The Secret History of the Mongols

The Secret History of the Mongols ( _mn. and the rest of the world.


Like many texts during the period, it contains elements of folklore and poetry, and is not really as factual as some historians would have wanted. It is also at times inconsistent. The work sets out with a rather mythical genealogy of Temüjin's family. The description of Temüjin's life begins with the kidnapping of his mother Hoelun by his father Yesügei. It then covers Temüjin's early life, the difficult times after the murder of his father, the many conflicts, wars, and plots before he gains the title of Genghis Khan in 1206. The later parts of the work deal with Genghis' and Ögödei's campaigns, and the text ends with Ögödei's reflections on what he did well and what he did wrong. Several passages of the "Secret History" appear in slightly different versions in the 17th century Mongolian chronicle Altan Tobchi.

Rediscovery and Translations

The only surviving copies of the work are transcriptions of the original Mongolian text with Chinese characters, accompanied by a (somewhat shorter) in-line glossary and a translation of each section into Chinese. In China, the work had been well-known as a text for teaching Chinese to read and write Mongolian during the Ming Dynasty and the Chinese translation was used in several historical works, but by the 19th century, copies had become very rare. The first to discover the Secret History for the west and offer a translation from the Chinese glossary was the Russian sinologist Palladiy Kafarov. The first translations from the reconstructed Mongolian text were done by the German sinologist Erich Haenisch (edition of the reconstructed original text: 1937; of the translation: 1941, second edition 1948) and Paul Pelliot (ed. 1949).

Arthur Waley published a partial translation of the Secret History, but the first full translation into English was Francis Woodman Cleaves, "The Secret History of the Mongols: For the First Time Done into English out of the Original Tongue and Provided with an Exegetical Commentary," 1. (Harvard-Yenching Institute) Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982. The somewhat archaic and stilted language adopted by Cleaves was not satisfying to all, and between 1971 and 1985, Igor de Rachewiltz published a fresh translation in eleven volumes of the series "Papers on Far Eastern History" accompanied by extensive commenting not only on the translation but also various aspects of Mongolian



External links

* [ Secret History of the Mongols] : Full text in Mongolian
* [ Secret History of the Mongols] : full text, history, translations into Russian, French, Bulgarian, Spanish, and Czech, original transliteration
* [ The Secret History of the Mongols] : partial text
* [ Timothy May: Extensive review of the publication of Rachewiltz' translation and notes] September 2004
* [ Lingua Mongolia] includes step by step translation of the first 8 Items of the Chinese transcription of the Secret History
* [ Modern Mongolian Version] (and audio files) "-ELibrary.MN"
* [ Secret History Wiki Public Domain Translation Project]

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