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Our Great Qing

Our Great Qing: The Mongols, Buddhism, and the State in Late Imperial China

Johan Elverskog
Copyright Date: 2006
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    Our Great Qing
    Book Description:

    Although it is generally believed that the Manchus controlled the Mongols through their patronage of Tibetan Buddhism, scant attention has been paid to the Mongol view of the Qing imperial project. In contrast to other accounts of Manchu rule, Our Great Qing focuses not only on what images the metropole wished to project into Mongolia, but also on what images the Mongols acknowledged themselves. Rather than accepting the Manchu’s use of Buddhism, Johan Elverskog begins by questioning the static, unhistorical, and hegemonic view of political life implicit in the Buddhist explanation. By stressing instead the fluidity of identity and Buddhist practice as processes continually developing in relation to state formations, this work explores how Qing policies were understood by Mongols and how they came to see themselves as Qing subjects. In his investigation of Mongol society on the eve of the Manchu conquest, Elverskog reveals the distinctive political theory of decentralization that fostered the civil war among the Mongols. He explains how it was that the Manchu Great Enterprise was not to win over "Mongolia" but was instead to create a unified Mongol community of which the disparate preexisting communities would merely be component parts. A key element fostering this change was the Qing court’s promotion of Gelukpa orthodoxy, which not only transformed Mongol historical narratives and rituals but also displaced the earlier vernacular Mongolian Buddhism. Finally, Elverskog demonstrates how this eighteenth-century conception of a Mongol community, ruled by an aristocracy and nourished by a Buddhist emperor, gave way to a pan-Qing solidarity of all Buddhist peoples against Muslims and Christians and to local identities that united for the first time aristocrats with commoners in a new Mongol Buddhist identity on the eve of the twentieth century.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6381-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Note on Transcription
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Mongol Reign Periods
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Qing Reign Periods
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-13)

    On July 15, 1779, the Sixth Panchen Lama, Lozang Penden Yeshé, rode out from Zhikatsé to attend the seventieth birthday celebrations of the Qianlong emperor. He was accompanied by a large entourage of five hundred monks, escorted by a battalion of one hundred soldiers, and nearly a thousand servants and clerks came along to help the highest-ranking incarnate lama on his travels from central Tibet to Chengde, the Manchu’s summer palace north of Beijing.¹

    Before leaving Tibet the Panchen Lama and his group were feted by local Tibetan elites headed by the young Dalai Lama, whom the Panchen Lama had...

  8. CHAPTER ONE The Mongols on the Eve of Conquest
    (pp. 14-39)

    On June 28, 1626, an alliance was sealed by sacrificing a white horse and a black ox on the banks of the Hun River in Liaodong. As the blood curled into the river’s current and the smoke offerings drifted skyward, Ooba Khung Taiji swore an oath of allegiance in front of God—Tengri, Eternal Heaven—to the Jurchen ruler Nurhaci.¹

    Explaining the new alliance, Ooba Khung Taiji described how peace accords among the dominant groups of the Mongol plateau had recently collapsed. Chakhar and Khalkha troops had killed seven Khorchin noblemen in the last year. Nurhaci, Ooba Khung Taiji explained,...

  9. CHAPTER TWO The Mongols and Political Authority
    (pp. 40-62)

    The last independent Mongol ruler of Ordos was enthroned in the fall of 1634. When his father passed away, Erinchen Sechen was away on campaign against Ligdan Khan, who with his Chakhar forces had once again invaded Ordos territory. Upon hearing of his father’s death, Erinchen Jinong “prayed to the brilliance of the Jowo Sakyamuni, his own supreme object-of-veneration.” Then, taking his men, he returned and settled down at his “own nomadic territory.”

    Prior to his arrival, Erinchen’s younger brother had begun making the preparations for the consecration ceremony. In particular, he had ordered Sereng Bodomal, the Jaisang of the...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Qing Ornamentalism and the Cult of Chinggis Khan
    (pp. 63-89)

    In the fall of 1780, Lubsangdorji, the top official of Alashan Mountain Banner, wrote the following report for the Bureau of Colonial Affairs.

    Our Banner’s origin descends from Chinggis Khan’s second younger brother Khabatu Khasar, and from Güüshi Chingsang there have been fifteen generations. Güüshi Chingsang’s son was Obog Chingsang, his son Bubui Merze became Khan of the Four Oirad. Living in the area of Ili, in Boratala’s Alimatu Sara Bel he evenly spread the religion and state. Bubui Merze’s son was Khanai Noyan Khongghur, and his children were named the Five Bars [Tigers]. Khanai Noyan Khongghur’s eldest son Bars...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR The Poetics, Rituals and Language of Being Mongol, Buddhist and Qing
    (pp. 90-126)

    In the early nineteenth century an anonymous Mongol author wrote a brief history entitledHow It Came About That the Mongol Royal Family Descended from the Indian Kings.¹ The genealogical connection between the Mongol and Indian royalty had been a part of the Mongol historiographicalimaginairesince the seventeenth century, and thus the author of this particular work paid it little heed. Rather, after summarizing the lineage from India’s first king, Mahāsammata, to Chinggis Khan in two short pages, the author begins with the main part of his narrative—a history of the Manchus.

    The occasion of the first appearance...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE The Buddhist Qing and Mongol Localization in the Nineteenth Century
    (pp. 127-165)

    During the Muslim Hui uprisings of the 1860s the banner of Otog of the Yeke Juu League in Ordos suffered greatly.¹ Not only did Muslim rebels attack its citizens and ransack Buddhist monasteries, but the people of Otog were also victims of their own local government. In particular, they chafed under the despotic rule of the regent Rashinamjil. He was ruling because Chagdurjab (1862–1881), the rightful Chinggisid heir and banner prince, was still a child. Nevertheless, both of these problems eventually passed.

    The Hui uprising was suppressed by Qing forces, and the reign of the regent Rashinamjil was challenged...

  13. Epilogue
    (pp. 166-170)

    Manchu policies in Mongol areas changed dramatically during the first decade of the twentieth century. This was especially the case with the 1906 reform of the Qing bureaucracy, which had far-reaching consequences for the Mongols of Outer Mongolia. These policies not only reformed and strengthened the administrative structure of Outer Mongolia, they also called for the deployment of large military forces to the northern border in order to halt Russian encroachment. Most important, however, was the Qing court’s decision to open up Outer Mongolia to Han Chinese agricultural settlers. It was in regard to all these events and the pursuant...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 171-206)
  15. List of Tibetan Spellings
    (pp. 207-208)
  16. Chinese Character Glossary
    (pp. 209-210)
  17. References
    (pp. 211-234)
  18. Index
    (pp. 235-242)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 243-246)