Upper Mongols

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Upper Mongols
Regions with significant populations
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China 100,000 (2009)
Khoshut dialect of Oirat Mongolian
Tibetan Buddhism and Shamanism
Related ethnic groups
Oirats, Mongols, Mongols in China

The Upper Mongols (Mongolian: Дээд монгол, Deed mongol, Mongolian script: ᠲᠡᠭᠡᠲᠦ
), also known as the Köke Nuur Mongols (Mongolian: Хөх нуурын Монгол, Mongolian script: ᠬᠥᠬᠡ
ᠨᠠᠭᠤᠷ ᠤᠨ
, "Blue lake Mongol") or Qinghai Mongols (Chinese: 青海蒙古), are ethnic Mongol people of Oirat and Khalkha origin who settled around Qinghai Lake in so-called Upper Mongolia. As part of the Khoshut Khanate of Tsaidam and the Koke Nuur they played a major role in SinoMongolTibetan politics during the 17th and 18th centuries. The Upper Mongols adopted Tibetan dress and jewelry despite still living in the traditional Mongolian ger and writing in the script.



After the disintegration of the Mongolic [1] [2] [3] Xianbei state, nomadic groups such as the (Monguor) migrated under the rule of their Khan, Tuyuhun, from their original settlements on the Liaodong Peninsula to the western region of modern Qinghai. [4] The Tuyuhun Empire (284–670) stretched 1,500 kilometers from east to west and 1,000 kilometers from north to south.

Although, the Mongols of the GansuQinghai Lake areas under the rule of the Yuan dynasty submitted to the Ming dynasty after the Yuan dynasty's fall in 1368, the Upper Mongols came there in 16th and 17th centuries. Many Mongol emperors and rulers of the Northern Yuan dynasty such as Dayan Khan, Ligdan Khan, the Ordos and Tümed princes invaded, or took refuge, in Qinghai from 1509 to 1632. The Tümed Mongols ruled in the Ordos region and they gradually extended their domain into northeastern Qinghai. [5]

The Khoshut's leader Toro Baikhu Güshi Khan defeated all the Dalai Lama V's enemies in 1637–1642. He was enthroned by the Dalai Lama as Khan of Tibet. His grandson and second successor Gonchug Dalai Khan (1669–98) welcomed dissident Dzungars when Galdan Khan began despising Guushi Khan's Oirats.

Statue of Gushi Khan (right) in the Dalai Lama's palace, next to the statue of the Dalai Lama himself (left). (Drawing by Johann Grueber, 1661) Kircher Dalai Lama.jpg
Statue of Güshi Khan (right) in the Dalai Lama's palace, next to the statue of the Dalai Lama himself (left). (Drawing by Johann Grueber, 1661)

With the defeat of Galdan in 1697, Dalai Khung Taiji Dashi Batur submitted to the Kangxi Emperor of the Qing dynasty in a personal audience. In 1705, with the approval of the Kangxi Emperor of the Manchu Qing dynasty, Lha-bzang Khan of the Khoshud deposed the regent and sent the 6th Dalai Lama to Beijing; the 6th Dalai Lama died soon after, probably near Qinghai Lake (Koko nur) in Amdo. The Dzungar Mongols invaded Tibet in 1717, and held the entire region until their final defeat by the Qing imperial army in 1720., [6] thus began the period of Qing rule of Tibet.

The Upper Mongolia or the Khoshut Khanate was conquered in 1717 and 80,000 people were killed. [7] By that period, Upper Mongolian population reached 200,000. The Upper Mongols revolted against the Manchu Qing dynasty under rule of the prince Lubsan Danzan in 1723 but they were defeated. Lubsan Danzan was killed by the Manchus in 1755.

The Upper Mongols in Northwest China revived their cultural ties with Inner Mongolia with the liberalization in 1979. The Tibetan culture strongly influenced them, however they use Mongolian script unlike other major Oirat tribes that use Zaja Pandita's Todo Bichig Clear script.

The Khoshut Khanate (1642-1717) based in the Tibetan Plateau. Mongolia XVII.png
The Khoshut Khanate (1642–1717) based in the Tibetan Plateau.

The separation of the Tibetans from the Mongolian banners weakened the Upper Mongols. After 1775, the Tibetans made increasingly bold attacks on the Mongols. Hence, small group of the Upper Mongols fled to Gansu to escape the Tibetan nomads and they formed Subei Mongol county. In 1821 the Tibetan nomads made a mass migration north, sweeping away the Qinghai Mongol banners between the Yellow River and Qinghai Lake due to the internal strife between the Tibetans. In 1897 the Hui Muslims plundered the Upper Mongols.

Ethnic groups of the Upper Mongols

Not all Upper Mongols are Khoshut Oirats; there are a few Khalkha, Choros and Torghuts. The Ligdan Khan came to Upper Mongolia with 150,000–200,000 Chahar people (30,000–40,000 soldiers) and his ally Tsogt Taij came with 40,000 Khalkha soldiers, but 70%–90% of them were killed by disease and by the Güshi Khan's army. Upper Mongolia had 29 hoshuns [8] (21 Khoshut, 2 Choros, 4 Torghut, 1 Khalkha) in the early 20th century. Now there are 9 hoshuns of the Upper Mongols. 80,000–90,000 Upper Mongols live in the Qinghai region and 10,000 Upper Mongols live in Subei Mongol Autonomous County (2010).

Related Research Articles

Mongols Nomadic groups of Eastern Asian people primarily located in Mongolia and Northeastern China

The Mongols are an East Asian ethnic group native to Mongolia and to China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. They also live as minorities in other regions of China, as well as in Russia. Mongolian people belonging to the Buryat and Kalmyk subgroups live predominantly in the Russian federal subjects of Buryatia and Kalmykia.


The Kalmyks are a Mongol subgroup in Russia and Kyrgyzstan, whose ancestors migrated from Dzungaria in 1607. They created the Kalmyk Khanate in 1630–1771 in Russia's North Caucasus territory. Today they form a majority in the Republic of Kalmykia located in the Kalmyk Steppe, on the western shore of the Caspian Sea.

Dzungar Khanate Early modern khanate of Oirat Mongol origin

The Dzungar Khanate, also written as the Zunghar Khanate, was an Inner Asian khanate of Oirat Mongol origin. At its greatest extent, it covered an area from southern Siberia in the north to present-day Kyrgyzstan in the south, and from the Great Wall of China in the east to present-day Kazakhstan in the west. The core of the Dzungar Khanate is today part of northern Xinjiang, also called Dzungaria.


Oirats are the westernmost group of the Mongols whose ancestral home is in the Altai region of Siberia, Xinjiang and Western Mongolia.

The Khalkha is the largest subgroup of Mongol people in modern Mongolia since the 15th century. The Khalkha, together with Chahars, Ordos and Tumed, were directly ruled by Borjigin khans until the 20th century; unlike the Oirats, who were ruled by Dzungar nobles or the Khorchins, who were ruled by Qasar's descendants.

Güshi Khan

Güshi Khan was a Khoshut prince and leader of the Khoshut Khanate, who supplanted the Tumed descendants of Altan Khan as the main benefactor of the Dalai Lama and the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. In 1637, Güshi Khan defeated a rival Mongol prince Choghtu Khong Tayiji, a Kagyu follower, near Qinghai Lake and established his khanate in Tibet over the next years. His military assistance to the Gelug school enabled the 5th Dalai Lama to establish political control over Tibet.


The Khoshut are one of the four major tribes of the Oirat people. Originally, Khoshuuds were one of the Khorchin tribes in southeastern Mongolia, but in the mid-15th century they migrated to western Mongolia to become an ally of Oirats to counter central Mongolian military power. Their ruling family Galwas was the Hasarid-Khorchins who were deported by the Western Mongols.

Galdan Boshugtu Khan Boshugtu Khan

Choros Erdeniin Galdan was a Dzungar-Oirat Khan of the Dzungar Khanate. As fourth son of Erdeni Batur, founder of the Dzungar Khanate, Galdan was a descendant of Esen Taishi, the powerful Oirat Khan of the Northern Yuan dynasty who united the western Mongols in the 15th century. Galdan's mother Yum Aga was a daughter of Güshi Khan, the first Khoshut-Oirat King of Tibet.

Ligdan Khan Khagan of the Mongols

Ligdan Khutugtu Khan or Lindan Han (林丹汗) was the last khan of the Northern Yuan dynasty based in the Mongolian Plateau as well as the last in the Borjigin clan of Mongol Khans who ruled the Mongols from Chakhar. His unpopular reign generated violent opposition due to his harsh restrictions over the Mongols. His alliance with Ming dynasty of China, sponsorship of Tibetan Buddhism in Chakhar and reorganization of Mongolian political divisions were ineffective when the Qing dynasty became the major power in East Asia.

Galdan Tseren (?–1745) was a Choros-Oirat prince and the Khong Tayiji of the Dzungar Khanate from 1727 until his death in 1745.

Erdeni Batur was a Choros-Oirat prince generally considered to be the founder of the Dzungar Khanate, centered in the Dzungaria region, currently in north-westernmost part of China.

Mongolia under Qing rule

Mongolia under Qing rule was the rule of the Qing dynasty over the Mongolian steppe, including the Outer Mongolian 4 aimags and Inner Mongolian 6 leagues from the 17th century to the end of the dynasty. "Mongolia" here is understood in the broader historical sense. The last Mongol Khagan Ligden saw much of his power weakened in his quarrels with the Mongol tribes, was defeated by the Manchus, and died soon afterwards. His son Ejei Khan gave Hong Taiji the imperial authority, ending the rule of Northern Yuan dynasty then centered in Inner Mongolia by 1635. However, the Khalkha Mongols in Outer Mongolia continued to rule until they were overrun by the Dzungars in 1690, and they submitted to the Qing dynasty in 1691.

Northern Yuan dynasty Former empire in East Asia

The Northern Yuan was a dynastic regime ruled by the Mongol Borjigin clan based in the Mongolian Plateau. It operated as a rump state after the collapse of the Yuan dynasty of China in 1368 and lasted until its conquest by the Jurchen-led Later Jin dynasty in 1635. The Northern Yuan dynasty began with the end of Yuan rule in China proper and the retreat of the Yuan remnants led by Toghon Temür to the Mongolian steppe. This period featured factional struggles and the often only nominal role of the Great Khan.

Choros Historical ethnic group

Choros or Tsoros was the ruling clan of the Dzungars and Dörbet Oirat and once ruled the whole Four Oirat. They founded the Dzungar Khanate in the 17th century. Their chiefs reckoned their descent from a boy nourished by a sacred tree.

Four Oirat

The Four Oirat, also known as the Alliance of the Four Oirat Tribes or the Oirat Confederation, was the confederation of the Oirat tribes which marked the rise of the Western Mongols in Mongolian history.

Various nomadic empires, including the Xiongnu, the Xianbei state, the Rouran Khaganate (330–555), the First 552–603) and Second Turkic Khaganates (682–744) and others, ruled the area of present-day Mongolia. The Khitan people, who used a para-Mongolic language, founded an empire known as the Liao dynasty (916–1125) and ruled Mongolia and portions of the present-day Russian Far East, northern Korea, and North China.

Mongol invasions of Tibet

There were several Mongol invasions of Tibet. The earliest is the alleged plot to invade Tibet by Genghis Khan in 1206, which is considered anachronistic; there is no evidence of Mongol-Tibetan encounters prior to the military campaign in 1240. The first confirmed campaign is the invasion of Tibet by the Mongol general Doorda Darkhan in 1240, a campaign of 30,000 troops that resulted in 500 casualties. The campaign was smaller than the full-scale invasions used by the Mongols against large empires. The purpose of this attack is unclear, and is still in debate among Tibetologists. Then in the late 1240s Mongolian prince Godan invited Sakya lama Sakya Pandita, who urged other leading Tibetan figures to submit to Mongol authority. This is generally considered to have marked the beginning of Mongol rule over Tibet, as well as the establishment of patron and priest relationship between Mongols and Tibetans. These relations were continued by Kublai Khan, who founded the Mongol Yuan dynasty and granted authority over whole Tibet to Drogon Chogyal Phagpa, nephew of Sakya Pandita. The Sakya-Mongol administrative system and Yuan administrative rule over the region lasted until the mid-14th century, when the Yuan dynasty began to crumble.

Dzungar–Qing Wars Century-long conquest of the Dzungar Khanate

The Dzungar–Qing Wars (1687–1757) were a decades-long series of conflicts that pitted the Dzungar Khanate against the Qing dynasty of China and their Mongolian vassals. Fighting took place over a wide swath of Inner Asia, from present-day central and eastern Mongolia to Tibet, Qinghai, and Xinjiang regions of present-day China. Qing victories ultimately led to the incorporation of Outer Mongolia, Tibet and Xinjiang into the Qing Empire that was to last until the fall of the dynasty in 1911–1912, and the genocide of much of the Dzungar population in conquered areas.

Tibet under Qing rule

Tibet under Qing rule refers to the Qing dynasty's rule over Tibet from 1720 to 1912. Tibet was under Khoshut Khanate rule from 1642 to 1717, with the Khoshuts conquered by Dzungar Khanate in 1717, and the Dzungars subsequently expelled by Qing in 1720. The Qing emperors appointed resident commissioners known as Ambans to Tibet, most of them are ethnic Manchus, who reported to the Lifan Yuan, a Qing government body that oversaw the empire's frontier. Tibet under Qing rule retained a degree of political autonomy under the Dalai Lamas nonetheless.

Qing dynasty in Inner Asia Historical territories of the Manchu-led Qing empire

The Qing dynasty in Inner Asia was the expansion of the Qing dynasty's realm in Inner Asia in the 17th and the 18th century AD, including both Inner and Outer Mongolia, Manchuria, Tibet, Qinghai and Xinjiang.


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  7. БУЦАЖ ИРЭЭГҮЙ МОНГОЛ АЙМГУУД Archived 2013-11-15 at the Wayback Machine (Mongolian)
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