Kangxi and his son’s clothes

Touching bit from a letter sent by the Kangxi emperor to his son and heir in June 1696.

te urgun-i amasi marire jakade. simbe alimbaharakū kidumbi: te erin halhūn oho sini etuhe. kubun ša. kubun jodon-i sijigiyan duin kurume duin-be (1) unggi. urunakū fe ningge-be unggi. ama bi simbe kidure-de etuki.

“Now that I come back joyfully, I miss you very much. Now the weather has become cold, send me four gowns and four jackets of cotton silk gauze and cotton grass linen that you have worn. Make sure to send old ones. I will wear them when I miss you”.

(Text taken from Cimeddorji, Die Briefe des K’ang-Hsi-Kaisers, 1989, p. 149)
(1) I am not sure wether the specifications about the fabric apply to the gowns only or to the jackets also. Cimeddorji chose the former solution and translates “Schik mir vier Mäntel aus Baumvollgaze und aus Grasleinen, sowie vier kurze Jacken (…)”.


“Beijing” in Manchu/Sibe

Prompted by a discussion at Reddit on the rendering of “Beijing” in Manchu, here are a few examples I have met in my readings:

1) In the official biography of Sahaliyen (Uksun i wang gung sai gungge faššan be iletulere ulabun, fasc. 2, f°32a (1)):

omšon biyade. taidzung hūwangdi be dahame ming gurun be dailaname beging de nikenefi. geren beile sei emgi ming gurun i yuwan cung hūwan. dzu da šeo i dame jihe cooha be afame gidaha.

“In the eleventh month, following Hong Taiji, he approached Beijing in order to fight the Ming. With many beile, he defeated the army of Yuan Chonghuan and Zu Dashou that had come to help.”

2) In a Sibe primer, Niyamangga gisun (2006 edition), vol. 4, p. 99 (2):

bi beijing be hairambi. I love Beijing.

beijing oci musei gurun i gemun hecen. Beijing is the capital city of our country.


(1) Published in 1765 according to the StaatsBibliothek zu Berlin website, but maybe written earlier?

(2) Same in the 1992 edition, vol. 2, p. 32.

The 9th year of the Xuantong emperor

One can often read, at least in benevolent accounts, that Manchu remained in use as an official language until the end of the Qing dynasty, that is 1911-1912. It seems that this could be stretched even a bit further as is exemplified by a stone rubbing found in the 北图中国历代石刻拓本汇编, vol. 90. It is dated gehungge yoso uyuci aniya ilan biya, i. e. april 1917, a rather unusual date for a Qing document.

GY 9

Strenghthening Manchu by learning Mongolian?

hūwaliyasun tob i sunjaci aniya juwan biyai juwan jakūn de.dergi hese wasimbuhangge. te tuwaci. manjusa. monggo gisun bahanarangge umesi komso. uthai monggo gūsai niyalma seme monggororo sain ningge inu komso. erebe meni meni harangga kadalaha niyalma de hendu. monggo gisun bahanaci. manju gisun de inu tusa. erebe hiya kadalara dorgi ambasa de inu ulhibu. cohome wasimbuha:

On the 18th day of the 10th month of the 5th year of the Yongzheng era, an edict was sent:

“Presently there are very few Manchus who know Mongolian. There are also few members of the Mongolian banners who speak Mongolian well. Say this to every offical in charge: ‘When one knows Mongolian, it benefits Manchu also’. Have every hiya kadalara dorgi amban understand this. Special edict.”

Manchu poems in a Mongolian manuscript

Manchu texts sometimes pop up where you would not really expect them. Among the Mongolian manuscripts of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Cod. Mongol. 48 is peculiar in that three poems(?) written in Manchu have found their way onto the inside cover.

The spelling of some words is quite peculiar (asihota, šowayan, boya…) while there are some I can not read confidently (ki/i, geyei…). The translation is thus only tentative.

Cod. Mongol. 48

tai šan alin i majige boigon be waliyarakū.
ajige be isabuhai ci den amba ombi.
asihota urse uru(i?) šaraga sengge be ume basure
ilha ilafi i? udu erin i fulgiyan bimbiheni.

Not leaving the small property of the Tai Shan mountain,
Since the young have been gathered, they have grown up.
Young people, do not constantly deride your white-haired elders,
Once the flower has blossomed, how long will it remain red?

yadahūn niyalma geyei? de tecibe fonjire niyalma akū.
bayan niyalma šumin alin de tehebi goroki niyalma bi…
aikabade niyalma de tusa ararakū oci.
nomun tarani udu hūlaha seme gemu untuhun.

Even if a poor man lives in ?, no one asks (for him).
When a rich man lives in a deep mountain, nobody is far.
If someone does not act for the benefit of others,
It doesn’t matter how much sutras and prayers he has read.

cang giyang ni cioi nu kūi lang.
j’in loo ge hūi dzai šo niyan.

emu hergen de šowayan aisin oci hūda labdu akū.
bithe coohai erdemu bici wen? duleci ombiheni.
boya niyalma koimali jalingga ofi niyaman tumen ehe.
ambasa saisa tondo necin bime abka be hukšembi.

If there is yellow gold in a hergen, no price is too high.
If there is literary and military virtue, can civilization go away?
When commoners are wicked, hearts are ten thousand evils,
Wise men being loyal and calm, one thanks Heaven.

l. 1 Not sure about majige used as an adjective here.
l. 3 I take šaraga as šaraka.
l. 4 ki seems clearly written but what would it mean ?
l. 5 Or “he has no one to ask to” i. e. “no one to rely on”?
The word which seems to be spelled geyei could be a form of giyai “street”, this would fit the overall meaning of the text.
l. 6 I cannot read the end of the line.
l. 11 What does hergen stand for here ?

Mongols through the eyes of Nurhaci

Reading Johan Elverskog’s Our Great Qing and finding it very interesting. His main point is a reassessment of the centuries old paradigm , i. e. that the Qing used Buddhism to “ensure the undying loyalty of the Mongols” (p. 3). He shows how things are more complex than that, starting with the fact that when Khorchin Mongols turned to the Jurchen ruler Nurhaci for protection, there were “no Manchus, no Mongols and no Buddhist words or rites” involved (p. 14).This reminded me of the following extract of the Sacred Instructions of Nurhaci. Here, Khalkha and Urut (1) Mongols are scolded, maybe not for being Buddhists but at least for being too easy-going on robbers and other troublemakers.

Daicing gurun i Taidzu dergi hūwangdi i enduringge tacihiyan/大清太祖高皇帝聖訓 (duici debtelin, f°8b-10a)

abkai fulingga i nadaci aniya. sahaliyan indahūn. juwe biyai sahaliyan morin inenggi. monggoi urut gurun i minggan i jergi juwan nadan beile. kalkai ba ba i taiji. meni meni harangga jušen irgen be gajime dahame jihe manggi (2). han yamun de tucifi. amba sarin sarilafi. tacibume hese wasimbuhangge. meni gurun i banjire doro. tondo akdun. šajin i jurgan be jafafi. erdemungge sain niyalma be gidarakū wesimbume. ehe facuhūn niyalma be dere banjirakū šajin i gamame ofi. hūlha. holo ehe facuhūn akū. jugūn de tuheke jaka be saci. tunggiyeme gaifi ejen de bumbi. meni gurun i banjire doro uttu ofi. abkai gosire be alihabi. suweni monggo gurun i niyalma. gala de erihe jafafi fucihi be hūlambime. hūlha holo be nakarakū banjire be abka wakalafi. suweni beise i mujilen be gemu facuhūn obufi. gurun jobombikai. te suwe mimbe baime jihe be dahame. erdemungge sain niyalma oci. erdemui gung de dorolome ujire. erdemu akū niyalma oci. jihe gung de sain ujire. hūlha holo. ehe mujilen be ume deribure tenteke ehe mujilen be waliyarakū oci. meni šajin i gamambi kai sehe:

“The way of living of our (i. e. Manchus) gurun is loyalty and trust. Having grasped the duty of the doctrine, we do not oppress the virtuous and good persons but promote them. And since we practice a doctrine that does not have regard for the evil and confused person, there are no robbers and thieves, evil and confused persons. If someone sees something on the road, he picks it up and gives it back to its owner. Because this is the way of living of our gurun, we have received heavenly love. Someone of your gurun, Mongols, takes his rosary in hand and invokes Buddha. Heaven blames those who live and do not stop robbers and thieves, the minds of your beise become all confused and certainly the gurun suffers.”
(1) Are these the Urad?

(2) At this early date, only groups of Khalkha Mongols had submitted to Nurhaci (cf. Cambridge History of China, vol. 09, p. 30-31). The text mistakenly gives the impression that the Khalkhas as a whole (kalkai ba ba i taiji) submitted on this occasion.

Treatise On the Response of the Tao

The BNF holds a copy of a very interesting work, the Tai šang ni acabume karulara bithe (太上感应篇, Puyraimond n°229). This work, a Taoist (1) classic, is followed by a commentary and dozens of illustrative short stories forming the Ging be yaruha iletu baita. These tales could be, I feel, of interest to readers/learners of Manchu since they provide a wealth of easy material (2).There are various reasons for this :
– the stories are generally short enough to be read and enjoyed in one go
– the language is rather simple
– the fact that they were written in order to convey a moral teaching means that they have a very straightforward and predictible storyline.

One of the stories (卷 1, f°7a-f°8b) runs as follows :

gi jeo hecen i dorgi sioi halangga niyalmai sargan ini booi aha sargan jui be takūrafi aisin i sifikū be da ejen de bene seme jafabufi unggihe. tere sargan jui uju de sisifi genere de jugūn i andala nade tuheke be hecen be tuwakiyara li halangga coohai niyalma bahafi uthai tere sargan jui be dahalame genere babe tuwaci tere sargan jui emu niyalmai boode dosika. goidahakū ekšeme tucifi giyang ni dalin de genefi teni muke de fekuki serebe coohai niyalma ekšeme ilibufi fonjiha manggi. tere sargan jui hendume ejen hehe i banin hatan. teike mimbe sifikū bene seme takūraha bihe. jugūn i andala tuhefi waliyabuha. mimbe urunakū tatame wambi. tatame wabure anggala neneme bucere de isirakū sehe. tere coohai niyalma ini baha sifikū be uthai amasi buhe. tere sargan jui ambula baniha bufi genehe. amala tere sargan jui mei lin i dohon i bai irgen i niyalma de sargan ohobi. emu inenggi tere coohai niyalma siden i bithe be jafafi dohon be. teni doki serede sargan jui takafi hacihiyame ini boode gamafi nure jeku dagirafi ulebume bisirede gaitai dohon i teisu gaijara jilgan be donjifi tucifi tuwaci dore cuwan irufi cuwan de tehe niyalma gemu bucehe bi. tere li halangga coohai niyalma: sargan jui bibuhe turgun de tuttu bahafi guwehebi.

In the town of Gi Jeo, there was a woman of the Sioi family. She gave a golden hairpin to her servant and sent her saying ‘Bring it back to its owner’. The girl put the hairpin in her hair and it fell while she was walking. A city guard named Li took it and followed the girl. He saw her entering some house. Not long after, she came out in a hurry and went to the river bank, wanting to jump into the water. Quickly, the soldier stopped her and questioned her. The girl said: ‘My mistress has a violent temper. A moment ago, she sent me to deliver a hairpin but on the way, it fell and got lost. No doubt she will beat me to death. Better to die than be beaten to death!’ The soldier gave her back the hairpin he had taken. The girl thanked him heartily and went. Later she became the wife of someone from the Mei Lin ford. One day, the soldier was on a public errand and when he wanted to cross the river, the girl recognized him and urging him, she took him into her house. After she had prepared wine and food and while they were eating, suddenly they heard a voice. When they looked, (they saw that) the ferry-boat had sunk and that every one on it had died. The soldier named Li could escape it because the girl had kept him back.

(1) But a Taoism strongly influenced by Buddhism if the Wikipedia page is to be believed. Interestingly, one of the stories was published in 1859 by Stanislas Julien and is mentioned in Gorelova’s Manchu Grammar (following Pashkov?) as a ”Confucius tale”, without reference.

(2) Stanislas Julien published a translation of the whole text in 1835. But it was made on a Chinese original and the stories do not seem to be the same (or at least not in the same order) as the ones in the Manchu version. Quite possibly the Manchu translation was made on a different Chinese edition than the one used by Julien.

Être Mandchou en 1727

Voici les titres des dix chapitres du Tacibure hesei bithe, oeuvre de l’empereur Yongzheng et traçant aux Mandchous une ligne de conduite à suivre. Il est intéressant que le chapitre 5 soit consacré aux travaux des champs. Il s’agissait alors de sauver le système des Bannières de la banqueroute tout en améliorant les conditions de vie de leurs membres (1). On peut également noter qu’il n’est pas fait mention de la langue mandchoue.

ama eme be hiyoošulaci acambi:
ahūn ungga de deocileci acambi:
gašan falga be hūwaliyambuci acambi:
juse deote be tacibuci acambi:
usin i weile de hūsutuleci acambi:
niyamniyara gabtara be urebuci acambi:
malhūn hibcan be wesihuleci acambi:
arki nure be dababurakū oci acambi:
jiha efire be nakaci acambi:
becunume tantanure be targaci acambi:
Il faut faire montre de piété filiale envers ses parents
Il faut agir avec déférence envers ses aînés
Il faut vivre en harmonie avec son village et son clan
Il faut instruire ses enfants et ses cadets
Il faut travailler dur dans les champs
Il faut s’exercer au tir à l’arc à cheval et debout
Il faut mettre la frugalité à l’honneur
Il ne faut pas s’enivrer
Il faut renoncer aux jeux d’argent
Il faut cesser de se quereller

(1) Cf. Elliott, The Manchu Way, p. 316, qui décrit ce plan comme « ayant échoué de manière spectaculaire ».