Hojis, beg of Turfan


Saw this recently on Twitter: the portrait of Hojis, beg of Turfan was up for sale. It is apparently a recent addition to the already known portraits of meritorious generals. The manchu poem at the top reads:

giyūn wang hojis:

dade jiyanggiyūn i selgiyehe bithe be dahame.
dawaji be uthai jafame baha.
dahaha amala udu majige tathūnjame deribucibe.
dahanduhai geli musei cooha be okdonjiha.

ede amba cooha be dahame dosifi.
ese inu kara usu de kabuhabi.
ere hoisei dorgi gebungge mukūn ofi.
erebe gemun hecen de tebuhebi:

abkai wehiyehe i šanyan muduri aniyai niyengniyeri han i arahangge:

Following the orders sent out by the general,
he then captured Dawaji.
Although some doubt arose after submitting,
He later came to meet our army.

He then followed the imperial army and invaded,
And they were surrounded in Kara Usu.
Being from a clan famous among Muslims,
He was resettled to Beijing.


The Preface of the Jiha efire be targabure juwan hacin

An interesting preface from a late 19th c. reprint [1] of a late 18th c. translation by a certain Gionai (Ch. 九鼐). Both for the nice drowning metaphor that runs through it and for the indication it gives that knowledge of written Manchu was still widespread enough at this point in time (at least where the author was stationed).

jiha efire be targabure juwan hacin.

bi kemuni siden ci mariha sula šolo de. nenehe ursei koolinga gisun be ubašatame tuwara de. jiha efire be targabure juwan hacin sere emu meyen be sabuha. yargiyan i dogon fambuhangge be doobure boobai ada. jalan i nimekungge be dasabure niktan siktan i gese ojoro jakade. muse manju kūwaran i niyalma. manju bithe bahanarangge labdu. nikan hergen takarangge komso seme gūninafi. tuttu beyei tacihangge cinggiya albatu be bodorakū. balai ubaliyambufi folobufi šuwaselabuha. ere esi ambula taciha urse de basubure ci guweme muterakū be sacibe. inu damu irubuhangge be aitubure ajige niyececun okini seme ereme gūniha. kemuni ne bisire. amaga jalan i den genggiyen ursei nisalame [2] tuwancihiyame. dasatara be. yargiyan i hing seme erehunjehei bi:

alban tacikūi baita be kadalara gūsai da Gionai ubaliyambuha.

Saicungga Fengšen i ilaci aniya aniya biyai sain inenggi.

My attempt at a translation (necessarily poor, in keeping with Gionai’s words!):
“Often, when I am away from duty, I consult the instructions of past authors and I saw a book whose title was Ten paragraphs to refrain from gambling. Truly, it is a precious raft for those who have lost the ferry, a divine elixir to cure the disease of the world. It came to my mind that there are many among us, people of the Manchu garrisons, who are acquainted with the Manchu script and few who know the Chinese characters. Consequently, I disregarded the fact that I am lacking in knowledge and produced a poor translation, got it carved and printed. Although I know it will certainly be mocked by learned people (that cannot be avoided [3]), I only hoped that it may provide some vital help to those who have drown. As for now, I truly and sincerely hope that enlightened people of the future generations will identify its defects, straighten and correct it.

Gionai, Regiment Colonel in charge of the School of the Imperial Household, has translated [this book].

Third year of Saicungga Fengšen, on an auspicious day of the first month (=1798).”

[1] It was reprinted along with at least seven other instructional works, in what seems to have been a private effort to spread proper ethics and knowledge of Manchu.
[2] I am not sure what nisalame exactly means here. Since Norman has a word nišalame “to pick off lice”, I guess it may be used here to roughly say something like “to identify defects”.
[3] I wonder if guweme muterakū should not rather be taken as “it [my translation] cannot be forgiven”: “Although I know that it will certainly be mocked by learned people and that it cannot be forgiven, I only hoped that…”.

Yaqub Beg and the Qing (2)

The following entry (the very last of the whole Tongzhi Sacred Teachings) illustrates quite well how Yaqub Beg tried to show his good will towards the Qing by sending back captured officials or, as is the case here, persons of importance. It also shows how the Court (voluntarily/mistakenly?) took this as a sign of him wanting to submit.

Daicing gurun i Muzung filingga hūwangdi i enduringge tacihiyan (大清穆宗毅皇帝聖訓), debtelin 160, f°44b-46b.
sohon honin inenggi. coohai nashūn i ambasa de dergi hese wasimbuhangge.
wenlin sei baci uju hūsiha hoise be takūrame tomilafi besir i fujin be okdome karmame hami de maribuha babe wesimbuhebi.
besir i fujin. duleke aniya fudaraka ehe hūlha de tabcilabume ciktengmu de isinaha. anjiyan i julergi jugūn i aiman i da pa hiya de duribume tucifi. bugur bade icihiyame tebuhe. harangga fujin i neome samsiha babe tuwaci yala umesi jilame gūnicuka. pa hiya i baime alibuha bithei dangse de. hami i amban i doron gidaha ulhibure bithe be alime gaiha manggi. uthai harangga fujin be amasi benebumbi seme alibuha be tuwaci. tere fudaraka be waliyafi ijishūn i dahanjire babe. murušeme saci ombi. wenlin se ne hoise wang maihamut de takūrafi. hoisei da be sonjome tomilafi harangga bade unggihe be dahame. uthai besir i fujin be sain hūdun i okdome karmafi hami de maribu. banjire ba be ufarabuci ojorakū. harangga pa hiya unenggi julergi jugūn i geren hoton i aiman niyalma be kadalame gaifi gaiharilame dahanjiha bime. geli turfan i hoton be alibume tucibume muteci gurun boo esi urunakū kesi isibuci acambi. erebe wenlin sede afabufi unenggi tucibume ulhibume selgiyefi. arga deribufi elbime jibufi. amba arbun de tusa arakini harangga pa hiya i amasi karu ungginjihe bithe be alime gaiha de uthai hahi hūdun i wesimbu sehe.

[On the 13th year, 11th month,] the day of the yellowish sheep, an edict was sent to the officials of the Great Council:
Wenlin and co. have memorialized about dispatching turban-headed Muslims[1], going to meet Besir’s wife and bringing her back safely to Hami.
Last year[2], Besir’s wife was captured by evil rebels and arrived in Ciktengmu. Having been seized by the Andijan Pasha, the leader of the tribes of the Southern Circuit, she has been taken care of and resettled in Bugur. The said wife’s wanderings are truly something that provokes compassionate thoughts. In the document he presented, Pasha says he will send back the said wife after he has received a letter of instructions bearing the seal of the Hami amban. Considering this, it can more or less be seen that he is abandoning his rebellion and obediently submits. Now, let Wenlin and co. dispatch people to the Muslim wang Maihamut, and Muslim leaders be chosen and sent to the aforementioned place. Then, have Besir’s wife be met with and quickly brought back safely to Hami. We cannot have this opportunity be lost[3].
After having conquered them, the said Pasha truly rules over the people of the towns of the Southern Circuit, and suddenly he has made offers to submit[4]. When he will have given back the town of Turfan, it will be appropriate to bestow great favor upon him.
After you have handed this over to Wenlin and co. and have truly informed him, let him come up with a plan to win over and make [Pasha] come. This will be beneficial to the overal situation.[5]
When the answer of the said Pasha will have been received, memorialize without delay.
[1] Turkic-speaking Muslims (Ch. 纏頭 chantou).
[2] See the entries starting of f°63b (the capture) and 83a (the freeing of Maihamut) for these events.
[3] I don’t find banjire ba easy to translate. Literally “opportunity of living”, meaning the chance of getting the wife back and alive.
[4] Although dahanjiha can mean “he suddenly came to submit”, it should not be taken literally here. It is more akin to “he made offers of submission” (that is, in the eyes of the Qing of course).
[5] The series of -fi…-kini has to be broken down for translation but I hope I haven’t made a mess of it.

Yaqub Beg and the Qing (1)

The Dungan revolt (1862-1877) in Xinjiang, which had started as a Hui Muslim rebellion against Manchu-Chinese forces in Gansu and Shaanxi, soon spread to Xinjiang where Turkic Muslims cooperated with the Hui. This situation was altered when the insurgents in Xinjiang required help from Kokand’s ruler, who answered their call by sending Yaqub Beg in 1865. After establishing his authority over the Kasghar region, Yaqub Beg declared a jihad against the Dungans, basically turning the revolt into a three-party affair: the Qing dynasty (bent on getting back the whole region), the Dungans (now sandwiched between the Qing and Yaqub Beg), and Yaqub Beg (quickly expending his dominion at the expense of the Dungans).[1]

After defeating the Dungans at Turfan and Urumci, Yaqub Beg was for the first time in direct contact with the Qing and in 1871 he sent a letter explaining the legitimacy of his rule over the region. Wenlin, the Qing official in charge in Hami, was nonplussed and answered with a “Letter of Admonition” in which he thanked Yaqub Beg for defeating the Dungans but also by made it very clear that the territories he now held are part of Qing empire. This exchange has been studied in depth in Onuma, ‘First Contact between Ya’qub Beg and the Qing‘, JAAS 84, 2012, p. 5-37.I thought it would be interesting to see what the Tongzhi Emperor’s Sacred Teachings had to say about Yaqub Beg and gathered a couple of entries that deal in some depth with his actions.

The first one shows the court reaction to the exchange of letters mentioned above between Yaqub Beg and Wenlin. It is interesting in showing that, while Yaqub Beg’s intentions are becoming clear, the court is still very much in the dark about who he is. He is throughout referred to as ‘Pa Hiya’ (from the word ‘Pasha’) but the court apparently still doesn’t know weher it is the title of a ruler or a personal name.

duin biyai niowanggiyan indahūn inenggi coohai nashūn i ambasa de dergi hese wasimbuhangge. welin sei baci. anjiyan i dalaha hoise dangse be alibume benehe. urumci hoton i fudaraka hoise anjiyan de dahanaha. dalaha fudaraka hoise ma jung. urumci hoton ci bithe alibufi bilure de dayanjiki seme baiha babe. hacin hacin i wesimbuhebi.
anjiyan pa hiya turfan i hoton be kame afafi. ehe hoise be gisabume burulaha. harangga pa hiya unenggi gurun i jalin hūsun bume faššaci. ainu alibuha dangse i dolo. umai unenggi i dahanjire hoton be amasi afabure gisun akū ni. ere dade harangga hoton i nikan irgen be leksei uju fusibufi julergi jugūn de unggihe secibe. ya bade icihiyame tebure be sarkū. harangga pa hiya ne hoton i tule kūwaran ilibufi yohoron fetefi uju hūsire hoise be tomilame takūrafi. hoton be tuwašatame tuwakiyabuha be tuwaci. ba na be ejelefi tomoro jalin kicerengge. iletu bime ja i sambi. ede bime urumci hoton i fudaraka hoise be hafirame dahalabuha bime. kemuni ma jung be wen de dahabuha jeo i uheri da obuha. yargiyan i dorgideri ehe mujilen hefeliyehe.
wenlin se. ne arga deribufi sidereme jafatafi. ulhibure bithe bufi. tesebe unenggi i baime dahanjibufi hoton be amasi afabubuki seme toktobuha be tuwaci. inu tooselame gamarakū ome muterakū. damu urunakū olhošoho dade geli olhošome. cira narhūn i seremšeme belhebuci acambi. majige oihorilame gamafi. harangga pa hiya de eiterebure de isibuci ojorakū.
wenlin se. harangga pa hiya de buhe ulhibure bithei dolo. turgun be tucibume baime wesimbufi. kooli ci tulgiyen kesi isibufi. pa hiya be dabali saišame huwekiyebuki. hese be gingguleme alime gaiha manggi. uthai pa hiya de beneme afabufi. gingguleme tuwabuki seme toktobufi wesimbuhe bime. bukdari i dolo ere hacin be adarame icihiyara babe. umai getukeleme tucibuhekū erebe wenlin sede afabufi icihiyara arbun dursun be saikan tulbime bodofi. an i emu derei donjibume wesimbu. su hūwan jang nimeme akū oho sehengge. yargiyan yargiyan akū. pa hiya anjiyan i hoisei da i gebu inuo wakao. eici niyalmai gebu inuo. erebe kemuni suwaliyame wesimbu.

On the fourth month, on the day of the greenish dog, an edict was sent to the members of the Great Council:
Welin and co. have memorialized about the following, “The Muslim ruler of Anjiyan has sent a document. The Muslim rebels of Urumci have surrendered to Anjiyan. Ma Zhong[2], the leader of the Muslim rebels, sent a letter from Urumci and wants to submit.”
The Andijan Pasha besieged the town of Turfan and wiped out the evil Muslims, who fled away. If the said Pasha truly exerted himself on behalf of our country, how come his letter makes no mention of giving us back the town who is submitting to him? Moreover, he had the whole Chinese population of the said town have their head shaved and sent them to the Southern Circuit[3], and nothing is known about their present whereabouts. Now the said Pasha has set up a camp outside of the city and has dug ditches; he has sent turban-headed Muslims[4] and has them keep a close watch on the city. If we consider all this, it is very clear that he is bent on controlling the area and staying there. He has also made Ma Zhong commandant of the Urumci area. This truly shows that his intentions are bad.
Wenlin and co. have now come up with a plan, keeping him in check and sending him a letter, instructing him to give us these towns back after they have genuinely submitted. If we consider these decisions, it is essential to ponder cautiously. Not only should we be prudent but it is also fitting to have a defence prepared very carefully. It won’t do to treat things with even the slightest carelessness and expose us to be deceived by the said Pasha.
Wenlin and co. have memorialized, informing us about the matter contained in the letter of instructions given to the said Pasha and asking [for instructions]. They have memorialized about their decision to bestow exceptional favor upon Pasha and to nurture his zeal by praising him beyond measure. After an edict has been received, they will send it to Pasha and will inform us[5]. They did not bring out clearly at all in the document how these things would be taken care of. After this [edict] has been transmitted to Wenlin and co. and the circumstances have been well pondered, send an ordinary memorial about these. Memorialize also about Suo Huanzhang[2] having died, is it true or not? Is Pasha the name of the chief of the Andijan Muslims or not? Maybe it is a personal name?

[1] This very crude summary does not do justice to the complex situation that existed at the time. For a detailed account of the events, see Kim Hodong, Holy War in China. The Muslim Rebellion and State in Chinese Central Asia, 1864-1877, Stanford University Press, 2004.
[2] A Dungan leader.
[3] Ch. 南路 (nanlu)
[4] That is Turkic Muslims, as opposed to the Dungans/Hui Muslims.
[5] I find the syntax here a bit convoluted and the translation can probably be improved.


Turco-manjurica (sort of…)

I readily admit that the title is somewhat clickbaity since what follows is (sadly) not a new bilingual Chaghatay-Manchu text. It consists of a few Manchu lines that appear at the very end of Ms. or. oct. 1660 (f°124-125/p. 132-133), a Chaghatay manuscript kept at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin.

The Manchu text (written by a trained hand) is as follows:
badarangga doro i juwan juweci aniya. nadan biyai. ice
nadan i inenggi. X doo tai amban i afabuha
gisun. dobori dari yamun \de/ tungši molo. idurame
yendembi seme afabuhangge be jurceci ojorakū.

“On the 7th day of the 7th month of the 12th year of the Guangxu emperor[1], the circuit intendant X ordered that the translator Molo should get up[2] to be on duty at night in the yamen. This order is not to be disregarded.”

orin? sunja?
aweguste sere biyai
emu minggan jakūn tanggū. jakūnju ningguci aniya?

“25? of the month called August 1886”

Apart from the use of the Gregorian calendar on p. 125, one point of interest is that the writers used the titles doo tai and tungši, which are taken straight from the Chinese (respectively 道臺 and 通事), instead of their, by then current, Manchu equivalents dooli hafan and hafumbukū. This points to the rich, dynamic and not always well-understood interplay between Manchu, Eastern Turki, and Chinese in Xinjiang at the time, a topic that has been broached by Eric Schluessel in two very interesting articles at the Manchu Studies Group blog:

While the Manchu text uses Manchu titles, the Turki sticks to transliterations of Chinese. I am curious to know if there was any point when Turki translations were issued of Manchu titles, or if the Turki was always figured through Chinese, perhaps out of tradition or a sense that the positions bound the King of Qumul to a distinctly Chinese order. That said, Chinese words were at this point not uncommon in colloquial Turki.
(Turco-Manjurica Revisited: a Closer Look at Haenisch 1951)

Albert von le Coq, who published one of a pair of scholarly editions of the Turkic Qing Code, forgotten now for over a century, comments that the Code seems awkward in Turkic, as though it were translated word for word from the Chinese.[4] Perhaps what von le Coq read as a poor translation was actually a good translation from Manchu. Further research is needed.
(Turco-Manjurica: The Turki Translation of Shunzhi’s Moral Exhortations to the People)

Apart from the two blogposts mentioned above, this topic received a detailed treatment in Brophy & Onuma, The Origins of Qing Xinjiang: A Set of Historical Sources on Turfan, CERS 12, 2016, especially p. 39-58.

[1] August 6th, 1886.
[2] I am more familiar with yendembi meaning “to rise up/be prosperous/flourish” but the more prosaic meaning “to get up” seems to be called for here.


One of the sections in the Sacred Instructions of the Tongzhi emperor (1) makes use of a word that has apparently not found its way into the Manchu dictionaries I could consult.
The text is as follows (debtelin 59, f°64-65):
yooningga dasan i jai aniya sahahūn ulgiyan. omšon biyai šahūn honin inenggi. dorgi yamun de dergi hese wasimbuhangge. booyūn. taigiyan dorkūlame gisurehe turgunde. ciralame isebuki seme hese be baime wesimbuhebi. aliha amban booyūn. ere biyai orin nadan de. jalafun tob hošoi gungju i fu de genefi tuwašatame icihiyara de. harangga fu i dalaha taigiyan jang ioi tsang. fuhali dergi adun i jurgan i lorin morin sain akū ofi. sonjome halaki sere gūnin tebuhe turgunde. booyūn de dorkūlame gisureme bime. kemuni harangga amban be beye nikenefi sejen faidakini seme gisurehe be tuwaci. horon de ertufi etuhušeme yabume. gurun booi ambakan hafan be gidašame girubuhangge. yargiyan i fahūn amba balai yabume. gūniha ci tulgiyen baita. aika ciralame isebume icihiyarakū oci. amaga inenggi geren ba i taigiyasa der seme alhūdame yabuha de. eyehe jemden atanggi nakambini. ere tacin ba ainaha seme jendebuci ojorakū be dahame. jang ioi tsang be uthai dalaha taigiyan nakabufi. erun be gingguleme fiyenten de afabufi ciralame sibkime beidefi. fafun i bithei songkoi weile tuhebufi wesimbu sehe:

If I understand the text correctly, one day during the winter 1863-1864, Booyūn, an aliha amban, went to the residence of a princess on some kind of inspection. Upon noticing that the mules and horses were not what they should be, he asked for them to be replaced. The chief eunuch of the residence, Jang Ioi Tsang, spoke dorkūlame-ly and said that the official should come himself and arrange things up.
The word dorkūlame is used twice to describe the way the eunuch spoke. Given the context it seems quite clear that it is made of doro akū ‘without principle’ and the suffix –lA-, used to build verbs having roughly the meaning ‘to make/be/act as/perform X’ (for instance da ‘head’ > da-la-mbi ‘to lead’; gucu ‘friend’ > gucu-le-mbi ‘to make/be friends’; aba ‘(a) hunt’ > aba-la-mbi ‘to hunt’, etc.).

To be read in the same debtelin, the documents chronicling the demise of eunuch An Dehai.

(1) That is, the Daicing gurun i Muzung filingga hūwangdi i enduringge tacihiyan (Ch. 大清穆宗毅皇帝聖訓), a recent (and massive) addition to the corpus of Manchu texts online for which we can again thank the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin.

Shen Qiliang’s Manchu works

To celebrate the fact that the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin recently digitized Shen Qiliang’s Manju bithei jy nan, I thought I would post a list of his works, together with links to a digital copy (if known to me).

Shen lived in the second half of the 17th c. and despite not being Manchu he developed an interest in the Manchu language and published several works aimed at making its study easier. For more about him, see the article published in the 2014 issue of Saksaha by Mårten Söderblom Saarela mentioned below.

Manju bithei jy nan (清書指南), an introduction to Manchu with syllabary, dialogues and grammar
Daicing gurun i yooni bithe (大清全書), the “oldest preserved Manchu lexicon” (see here for more details)
Ioi jy be giya sing (御製百家姓滿漢合集), a commented edition of the Hundred Family Surnames
Sy šu tuwara oyonggo bithe (四書要覽), extracts of the Four Books
Shier zitou jizhu, not a full publication but a detailed presentation of this work dedicated to the Manchu script

Shen Qiliang also published bilingual editions of the Thousand Character Classic but I haven’t been able to locate a copy online. Instead here is a version kept at the Waseda University Library: 歴朝聖賢篆書百体千文.

Chinese chan poetry in Manchu garb

Update. Many thanks to Dr. Alan Wagner, who has been kind enough to point out that I erred in attributing the poems to Yan Bing, while they are in fact the works of others and have been inserted in his text as commentary. I have modified the text below to reflect this.

The SOAS-University of London digital library recently put online a Manchu work I knew nothing about. Its title is Bolgo weilen be dasara bithe. wara be targara bithe / 浄業文 戒殺文 (1). There is no preface or publishing date, but at some point somebody twice wrote a date belonging to the year QL57 [1792] at the beginning of the book.

As the title shows, there are in fact two different works in this fascicle (with separate pagination), whose full titles are:
– the ši dz fung ba i žu žu yan bing ni araha bolgo weilen be dasara be hacihiyara bithe (f°1-16)
– the liyan cy daši i araha wara be targara ergengge be sindara be gubci tafulara bithe (f°1-4)

The first one is the work of Yan Bing (顏丙, aka ‘Layman Ruru’/如如居士, d. 1212), a ‘Chan Buddhist layman of the Southern Song’. The other is the work of Zhu Hong (祩宏/蓮池大師, 1535-1615).

This is cause enough for interest since I am not aware that many texts of this kind have been translated into Manchu. As far as I know, Manchu translations of Buddhist texts consist mainly of common sutras (that are shared with other traditions) or of texts that are specific to the Tibetan tradition. This is probably the result of translators generally devoting themselves first to the main canonical texts and of Qianlong’s personal interest in this particular branch of Buddhism, an interest which eventually led him to publish a complete Manchu Buddhist Canon modeled on the Tibetan one (2). Going against this trend, the work now online at the SOAS website shows that translation of Buddhist works belonging purely to the Chinese tradition also took place.

Another very interesting aspect of this book is that the part authored by Yan Bing features many poems by various authors, which serve as commentary. These poems are rendered in Manchu verse, characterised by initial alliteration and final rhyme, according to the following scheme:


Here is the first of the poems (together with a translation which probably does justice neither to the Manchu, nor to the Buddhist content):

siowei fung ni tukiyecun i gisun.

emteli dengjan dabufi dobori eldešembi.
ereci besergen de tafafi fomoci sabu be sumbi.
ere ilan fayangga nadan oron tolgin deri geneci.
eici cimari jidere jiderakūngge boljon akū ombi (sehebi).

A hymn of praise by Xuefeng (雪峯)

A single lamp has been lit and keeps shining in the night.
One then goes to bed and removes socks and shoes.
When these three yang-souls and seven yin-souls (3) move away from the dream,
One might become without waves, wether tomorrow comes or not .

I hope the SOAS Library will go on with their Manchu books digitalisation program, especially since they seem to have plenty of interesting material (4).

(1) It appears in T. Pang’s Descriptive Catalogue of Manchu Manuscripts and Blockprints in the St. Petersbourg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies, 2001, p. 150-151, n°355.

(2) See M. Bingenheimer’s History of the Manchu Buddhist Canon for a good history of how the Manchu Canon came into being (especially p. 207-208 for Qianlong and the Changja Khutugtu’s somewhat distrustful attitude towards aspects of the Chinese Buddhist tradition).

(3) San hun qi po, 三魂七魄.

(4) There is for instance another intriguing work which is presented as [Unidentified Manchu text]. Given the title (Dai yuwan i kooli ningguci. Sidzu) and what I have read of the content, I would be tempted to see in it the drafts of the translations of the Yuan dynastic history (Dai yuwan gurun i suduri) published in 1646. This would be a fantastic find but I cannot confirm it, not having access the the printed text of the Dai yuwan gurun i suduri.