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Mongolian nobility

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Title: Mongolian nobility  
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Subject: Northern Yuan dynasty, History of Mongolia, Arughtai, Örüg Temür Khan, Taisun Khan
Collection: Asian Nobility, History of Mongolia, Mongolian Society, Social History of Mongolia
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Mongolian nobility

The Mongolian nobility (Mongolian: язгууртан yazgurtan; Mongolian: сурвалжтан survaljtan) arose in the 10-12th centuries, became prominent in the 13th century, and essentially governed Mongolia until the early 20th century.

The Mongolian word for nobility, Yazgurtan, derives from the Mongol word yazgur, meaning the Root.


  • Xiongnu (209 BC – 93 AD) 1
  • Xianbei state (93-234) 2
  • Nirun Khaganate (330-555) 3
  • Mongol Empire (1206-1368) 4
    • Nobility titles 4.1
    • Military ranks 4.2
    • Female titles 4.3
  • Northern Yuan period (1368-1691) 5
    • Nobility titles 5.1
    • Female titles 5.2
    • Non-gentry estates 5.3
  • Qing period (1691-1911) and Bogd Khaganate (1911-1921) 6
    • Nobility titles 6.1
    • Non-gentry estates 6.2
    • The last Bogd Khan and the lost aristocrats of Mongolia 6.3
  • See also 7
  • References 8

Xiongnu (209 BC – 93 AD)

Xianbei state (93-234)

Nirun Khaganate (330-555)

Mongol Empire (1206-1368)

Nobility titles

  • Ihe Khaan (Khagan) - Great Khaan, Emperor
  • Noyon - State Wang, the second title after the Great Khaan. Muhulai (Muqali) of Jalair was appointed the Guo Wang.
  • Jinong - Prince Royal, nominated to succeed the Great Khaan. During Yuan Dynasty, the Jinong resided in Karakorum and administered Mongolia Proper
A Mongol ruler on his way through the country. Illustration of Rashid al-Din's Jami' al-tawarikh.
  • Han huu - Prince
  • Mirza - Prince, Mongol nobility
  • Baron - in special circumstances awarded to foreign citizens only during the Bogd Khan period as was the case with Alexander Zanzer I

Military ranks

  • Tumetu-iin Noyan - Lord of 10,000 warriors. There were 9 Tumens in 1206. By 1368 there were 40 Mongol Tumens and 4 Oirat Tumens
  • Minggan-u Noyan - Lord of 1,000 warriors
  • Jagutu-iin Darga - Commander of 100 warriors
  • Arban-u Darga - Commander of 10 warriors
  • Cherbi - Head of the Kheshig
  • Bey - Beg was also subsequently used as a military rank in the Ottoman Empire.

Female titles

  • Khatun - queen and ladies
  • Begum - queen and ladies in part of Beg
  • Gonji - princess, daughter of a noble family
  • Behi - lady

Northern Yuan period (1368-1691)

Nobility titles

  • Khaan (Khagan) - ruler of the country.
  • Khan - by the mid-16th century, there would be a number of khans in Mongolia as local feudal lords claimed the title for themselves. Khaan and Khan were 2 different titles: Khaan (long "a") and Khan (short "a"). Khaan was the title of the ruler of the country, while the local feudal lords had the title Khan.
  • Jinong - Prince Royal, nominated to succeed the Great Khaan. Resided in the Right Wings (modern Inner Mongolia). From the 15th century, the title became hereditary and not necessarily preserved to the nominee of the Khaan's heir
  • Hongtaiji - a descendant of Genghis Khan with a fief or a prince (Huang Taizi)
  • Taiji - Descendants of Genghis Khan
  • Wang - a descendant of Hasar and other brothers of Genghis Khan with a fief
  • Taishi - a noble of a non-Borjigin clan with a fief such as descendants of the Tumetu-iin Noyans or a non-Borjigin chieftain

Female titles

  • Taihu - queen, spouse of the Khaan
  • Khatun - queen and ladies
  • Gonji - princess, daughter of a noble family
  • Behichi (Beiji) - lady, spouse of a prince

Non-gentry estates

  • Sain humun - lit. good man, a rich person
  • Dund humun - lit. middle man
  • Magu humun - lit. bad man, a poor person
  • Hitad humun - lit. Chinese man, a slave

Qing period (1691-1911) and Bogd Khaganate (1911-1921)

A Khalkha Mongolian noblewoman (c.1908).

Nobility titles

  • Khan (not Khaan or Khagan) - Lord of a hoshun. There were 4 Khans in Khalha: Tushietu Khan, Zasagtu Khan, Secen Khan and Sain Noyan Khan, and 2 Khans in Kobdo Region: Tögs Hülüg Dalai Khan and Ünen Zorigtu Khan. They were khan rather than khaan. Despite the association of the 4 aimags with these titles, their power was restricted to their hoshuns only. They would communicate with the Manchu court just as any other Lord of a hoshun.
  • Baron - in special circumstances awarded to foreign citizens as was the case with Alexander Zanzer. Annual income 3500 silver and 60 silk roll.
  • Chin Wang - Lord of a hoshun. Some Wangs were ranked as Hoshoi Chin Wang - "Chin Wang twice". Annual income 2500 lang silver and 40 silk roll. 60 serfs.
  • Giyün Wang - Lord of a hoshun. Annual income 1200-2000 lang silver and 15–25 silk roll. 50 serfs.
  • Beile - Lord of a hoshun. Annual income 600 lang silver and 13 silk roll. 40 serfs.
  • Beis/Beise - Lord of a hoshun. Annual income 500 lang silver and 10 silk roll.
  • Tushiye Gong - Lord of a hoshun. Annual income 300 lang silver and 9 silk roll.
  • Tusalagchi Gong - Lord of a hoshun. Annual income 200 lang silver and 7 silk roll.

The above titles would be decorated with styles.

Infant Baatar wang in 1914
  • Hohi Taiji - Untitled Gentry. There were 4 ranks:
Terigun Zereg-un Taiji - Gentry of the 1st rank could also be granted a hereditary lordship over a hoshun. Annual income 100 lang silver and 4 silk roll.
Ded Zereg-un Taiji - Gentry of the 2nd rank could also be granted a hereditary lordship over a hoshun. Annual income 90 lang silver and 3 silk roll.
Gutagaar Zereg-un Taiji - Gentry of the 3rd rank. Annual income ... lang silver and ... silk roll.
Dötugeer Zereg-un Taiji - Gentry of the 4th rank. Annual income 40 lang silver only. 4 serfs.

Besides the above ranking, the nobles were also divided into 2 types:

Töröl Taiji (literally, "related nobles") - members of 'Altan Urug', who are descendants of Genghis Khaan.
Khariyatu Taiji (literally, "subject nobles") - descendants of Khasar, Belgutei and other brothers of Genghis Khaan, descendants of Tooril Khan of Kereit, descendants of Tumetu-iin Noyans.
Age - son born to a noble family.
Tabunang - son-in-law of a noble family.

Non-gentry estates

  • Soumon Albatu - state serf
  • Hamjilga - serf of a nobleman
  • Shabi - serf of a Hutuhtu, of an incarnation of a Buddhist deity

The last Bogd Khan and the lost aristocrats of Mongolia

(published by UB) On December 1, 1911, Outer Mongolia in effect proclaimed its independence on the basis that its allegiance had been to Manchuria, not to China. On December 28, the eighth Jebtsundamba Khutuktu became Bogdo Khan (holy ruler) of an autonomous theocratic government. Upon the declaration of independence, a Mongolian government was established, under the leadership of the Bogd Khan (The God King), and by 1915 the Kyahta Treaty was signed between Russia, China and Mongolia granting Mongolia autonomy. The Bogd Khan, has become the emperor of an independent Mongolia.Till his death in 1924 he remained a holiness and ruler of Mongolia. The new Chinese government refused to recognize Mongolian independence, but internal fights took too much time to fight over sovereignty over Mongolia. The country at that time had already a diverse ethnic community with foreigners investing in gold mines, engineers and experts. By 1920 you could even find a small Jewish community made up of businessmen and their families, political prisoners, engineers and Russian Jews fleeing persecution and civil war. The history of the Jews in Mongolia shows that the community was virtually wiped out by 1921, when the Russian anti-Bolshevik forces retreating into Mongolia after being defeated in Central Asia.

Bogd Khan while respecting the Mongolian traditions, felt sympathies to western evolution. While Mongolian aristocrats wore Mongolian titles, non-ethnic foreign advisors and personalities received titles with foreign denominations, most commonly Baron. The awarding of this hereditary title which could pass to both male as female, should guarantee the much needed expertise as well as support against the imperialistic intentions of the immediate neighbours. Bogd Khan admired the first Bogd Gegen Zanabazar (1723), Zanabazer was via his grandfather a direct descendant of Genghis Khan. The symbolism of uniting Buddhism and the spirit and father of Mongolian nation, Genghis Khan, was essential in this troubled period of Mongolian history. The closest foreigners to Bogd Khan even received the honour to change their names to abbreviations of the names of the former 7 Bogd Gegens. It is said that the most closest to Bogd Khan took the abbreviated family name of the first Bogd Gegen by using the first 3 and last 3 letters of the name. The most emblematic title was awarded to Alexander Zanzer. The name Zanzer was derived from Zanabazar. He was the father of Simha Zanzer and grandfather of Alexander and Henry Zanzer. Alexander Zanzer was active in the shut-down news channel Jewish News One. In 2001 Alexander Zanzer was nominated by President Enkhbayar as Honorary Consul of Mongolia to Belgium and from 2004 to 2011 served as Honorary Consul General.

After revolution broke out in Russia in November 1917, Japan moved to aid anti-Bolshevik forces in Mongolia, and a Japanese fostered pan-Mongol movement was established under the influence of the Buryat Mongols. Soon, however, the effects of the upheaval in Russia began to reach Mongolia. In October 1920, Russian White Guard troops under Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg invaded from Siberia. In February 1921, after a fierce battle, Von Ungern-Sternberg drove the Chinese out of Niyslel Huree and occupied the city. At first the White Guards were hailed as liberators by Mongolian monarchists, but in the next several months Von Ungern-Sternberg's reign of terror and destruction aroused popular opposition.

Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg was known as “the mad baron of Mongolia”. He took the city by raping and plundering for 3 days and 3 nights and ruled Mongolia for eight months, supported and financed by Japan. After that time, he decided to invade Russia. He was caught in August 1921 and executed. Von Ungern-Sternberg was exhibited in a cage on various railway platforms. People who saw his body remarked on his incredibly tiny head. After his death, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama did declare him an incarnation of the Black Mahakala, a six armed Tibetan demon prone to manifest itself in a necklace of human skulls.

It is this incarnation of Black Mahakala, the evil personalized in one person, that destroyed the court and last aristocrats of Mongolia. Mongolia lost its best experts and entered a long period of stagnation.[1]

See also


  1. ^ "last aristocrats of Mongolia". 
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