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.



A Manchu learner’s composition book?

The Bibliothèque Nationale de France holds a copy of a Manchu work(1) in which are found several short texts which seem to have been written by a Christian learning Manchu (a missionary?). Some of them are explicitly Christian in content (the Lord’s prayer for instance), others are more mundane and some even seem to have been written in a joking tone. Two of them are concerned with the learning of Manchu, here is the first one in which the author reflects on the fact that he must be a student of no oustanding ability since his teacher comes to teach him as often as possible:

bi tuwaci manju gisun tacibure urse šabisa i sure albatu tuwambi. sure oci hacihiyame tacibumbi. albatu seci heolendeme šušuri mašari tacibumbi. bodoci sefu mimbe albatui ton de obuhabi. uttu ofi sefu daruhai jiderakū. damu šolo be tuwame mudan mudan jimbi. albatu faksi mudangga moo be tuwancihiyame muterakū: mergen faksisai gala de isinjici uthai tondo ombi:

It seems to me that Manchu teachers look upon students as intelligent or ordinary. If one is intelligent, they teach him with speed. If one is ordinary, they teach him slowly(2) and meticulously. Upon consideration, my teacher put me in the ‘ordinary’ category. Consequently, he does not come often but each time he has the opportunity he comes. An ordinary craftsman cannot straighten a curved piece of wood; if it comes into the hands of a skilled craftsman, then can it be straightened.

I will post other texts from this work since they are often light reading with a few interesting lexical items.


(1) The work is mislabeled as are many others at Gallica. It should also be noted that although the lines on each page are to be read in the normal left-to-right order, pages follow one another from right to left.

(2) heole(n)dembi appears as “to be careless, to be negligent, to be idle” in Norman’s Lexicon but I think the context here calls for something without pejorative association, like “slowly”.


On hold

Due to other commitments, I will stop posting here for a while.

Since this blog never really served its intended purpose (see the Avant-propos/About page), it is not clear if I will resume posting.

“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.

“No different than a Manchu”

 In 1773, during the Jinchuan war, the Qianlong emperor appointed officials for each of the three roads to be taken by the army on its way to attack the Cucin. While doing so, the emperor praises the Chinese official Han Guwe Hing. The way he does it is interesting and shows how much ethnic distinction was a factor to be reckoned with.

Also to be noted is the fact that only in the case of Han Guwe Hing did the emperor feel it was necessary to provide some explanation for his decision. The nomination of the Manchu officials Šucang and Hailanca to the same post is done without any justification.

dzanla cucin i ba be necihiyeme toktobuha bodogon i bithe. dehi sunjaci debtelin: (f° 1a-2b)

jorgon biyai sahahūn coko inenggi. dorgi yamun de dergi hese wasimbuhangge. wargi julergi juwe jugūn i coohai kūwaran. emgeri ishunde mejige hafumbuhabi. ereci cooha acafi uhei dailame dzanla be necihiyeme toktobuha manggi. uthai cucin de cooha guribufi. dalaha hūlha be jafafi jecen i ergi amaga jobolon be enteheme geterembuci ombi. te coohai jeku elgiyen tumin. giyan i ilan jugūn obume dendefi. coohai horon be algimbuci acara be dahame. wenfu be jecen be toktobure jiyanggiyūn sinda. agūi. fengšengge be gemu aisilara jiyanggiyūn sinda. jiyanggiyūn jai aisilara jiyanggiyūn i doron be. ashan i amban fuk’angga be tucibufi. giyamulame benebufi. uthai coohai kūwaran de bibufi meyen i amban de yabukini. wenfu i jugūn de šucang be hebei amban obu. agūi i jugūn de hailanca be hebei amban obu. han guwe hing udu niowanggiyan turun i nikan hafan bicibe. cooha gaifi afara bade dulembuhe bime. daci kiyan cing men i hiya de yabuha bihe. manju amban ci encu akū. fengšengge i jugūn de. uthai han guwe hing be hebei amban obu. jugūn dendefi sasa dosime. abkai dailan isibume. amba gungge be hūdun mutebufi. aiman i jobolon be enteheme geterembume kicekini sehe. (1)

Military annals of the war against the two Jinchuan. 45th fascicle (f°1a-2b)

“(…) Despite being a Chinese official of the Green Standard army, Han Guwe Hing has taken troops, experienced combat, and was formerly on guard at the Kiyan Cing Men (2). He is no different than a Manchu high official. Consequently, appoint Han Guwe Hing as Councillor for Fengšengge’s road. (…)”

It would be interesting to see how this passage is treated in the Chinese version of the text…


(1) To be read here.

(2) I. e. the Gate of Heavenly Purity (乾清门, qiánqīng mén).