Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Amursana
AMURSANA 阿睦爾撒納, d. 1757, taisha of the Khoits, who was instrumental in the Chinese conquest of Sungaria, was a son of Boitalak 博託洛克, daughter of Tsewang Araptan [q. v.], who was married (1714) to Danjung 丹衷, the eldest son of Latzan Khan (see under Tshangs-dbyangs-rgya-mtsho). Some time after Danjung died (about 1717, said to have been killed by his father-in-law), leaving a son, Banjur 班珠爾, Boitalak married a taisha of the Khoits (see under Galdan) and later gave birth to Amursana. (Emperor Kao-tsung asserted that Boitalak had conceived before her second marriage, thus demonstrating that Amursana had no claim to be taisha of the Khoits—a statement that can scarcely be taken at face value. Some accounts assert that the mother of Amursana was a daughter of Boitalak, which seems equally improbable).
As a tribe, the Khoits were lower in rank than the other Western Mongols and their taisha was himself subordinate to the Derbets (see under Galdan) who in turn were under the rule of the Khuntaisha of the Sungars. When Amursana became taisha of the Khoits, he found the power of the Sungars waning. Galdan Tseren (see under Tsewang Araptan), the powerful and intelligent ruler of the Sungar empire, died in August or September, 1745, and was succeeded by his second son, Tsewang Dorji Namjar. The latter was quite young and was more interested in killing dogs than attending to affairs of state. In 1750 a group of his high officials or saisan 宰桑 rebelled, captured him, and after taking out his eyes, sent him a prisoner to Aksu. They proclaimed, as taisha of the Sungars, the eldest but illegitimate son of Galdan Tseren, Lama Darja 喇嘛達爾札 (d. 1752). In spite of his low birth, Lama Darja met little opposition except from Davatsi 達瓦齊 (d. 1759), grandson of the famous Cheren Dondub (see under Tsewang Araptan) who once conquered Tibet. In 1751 Davatsi was defeated by Lama Darja and with about a dozen men escaped westward to the Kazaks. Among his few followers was Amursana who finally returned to the Tarbagatai region where his people had remained. Collecting a thousand men, they marched to Ili where Lama Darja resided. They surprised him and killed him on January 13, 1752. Davatsi thus became taisha of the Sungars and richly rewarded Amursana for his service.
During these years of civil war the Sungars were weakened and impoverished. After 1750 some of them, tired of fighting or fearful of persecutions, escaped to Mongolia where they surrendered to Emperor Kao-tsung. The fugitives brought with them all their belongings, their cattle and their men, among whom were Salar 薩拉爾, a saisan who surrendered in 1750 and Tseren 車凌 (d. 1758), taisha of the Derbets who surrendered in 1753 with about three thousand families of his tribesmen. In 1754, owing to persecution by Davatsi, Amursana also declared allegiance to Emperor Kao-tsung. He brought with him five thousand soldiers, and more than four times that number of women and children who constituted a part of the Khoit tribe. As most of the Khoshotes (see under Galdan) had already surrendered, it seems that only the Sungars remained under Davatsi who is described as a drunkard and an incompetent ruler.
Grasping this opportunity to settle once for all the Sungarian problem which had troubled China for some sixty years, Emperor Kao-tsung made preparations for a final advance on Ili. As Amursana volunteered to take the vanguard he was given (late in 1754) a princedom of the first degree and early in 1755 was made assistant commander of the Northern Route Army —Bandi [q. v.] being the commander-in-chief. They set out from Uliasutai in March, and three months later combined with the Western Route Army under Salar and Yung-ch'ang (永常, d. 1755). They met little or no resistance and took Ili without fighting. Many Sungars sîmply surrendered. Davatsi collected an army south of Ili, but was easily routed (June 20) and fled towards Aksu whose beg had him captured and sent to Ili. Davatsi was escorted to Peking where he was delivered as a captive amid great celebrations. But he was soon pardoned and given a princedom of the first degree. He was allowed a mansion in Peking where he died in 1759, and after 1783 his descendants became hereditary princes of the fourth degree.
Before the expedition set out, Emperor Kao-tsung proclaimed that the four Eleuth tribes of Sungaria would be resettled in their own territory, each tribe having its own Khan who would receive his appointment from Peking. The emperor intimated that he had Amursana in mind as Khan of the Khoits. However, no sooner had Amursana reached Ili than he became intoxicated by his easy successes. He was dissatisfied with the award of Shuang Ch'in-wang 雙親王, or a princedom of the first degree entailing double stipends and privileges. Desiring the power of an independant Khan of the Eleuths, he spurned the promise of ruling only the Khoits. He did not hide his intention, but openly acted as a conqueror, telling Bandi to inform the emperor that he wished to be made Khan of the four Eleuth tribes. When his rebellious attitude became known he was ordered to proceed at once to Peking. Realizing, however, that once he left Ili he might never be able to return, he escaped on September 24, 1755 from the troops that were to escort him to the capital. He then carried out his premeditated rebellion and most of the Eleuths followed him. The main Chinese armies having been withdrawn, Bandi was helpless to do anything and so committed suicide on October 4. Thus for the following eight months Amursana was sole ruler of the Eleuths. Among those who did not rebel with Amursana was Taisha Tseren of the Derbets who was given the title, Tegus Khuruk Dalai Khan, a distinction that was handed down to his descendants.
Emperor Kao-tsung fully determined once more to subjugate the Sungars. He first announced the appointment of a Khan to each of the four tribes as promised, hoping thus to prevent their chiefs from joining the revolt. Then large armies were sent to capture Amursana. Late in March, 1756, Ili was retaken, but Amursana escaped for a second time to the Kazaks. Despite a threat to raid his country, Ablai 阿布賚, King of the Eastern Kazaks, refused to surrender the fugitive. The emperor was infuriated with the failure of his generals to capture Amursana, remarking that his good-for-nothing generals were only wasting time and money. He ordered them discharged and their forces withdrawn, and appointed Chao-hui [q. v.] commander of a small garrison to supervise the colonization of Ili. The mistake of withdrawing the armies became obvious when, late in 1756, another general rebellion broke out, led by many of the newly appointed Khans and princes, except Tseren of the Derbets. The rebellion was incited by Amursana who returned to Ili to direct it. The post-routes were again cut, but Chao-hui fought his way back to Barkul, memorializing the throne this time to take drastic measures against the insurgents. In 1757 expeditionary forces again invaded Ili and quickly routed the rebels. Amursana escaped for a third time to the Kazaks, but the Eastern Kazaks soon acknowledged Chinese suzerainty and made his stay unsafe. He then escaped to Siberia where he died of small-pox sometime in the autumn of 1757. The Russians sent back his remains which were destroyed. It is said that he left an infant son who was put in prison and remained there until his death in 1804 or 1805.
As the Eleuths had twice rebelled under Amursana they were, on the advice of Chao-hui, harshly punished by imperial order. In 1757–58 many hostile Eleuths were executed under Chao-hui's ruthless administration. Those who remained were allotted, under close supervision, some grazing lands in the Ili region, and others were transported to Heilungkiang. They were officially called Eleuths and the name Sungar was discontinued. Certain other Eleuth tribes such as the Khoshotes who lived in Kokonor did not take part in the rebellion. Some Khoshotes from the Ili region migrated to Chahar. The Derbets, under Taisha Tseren, refused to join Amursana and have since lived in western Mongolia. The Turguts who had migrated to the Caspian Sea (see under Tulišen), upon hearing of the annihilation of the Sungars, migrated slowly back in the years 1771–72. Those of them who survived the journey were allotted pastures southwest of Khobdo. As to the Khoits, some of them were incorporated under the Derbets; the rest, under the Jasaktu Khanate. The ruling house of the Sungars—except Davatsi's branch in Peking—is represented only by the descendants of Dantsila (see under Galdan) who surrendered in the K'ang-hsi period.
The subjugation of the Eleuths led to the rebellion of the Mohammedans south of the T'ienshan range and the final conquest of that region (see under Chao-hui). The prestige of Emperor Kao-tsung extended far into Central Asia. He put the conquered region under a military governor and sent Manchus and Chinese to settle it. After Tso Tsung-t'ang [q. v.] reconquered Chinese Turkestan (1877) and Russia returned Ili (1881), new province of Sinkiang or "New Dominions" was created (1882–84) from these regions.
[P'ing-ting Chun-ko-êr fang-lüeh (see under Fu-hêng); 皇輿西域圖志 Huang-yü Hsi-yü t'u-chih; Chao-lien [q. v.], Hsiao-t'ing tsa-lu, hsü-lu; Hung-li [q. v.], Ch'ing Kao-tsung yü-chih wên, ch'u-chi, chüan 22; see bibl. under Galdan].