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The name Dzungar people, also Zunghar (literally "left hand"), referred to the several Oirat tribes who formed and maintained the Zunghar Khanate in the 17th to 18th century. Historically they were one of major tribes of the Four Oirats confederation. They were also known as the Eleuths or Ööled, from the Qing Dynasty euphemism for the hated word Zunghar. In 2010, 15,520 people claimed "Ööled" ancestry in Mongolia. An unknown number also live in China, Russia, and Kazakhstan.
The Dzungars were a confederation of several Oirat tribes that emerged in the early 17th century to fight the Altan Khan of the Khalkha (not to be confused with the more well-known Altan Khan of the Tümed), the Jasaghtu Khan, and later the Manchu for dominion and control over the Mongolian people and territories. This confederation rose to power in what became known as Dzungaria between the Altai Mountains and the Ili River Valley. Initially, the confederation consisted of the Oöled, Dörvöd and Khoit tribes. Later on, elements of the Khoshut and Torghut tribes were forcibly incorporated into the Dzungar military, thus completing the re-unification of the West Mongolian tribes.
According to oral history, the Oöled and Dörbed tribes are the successor tribes to the Naiman, a Turco-Mongol tribe that roamed the steppes of Central Asia during the era of Genghis Khan. The Oöled shared the clan name Choros with the Dörvöd."Zuun gar" (left hand) and "Baruun gar" (right hand) was oirat's military and administrative organization and Olots and Choros of the Zuun gar became ruling clans in 17th century.
In 1697, two relatives of Galdan Khan, Dajila and Rabdan, surrendered to the Manchu Qing Dynasty. Their people were organized into two Oolod banners and resettled in modern Bayankhongor Province. In 1731, five hundred households fled back to the Zunghars and the remaining Oolods were deported to Hulun Buir. After 1761 part of them were resettled in Arkhangai Province.
The Hulun Buir Oolods formed an administrative banner along the Imin and Shinekhen Rivers. Under the Chinese Empire, a body of them were resettled to Yakeshi city. In 1764 many Oolods migrated to Khovd Province and supplied corvee services for the Khovd garrison of the Qing. Their number reached 9,100 in 1989.
The Zunghars remaining in Xinjiang were also renamed Oolods. They dominated 30 sums of 148 Mongol sums during the Qing. They numbered 25,000 in 1999.
The Qing dynasty gained control over eastern Xinjiang as a result of a long struggle with the Zunghars that began in the seventeenth century. In 1755, the Qing attacked Ghulja, and captured the Zunghar khan. Over the next two years, Qing armies destroyed the remnants of the Zunghar khanate and colonised parts of Xinjiang with Han and Hui Chinese.
It has been estimated that more than half of the Dzunghar population were killed by illness or the military campaigns. One writer, Wei Yuan, described the resulting desolation in what is now northern Xinjiang as: "In an area stretching to several thousand li, there was not a yurt except those who have surrendered." Some of the surviving Dzunghars fled to Russia and Kazakh Khanate.
- C.P.Atwood-Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire, p.425
- National Census 2010 of Mongolia
- Mongolistic forum
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