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Mongols, or more properly, Mongolic peoples, are a Central-North Asian ethno-linguistic group. Although the largest Mongolic group are those of Mongolia, they also live as minorities across Northern Asia, including Russia, China, and many of the former Soviet states. Mongolic peoples belonging to the Buryat ethnic group live predominantly in what is now the autonomous republic of Buryatia, Russia. In China, they live mainly either in Inner Mongolia or, less commonly, in Xinjiang. Mongolic peoples are bound together by a common culture and language, a group of related tongues known as Mongolic languages.
The designation "Mongol" briefly appeared in 8th century records of the Chinese Tang dynasty, describing a tribe of Shiwei, and resurfaced again in the late 11th century during the rule of Khitan. After the fall of Liao Dynasty in 1125, the Mongols became a leading tribe on the steppe and also had power in Northern China. However, their wars with the Jin Dynasty and Tatars had weakened them. In the thirteenth century, the word Mongol grew into an umbrella term for a large group of Mongolic tribes united under the rule of Genghis Khan.
In various times Mongolic peoples have been equated with the Scythians, the Magog and the Tungusic peoples. Based on Chinese historical texts the ancestry of the Mongolic peoples can be traced back to the Donghu, a nomadic confederation occupying eastern Mongolia and Manchuria. The identity of the Xiongnu is still debated today. Although some scholars maintain that they were proto-Mongols, the fact that Chinese histories trace certain Turkic tribes from the Xiongnu complicates the issue. The Donghu, however, can be much more easily labeled proto-Mongol since the Chinese histories trace only Mongolic tribes and kingdoms (Xianbei and Wuhuan peoples) from them, although some historical texts claim a mixed Xiongnu-Donghu ancestry for some tribes (e.g. the Khitan).
The Donghu are mentioned by Sima Qian as already existing in Inner Mongolia north of the state of Yan in 699–632 BC along with the Shanrong people. Mentions in the Lost Book of Zhou (Yizhoushu) and the Shanhaijing indicate the Donghu were also active during the Shang dynasty (1600–1046 BC). The Mongolic-speaking Xianbei formed part of the Donghu confederation, but had earlier times of independence, as evidenced by a mention in the Guoyu ("晉語八" section) which states that during the reign of King Cheng of Zhou (reigned 1042–1021 BC) the Xianbei came to participate at a meeting of Zhou subject-lords at Qiyang (岐阳) (now Qishan County) but were only allowed to perform the fire ceremony under the supervision of Chu (楚), since they were not vassals by covenant (诸侯). The Xianbei chieftain was appointed joint guardian of the ritual torch along with Xiong Yi. These early Xianbei came from the nearby Zhukaigou culture (2200–1500 BC) in the Ordos Desert where maternal DNA corresponds to Daurs and Evenks. The Zhukaigou Xianbei (part of the Ordos culture of Inner Mongolia and northern Shaanxi) had trade relations with the Shang dynasty (1600–1046 BC). The Zhou clan lived near the Beidi (who included the Xianbei) for 14 generations before moving to the Central Plains in middle Shaanxi under Gugong Danfu). In the late 2nd century the Han Dynasty scholar Fu Qian (服虔) wrote in his commentary "Jixie" (集解) that "Shanrong and Beidi are ancestors of the present-day Xianbei". Again in Inner Mongolia another closely connected core Mongolic Xianbei region was the Upper Xiajiadian culture (1000–600 BC) where the Donghu confederation was centered.
After the Donghu were defeated by Modu Chanyu the Xianbei and Wuhuan survived as the main remnants of the confederation. Tadun Khan of the Wuhuan (died 207 AD) was the ancestor of the proto-Mongolic Kumo Xi. The Wuhuan are of the direct Donghu royal line and the Xin Tangshu directly says that in 209 BC Modu Chanyu defeated the Wuhuan instead of using the word Donghu. The Xianbei however were of the lateral Donghu line and had a somewhat separate identity, although they shared the same language with the Wuhuan. In 49 AD the Mongolic Xianbei ruler Bianhe (Bayan Khan?) raided and defeated the Xiongnu, killing 2000, after having received generous gifts from Emperor Guangwu of Han. The Xianbei reached their peak under Tanshihuai Khan (reigned 156–181) who expanded the vast, but short lived, Xianbei state.
Three prominent proto-Mongolic groups split from the Xianbei, as recorded by the Chinese histories: the Nirun (claimed by some to be the Avars), the Khitan and the Shiwei (a sub-tribe called the "Shiwei Menggu" is held to be the origin of the Genghisid Mongols). Besides these three Xianbei groups, there were other Xianbei groups with Mongolic affiliation such as the Murong, Duan and Tuoba. Their culture was nomadic, their religion Shamanism or Buddhism and their military strength formidable. There is still no direct evidence that the Nirun spoke a Mongolic language, although most scholars agree that they were proto-Mongolic. The Khitan, however, had two scripts of their own and many Mongolic words are found in their half-deciphered writings that are usually found with a parallel Chinese text (for example, nair = sun, sair = moon, tau = five, jau = hundred, m.r = horse, im.a = goat, n.q = dog, m.ng = silver, ju.un = summer, n.am.ur = autumn, u.ul = winter, heu.ur = spring, tau.l.a = rabbit, t.q.a = hen and m.g.o = snake). There is no doubt regarding the Khitan being proto-Mongolic.
Geographically the Tuoba Xianbei ruled Inner Mongolia and northern China, the Nirun (Yujiulu Shelun was the first to use the title Khagan in 402) ruled Outer Mongolia, the Khitan were concentrated in Southern Manchuria north of Korea and the Shiwei were located to the north of the Khitan. These tribes and kingdoms were soon overshadowed by the rise of the Gok-Turks in 555, the Uyghurs in 745 and the Yenisei Kirghizs in 840. The Tuoba were eventually absorbed into China. The Rouran fled west from the Gok-Turks and either disappeared into obscurity or, as some say, invaded Europe as the Avars under their Khan Bayan I. Some Rouran under Tatar Khan migrated east founding the Tatar tribes, who became part of the Shiwei. The Khitan, who were independent after their separation from the proto-Mongolic Kumo Xi (of Wuhuan origin) in 388 AD, continued as a minor power in Manchuria until one of them, Abaoji (872–926), established the Khitan Liao Dynasty (907–1125). The Khitan fled west after their defeat by the Tungusic Jurchens (later known as Manchus) and founded the Kara-Khitan or Western Liao dynasty (1125–1218) in eastern Kazakhstan. In 1218 Genghis Khan destroyed the Kara-Khitan Kingdom after which the Khitan passed into obscurity. The modern-day minority of Mongolic-speaking Daurs in China are their direct descendants based on DNA evidence.
The Shiwei included a tribe called the Shiwei Menggu. Bodonchar Munkhag (Chagatai tradition dates 'Buzanjar Munqaq' to the rebellion of Abu Muslim or 747 AD.) the founder of the House of Borjigin and the ancestor of Genghis Khan is held to be descended from the Shiwei Menggu. The early Shiwei paid tribute to the Tuoba Wei (386–534) and submitted to the Khitans. After the Khitans left Mongolia the Mongols rose to prominence, when from the 1130s there were reciprocally hostile relations between the successive khans of the Khamag Mongol confederation (Khaidu, Khabul Khan and Ambaghai Khan) and the emperors of the Jin dynasty.
With the expansion of the Mongol Empire, the Mongolic peoples settled over almost all Eurasia and carried on military campaigns from the Adriatic Sea to Java and from Japan to Palestine (Gaza). They simultaneously became Padishahs of Persia, Emperors of China, Great Khans of Mongolia and one even became Sultan of Egypt (Al-Adil Kitbugha). The Mongolic peoples of the Golden Horde established themselves to govern Russia by 1240. By 1279, they conquered the Song Dynasty and brought all of China under control of the Yuan Dynasty. With the breakup of the Empire, the dispersed Mongolic peoples quickly adopted the mostly Turkic cultures surrounding them and were assimilated, forming parts of Uzbeks, Tatars, Yugurs, Kazakhs and Moghuls; linguistic and cultural Persianization also began to be prominent in these territories. However, most of the Mongolic peoples returned to Mongolia, retaining their language and culture. After the fall of the Yuan Dynasty in 1368 the established their independent regime as Northern Yuan. However, the Oirads began to challenge the Eastern Mongolic peoples under the Borjigin monarchs in the late 14th century.
Present-day Mongols (also known as Khalkha) of Mongolia and Inner Mongolia are the most prominent of the remaining Eastern Mongolic peoples while the Kalmyks (formerly also known as Oirats) in Europe are the main descendants of the Western Mongolic peoples. The Khalkha emerged during the reign of Dayan Khan (1464–1543) as one of the six tumens of the Eastern Mongolic peoples. They quickly became the dominant Mongolic clan in InnerMongolia and Mongolia proper. The Khalkha eventually submitted to Qing rule in 1691, thus bringing all of today's Mongolia under Beijing's rule.
Some scholars estimate that about 80% of the Dzungar population were destroyed by a combination of warfare and disease during the Qing conquest of Zungaria in 1755–1757. Mark Levene, a historian whose recent research interests focus on genocide, has stated that the extermination of the Dzungars was "arguably the eighteenth century genocide par excellence."
In the winter of 1770–1771, approximately 200,000 Kalmyks began the journey from their pastures on the left bank of the Volga River to Dzungaria, through the territories of their Kazakh and Kyrgyz enemies. After several months of travel, only one-third of the original group reached Dzungaria.
The specific origin of the Mongolic languages and associated tribes is unclear. On rare occasions researchers have proposed a link to the Tungusic and Turkic language families, which are included alongside Mongolic in the proposed broader group of Altaic languages, though this is highly controversial. Today the Mongoloian peoples speak at least one of several Mongolic languages including Mongolian, Buryat, Oirat, Dongxiang, Tu, Baoan, Hazaragi, and Aimaq as well as either Russian or Mandarin Chinese as inter-ethnic languages.
The original religion of the Mongolic peoples from the time of the Donghu was Shamanism. The Xianbei came in contact with Confucianism and Daoism but eventually adopted Buddhism. In the 5th century the Buddhist monk Dharmapriya was proclaimed State Teacher of the Rouran Khaganate and given 3000 families. In 511 the Rouran Douluofubadoufa Khan sent Hong Xuan to the Tuoba court with a pearl-encrusted statue of the Buddha as a gift. The Tuoba Xianbei and Khitans were mostly Buddhists, although they still retained their original Shamanism. The Tuoba had a "sacrificial castle" to the west of their capital where ceremonies to spirits took place. Wooden statues of the spirits were erected on top of this sacrificial castle. One ritual involved seven princes with milk offerings who ascended the stairs with 20 female shamans and offered prayers, sprinkling the statues with the sacred milk. The Khitan had their holiest shrine on Mount Muye where portraits of their earliest ancestor Qishou Khagan, his wife Kedun and eight sons were kept in two temples. Mongolic peoples were also exposed to Zoroastrianism, Manicheism, Nestorianism, Orthodox Christianity and Islam from the west. The Mongolic peoples, in particular the Borjigin, had their holiest shrine on Mount Burkhan Khaldun where their ancestor Börte Chono(Blue Wolf) and Goo Maral (Beautiful Doe) had given birth to them. Genghis Khan usually fasted, prayed and meditated on this mountain before his campaigns. As a young man he had thanked the mountain for saving his life and prayed at the foot of the mountain sprinkling offerings and bowing nine times to the east with his belt around his neck and his hat held at his chest. Genghis Khan kept a close watch on the Mongolic supreme shaman Kokochu Teb who sometimes conflicted with his authority. Later the imperial cult of Genghis Khan (centered on the eight white gers and nine white banners in Ordos) grew into a highly organized indigenous religion with scriptures in the Mongolian script. Indigenous moral precepts of the Mongolic peoples were enshrined in oral wisdom sayings (now collected in several volumes), the anda (blood-brother) system and ancient texts such as the Chinggis-un Bilig (Wisdom of Genghis) and Oyun Tulkhuur (Key of Intelligence). These moral precepts were expressed in poetic form and mainly involved truthfulness, fidelity, help in hardship, unity, self-control, fortitude, veneration of nature, veneration of the state and veneration of parents.
In 1254 Möngke Khan organized a formal religious debate (in which William of Rubruck took part) between Christians, Muslims and Buddhists in Karakorum, a cosmopolitan city of many religions. The Mongolic Empire was known for its religious tolerance, but had a special leaning towards Buddhism and was sympathetic towards Christianity while still worshipping Tengri. The Mongolic leader Abaqa Khan sent a delegation of 13–16 to the Second Council of Lyon (1274), which created a great stir, particularly when their leader 'Zaganus' underwent a public baptism. Yahballaha III (1245–1317) and Rabban Bar Sauma (c. 1220–1294) were famous Mongolic Nestorian Christians. The Kerait tribe in central Mongolia was Christian and Shamanistic.The western Khanates, however, eventually adopted Islam (under Berke and Ghazan) and the Turkic languages (because of its commercial importance), although allegiance to the Great Khan and limited use of the Mongolic languages can be seen even in 1330's. The Mongolic nobility during the Yuan dynasty studied Confucianism, built Confucian temples (including Beijing Confucius Temple) and translated Confucian works into Mongolic but mainly followed the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism under Phags-pa Lama. The general populace still practised Shamanism. Dongxiang and Bonan Mongols adopted Islam, as did Moghol-speaking peoples in Afghanistan. In the 1576 the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism became the state religion of the Mongolia. The Red Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism coexisted with the Gelug Yellow Hat sect. Shamanism was absorbed into the state religion while being marginalized in its purer forms, later only surviving in far northern Mongolia. Monks were some of the leading intellectuals in Mongolia, responsible for much of the literature and art of the pre-modern period. Many Buddhist philosophical works lost in Tibet and elsewhere are preserved in older and purer form in Mongolian ancient texts (e.g. the Mongol Kanjur). Zanabazar (1635–1723), Zaya Pandita (1599–1662) and Danzanravjaa (1803–1856) are among the most famous Mongol holy men. The 4th Dalai Lama Yonten Gyatso (1589–1617), a Mongol himself, was the only non-Tibetan Dalai Lama. Many Buryats became Orthodox Christians due to the Russian expansion. During the socialist period religion was officially banned, although it was practiced in clandestine circles. Today, a sizable proportion of Mongolic peoples are atheist or agnostic. In the most recent census in Mongolia, almost forty percent of the population reported as being atheist, while the majority religion was Tibetan Buddhism, with 53%.
They battled against the most powerful armies and warriors in Eurasia. The beating of the kettle and smoke signals were signs for the start of battle. One battle formation that they used consisted of five squadrons or units. The typical squadrons were divided by ranks. The first two ranks were in the front. These warriors had the heaviest armor and weapons. The back three ranks broke out between the front ranks and attacked first with their arrows. The forces simply kept their space from the enemy and killed them with arrow fire, during which time "archers did not aim at a specific target, but shot their arrows at a high path into a set 'killing zone' or target area."  Mongolics also took hold of engineers from the defeated armies. They made engineers a permanent part of their army, so that their weapons and machinery were complex and efficient.
Kinship and family life 
The traditional Mongol family was patriarchal, patrilineal and patrivirilocal. Wives were brought for each of the sons, while daughters were married off to other clans. Wife-taking clans stood in a relation of inferiority to wife-giving clans. Thus wife-giving clans were considered "elder" or "bigger" in relation to wife-taking clans, who were considered "younger" or "smaller". This distinction, symbolized in terms of "elder" and "younger" or "bigger" and "smaller", was carried into the clan and family as well, and all members of a lineage were terminologically distinguished by generation and age, with senior superior to junior.
In the traditional Mongolian family, each son received a part of the family herd as he married, with the elder son receiving more than the younger son. The youngest son would remain in the parental tent caring for his parents, and after their death he would inherit the parental tent in addition to his own part of the herd. This inheritance system was mandated by law codes such as the Yassa, created by Genghis Khan. Likewise, each son inherited a part of the family's camping lands and pastures, with the elder son receiving more than the younger son. The eldest son inherited the farthest camping lands and pastures, and each son in turn inherited camping lands and pastures closer to the family tent until the youngest son inherited the camping lands and pastures immediately surrounding the family tent. Family units would often remain near each other and in close cooperation, though extended families would inevitably break up after a few generations.
After the family, the next largest social units were the subclan and clan. These units were derived from groups claiming patrilineal descent from a common ancestor, ranked in order of seniority (the "conical clan"). The lineage structure of Central Asia had three different modes. It was organized on the basis of genealogical distance, or the proximity of individuals to one another on a graph of kinship; generational distance, or the rank of generation in relation to a common ancestor, and birth order, the rank of brothers in relation to each another. The paternal descent lines were colaterally ranked according to the birth of their founders, and were thus considered senior and junior to each other. Of the various collateral patrilines, the senior in order of descent from the founding ancestor, the line of eldest sons, was the most noble. In the steppe, no one had his exact equal; everyone found his place in a system of collaterally ranked lines of descent from a common ancestor. It was according to this idiom of superiority and inferiority of lineages derived from birth order that legal claims to superior rank were couched.
The Mongol kinship is one of a particular patrilineal type classed as Omaha, in which relatives are grouped together under separate terms that crosscut generations, age, and even sexual difference. Thus, a man's father's sister's children, his sister's children, and his daughter's children are all called by another term. A further attribute is strict terminological differentiation of siblings according to seniority.
The division of Mongolian society into senior elite lineages and subordinate junior lineages was waning by the twentieth century. During the 1920's the Communist regime was established. The remnants of the Mongolian aristocracy fought alongside the Japanese and against Chinese, Soviets and Communist Mongolians during World War II, but were defeated.
Geographic distribution 
Today, Mongolic ethnic groups live in modern state of Mongolia, China (mainly Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang), Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan.
The differentiation between tribes and peoples (ethnic groups) is handled differently depending on the country. The Tümed, Chahar, Ordos, Bargut (or Barga), Altai Uriankhai, Buryats, Dörböd (Dörvöd, Dörbed), Torguud, Dariganga, Üzemchin (or Üzümchin), Bayid, Khoton, Myangad (Mingad), Eljigin, Zakhchin, Darkhad, and Oirats (or Öölds or Ölöts) are all counted as tribes of the Mongols.
In modern-day Mongolia, Mongolic ethnic groups make up approximately 90% of the population, with the largest ethnic group being Mongols, followed by Buryats, both belonging to the Eastern Mongolic peoples. They are followed by Oyrats, who belong to Western Mongolic peoples.
The 2010 census of People's Republic of China counted 7.06 million various Mongol groups, according to the narrow definition above. It should be noted that 1992 census of China counted only 3.6 million Mongols.And 2010 census of counted 5.982 thousand Mongols,and 621.500 Dongxiangs,289.565 Mongours,132.000 Daurs, 20.074 Baoans,14.370 Yugurs. Most of them live in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, followed by Liaoning province. Small numbers can also be found in provinces near those two.
Other peoples speaking Mongolic languages are the Daur, Monguor, Dongxiang, Bonan, and eastern part of the Yugur. Those do not officially count as part of the Mongol ethnicity, but are recognized as ethnic groups of their own.
Although the Mongols sought to govern China through traditional institutions, using Chinese (Han) bureaucrats, they were not up to the task. The Han were discriminated against socially and politically. All important central and regional posts were monopolized by Mongols, who also preferred employing non-Chinese from other parts of the Mongol domain--Central Asia, the Middle East, and even Europe--in those positions for which no Mongol could be found. Chinese were more often employed in non-Chinese regions of the empire.
In Russia, the largest Mongolic ethnic group are the Buryats of 2010 census of 461.410, with the sole other representative being the Kalmyks of 183.400 and Tuvas 264.004,Altyas 74.238 of 2010 census. The Tuva are culturally close to Mongols, but speak a Turkic language.
Mongol girl performing Bayad dance.
4th century Mongolic Xianbei archer.
13th century Ilkhanid Mongol archer.
A 20th century Mongol Khan, Navaanneren.
The 4th Dalai Lama Yonten Gyatso.
Mongol women archers during Naadam festival.
Mongol Empress Zayaat (Jiyatu), wife of Kulug Khan (1281–1311).
Mongol Empress Radnashiri, wife of Ayurbarvada Buyant Khan (1285–1320).
Borjigin Budashiri (?-1365), Mongol Queen of Korea, with Korean King Gongmin (Buyantumur).
Mongol Empress Xiaohuizhang (1641–1717).
Mongol Empress Xiaojingcheng(1812–1855).
Mongol Empress Bumbutai (1613–1688).
Dawachi (reigned 1752–1759), the last Dzunghar Khan.
Saaral (died 1759), a distinguished Oirad Mongol officer.
Mongol nobleman Sengge Rinchen (1811–1865).
See also 
- Altan Telgey
- List of medieval Mongolian tribes and clans
- List of Mongolians
- List of Mongolian monarchs
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- Ethnic map of Mongolia