Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/427

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349
MONGOLIA

"The second period of Mongol history is from the fall of the Yüan dynasty in A.D. 1370 to its temporary revival under Dayan Khan in 1543. This is known as the time of the 'diminished Empire,' when the Mongols were limited to Mongolia, and were gradually brought under subjection by the Mings. There was, however, a temporary reunion under Dayan Khan, who died in A.D. 1543.

"The third period of Mongol history is known as that of the 'Divided tribes.' After the death of Dayan Khan the rule was divided among his sons, but civil war followed, and the Mongols became a distintegrated body of units, and were gradually subdued by the rising of the Manchu dynasty."

It is hardly possible to recognise the timid Mongols of the present day as the descendants in any way of these warlike people. The Chinese policy of encouraging tribal divisions, and allowing marriage between the tribal chiefs with the Chinese Imperial Family, in part explains China's ability to keep them in subjection to-day; and doubtless the strong religious instinct of the people, whereby five-eighths of the male population become lamas and consequently never marry, has done not a little to limit the population and sap the virility of the race. The proportion of this priestly class to the population is greater than in any other country, Tibet not excepted.

The only real division of the Mongols is that of the "Banners," but the main classifications are:

1. The Khalkhas, who are the descendants of Jenghis Khan and occupy the north-east. Jenghis Khan called the men of his tribe Kukai Mongols or "Celestial people," and designated the other tributary tribes Tatars or the modern Tartars, a name which has become associated with the whole Mongol race.

2. The Kalmucks, who are subdivided into the Buriats or Siberian Mongolians; the Eliuts, who are more or less mixed with the Turki element, and are to be found in the west; and the Torgouts. Reclus gives in all 172 "banners." Of these, 86 are Khalkhas, 51 belong to East Mongolia, 8