Ssanang Setzen has much more detail, and his narrative is interesting because, as Schmidt suggests, it apparently contains the only account extant of the conquest of the tribes of Manchuria.
Continuing Ghengis Khan Founds the Mongol Empire,
our selection from History of the Mongols by Henry H. Howorth published in 1888. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages. The selection is presented in six easy 5 minute installments.
Previously in Ghengis Khan Founds the Mongol Empire.
This victory aroused the jealousy of certain tribes which were as yet independent of Temudjin, namely, the Kunkurats, Durbans, Jelairs, Katakins, Saldjuts, and Taidshuts, and they formed a confederacy to put him down. We are told that their chiefs met at a place called Aru Bulak, and sacrificed a horse, a bull, a ram, a dog, and a stag, and striking with their swords, swore thus: “Heaven and earth, hear our oaths, we swear by the blood of these animals, which are the chiefs of their kind, that we wish to die like them if we break our promises.”
The plot was disclosed to Temudjin by his father-in-law, Dai Setzen, a chief of the Kunkurats. He repaired to his ally, Wang Khan, and the two marched against the confederates, and defeated them near the Lake Buyur. He afterward attacked some confederate Taidshuts and Merkits on the plain of Timurkin, i.e., of the river Timur or Temir, and defeated them. Meanwhile the Kunkurats, afraid of resisting any longer, marched to submit to him. His brother, Juji Kassar, not knowing their errand, unfortunately attacked them, upon which they turned aside and joined Chamuka.
That inveterate enemy of Temudjin had at an assembly of the tribes, Inkirasses, Kurulasses, Taidshuts, Katakins, and Saldjuts, held in 1201, been elected gurkhan. They met near a river, called Kieiho by Mailla; Kian, by Hyacinthe; and Kem, by Raschid, and then adjourned to the Tula, where they made a solemn pact praying that “whichever of them was unfaithful to the rest might be like the banks of that river which the water ate away, and like the trees of a forest when they are cut into fagots.” This pact was disclosed to Temudjin by one of his friends who was present, named Kuridai. He marched against them, and defeated them at a place north of the Selinga, called Ede Kiurghan, i.e., site of the grave mounds. Chamuka fled, and the Kunkurats submitted.
In the spring of 1202, Temudjin set out to attack the tribes Antshi and Tshagan. These were doubtless the subjects of Wangtshuk and Tsaghan, mentioned by Ssanang Setzen. They were probably Tungusian tribes. The western writers tell us that Temudjin gave orders to his soldiers to follow up the beaten enemy, without caring about the booty, which should be fairly divided among them. His relatives, Kudsher, Daritai, and Altun, having disobeyed, were deprived of their share, and became, in consequence, his secret enemies. Ssanang Setzen has much more detail, and his narrative is interesting because, as Schmidt suggests, it apparently contains the only account extant of the conquest of the tribes of Manchuria. He says that while Temudjin was hawking between the river Olcho and the Ula, Wangtshuk Khakan, of the Dschurtschid (Niutchi Tartars of Manchuria), had retired from there. Temudjin was angry, and went to assemble his army to attack the enemy’s capital. But as a passage was forbidden him across the river Ula, and the road was blockaded, the son of Toktanga Baghatur Taidshi, named Andun Ching Taidshi, coupled ten thousand horses together by their bridles, and pressed into the river, forced a passage, and the army then began to besiege the town.
Temudjin sent word to Wangtshuk, and said, “If you will send me ten thousand swallows and one thousand cats then I will cease attacking the town”; upon which the required number was procured. Temudjin fastened some lighted wool to the tail of each and let them go; then the swallows flew to their nests in the houses, and the cats climbed and jumped on the roofs; the city was fired, by which means Temudjin conquered Wangtshuk Khakan, and took his daughter Salichai for his wife. He then marched farther eastward to the river Unegen, but he found it had overflowed its banks, whereupon he did not cross it, but sent envoys to Tsaghan Khakan of the Solongos, i.e., of the Solons. “Bring me tribute, or we must fight,” he said; upon which Tsaghan Khakan was frightened, sent him a daughter of Dair Ussun, named Kulan Goa, with a tent decorated with panther skins, and gave him the tribes of Solongos and Bughas as a dowry, upon which he assisted Tsaghan Khakan, so that he brought three provinces of the Solongos under his authority.
Ssanang Setzen at this point introduces one of those quaint sagas, which, however mythical in themselves, are true enough to the peculiar mode of thought of the Mongols to make them very instructive. The saga runs thus:
During a three years’ absence of her husband, Brute Judjin sent Arghassun Churtshi, i.e., Arghassun the lute-player, to him. When the latter was introduced, he spoke thus: ‘Thy wife, Burte Judjin Khatun, thy princely children, the elders and princes of thy kingdom, all are well. The eagle builds his nest in a high tree; at times he grows careless in the fancied security of his high-perched home; then even a small bird will sometimes come and plunder it and eat the eggs and young brood: so it is with the swan whose nest is in the sedges on the lake. It, too, trusts too confidently in the dark thickets of reeds, yet prowling water falcons will sometimes come and rob it of eggs and young. This might happen to my revered lord himself!’
These words aroused Temudjin from his confident air. ‘Thou hast spoken truly,’ he said, and hied him on his way homeward. But when some distance still from home he began to grow timid. ‘Spouse of my young days, chosen for me by my noble father, how dare I face thee, home-tarrying Burte Judjin, after living with Chulan, whom I came across in my journey? It would be shameful to seem unfriendly in the assembly of the people. One of you nine Orloks his you to Burte Judjin and speak for me.’
Mukuli, of the Jelair tribe, volunteered, and when he came to her, delivered this message: ‘Besides protecting my own lands I have looked around also elsewhere. I have not followed the counsel of the greater and lesser lords. On the contrary, I have amused myself with the variegated colors of a tent hung with panther skins. Distant people to rule over, I have taken Chulan to be my wife: the Khan has sent me to tell you this.'” His wife seems to have understood the enigmatical phrases, for Setzen says: “The sensible (!) Burte Judjin thus replied: ‘The wish of Burte Judjin and of the whole people is that the might of our sovereign may be increased. It rests with him whom he shall befriend or bind himself to. In the reedy lakes there are many swans and geese. If it be his wish to shoot arrows at them until his finger be weary, who shall complain? So also there are many girls and women among our people. It is for him to say who the choicest and luckiest are. I hope he will take to himself both a new wife and a new house. That he will saddle the untractable horse. Health and prosperity are not wearisome, nor are disease and pain desirable, says the proverb. May the golden girth of his house be immortal.'”
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