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0368 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 368 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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352   158. CINGHIS

(äjän-ü ämtinä; SCHMIDT, 171) or « at the white chamber », or «at the eight white chambers » (Altan tobei, 189, 193; «Sanang Setsen », in SCHMIDT, 193, 199).

It is in connection with the « eight white chambers » that the name of the Ordos tribe first occurs. In the same speech in which Dayan-khan addressed the Uryanqai as the keepers of the treasures of [the tomb of] Chinghiz-khan, he said to the Ordos (SCHMIDT, 191) : « You Ordos, who have watched over (qara'ula-) the eight white chambers of the Lord, are a nation with a great destiny (yäkä jiya'atu ulus) ». The standard-bearer (tugêi; see « Tuc ») of the « black flag » (qara süldä) of the Lord was an Ordos man (SCHMIDT, 193). The name of the « Ordos » is not met with before the first half of the 16th cent., and SCHMIDT (p. 389) has already proposed the obvious explanation that this tribal name is due to the fact that the Ordos were the descendants of the people attached to the « great ordos » of Chinghiz-khan.

The history of the Ordos has still to be written; the sketch in HOWORTH (I, 399-415) is hardly satisfactory (it begins with a serious blunder, when HOWORTH maintains against SCHMIDT that bara'un and Jä'ün mean «left » and « right » in Mongolian, and not « right » and « left »; moreover, the question of the bara'un yar and the zä'ün yar [> Dzungar] is much more intricate than HOWORTH imagined). It may be that, in the beginning of the 16th cent., the Ordos were still in northern Mongolia. But they soon migrated to the south, first towards the Kökö-nôr, and finally settled within the great bend of the Huang-ho, now known as the Ordos region. No Mongol tribe lived there before the 16th cent. Under such conditions, it is clear that there can be no question of the tomb of Chinghiz-khan being in the region of the Ordos. But when the Ordos, the former keepers of the ordos of Chinghiz-khan and of their relics, had settled in what we now call the region of the Ordos, they brought with them their old traditions, as well as relics of a more or less ancient date, though none of these probably went back to the time of Chinghiz. It would be interesting to have the so-called relics now existing carefully examined, but they have certainly no bearing on the question either of the place where Chinghiz-khan died, or of the site of his tomb.

In 1634, at a time when the Ordos had already migrated to within the bend of the Huang-ho, a last mention of the « white chamber of the Lord» occurs in « Sanang Setsen », but the passage, which is difficult and slightly corrupt, has been misunderstood by SCHMIDT (p. 281; cf. the Chinese translation, 8, 13 a). The text does not speak, as in SCHMIDT, of a man called «Ssereng Bodomal» and of a « golden pyramid », but says that the Jaisang (< Ch. * 4 tsai-hsiang, «minister ») Tsereng (< Tib. Che-rin, « Long life ») of Altan-suburyan (« Golden-stupa ») of the Galor (< Cagar <Iran. &ikär, « lifeguardsman », > Ch. , )1; chê-chieh; cf. CHAVANNES, Documents sur les Toukiue, 365) lodged the Tuba (= Tuwa) Taisong Dong-tai)i (< Ch. huang-t'ai-tzû) Tägüldär at « the white chamber of the Lord called Bodomal » (Bodomal kämäkü äjän-ü eayan gär). I read «Bodomai» the name of the chamber to conform with SCHMIDT and with the Chinese translator, but there can be no doubt that the word is the same as budumal of the dictionaries, meaning « painted », « coloured ». It belongs to the same root as Mong. budaq, « colour », which has the same first -u- vowel in Kalmuk (cf. RAMSTEDT, Kahn. Wörterburch, 57). But this first vowel is -o- in the corresponding Turkish word boSuy of Kâgyari (BROCKELMANN, 39) and in modern Turkish dialects, like Turki boyaq, Osm. boys. The Chinese translator (or the Manchu translator from whose version the Chinese translation was made) must have heard the word from a Mongol