Ja Lama

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Ja Lama

Ja Lama (Mongolian: Жа Лама, also known as Dambiijantsan, Mongolian: Дамбийжанцан or Dambiijaa, Mongolian: Дамбийжаа, (1862–1922)) was an adventurer and warlord of unknown birth and background who fought successive campaigns against the rule of Qing China in western Mongolia between 1890 and 1922. He claimed to be a Buddhist lama, though it is not clear whether he actually was one, as well as a grandson and later the reincarnation of Amursana, the Khoit-Oirat prince who lead the last great Mongol uprising against the Qing dynasty in 1757. He was one of the commanders of Mongolian forces that liberated Khovd city from Qing-Chinese control in 1912.

Early life and career[edit]

Although Ja Lama claimed on numerous occasions both Russian citizenship and Kalmyk origin, his true identity is not known but it is widely accepted that his real name was Dambiijantsan and that he was born in or around 1862 in a Baga Dörbet ulus somewhere in the Astrakhan region.

Ja Lama was described as "fanatically anti-Tsarist Russian, anti-Soviet Russian, and anti-Chinese."[1]

It is believed that Ja Lama first arrived in Mongolia sometime in 1890. By the summer of that year, he was arrested by Chinese authorities for campaigning against Chinese rule but avoided imprisonment after the Russian consul in Ikh Khüree identified him as "Amur Sanaev," a Russian citizen of Kalmyk origin from the Astrakhan province, and secured his release and expulsion to Russia.

By autumn of 1891, Ja Lama was back in Mongolia spreading his anti-Manchu[2] propaganda[3] for which he would be twice more arrested. After each arrest, Ja Lama was deported to Russia. Where he remained after his second arrest is unclear, but in 1910 he reappeared among the Torghut-Oirat tribe of the Xinjiang province of China.

Mongolia's struggle for independence[edit]

In 1911, the Khalkha Mongols declared their independence from the Qing Dynasty. But western Mongolia remained under Manchu control. By spring of 1912, Ja Lama returned to Mongolia; this time he made his way to Khovd in northwest Mongolia, the last stronghold of the Manchu Qing in the area, where a Manchu Amban and Qing Manchu soldiers were stationed at a fort.

All Qing Manchu officials were ordered to be expelled from Mongolia by the independent Mongolian government under the Bogd Khan.[4] The Manchu Amban of Uliastai chose to evacuate under Russian protection, however the Manchu Amban of Khovd chose to stay and fight the Mongol rebels with his troops.[5][6][7] The Mongol envoy sent to deliver the message to Khovd was executed by the Manchu Amban, then the Mongols prepared to attack Khovd, with 2,000 soldiers contributed by Ja Lama to the Mongol forces.[8][9] In 1912 at Khovd, Ja Lama helped defeat the Manchus and ransack their fort.[10][11][12][13]

Ja Lama let it be known everywhere that he was going to free the Mongols from the rule of China. The Mongols noted that Ja Lama possessed a cap to which a golden Kalacakran vajra was affixed, instead of a button as common among Mongols. He quickly mobilized his own force and joined the 5,000 Mongols from the Khovd Province. This force, led by Ja Lama, the Generals Khatanbaatar Magsarjav and Damdinsüren, and the Jalkhanz Khutagt, liberated the town of Uliastai, in May the town of Ulaangom, and in August Khovd, declaring their unity with the newly founded Mongolian state. Khovd was the final city under Manchu-Chinese (Qing) control to be seized by the Mongols.[14]

An attempt was made to flee west and evacuate Khovd (Khobdo) by the Manchu soldiers, but they were massacred by the Mongols after being caught.[15][16]

After the capture of Khovd, Ja Lama and his troops inflicted savage reprisals against the Manchu soldiers taken prisoner and the civilian Han Chinese merchants. His acts of cruelty included slaughtering most Chinese prisoners. It was rumored that he tore out the hearts of prisoners with his left hand and then placed them together with bits of the brain and entrails in skull bowls as offerings to the Tibetan terror gods. He then allegedly hung the peeled skins of his enemies on the walls of his yurt.

Fall from grace[edit]

I am a mendicant monk from the Russian Tsar's kingdom, but I am born of the great Mongols. My herds are on the Volga river, my water source is the Irtysh. There are many hero warriors with me. I have many riches. Now I have come to meet with you beggars, you remnants of the Oirats, in the time when the war for power begins. Will you support the enemy? My homeland is Altai, Irtysh, Khobuk-sari, Emil, Bortala, Ili, and Alatai. This is the Oirat mother country. By descent, I am the great-grandson of Amursana, the reincarnation of Mahakala, owning the horse Maralbashi. I am he whom they call the hero Dambijantsan. I came to move my pastures back to my own land, to collect my subject households and bondservants, to give favour, and to move freely.

An epic poem by Ja Lama in 1912[17][18]

For his role in a number of noteworthy military victories, Ja Lama was given the high religious and noble titles of Nom-un Khan Khutukhtu and khoshuu prince Tüshe Gün, respectively, by the Eighth Jebtsundamba Khutukhtu. Moreover, the victories sealed Ja Lama's reputation as a warlord and as a militant Buddhist monk. He installed himself as the military governor of western Mongolia, tyrannizing a huge territory through a reign of fear and violence.

A separatist state for Oirats was being built by Ja-Lama around Kobdo.[19] Ja-Lama and fellow Oirats from Altai wanted to emulate the original Oirat empire and build another grand united Oirat nation from the nomads of western China and Mongolia.[20] Prophecies had been circulating about the return of Amursana and the revival of the Oirats in the Altai region.[21]

In February 1914, Ja Lama was arrested by Siberian Cossacks on the orders of Russian consular officials in Khovd.[22] The consulate had received numerous complaints from nobles in the Khovd region who disapproved of Ja Lama's autocratic behavior and despotic practices. Ja Lama was imprisoned in Tomsk for about a year and later moved to Irkutsk. In 1916, Ja Lama returned to his native Lower Volga region then reentered Mongolia in the summer of 1918. Ja Lama refused to recognize the authority of the Bogd Khan and the government immediately issued a warrant for his arrest. Ja Lama, however, managed to evade Mongolian authorities, and established himself in a retreat in the Black Gobi, on the border between Mongolia and the Chinese provinces of Xinjiang and Gansu. From there, he recruited followers and extorted or robbed passing caravans.[23][24] Ja Lama gained a lucrative amount of gold and silver after looting a Tibetan caravan made out of fifty merchants.[25]

In the Zasagt Khan aimag opium was cultivated by Chinese workers who were employed by Ja Lama in 1918.[26]

Ja-lama murdered all the members of a delegation sent by Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg to Lhasa in 1920.[27] Ja-lama was apparently found to be a dissillusionment by Ungern who had been an admirer, only to allude to him by insults after actually entering Mongolia.[28]

Death[edit]

After the re-establishment of Mongolia's independence in 1921, Ja Lama continued to operate independently from his hideout. The new communist government was intent on stamping out insurrections and set its sights Ja Lama and his forces.[29] In early 1922, Mongolia's military leader Damdin Sükhbaatar ordered Ja Lama's arrest. Niislel Khüree's police chief Baldandorj was dispatch to arrest him. Baldandorj succeeded in infiltrating his camp by posing as envoys from the Bogd Khan and shot him dead, then beheaded him.[30] Ja Lama's forces scattered and his head was displayed first in Uliastai and then Niislel Khüree. Later, Ja Lama's head was brought to Saint Petersburg and put on display at Kunstkammer of the Hermitage, labelled as "No. 3394, head of a Mongolian".[31]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lattimore, Owen; Nachukdorji, Sh (1955). Nationalism and Revolution in Mongolia. Brill Archive. p. 9. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  2. ^ Lattimore, Owen; Nachukdorji, Sh (1955). Nationalism and Revolution in Mongolia. Brill Archive. p. 57. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  3. ^ Universität Bonn. Ostasiatische Seminar (1982). Asiatische Forschungen, Volumes 73-75. O. Harrassowitz. p. 164. ISBN 344702237X. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  4. ^ Onon, Urgunge (1976). Onon, Urgunge, ed. Mongolian heroes of the twentieth century (Issue 1 of Asian studies). Contributor Urgunge Onon (illustrated ed.). AMS Press. p. 82. ISBN 0404154026. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  5. ^ Pozdneev, Alekseĭ Matveevich (1971). Mongolia and the Mongols, Volumes 61-63. Medievalia hungarica series Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seuran toimituksia Uralic and Altaic Series, Uralic and Altaic Series. Contributor Indiana University. Indiana University. p. xix. ISBN 0877501572. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  6. ^ Pozdneev, Alekseĭ Matveevich (1971). Mongolia and the Mongols, Volume 1; Volume 61. Volume 61 of Uralic and Altaic Series, Indiana University, Bloomington. Research Center for Language and Semiotic Studies. Contributor Indiana University. Indiana University. p. xix. ISBN 0877501572. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  7. ^ Croner, Don (2009). 1. "False Lama - The Life and Death of Dambijantsan". dambijantsan.doncroner.com. Ulaan Baatar: Don Crone. p. 2. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  8. ^ Baabar (1999). Kaplonski, Christopher, ed. Twentieth Century Mongolia, Volume 1 (illustrated ed.). White Horse Press. p. 139. ISBN 1874267405. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  9. ^ Baabar, Bat-Ėrdėniĭn Baabar (1999). Kaplonski, Christopher, ed. History of Mongolia (illustrated, reprint ed.). Monsudar Pub. p. 139. ISBN 9992900385. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  10. ^ Croner, Don (2009). 1. "False Lama - The Life and Death of Dambijantsan". dambijantsan.doncroner.com. Ulaan Baatar: Don Crone. p. 11. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  11. ^ Croner, Don (2010). 1. "Ja Lama - The Life and Death of Dambijantsan". dambijantsan.doncroner.com. Ulaan Baatar: Don Crone. p. 11. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
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  13. ^ Sinor, Denis, ed. (1990). Aspects of Altaic Civilization III: Proceedings of the Thirtieth Meeting of the Permanent International Altaistic Conference, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, June 19-25, 1987. Volume 3 of Aspects of Altaic civilization / ed. by Denis Sinor Volume 145 of Indiana University Uralic and Altaic series, Indiana University Bloomington. Contributor Indiana University, Bloomington. Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies. Psychology Press. p. 5. ISBN 0700703802. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  14. ^ Onon, Urgunge (1976). Onon, Urgunge, ed. Mongolian heroes of the twentieth century (Issue 1 of Asian studies). Contributor Urgunge Onon (illustrated ed.). AMS Press. p. 84. ISBN 0404154026. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  15. ^ The Mongolia Society Bulletin: A Publication of the Mongolia Society, Volume 9. Contributor Mongolia Society. The Society. 1970. p. 17. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  16. ^ Mongolia Society (1970). Mongolia Society Bulletin, Volumes 9-12. Mongolia Society. p. 17. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  17. ^ Perdue, Peter C (2009). China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia (reprint ed.). Harvard University Press. p. 493. ISBN 0674042026. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  18. ^ Palmer, James (2011). The Bloody White Baron: The Extraordinary Story of the Russian Nobleman Who Became the Last Khan of Mongolia (reprint ed.). Basic Books. p. 59. ISBN 0465022073. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  19. ^ Dupree, Louis; Naby, Eden (1994). Black, Cyril E., ed. The Modernization of Inner Asia. Contributor Elizabeth Endicott-West (reprint ed.). M.E. Sharpe. p. 55. ISBN 0873327799. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  20. ^ Znamenski, Andrei (2011). Red Shambhala: Magic, Prophecy, and Geopolitics in the Heart of Asia (illustrated ed.). Quest Books. p. 40. ISBN 0835608913. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  21. ^ Znamenski, Andrei (2011). Red Shambhala: Magic, Prophecy, and Geopolitics in the Heart of Asia (illustrated ed.). Quest Books. pp. 27, 28, 29. ISBN 0835608913. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  22. ^ Znamenski, Andrei (2011). Red Shambhala: Magic, Prophecy, and Geopolitics in the Heart of Asia (illustrated ed.). Quest Books. p. 41. ISBN 0835608913. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
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  24. ^ Andreyev, Alexandre (2014). The Myth of the Masters Revived: The Occult Lives of Nikolai and Elena Roerich. BRILL. p. 285. ISBN 9004270434. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
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  26. ^ Avery, Martha (2003). The Tea Road: China and Russia Meet Across the Steppe. 五洲传播出版社. p. 139. ISBN 7508503805. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  27. ^ Andreyev, Alexandre (2003). Soviet Russia and Tibet: The Debarcle of Secret Diplomacy, 1918-1930s. Volume 4 of Brill's Tibetan Studies Library, V.4 (illustrated ed.). BRILL. p. 150. ISBN 9004129529. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  28. ^ Palmer, James (2011). The Bloody White Baron: The Extraordinary Story of the Russian Nobleman Who Became the Last Khan of Mongolia (reprint ed.). Basic Books. p. 60. ISBN 0465022073. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  29. ^ Morozova, Irina Y. (2009). Socialist Revolutions in Asia: The Social History of Mongolia in the 20th Century. Routledge. p. 39. ISBN 113578437X. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
  30. ^ Znamenski, Andrei (2011). Red Shambhala: Magic, Prophecy, and Geopolitics in the Heart of Asia (illustrated ed.). Quest Books. p. 141. ISBN 0835608913. Retrieved 24 April 2014. 
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    • Lomakina, I. 1993. Golova Dja-lamy [The Head of Ja-Lama]. Ulan-Ude-St. Petersburg: Ecoart Agency.
    • Lomakina, Golova Dza-lamy. (Lygiima Chaloupkovd)
  • Ossendowski, Ferdinand A. Beasts, Men and Gods, E.P. Dutton & Company, Inc., New York, NY (1922).
  • Znamenski, Andrei. Red Shambhala: Magic, Prophecy, and Geopolitics in the Heart of Asia. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, 2011. ISBN 978-0-8356-0891-6

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