Tsybikdorzhiev D., Batoeva D. The Book of Marco Polo in Connection with Buryat Ethnic History in the Era of the Yuan Empire

D. Tsybikdorzhiev
Buryat State University
Ulan-Ude, Russian Federation
ORCID 0000-0002-0693-4977
e-mail: buriahai@gmail.com

 

D. Batoeva
Institute for Mongolian Studies, Buddhology and Tibetology, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Ulan-Ude, Russian Federation
ORCID 0000-0002-9093-2471
e-mail: batoeva@imbt.ru

 

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ABSTRACT. The question about the term “horiat” in Marco Polo’s book raised by Paul Pelliot has not been solved yet. In the Pauthier edition of 1865, a version of ‘horiad’ was published in the text. Still, the footnotes allowed identification with the ‘Oirat.’ In Russian editions, this assumption has taken root and sustained practically up to the present day. Horiat, a group of people engaged in making special (including – ritual) koumiss for the imperial court, enjoyed high esteem among the Mongols. Interestingly, in several editions of Polo’s book, this term is written as ‘boriat.’ The comments to the Pauthier edition already drew attention to this fact and to a possible connection with the tribes of the Cisbaikal region. However, no special studies on this issue have been conducted yet. The paper compares Polo’s data with the information from Chinese sources. It identifies the heirs of the names of Yuan services among the Mongols during the Ming Dynasty and partially traces their biographies to modern times. The article juxtaposes the plot of the Buryat historical chronicle of the 18th century, which is about an unsuccessful naval campaign to conquer the island, with Polo’s passage about the Mongolian invasion of Japan. Both written documents employ the motif of the magic stone, or talisman, giving invulnerability from weapons, which attests to the existence of one single source. The stories of Polo’s and the Buryat chronicle are close to each other and have no analogs in other Mongolian or Chinese texts. All this suggests that Polo encountered participants of the Mongolian campaign, from whom he heard the story of the magic stone. It may have been the Buryat tribespeople who served Kublai. The Buryats, the only ones in the Mongolian world, preserved a whole complex of subjects in written monuments, shamanic ceremonial texts, and historical folklore, in which motifs of East Asian island countries (which are associated with the images of Korea and Japan), including the sea campaigns, are noted. 

 

KEYWORDS: Mongolian chronicles, Buriats, Yunshebu, Mongol invasion of Japan

 

DOI 10.31250/2618-8600-2022-2(16)-74-93
УДК 91

 

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