THE TORGUTS: ON THE ISSUE OF ETHNOGENESIS AND RELIGIOUS ORIENTATION

Abstract


Torguts were a part of four-part Oirat Union (West Mongolians). For the first time they were mentioned in connection with the organization of the empire of Genghis Khan as his personal guard (turhaut-keshigten), and information about them are kept in the sources for the history of the different Asian countries. The guard was composed by the representatives of different nationalities, but it’s basis, apparently, was of Kerayit people, who were Nestorians. According to European medieval legend, with Wang Khan, the head of Kerayits, was related the existence of the East Christian kingdom of Prester John. Turhaut-keshigtens, who lived in East Turkestan, for two or three centuries, ie by the middle of the XV century, formed a Torguts ethnicity from the military class, and then entered into the composition of Oirats. Their further ethnic and religious history has been linked to the events that took place on the vast territory from the Caspian Sea to Mongolia and Tibet. Torguts have created, with the complicity of other Oirat tribes, the Kalmyk Khanate in Russia; they were the influential players in the historical development of Tibetan Buddhism, and their heads received the title of “Khan” from Dalai Lama. The development of events, evidently favorable to Torguts and other Oirats at the first years of the XVIII century, at the second half of the same century resulted in the disappearance of their khanates, the significant casualties, the elimination of political and other independence.


B U Kitinov

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kitinov@mail.ru
Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia Miklukho-Maklay St., 10-2, Moscow, 117198

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