descriptions of, seventeen extant Mongol paizi. This included almost all paizi known at the time worldwide. In , a list of eighteen paizi was published, but two were known only from illustrations in books, and one was fragmentary.

It does not include the paizi in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, for example. The significance of these inscriptions is also unclear. They are very few, only about a dozen in total mostly on weights, with a few on paizi , and very short, not more than five words each. A few short inscriptions in Persian may not mean very much at all.

Most extant weights and paizi do not have any Persian on them. The use of Persian inscriptions, alongside Mongolian and Chinese, on standard weights and paizi may have been no more than an indication of the claim of the Great Qan to be supreme ruler of the entire Yeke Mongghol Ulus. Since Persian was undoubtedly the most important language of the Ilkhanate, part of this great empire, then its use on paizi and standard weights may have been simply a way of asserting this claim.

The often symbolic nature of inscriptions of this kind is well exemplified by the inscriptions in Latin on current British coins. Latin is certainly not any kind of a lingua franca in the United Kingdom today. Closer to the period in question here, coins issued under Qara Khitai rule bore inscriptions in Chinese, [ ] although there must have been very few Chinese speakers in the Qara Khitai empire. Even more relevant is the fact that coins with Chinese characters on them were struck in various parts of the Great Mongol Empire, well beyond the borders of China. Among these are silver-washed copper coins from Bukhara, in the Chaghatai Qanate, minted during the s.

Such a suggestion would surely not be justified. It must be noted, however, that the inscriptions on weights and paizi are not certainly Persian. It has also been suggested that they are, in fact, Turkic written in Chaghatai script, that is, the Perso-Arabic script adapted for writing Turkic. There has, indeed, been considerable controversy about this issue in Chinese publications. In their English-language publications, neither Huang Shijian nor Liu Yingsheng make any mention of this controversy. Huang no doubt felt that he had dealt with the question, in one of his Chinese-language publications, discussing the inscriptions on weights.

He opines that the Perso-Arabic script had not been applied to writing Turkic before the fourteenth century, and that, in the conditions of the late s and early s, when the Great Qan was at war with Qaidu and the Chaghatai Qanate, it would be unlikely that the Chaghatai script would be used on weights produced in China. Indeed, the Perso-Arabic script began to be used for writing Turkic much earlier, as early as the eleventh century.

As it seems quite likely that the Perso-Arabic script was used by Muslim Turks throughout the Mongol empire, including Mongolia and probably also China, from at least as early as the s onwards, his argument about the war with the Chaghatai Qanate is likewise unconvincing. What is particularly striking is that the Perso-Arabic inscriptions on these weights were not only identified as Chaghatai, but were also read, and translated into Chinese. Yet Huang Shijian claims also to be able to read the inscriptions, as Persian.

Until this mystery is properly resolved, the inscriptions on these weights cannot be accepted as good evidence for anything. Interestingly, in his recent English-language paper about Persian in China, Liu Yingsheng makes absolutely no mention of the inscriptions on these weights. Liu mentions the inscriptions on paizi , however. As already stated above, he exaggerates the number, both of extant paizi and of Perso-Arabic inscriptions on them. It is perhaps worth repeating that, at least up to , only four Perso-Arabic inscriptions on Mongol paizi had been reported.

Liu also claims that:. He gives no evidence for these claims, which I consider to be overstated. In the absence of evidence, these assertions cannot be accepted. All five gave different readings.


One considered that the language of the inscription was Turkic, the other four took it to be Persian. One of these four, however, was able to read only one word of the inscription. There was also disagreement regarding the number of words in the inscription, two thinking that there were five, the others, only four. I can therefore offer no definite opinion about this issue. His conclusion is that the inscription is in Persian, but that there are errors in the writing of the letters, and that, although the vocabulary is Persian, it is not written in Persian word-order.

He suggests that the word-order is that of Chinese. He further says that this must be because the paizi is from late in the Yuan period, presumably meaning that, during the later part of the dynasty, knowledge of correct Persian had deteriorated, and Chinese influence on the language had become strong. A sixth interpretation of this inscription was published a year later. Its two authors saw four words in the inscription, taking two of them to be different from all previous readings, and indicating some doubt regarding the correct reading of the second word.

They considered the language of the inscription to be Persian, but did not address the issue of the non-Persian word-order. They took the last word to be a noun with the same meaning as paizi. There are a number of points that seem worth making here.

THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE MONGOL QUEENS By Jack Weatherford by Magii - Issuu

Liu sees a total of five words in the inscription, although all but one of the other experts considered that there were only four. Since there is no agreement about the reading of these words, and since there were certainly Persian loan-words in the Turkic of the period, [ ] it seems very difficult to make any decision about the language of the inscription based only on vocabulary. What is perhaps more significant is what Liu says about the word-order. I strongly doubt that this results from Chinese influence.

It is known that, during the Yuan period, Chinese was sometimes influenced by Mongolian syntax, presumably when official documents were being translated from Mongolian into Chinese, [ ] but I am not aware of this kind of influence in the opposite direction. Indeed, since all important official documents were written in Mongolian, and then translated into other languages, [ ] it would seem unlikely.

There is another issue regarding both the paizi and the weights. Some of them do not appear to have very good provenance, so that there is little assurance that they are all authentic. It is well known that a huge quantity of fake antiquities has been produced in China in the last few decades and, indeed, much earlier. The provenance of some of the paizi , in particular, leaves considerable room for doubt. What is especially worrying is that, in Chinese publications, issues of provenance and authenticity are scarcely ever mentioned.

The mere fact that about half of all known extant Mongol paizi have been found in China during the last thirty years is, in itself, worrying. One especially fine, gold paizi is reported to have been discovered by a local farmer when digging sand for building from beside a river in the Qorchin Right Wing Front Banner in south-eastern Inner Mongolia in In , about 1.

Of course, it is entirely possible that genuine objects could be found in such circumstances. Unfortunately, however, this kind of provenance provides very little assurance of authenticity. It is also of significance that there are extant coins of the Mongol empire which bear inscriptions in Turkic written with Arabic script. Coins of the Yuan empire often bear inscriptions in Mongolian written with the 'Phags-pa script, which occasionally appears on coins of other Qanates.

Chinese characters are also of common occurrence on Yuan coins. Persian inscriptions appear sporadically, but even coins from the Ilkhanate normally bear inscriptions in Mongolian and Arabic, and only sometimes in Persian. I come now to the final piece of evidence which, according to Huang Shijian, proves the importance of Persian in the Yuan empire, and that is, the Huihui Guozi Xue.

I have looked at all the references that I have been able to trace to this Muslim National College, in the Yuan shi [ ] and other sources, [ ] and I have found no mention of what languages were studied in it. Persian may well have been among them, but so may Arabic and also Turkic.

It must be said that the Muslim National College does not seem to have been very important. Several things are clear from this. Firstly, it was exceptional for there to be as many as more than 50 students and teachers in the College. Normally, the number would have been less, and probably significantly less, otherwise it would not have been noteworthy for there to be more than There were only those who did not yet have official support, but were granted it.

Moreover, they were included in the figure of more than 50, not additional to it. Thus, it can be seen that normally, there were probably only some three or four dozen students and teachers in the Muslim National College. The information translated above about the students at the Muslim National College can be analyzed further. Those students already receiving government support must have been continuing students, who had entered the College before The 24 students requiring similar support were the new intake in Perhaps there was some question regarding whether the government would pay to support all of them, as they were more numerous than usual.

Thus, in a normal year, probably about thirteen or fourteen new students entered the College. If they usually each spent three years in the College, then the normal number of students would have been about With perhaps as many as half a dozen teaching staff, this would give a normal complement for the College of about 45, roughly ten or a dozen less than in Perhaps, therefore, the Muslim National College was indeed solely concerned with teaching Arabic script. The students who entered the College may have already spoken various languages. What they needed was training in how to write them well.

Perhaps some of them knew how to write Turkic in the Uighur script, but wanted to learn to write it with Arabic script, too. This is largely speculation, of course, but the point is that absolutely nothing is said in the sources about the Muslim National College being involved with anything other than script. No Chinese sources say anything of this kind.

What Huang and Morgan failed to note, however, is that this National Institute had a very short existence, as it was abolished in In the conclusion of his paper, Professor Morgan brings up a few new pieces of evidence for the importance of Persian in the Yuan empire. Latin certainly was not a widely used language in the Yuan empire, and Turkish appears here alongside Persian.

It seems likely that Persian was included because it was a language of the Nestorian Christians, [ ] whom John no doubt hoped to attract to the Latin Church. An examination of this work shows that it provides very little support for the thesis that Persian was an important lingua franca in the Yuan empire. On the contrary, it indicates the predominance of Turkic. I am not trying, in this paper, to deny that Persian had any place at all in the Yuan empire.

Clearly, there were Persians in China during the Yuan period, and the Persian language was of some importance as a language of learning. It was important in astronomy, for example, and to some extent also in medicine. As they were the conquerors, they saw no reason to tolerate what they sometimes perceived to be insulting behaviour on the part of those they had conquered:. Ten years later, in , he forbade Mongols to travel to Muslim regions as merchants. There were also general reductions in the privileges of the Muslim community during the Yuan period.

So many curious onlookers climbed onto the roof that the building collapsed under their weight, killing the bride, groom and many others. Tao quotes a thoroughly unpleasant satirical poem about the incident, which displays obvious prejudice against Muslims. It seems to me that several conclusions are inevitable. Firstly, Muslims were not the majority of the Semu ren in the Yuan empire. The largest single group of Semu ren was undoubtedly the Turks. Indeed, Turks were a major element in the entire Yeke Mongghol Ulus. This process, or a very similar one, affected two of the major parts of the Mongol empire, the Chaghatai Qanate and the Jochid Ulus.

The Mongol conquests, indeed, added to an influx of Turks into Central and Western Asia, which had begun centuries before the time of Chinggis Qan. Cumans Qipchaqs settled in Hungary and the Balkans, [ ] so that Turkic was a language even of central Europe. Thus, all the way from Europe to China, there were Turks, and speakers of Turkic. It is also quite likely that Turks were the majority of the Muslims in the Yuan empire. This cannot be asserted with complete assurance, but it is clear that at least a substantial proportion of Muslims in the Far East were Turks.

Since it is also clear that many of the non-Muslim Semu ren were Turks, it is obvious that Turks greatly outnumbered Persians in the Yuan empire. Persian was an important language in one part of the Yeke Mongghol Ulus , the Ilkhanate, and was likely the lingua franca of the maritime trade routes from the Persian Gulf to the south-east coast of China. It was not a major language elsewhere, however.

In the Yuan empire, Turkic was the predominant language of the Semu ren. This claim is based on poor evidence, all of which has been shown in this paper to be either invalid or, at best, of very dubious value. There is a further important point to be made here. For far too long, the study of the Mongols, their conquests, and their empire has been dominated by scholars of Persian. The fundamental sources, however, are undoubtedly Chinese.

This should surprise no one. After all, the Mongols lived in close proximity to the Chinese from a very early date. Indeed, Chinggis Qan himself was at one time a vassal of the Jin empire of northern China. Long before anyone in Persia had even heard of the Mongols, the Chinese were writing about them. This subject requires a separate paper, which may well need to be even longer than this one. Suffice it to say, the status of Persian in the Mongol empire has been greatly exaggerated, and so has the importance of Persian sources for Mongol studies.

Spooner and W. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, , pp. I use the term lingua franca in this article in the sense of a language widely used, by both native and non-native speakers, as a common language for mainly oral communication. Cordier London: John Murray, , Vol. Yule, Marco Polo ,Vol. Yule, Marco Polo , 3rd ed. Cordier , Vol. It was not until the s, for example, that a chair of Chinese was established at the University of Oxford. Legge, The Chinese Classics , Vol. In the mid-nineteenth century, Chinese studies were still at an early stage in Europe.

Moule and P. Thackston , Vol. I have personally seen this in southern Yunnan during the s. AD to Coins minted for the mining communities on Bangka Island. Part 5 Palembang — Coin circulation in Palembang until c. Garg Arab-Sasanian — Dirhams of al-Hajjaj b. Yih 7 Mitchiner, M. Nasir, N. Petrov, V. Georgia — An irregular copper coin of Queen Tamari of Georgia with no wreath of rosettes Georgia — The Indian summer of Georgian statehood: political and economic outlines of Kartl-Kakheti history, Newsletter Page s Year Author supl.

Spanderashvili supl. Turkia supl. Pieper, W. Muzaffar of Malacca Mongolia — an unusual cash-like piece excated in Mongolia Sultans of Bengal — An unusual gold coin of Jalal al-Din Muhammad Tripura - an unpublished Muslim rupee Bengal — Sultans: some tankas Forgeries - some forgeries of the Sikkim paisa Turkestan - a silver coin of the Republic of Easter Turkestan Book review — The Currency of Tibet etc by Wolfgang Bertsch Jahangir: a rupee of Kishtwar in Kashmir Kashmir: a rupee of the mint of Kishtwar under Jahangir Kishtwar: a rupee of Jahangir Mughal: a rupee of the mint of Kishtwar under Jahangir Nepal — a remarkable silver medal Sikh — A hoard of coins from Kashmir Ancient India — a new variety in the Kota series from Haryana Ancient India - a report regarding a hoard of Kota and similar coins and possible fixed dating Kota - a report regarding a hoard and possible fixed dating Kota - N.

Rhodes, N. Mansfield, M. Phillips and S. Umayyad — Copper coinage in the name of Marwan II b. Sanoor, G. Ilyas Sikandar b. Senior, R.

Feature History - Rise of the Mongols

East India Company — Bombay billy with the numeral 3? Tandon, P Tandon, P supl. Timmermann, F. Timmermann, Frank Treadwell, L supl. Book review — Sassanian coins of Armenia, by E. Khurshudian and A. Wang, H transl. Pieper West, V West, V West, V West, V , ; 8 West, V West, V West, V West, V West, V West, V West, V 76 73 99 65 76 58, 59 53 55 45 1 2 3 4 23 5 7 1 3 3 10 4; 1,4 2 4 1 West, V West, V. Wilson, L. Related documents. Pinching Pennies Presentation. Probability of two events.

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