Location of the Altai Uriankhai
|Regions with significant populations|
|Tibetan Buddhism, Shamanism|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Mongols, especially Oirats|
The Altai Uriankhai (Mongolian: Алтайн Урианхай, Altain Urianhai or Altai-yn Urianhai; simplified Chinese: 阿尔泰乌梁海; traditional Chinese: 阿爾泰烏梁海; pinyin: Ā'ěrtài Wūliánghǎi) refers to a Mongolian tribe around the Altai Mountains that was organized by the Qing dynasty. They now form a subgroup in western Mongolia and eastern Xinjiang.
The Uriyangkhai or Uriankhai people first appeared in the 7th century as one of the people in Mongolia (Legend of the Erkune kun). The Mongolian term Uriankhai (Uriyangkhai) had been applied to all Samoyed, Turkic or Mongol people to the north-west of Mongolia in the 17th century. The Uriyangkhai in this sense were first subjugated by the Khotgoid Khalkha and then by the Dzungars.
In the mid 14th century, they lived in Liaoyang province of modern China. After the rebellion of the northern Uriankhai people, they were conquered by Dayan Khan in 1538 and mostly annexed by the northern Khalkha.
Second group of Uriankhai (Uriankhai of the Khentii Mountains) lived in central Mongolia and they started moving to the Altai Mountains in beginning 16th century. Some groups migrated to Khövsgöl Province during the course of the Northern Yuan dynasty (1368-1691).
With the fall of the Dzungar Khanate, the Qing dynasty in 1757 organized the far northern frontier into a series of Uriankhai banners: the Khövsgöl Nuur Uriyangkhai, Tannu Uriankhai, Kemchik, Salchak, and Toju and Altan-nuur Uriyangkhai.
In the Altai Range, 7 Altai Uriankhai banners were established into two wings attached to Qing ambans. Their territory included eastern Khovd Province and Khövsgöl Province. Most were Oirat Mongolian speakers with Oirat, Buriat, or Mongolian clan names, but some were Tuvan speakers.
In the aftermath of the Dungan revolt (1864-77), the Kazakhs migrated into Altai Uriankhai territory. In 1906, the Qing court transferred Altai Uriankhai banner from Khovd's jurisdiction to the new Altai district, with its capital Chenghua. In 1913, the district was divided between Boghda Khaanate of Mongolia and the Chinese province of Xinjiang, leaving some Uriankhais in far northwestern Xinjiang. The Altai Uriankhai in Mongolia were attached to the Dorbeds. However, the Altai Uriankhai and the Kazakhs formed Bayan-Ölgii Province in 1940. Notable Altayin Uriyankhgai people include Damchaa .B, the movie actor and the specialist in Esperanto of Mongolia.
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