mardi 18 septembre 2012
Chinggis Khan is alive anew : for the glory of "Tengri", the divine blue Sky !
by Jean-Jacques COURTEY, Doctor in Economic Geography, Ph. D
For modern Mongols who didn't have any maoïst revolution at the difference of Nepal recently (1996-2008), the question of which type of suit or "topi" (hat) wearing is not a real topic, and neither a subject of everyday concern and headache.
Mongolia is proud of its tradition, and everybody now more than ever is refering to the national hero and conqueror, Chinggis Khan (1162 - 1227). Chinggis Khan (Ghenghis Khan) means in fact "Sovereign of the Universe" : so it's not really a name but the title given by the Borjigin clan to Temujin (his original name) in 1189 and then by all the Mongol clans in 1206 : he was crowned with this title in spring 1206, and his capital in the center of Mongolia became Karakorum.
Nowadays, people want to reappropriate the great conqueror, who was strong and rich.
Becoming strong and rich is something wished by mature men to young boys when they are five years old (sometimes three), and their hair cut for the first time.
We musn't forget the very name of Mongolia has something to do with this custom, as it is coming from "Onongol" which means "Boy River". ["Secret history of the Mongols", 1228 or 1240]
Present Mongolia is 1.566 500 million km2 (three times metropolitan France, called" the hexagon") for 2.8 million inhabitants. So you can calculate density overthere is very low (around 2 inhabitants per km2 only).
But you can find Mongols also in inner Mongolia (China) or along the Russian side of the border with Mongolia. It's a country of big contrast, as for the temperature which can be very high during the day according to the season, and below O°C at night. On that point the "ger" (yurt) of the cattle breeders is certainly the most adaptated housing environment. And until recently, wealth was counted by the number of horses or of heads of cattle a man could have, at the image of Chinggis Khan : beside common animals for the West, cattle includes yaks and camels as Mongolia is a country of steppes. Now it's also depending on money like dollars for the growing number of new businessmen, since the political opening of the nineties.
Oulan Bator ("the red hero"), the capital, was previously called Urga - "palace" -, and its population grew tremendously from 1998 till now : it almost doubled, with 1,2 million inhabitants (as much as 45% of the population). A lot of Kazakhs are living in the northwest of the country.
The alphabet used in independant Mongolia is cyrillic since 1941, like it was in Soviet Union, even the language was different (khalka). This is coming from an intermixed political history. As a matter of fact, notwithstanding a strong political influence, Mongols found this alphabet was easy to use for them, and quite suiting the written expression of their language.
In the old time, both China and Russia have been dominated by the Mongols. The empire of the Golden Herd was once even extending from Poland to Syria, Iran, and Indias.
Freeing definitively from Mongol remaining influence through Polish ruling in Russia - paradoxically -, was the achievement of Michel Romanov (1596 - 1645) : Russian about him, he left the Monastery Ipatiev in Kostroma in 1613, to be elected Tsar around 300 km away in Moscow. He was finally prefered to the Polish Tsar, Ladislav IV Vasa (1595-1648), who had held the position for two years and half only. And his new dynasty named Romanov after him, ruled Russia (Russias actually) for several centuries till the Revolution of 1917.
In China, the Yuan dynasty (1280-1368) was Mongol. And even after it ended and was replaced by Ming dynasty (1368-1644), it was for long a custom to marry a female descendant of Chinggis Khan, a Mongol princess, to ensure and legitimate the throne.
Nowadays, Russia and China are the two dominant countries in this area of the world, Mongolia's two giant neighbours.
Religion overthere switched several repeated times to boudhhism before it became the national one (Gelugpa style, like Tibet) in the XVIth century. And the title of "Dalaï Lama" (Ocean of Wiseness) was given in 1577 by Altan Khan (1507 - 1582) to Sönam Gyatso (1543 -1588), the religious leader of Tibet he recognized through conversion.
Christianity (Catholic religion) had a chance to become Mongol religion, but it never happened in fact.
The original religion is shamanic and called the religion of Tengri. Tengri can be taken as "the divine blue Sky". Your duty is to honour him, and not make him angry. It never disappeared totally, even it was more hidden under Communism (1924 - 1990). And everyday life is a mixture of both, a bit like Japan with Shintoism (shamanic also) and Boudhhism for the people.
Tengri was the supreme God of Chinggis Khan, even he didn't like much to depend on spirits, or even other types of religion. And that's the reason why he was tolerant with the various religions of his empire. On this path, he was rather imitated by his descendants and successors, as far as the Moghul empire in Indias (1526 - 1757), which was muslim.
But for all the Mongols, Chinggis Khan was clearly representing Tengri on Earth.
And the old nickname which was given to him, the "blue wolf", was directly connected to his mythical and half-divine origin.
When he established his colossal empire on Earth, he got inspiration from another great conqueror whom he was admiring for his boldness and invicible strategy, Alexander the Great (356 - 323 BC). And he was seeing himself both as his continuator and successor. Those psychological details musn't be ignored when people compare them for the size of their empire.
Alexander the Great when he became Shah of Persia (330 BC), was Protector of the kingdom of Xia in China, on "the silk road". And Chinggis Khan started the conquest of China by conquering it (1205-1207). So opposing those two characters is a non sense historically.
Mongolia, with its famous river Orkhon (or Orgon), and its mysterious desert of Gobi, southeast of Mongol Altaï, is still fascinating : this last one has been considered from immemorial times as the energetic center of the planet. And Europeans or more widely Westerners, are still looking for the secret entrance of Agartha, the mythical kingdom of the King of the World : they forget it's him normally who has to enter our world finally from his undestructible fortress, according to the legend !
Rebecoming essentially a country of nomads after the disappearing of the Golden Herd empire, and during Communism, Mongolia has become recently an highly growing country with strategic, rare or precious metals, like copper, molybdenum or gold.
The world market of commodities has just boosted its economy which is fueling (13% growth rate of GDP expected in 2013). And the Western influence is newly facing the Russian and Chinese ones.
In this country respecting the most humble ants, Tengri has never lost his supreme power.
And the "blue wolf", Chinggis Khan, is anew ressucitated by Mongols for continuing their own legend.
But let's give him the last words :
"Should my golden body weaken, so be it.
But my existing dynasty must not be broken up." [Chinggis Khan, 1223]