A New Kind of Northerner: Initial Song Perceptions of the Mongols


In the final days of the Mongol conquest of the Jin, the Song Empire chose to ally itself with the Mongols and together besieged the last strongholds of Jin resistance. In the years following the destruction of the Jin, Song-Mongol relations deteriorated into open hostility and a prolonged campaign of conquest. This paper investigates the initial Song perception and representation of the Mongols in the years prior to and immediately after the fall of the Jin. By analyzing topical and thematic elements of two key texts of the period, Mengda beilu (1221) and Heida shilüe (1237) certain hallmarks of Mongol image become apparent. Additionally, the historical context of the texts provides possible motives behind the formation and modification of Mongol image within the Song. The results of this study show that the Mongols may have been initially perceived in a positive light, and that this positive Mongol image served varying functions within Song society.