|Regions with significant populations|
|Torgut dialect of Oirat|
|Tibetan Buddhism, Shamanism , Atheism|
|Related ethnic groups|
|other Mongols, especially other Oirats|
The Torgut (also spelled Torghut, Torguud; Mongol: Торгууд, "the Silks") are one of the four major subgroups of the Four Oirats. The Torghut ruling dynasty traced its descent to the Kereit ruler Wang Khan's bodyguards.
They might have been kheshigs of the Great Khans before Kublai Khan. The Torgud clan first appeared as an Oirat group in the mid-16th century. After the collapse of the Four Oirat Alliance, the majority of the Torghuts under Kho Orluk separated from other Oirat groups and moved west to the Volga region in 1630, forming the core of the Kalmyks. A few Torghut nobles followed Toro Baikhu Guushi Khan to Koke Nuur (Qinghai Lake), becoming part of the so-called Upper Mongols. In 1698, 500 Torghuds went on pilgrimage to Tibet but were unable to return. Hence, they were resettled in Ejen by the Kangxi Emperor of China's Manchu Qing Dynasty. In 1699 15,000 Torghud households returned from the Volga region to Dzungaria (Zungaria, northern Xinjiang) where they joined the Khoits. After the fall of the Zungars, one of their princes, Taiji Shyiren, fled west to the Volga region with 10,000 families in 1758. The name Torghut probably originates from the Mongolian word "torog" meaning "silk."
Due to harsh treatment by Russian governors, most Torguts eventually migrated back to Dzungaria and western Mongolia, departing en masse on January 5, 1771. While the first phase of their movement became the Old Torguts, the Qing called the later Torgud immigrants "New Torguts". The size of the departing group has been variously estimated between 150,000 to 400,000 people, with perhaps as many as six million animals (cattle, sheep, horses, camels and dogs). Beset by raids, thirst and starvation, approximately 85,000 survivors made it to Dzungaria, where they settled near the Ejin River with the permission of the Qing Manchu Emperor.
A group of around 70,000 Torguts were left behind in Russia, since (according to legend) the Volga River was not frozen and they could not cross it to join their comrades. This group became known as the Kalmyk, or "remnant", although the name may predate these events. However, Muslims called the Oirats Qalmyc before. In any case, the remnant population was quite successful, doubling their numbers by 1930. Torghud-Kalmyk archers under the command of the notable Russian general Mikhail Kutuzov clashed with the French army of the legendary Napoleon in 1812. In 1906, the Qing put western Mongolia's New Torghuds under the Altai district. One New Torghud prince opposed independence in Mongolia and fled to Xinjiang in 1911-12. However, the others were reincorporated into Mongolia's far western Khovd Province.
Torgut Mongol forces assisted the Russians in the Soviet Invasion of Xinjiang.
An exhibition in memorial to the Torgut exodus from the Volga to the Qing Empire is found at the Potalaka Palace, Chengde.
Modern Notable Torguts in Mongolia
- Shiileg, a Hero of Mongolia
- Badam, a Hero of Mongolia
- Purevjal, a famous Mongolian singer
- Luvsan, a Hero of Labor of Mongolia
- Otgontsagaan, a Hero of Labor of Mongolia
- Batlai, a Hero of Labor of Mongolia
- Tuvshin, a Hero of Labor of Mongolia
- Baadai, a Hero of Labor of Mongolia
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