As I am half-heartedly getting ready for the Spring I am putting together some readings for my students. What survey would be complete without a chunk from the Secret History of the Mongols? So if you are looking to take a break from your preparations for Taiwan’s Constitution Day this is a good way to take a break. I would like to claim that I have carefully studied the whole text and picked out the best bit to give you a picture of Mongol society, but that’s not really true. It is a good read though, if a little long for use in class.
from Chapter Four
After getting Ong Qan to come, Cinggis Qa’an and Ong Qan decided to move jointly against Jamuqa. They set out downstream along the Keluren River. Cinggis Qa’an sent Altan, Qucar and Daritai as vanguard; Ong Qan for his part sent as vanguards Senggum, Jaqa Gambu and Bilge Beki. Patrols were also dispatched ahead of these vanguards: at Enegen Guileni they set up an observation post; beyond that, at Mount Cekcer, they set up another observation post; and beyond that, at Mount Ciqurqu, they set up a further observation post. Altan, Qucar, Senggum and the others of our vanguard arrived at Utkiya. While they were deciding whether to camp there, a man from the observation post which had been set up at Ciqurqu came riding in haste and brought the news that the enemy was approaching. When this news came, without setting up camp they went towards the enemy in order to gain information. They met and gained the information: when they asked the enemy patrol who they were, it turned out to be Jamuqa’s vanguard consisting of A’ucu Ba’atur of the Mongols, Buyiruq Qan of the Naiman, Qutu, the son of Toqto’a Beki of the Merkit, and Quduqa Beki of the Oyirat. These four had been going towards us as Jamuqa’s vanguard.
Our vanguard shouted at them, and they shouted back, but it was already getting late. Saying, ‘Tomorrow we’ll fight!’, our men withdrew and spent the night together with the main body of the army.
Next day the troops were sent forward and when they met, at Koyiten, they battled. As they pressed on each other downhill and uphill, and reformed their ranks, those very same Buyiruq Qan and Quduqa, knowing how to produce a rainstorm by magic, started to conjure it up, but the magic storm rolled back and it was right upon themselves that it fell. Unable to proceed, they tumbled into ravines. Saying to each other, ‘We are not loved by Heaven!’, they scattered.
Buyiruq Qan of the Naiman separated from the rest and went towards Uluq Taq on the southern side of the Altai Mountains. Qutu, the son of Toqto’a of the Merkit, went towards the Selengge River. Quduqa Beki of the Oyir went towards the Sisgis River, making for the forest. A’ucu Ba’atur of the Tayici’ut went towards the Onan River.
Jamuqa plundered the very people who had elected him qan; then he moved homewards following the course of the Ergune. As they were dispersing in this way, Ong Qan pursued Jamuqa downstream along the Ergune while Cinggis Qa’an pursued A’ucu Ba’atur of the Tayici’ut in the direction of the Onan.
As soon as A’ucu Ba’atur reached his own people, he had them moved along with him in haste. The Tayici’ut A’ucu Ba’atur and Qodun Orceng arrayed their troops at Ulengut Turas on the other side of the Onan, and stood in battle order ready to fight.
Cinggis Qa’an came up and fought with the Tayici’ut. They battled to and fro incessantly until evening came; then, in the same place where they had been fighting, they passed the night right next to each other. When people [the refugees] arrived, fleeing in disarray, they set up a circular camp and also passed the night in the same spot, alongside their troops. In that battle Cinggis Qa’an was wounded in a vein of the neck. He could not stop the bleeding and was in a great plight. He waited till sundown, then he pitched camp just there where the two armies had encamped right next to each other.
Jelme sucked and sucked the blood which clogged Cinggis Qa ‘an’s wound and his mouth was all smeared with blood. Still, Jelme, not trusting other people, stayed there and looked after him. Until the middle of the night he swallowed down or spat out mouthfulls of the clogging blood.
When midnight had passed Cinggis Qa’an revived and said, ‘The blood has dried up completely; I am thirsty.’ Then Jelme took off his hat, boots and clothes – everything – and stark naked but for his pants, he ran into the midst of the enemy who had settled right next to them. He jumped on to a cart of the people who had set up a circular camp over there. He searched for kumis, but was unable to find any because those people had fled in disarray and had turned the mares loose without milking them.
As he could not find kumis, he took from one of their carts a large covered bucket of curds and carried it back In the time between his going and coming back he was not seen by anyone. Heaven indeed protected him!
Having brought the covered bucket of curds, the same Jelme, all by himself, searched for water, brought it back and having mixed it with the curds got the Qa’an to drink it.
Three times, resting in between, the Qa’an drank, then he spoke: ‘The eyes within me have cleared up.’ He spoke and sat up: it was daybreak and growing light. He looked and saw that, all about the place where he was sitting, the wound-clogging blood that Jelme had kept on sucking and had spat about had formed small puddles. When he saw it, Cinggis Qa’an said, ‘What is this? Couldn’t you have spat farther away?’ Jelme then said, ‘When you were in a great plight, had I gone farther away I would have feared being separated from you. As I was in haste, I swallowed what I could swallow and spat out what I could spit out; I was in a plight myself and quite a lot went also into my stomach!’
Cinggis Qa’an again spoke: ‘When I was in this state, lying down, why did you run naked into their camp? Had you been caught, wouldn’t you have revealed that I was like this?’ Jelme said, ‘My thought, as I went naked, was that if somehow I got caught, I would have said, “I wanted to submit to you, but they found out and, seizing me, decided to kill me. They removed my clothes – everything – only my pants had not yet been removed when I suddenly managed to escape and have just come in haste to join you. They would have regarded me as sincere, they would have given me clothes and looked after me. Then, I would have jumped on a horse and while they were astonished watching me flee, in that brief moment I would have surely got back! So thinking, and because I wished to get back in time to satisfy the Qa’an’s craving for drink caused by his parching thirst, thinking this and without so much as blinking an eye I went there.’
Cinggis Qa’an said, ‘What can I say now? In former days, when the Three Merkit came and thrice circled Mount Burqan, you saved my life for the first time. Now, once more, you restored me to life when, with your mouth, you sucked the clotting blood from my wound. And, yet again, when I was in a great plight with a parching thirst, disregarding your life, you went amidst the enemy without so much as blinking an eye; you quenched my thirst and restored life to me. These three services of yours will stay in my heart!’ Thus the Qa’an spoke.
When it had grown light, it turned out that the enemy troops who were bivouacking right next to us had dispersed during the night; only the people who had set up the circular camp had not moved from the place where they had encamped because they would not have been able to get
Cinggis Qa’an moved from the place where he had spent the night in order to bring back [i.e recapture] the people who had fled. As he was bringing back the fugitives, Cinggis Qa’an himself heard a woman in a red coat who, standing on top of a ridge, was wailing loudly, crying ‘Temujin!’ He sent a man to enquire whose wife was the woman who was crying like that. The man went and, having asked her, that woman said, ‘I am the daughter of Sorqan Sira and my name is Qada’an. The soldiers here captured my husband and going to kill him. As my husband was being killed I cried and wailed and called on Temujin to save my husband ‘ So
she said, and the man returned and reported these words to Cinggis Qa’an.
Hearing these words, Cinggis Qa’an rode at a trot and reached her; he dismounted near Qada’an and they embraced each other, but her husband had already been killed by our soldiers. .
After Cinggis Qa’an had brought back those people he camped on the spot for the night with his great army. He invited Qada’an to come to him and had her sit by his side.
The following day, Sorqan Sira and Jebe, who had been retainers of Todoge of the Tayici’ut, also arrived – the two of them. Cinggis Qa’an said to Sorqan Sira, ‘It was indeed a good service of you, father and sons,
The heavy wood on my neck,
To remove the wooden cangue
That was on my collar.
Why, then, did you delay coming to me?
Sorqan Sira said, ‘At heart I felt full confidence in you, but how could I make haste? Had I hurried and come to you earlier, my Tayici’ut masters would have blown to the winds, like hearth-ashes, my wife and children, and the cattle and provisions I had left behind. Because of this I did not hurry, but now that the Tayici’ut have been defeated we came in haste to join our Qa’an.’ When he had finished speaking, Cinggis Qa’an said, ‘You did right!’
Again Cinggis Qa’an spoke, saying ‘When we fought at Koyiten and, pressing on each other, were reforming our ranks, from the top of those ridges an arrow came. Who, from the top of the mountain, shot an arrow so as to sever the neckbone of my tawny war horse with the white mouth?’ To these words Jebe said, ‘I shot the arrow from the top of the mountain. If now I am put to death by the Qa’an, I shall be left to rot on a piece of earth the size of the palm of a hand, but if I be favoured,
So as to rend the deep water,
So as to crumble the shining stone.
For him I will charge forward
So as to split the blue stone
In the place which I am told to reach,
So as to crush the black stone
At the time when I am told to attack.’
Cinggis Qa’an said, ‘A man who used to be an enemy, when it comes to his former killings and hostile actions “conceals his person and hides his tongue” – he is afraid. As for this one, however, he does not hide his killings and hostile actions; on the contrary, he makes them known. He is a man to have as a companion. He is named Jirqo’adai, but because he shot an arrow at the neckbone of my tawny war horse with the white mouth, I shall call him Jebe [a type of arrow] and I will use him as my jebe arrow.’ He named him Jebe and said,
‘Keep by my side!’
This is the way in which Jebe came from the Tayici’ut and became a companion of Cinggis Qa ‘an.
When, on that occasion, Cinggis Qa’an plundered tih Tayici’ut, he wiped out the men of Tayici’ut lineage, such the Tayici’ut A’ucu Ba’atur, Qoton Orceng and Qudu’udar he blew them to the winds like hearth-ashes, even to the offspring of their offspring. Cinggis Qa’an carried away the people of their tribe, and spent the winter at Quba Qaya.
Old Sirgii’etu of the Niciigut Ba’arin tribe, together with his sons Alaq and Naya’a, seized Tarqutai Kiriltuq chief of the Tayici’ut, who was hiding in the woods, because he was a mortal enemy of Cinggis Qa ‘an. As Tarqutai could not mount a horse, [he was too fat] they made him ride in a cart.
As Old Sirgu’etu and his sons Alaq and Naya’a were proceeding thus, holding down Tarqutai Kiriltuq, the sons and younger brothers of Tarqutai Kiriltuq said, ‘Let us take him away from them ‘ They approached and overtook them. When his sons and younger brothers caught up, Old Sirgii’etu got onto the cart and, sitting astride Tarqutai, who was lying on his back and unable to stand up, drew a knife and said, ‘Your sons and younger brothers have come to take you away. Even if I do not kill you, telling myself that I am laying hands on my lord, they will surely kill me saying that I did lay hands on my lord. And if I do kill you, I shall of course be killed all the same. So, at the very moment I die, I shall die taking you as my death-companion.’
Thus saying he straddled him and was about to cut his throat with his big knife, when Tarqutai Kiriltuq, calling loudly to his younger brothers and sons, said, ‘Sirgii’etu is kiling me. Once he has killed me, what will you achieve by taking away my dead and lifeless body? Draw back at once before he kills me! Temujin will not kill me. When Temujin was still little, because
He had a light in his face,
and because he had been abandoned in a camp without a master,’ I went there to get him and brought him back home
He would be likely to leam,
I kept teaching and instructing him just as if
He was a two or three-year-old new colt
I had been training.
Had I wanted to make him die,
Would I not have been able to kill him?
They say that at present He is becoming thoughtful in his actions,
That his mind is clear.
Temujin will not cause me to die. You, my sons and younger brothers, quickly turn back at once lest Sirgu’etu kills me.’ So he cried out loudly. Tarqutai’s sons and younger brothers conferred among themselves: ‘We came to save father’s life. Once Sirgu’etu has deprived him of his life, what can we do with his empty, lifeless body? Better to turn back at once before he kills him!’ So saying, back they turned. Alaq and Naya’a, the sons of Old Sirgu’etu who had withdrawn on their arrival,
now returned. Sirgii ‘etu, having waited for them to come back, moved on together with his sons.
As they proceeded on their way, on reaching the Qutuqul Bend’ Naya’a then said, ‘If we arrive holding this Tarqutai captive, Cinggis Qa’an will say of us that we came having laid hands on our rightful lord. Cinggis Qa’an will say of us, “How trustworthy a people are these who come having laid hands on their rightful lord? How can they still be companions to us? They are people who are not worthy of companionship. People who lay hands on their rightful lord must be cut down!” Shall we not be cut down? Better to free Tarqutai and send him away from here, and go to Cinggis Qa’an saying, “We, possessing only our bodies, have come to offer our services to Cinggis Qa’an.” We shall say, “We had seized Tarqutai and were on our way here, but we could not do away with our rightful lord. Saying to ourselves, ‘How can we make him die before our very eyes?’, we freed him and sent him away, and we have come respectfully to offer our services.'”
So he spoke and the father and sons, having approved these words of Naya’a, set Tarqutai Kiriltuq free and sent him away from Quduqul Bend.
When this same Old Sirgu’etu arrived with his sons Alaq and Naya’a, Cinggis Qa’an asked why they had come. Old Sirgii’etu told Cinggis Qa’an, ‘We seized Tarqutai Kiriltuq and were on our way here, but then saying to ourselves, “How can we make our rightful lord die before our very eyes?”, we could not do away with him. We set him free and sent him off, and came to Cinggis Qa’an to offer our services.’
At that, Cinggis Qa’an said, ‘If you had come having laid hands on your lord Tarqutai, you and your offspring would have been cut down as people who had laid hands on their rightful lord. Your thought that you could not do away with your rightful lord is correct.’ So saying, he showed favour to Naya’a.
After that, when Cinggis Qa’an was at Dersiit, Jaqa Gambu of the Kereyit came to join him as a companion. When he arrived, the Merkit were approaching to fight. Cinggis Qa’an, Jaqa Gambu and other chiefs engaged them and drove them back. Then, Jaqa Gambu made the Tumen Tubegen and the Olon Dongqayit, two scattered tribes of the Kereyit, also come and submit to Cinggis Qa’an.
As for Ong Qa’an of the Kereyit, previously – in the time of Yisugei Qa’an – because they were living together very harmoniously, he and Yisugei Qan had declared themselves sworn friends.
The manner in which they had declared themselves sworn friends was as follows:
Because Ong Qan had killed the younger brothers of his father Qurcaqus Buyiruq Qan, he had become a rebel towards his paternal uncle Gur Qan and was forced to sneak away through the Qara’un Gorge to escape from him. With only a hundred men he got out of the gorge and joined Yisugei Qan. Prompted by his coming to him, Yisugei Qan moved his own army into the field and, driving Gur Qan toward Qasin, he took Ong Qan’s people and returned them to him. This is why they became sworn friends.
After that, when Ong Qan’s younger brother Erke Qara was about to be killed by his elder brother Ong Qan, he escaped and submitted to Inanca Qan of the Naiman. Inanca Qan dispatched his troops, but Ong Qan in his wanderings had already passed three cities and had made his way to the gur qan of the Qara Kidat. From there, having rebelled against the gur qan, he passed through the cities of Uyiqut and the Tangqut. He fed himself on the way by milking five goats, muzzling their kids, and by bleeding his camel.
While in these straits, he came to Lake Guseur . Cinggis Qa’an, on account of Ong Qan and Yisugei Qan having formerly declared themselves sworn friends sent him as envoys Taqai Ba’atur and Sukegei Je’un; then from the source of the Keluren River, Cinggis Qa’an went in person to meet him. Because Ong Qan had arrived starved and exhausted, Cinggis Qa ‘an raised taxes for him, brought him into the camp and took care of him.
That winter, in an orderly way they moved to new pastures and Cinggis Qa’an wintered at Quba Qaya.
Then Ong Qan’s younger brothers and the chiefs said among themselves,
Has a miserable nature; he goes on
Harbouring a rotten liver.
He has destroyed his brothers and has even submitted to the Qara Kidat – and he makes his people suffer. Now, what shall we do with him? To speak of his early days, when he was seven years old the Merkit carried him off; they gave him a kidskin coat with black spots to wear, and in the Bu’ura Steppe by the Selengge River he pounded grain in a Merkit’s mortar. But his father Qurcaqus Buyiruq Qan raided the Merkit and there and then rescued his son. And again, when he was thirteen years old, Ajai Qan of the Tatar carried him off together with his mother. When Ajai Qan made him look after his camels, he took with him a shepherd of Ajai Qan and fled back home. After that, he fled again for fear of the Naiman and went to the gur qan of the Qara Kidat on the Cui River, in the country of the Sarta’ul. Then, in less man a year, he rebelled and left once more. He skirted the country of the Ui’ut and the Tang’ut. Reduced to straits as he went on, he fed himself by milking five goats, muzzling their kids, and by bleeding his camel. He had only a blind yellowish-white horse with a black tail and mane. Being in these straits, he came to his son Temujin, who raised taxes and indeed took care of him. Now, forgetting that he kept himself alive like this thanks to his son Temujin, he goes on harbouring a rotten liver. What shall we do with him?
So they said among themselves, and their words were reported by Altun Asuq to Ong Qan. Altun Asuq said, ‘I too did take part in this scheme, but I could not do away with you, my Qan.’ Then Ong Qan had his younger brothers and chiefs arrested: El Qutur, Quibari, Alin Taisi and the others who had thus conspired. From among his younger brothers, only Jaqa Gambu escaped and submitted to the Naiman.
Ong Qan had them brought in fetters into his tent and said to them, ‘What did we pledge to each other when we passed by the country of the Ui’ut and the Tang’ut? How could I think like you?’ So saying, spitting in their faces, he had them freed from their fetters. After they had been spat on by the Qan himself, the people who were in the tent all rose and spat on them.
After having spent that winter (1201-1202) at Qaya, in the autumn of the Year of the Dog (1202), Cinggis Qa’an engaged these Tatars in battle at Dalan Neniu [Seventy Felt Cloaks] the Ca’a’an Tatar, Aici Tatar, Duta’ut [Tatar] and Aru Tatar. Before fighting, Cinggis Qa’an jointly issued following decree: ‘If we overcome the enemy, we shall not stop for booty. When the victory is complete, that booty will surely be ours, and we will share it among ourselves if we are forced by the enemy to retreat, let us turn back to th point where we began the attack. Those men who do not turn back to the point where we began the attack shall be cut down!’ So he decreed with them.
They fought at Dalan Nemurges and drove off the Tatars. After they had overcome them, they forced them to rejoin their tribe on the Ulqui Silugeljit River and thoroughly plundered them. There and then they destroyed these important people: the Ca’an Tatar, Aici Tatar, Duta’ut Tatar and Aruqai Tatar.
As for the words of the decree that had been jointly issued, since Altan, Qucar and Daritai – all three – had not complied with them and had stopped for booty, Cinggis Qa ‘an, saying that they had not complied with these words, sent Jebe and Qubilai to take away from them the herds of horses and the goods they had acquired as booty – everything they had seized.
Having destroyed and thoroughly plundered the Tatars, Cinggis Qa’an held a great council with his kinsmen m a single tent to decide what to do with the Tatar tribesmen. Together they decided as follows:
To avenge our fathers and forefathers,
And requite the wrong, for them
We shall measure the Tatars against the linchpin
of a cart,
And kill them to the last one, We shall utterly slay them. [those taller than the litchpin]
The rest we shall enslave:
Some here, some there, dividing them among
The council being concluded, as they emerged from the tent the Tatar Yeke Ceren asked Belgutei what decision they had made. Belgutei said, ‘We have decided to measure you all against the linchpin of a cart and slay you.’
At these words of Belgutei, Yeke Ceren issued a proclamation to his Tatars, and they raised a barricade. As our soldiers tried to surround and attack the Tatars that had barricaded themselves in, they suffered great losses. After much trouble, when they forced the barricaded Tatars into submission and were about to slay them to the last man by measuring them against the linchpin of a cart, the Tatars said among themselves, ‘Let everyone put a knife in his sleeve and let us die each taking an enemy with us as a death-companion! ‘ And again we suffered great losses. In this way the Tatars were finally measured against the
linchpin of a cart and exterminated.
Then Cinggis Qa’an issued this order: ‘Because Belgutei divulged the decision we took together with our kinsmen at the great council, our soldiers suffered great losses. From now on Belgutei shall not join us in great councils; until the council ends, he shall handle those who are outside and, having dealt with them, he shall judge litigations and those guilty of theft and falsehood. When the council is over and after we have drunk the cerem wine, only then shall Belgiitei and Da’ aritai join us” So he ordered.
Then, on that occasion, Cinggis Qa’an took as wife Yisugen Qatun, daughter of the Tatar Yeke Ceren. Being loved by him, Yisugen Qatun said, ‘If it pleases the Qa’an he will take care of me, regarding me as a human being and a person worth keeping.” But my elder sister, who is called Yisui, is superior to me: she is more suitable for a ruler. Recently, a bridegroom for her was taken into our family as a son-in-law. I wonder now where she has gone in all this confusion.’
On these words Cinggis Qa’an said, ‘If your elder sister is better than you, let us make a search for her! But if your elder sister comes to hand, will you yield your place to her?’ Yisugen Qatun said, ‘If it pleases the Qa’an, as soon as I see my elder sister I shall yield to her.’
On this promise, Cinggis Qa’an issued the order and had a search made. Our soldiers came across her as she was going into a wood together with the bridegroom to whom she had been given. Her husband fled. They then brought back Yisui Qatun.
When Yisugen Qatun saw her elder sister, keeping the promise she had made earlier, she rose and let her sit in the place she had occupied. She herself took a lower seat.
Since she tumed out to be as Yisugen Qatun had said, Cinggis Qa’an was pleased with her; he married Yisui Qatun and placed her in the rank of his principal wives.
After having completely ravaged the Tatars, one day Cinggis Qa’an sat outside drinking in company. He was sitting between both Yisui Qatun and Yisugen Qatun, and was drinking with them, when Yisui Qatun heaved a deep sigh Then Cinggis Qa’an, having thought it over, summoned Bo’orcu, Muqali and other chiefs, and said, ‘You make all these people who have been assembled here – and no others – stand in groups of related families, and separate from the rest any man in a group which is not his own.’ So he ordered.
As the people were standing thus in groups of related families, a handsome and alert young man stood apart from all the groups. When they said, ‘To which clan do you belong?’, that man said, ‘I am the bridegroom to whom was given the daughter of the Tatar Yeke Ceren called Yisui. When we were plundered by the enemy, I took fright and fled. I came hither because things seemed to have settled down now and I kept telling myself, “How can I be recognized among so many people?'”
When these words were reported to Cinggis Qa’an, he ordered: ‘All the same, he has been living as an outcast, with hostile intentions; what has he come to spy upon now? Those like him we have measured against the linchpin of a cart and exterminated. Why hesitate? Cast him out of my sight!’ He was cut down immediately.
When, in that same Year of the Dog (1202), Cinggis Qa’an rode against the Tatars, Ong Qan rode against the Merkit. Pursuing Toqto’a Beki in the direction of the Barqujin Lowland, Ong Qan killed Togus Beki, the eldest son of Toqto’a, seized Toqto’a’s two daughters Qutuqtai and Ca’alun and his wives, and plundered his two sons Qutu and Cila’un together with their people, but of all the booty he gave not one thing to Cinggis Qa’an.
After that, Cinggis Qa’an and Ong Qan rode against Buyiruq Qan of the Gucugut clan of the Naiman. They reached Soqoq Usun by the Uluq Taq where Buyruq Qan was staying at the time.
Unable to engage in combat, Buyiruq Qan went off, crossing the Altai Mountains. They pursued Buyiruq Qan n from Soqoq Usun and, forcing him to cross the Altai they chased him along the Urunggti River downstream at Qun Singgir.
While this was going on, a chief called Yedi Tubluq who was patrolling for Buyiruq Qan, was pursued by our patrol. As he was about to flee up the mountain side his saddle-strap broke and he was captured on the spot. Pursuing Buyiruq Qan down along the Urunggu River, they overtook him at Lake Kisil Bas, and there they finished him off.
As Cinggis Qa’an and Ong Qan were returning from that place, the great warrior Kokse’u Sabraq of the Naiman arrayed his troops at the Bayidaraq Confluence and prepared to fight them. Cinggis Qa’an and Ong Qan likewise decided to fight and arrayed their troops; however, when they arrived it was already getting late. They said, ‘We shall fight in the morning!’, and passed the night in battle order. Then Ong Qan had fires lit in the place where he was stationed and that same night moved upstream along the Qara Se’ul River.
Jamuqa then moved on together with Ong Qan and, as they went, Jamuqa said to Ong Qan, ‘My sworn friend Temujin for a long time has been sending envoys to the Naiman, and now he has not come with us.
That stays in one place;
My sworn friend is
The migratory lark.
He must have gone over to the Naiman and has remained behind with the intention of submitting to them.’
At these words of Jamuqa, Gurin Ba’atur of the Ubciq said ‘How can you speak so deceitfully, backbiting and slandering your upright brother?’
Cinggis Qa’an had spent the night at that same place. Early next morning, at daybreak, he wanted to fight, but when he looked across to Ong Qan’s position, he found that he was no longer there. Saying, ‘They certainly treat us like burnt offerings at the sacrifice for the dead,” [Something that is no longer useful and can be discarded] Cinggis Qa’an also moved out from there. He crossed the river at the Eder Altai Confluence and, being on the move, proceeded further,
setting up camp in the Sa’ari Steppe.
Thereafter, Cinggis Qa’an and Qasar, having realised the difficulties of the Naiman, no longer counted them as people to be reckoned with.
Kokse’u Sabraq went in pursuit of Ong Qan. He captured the wife of his son Senggum together with all his people. He captured also half the people and livestock of Ong Qan which were at Telegetu Pass, and returned home.
At the time of that engagement, Qutu and Cila’un, the two sons of Toqto’a of the Merkit who were also there, separated from Ong Qan and, taking their own people with them, moved downstream along the Selengge River to join their father.
After being pillaged by Koksegu Sabraq, Ong Qan sent an envoy to Cinggis Qa’an. Through the envoy he sent this
message: ‘I have been robbed by the Naiman of my people and my wife. I send this envoy to request from you, my son your “four steeds.'” Let them rescue my people for me!’
Cinggis Qa’an then sent Bo’orcu, Muqali, Boroqul and Cila’un Ba’atur, these ‘four steeds’ of his, and arrayed his troops. Before the ‘four steeds’ arrived, Senggum had just joined battle with Kokse’u Sabraq at Hula’an Qut; his horse had been shot in the thigh by an arrow and he himself was about to be captured.
At that moment those ‘four steeds’ arrived and saved him, and they recovered his people and his wife for him -all of them. Ong Qan then said, ‘Formerly his good father had saved my people who had been lost like this; now, once more, his son, by sending his “four steeds”, has rescued my lost people for me. As to my repaying these favours, let only the protection of Heaven and Earth decide how, and in what measure.
Ong Qan said further, ‘My sworn friend Yisugei Ba’atur once rescued my lost people for me; his son Temujin has again rescued for me my people who had gone away. When these two, father and son, gathered the lost people and returned them to me, for whose sake did they take the trouble of gathering and returning them?
I have grown old, and having grown old,
When I shall ascend to the heights –
I have grown ancient, and having grown ancient,
When I shall ascend to the cliffs –
Who will govern all my people?
]y[y younger brothers lack force of character; there is only Senggum, my one son, but it is as if he did not exist. If I make my son Temujin the elder brother of Senggum, I shall have two sons and my mind will be at rest.’ Having said this, Ong Qan and Cinggis Qa’an met together in the Black Forest by the Tu’ula River and declared themselves father and son. The reason why they declared themselves father and son was because in early days Ong Qan had declared himself a sworn friend of Cinggis Qa’an’s father Yisugei Qan, and by virtue of this fact Cinggis Qa’an said that Ong Qan was like a father to him. Such was the reason why they declared themselves father and son. They made the following promises to each other:
We shall attack together as one;
When we chase the cunning wild beasts,
We shall also chase them together as one!’
So they declared. Cinggis Qa’an and Ong Qan also promised each other, saying,
Should a snake with venomous teeth
Provoke discord between us,
Let us not succumb to his provocations.
By talking only mouth to mouth
We shall believe each other
Should a snake with venomous fangs
Spread slander about us,
Let us not accept his slander.
By explaining only face to face
We shall believe each other!
And, pledging their word, they lived together in mutual affection.
‘On top of affection let there be more affection Cinggis Qa’an thought; and requesting the younger sister of Sengglim, Ca’ur Beki, for his son Joci he said, ‘I shall give in exchange our daughter Qojin Beki to Senggum’s som Tusaqa.’
When this request was made, Senggum, then, imagining himself to be very important, said, ‘If a kinswoman of our goes to them, she would have to stand by the door and only face towards the back of the tent; but if a kinswoman of theirs comes to us, she would sit in the back of the tent and face towards the door.” So, imagining himself to be very important, he spoke disparagingly of us; he was not pleased with our proposition and would not give Ca’ur Beki.
Because of these words, Cinggis Qa’an in his heart lost affection for Ong Qan and Nilqa Sengglim.
Jamuqa realised that Cinggis Qa ‘an had in this way lost his affection for them. In the spring of the Year of the Pig (1203), Jamuqa, Altan and Qucar, Ebugejin and Noyakin of the Qardakin tribe, To’oril of the Soge’en tribe and Qaci’un Beki, all these, having come to an understanding, set out and went to Nilqa Sengglim at Berke Elet, on the northern side of the JeJe’er Heights.
Slandering Cinggis Qa’an, Jamuqa spoke: ‘My sworn friend Temujin has messengers sent with secret communications to Tayang Qan of the Naiman. His mouth is saying “father” and “son”, but his behaviour is quite otherwise. Are you going to trust him? If you do not take him by surprise and strike at him, what will become of you? If you move against my sworn friend Temujin, I will join you and attack his flank!’
Altan and Qucar said, ‘As for the sons of Mother Ho’elun.foryou,
And do away with the younger brother!’
Ebugejin and Noyakin – the two Qarta’at – said, ‘For
And grasp his feet!’
To’oril said, ‘The best plan is to go ahead and capture Temujin’s people. If his people are taken away from him
and he is left without them, what can he do?’
Qaci’un Beki said, ‘Prince Nilqa Sengglim, whatever you decide I shall go with you,
To the farthest limit,
To the bottom of the deep!’
Having been told these words, Nilqa Senggum reported to his father Ong Qan those very words through Sayiqan
Tode’en. When he was told this, Ong Qan said, ‘How can you think such things about my son Temujin? Until now we had him as our support, and if now we harbour such evil intentions towards my son, we shall not be loved by Heaven. Jamuqa has a glib tongue. Is he right in what he says? Is he correct?’ He was displeased and sent back Sayiqan Tode’en.
Senggum sent another message saying, ‘When any man with a mouth and a tongue says these things, how can one not believe him?’ He sent messages twice, three times, but could not convince Ong Qan. Finally, he went to him in person and said, ‘Even now, at a time when you are still so lively and well, Temujin has not the slightest regard for us. Truly, when you, his father the Qan, will have reach the age when men
And are stifled by the black meat,
will he let us govern your people – the people that your father Qurcaqus Buyiruq Qan gathered laboriously in great number? How will he let anyone govern it?’
At these words, Ong Qan said, ‘How can I do away with my child, my son? Because until now he has been our support, is it right to harbour evil intentions against him^?We shall not be loved by Heaven.’
At these words, his son Nilqa Senggum became angry-he pushed off the tent-door and left. But Ong Qan, concerned about losing the affection of his son Senggum, called him back and said to him, ‘Who knows whether we shall be loved by Heaven after all? You say, “How shall we do away with the son?” Just do what you can – it is for you to decide!’
From Igor de Rachewiltz’s translation. Brill 2004