Page:The Chinese Empire. A General & Missionary Survey.djvu/429

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
351
MONGOLIA

than Chinese, but the facilities for study are very poor and increase the difficulty.

The written language, having an alphabet, is naturally more easily learnt than the written Chinese. One of the predominant features is the disproportionately large part occupied by the verb, which by a slight change in its terminal has a variety of significations. The importance of honorific terms is one of the greatest difficulties. There are also so many gutturals and aspirates that the general effect is that of gasping and sputtering.

The Mongolian alphabet was derived from the Syriac through the Uigurian forms, the Nestorian missionaries having brought the Syriac to the Uigurs, a Turkish people dwelling in Central Asia. It is written perpendicularly in lines from left to right. The Manchus after the rise of that dynasty borrowed their alphabet and slightly modified it for their own use, the change being so slight that with very little modification Manchu type can be used for Mongolian. There are three styles of the written language — that of the sacred books, that of Government documents, and that for general correspondence. Outside of the sacred books and liturgies there is very little literature, religion having taken so strong a hold on the Mongolian mind.

The form of Buddhism present in Mongolia is Lamaism, Tibet being their Holy-land. In addition to their two Grand Lamas or Living Buddhas of Tibet, they have their own Living Buddha who resides at Urga. He formerly resided at Kweihwating, but having been assassinated because of a dispute as to his pre-eminence over the Emperor Kang-hsi, he was commanded by imperial decree to be born again at Urga ! Wu-t'ai-shan in Shansi is a most sacred mountain to the Mongols, and is constantly visited by crowds of pilgrims. Of this place Mr. Gilmour says : " As Jerusalem to the Jews, as Mecca to the Mohammedans, so is Wu-t'ai-shan to the Mongols." It would be difficult to put it more strongly.

Before passing on to the study of Missions in this country, it should be mentioned that the Russian Govern-