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Our Great Qing

The Mongols, Buddhism, and the State in Late Imperial China

Johan Elverskog

Publication Year: 2006

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.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

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pp. xi-xii

This book is about challenging conventional narratives, thus I would like to begin by thanking my family. Nothing would have been possible without them. My mother’s support through the years is beyond filial recompense; and, for inspiring me in so many ways, I dedicate this book to the memory of my father. My brothers have also always challenged me, and perhaps more important...

Note on Transcription

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p. xiii-xiii

Mongol Reign Periods

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pp. xv-xvi

Qing Reign Periods

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p. xvii-xvii

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pp. 1-13

On July 15, 1779, the Sixth Panchen Lama, Lozang Penden Yesh

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1. The Mongols on the Eve of Conquest

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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. Explaining the new alliance, Ooba Khung Taiji described how peace accords...

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2. The Mongols and Political Authority

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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...

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3. Qing Ornamentalism and the Cult of Chinggis Khan

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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...

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4. The Poetics, Rituals and Language of Being Mongol, Buddhist and Qing

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pp. 90-126

In the early nineteenth century an anonymous Mongol author wrote a brief history entitled How It Came About That the Mongol Royal Family Descended fromthe Indian Kings. The genealogical connection between the Mongol and Indian royalty had been a part of the Mongol historiographical imaginaire since the seventeenth century, and thus the author of this particular work paid it little heed....

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5. The Buddhist Qing and Mongol Localization in the Nineteenth Century

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pp. 127-165

During the Muslim Hui uprisings of the 1860s the banner of Otog of the Yeke Juu League in Ordos suffered greatly. 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...

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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 ofthe 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...


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pp. 171-206

List of Tibetan Spellings

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pp. 207-208

Chinese Character Glossary

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pp. 209-210


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pp. 211-234


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pp. 235-242

E-ISBN-13: 9780824863814
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824830212

Publication Year: 2006