Alan Gua

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Alan Gua (Mongolian: Алун гуа, Alun gua, lit. "Alun the Beauty". Also Gua or Guva/Quwa means in Mongolian beauty) is a mythical figure from The Secret History of the Mongols, eleven generations after the grey wolf and the white doe, and ten generations before Genghis Khan. Her five sons are described as the ancestors of the various Mongol clans. (That is, the Dörvöd are said to the descendants of Alan Gua's brother-in-law, Duva Sokhor, and the origin of the Khori Tümed and Uriankhai is not explained at all.) She is the one who gives the parable of the five arrows, known in Western sources as The Old Man and his Sons.

In the Secret History of the Mongols[edit]

In the Secret History, Alan Gua's clan is originally from the area of the Khori Tümed, and moves to the Burkhan Khaldun when their hunting grounds are fenced off. Alan Gua is first spotted by Duva Sokhor, and married to Duva Sokhor's brother, Dobun Mergen.

Five arrows[edit]

Alan Gua had two sons (Begünütei and Belgünütei) during the lifetime of Dobun Mergen, and three more (Bukha Khatagi, Bukhatu-Salji and Bodonchar Munkhag) after her husband's death. This raises suspicions among her two oldest sons, who suspect the three younger sons are from an Uriankhai servant.

Hearing of these suspicions, Alan Gua summons her five sons for a meal, gives each of them one arrow and asks them to break it. Then she makes a bundle of five arrows and asks them to break it, which they are not able to.

The glittering visitor[edit]

Alan Gua's explanation for the conception of her three younger sons is the visit of a glittering visitor, who come through her yurt's roof opening each night and left each morning by crawling on the sun- or moonbeams "like a yellow dog". Her conclusion is that the younger sons must be children of heaven and that it is inappropriate to compare them with ordinary people. Her older sons suspected their family's Bayad servant to be the likely father. She advises her five sons that if they try to stay on their own, they will be broken like the five arrows. But if they stick together like the bundle of five arrows, nothing could harm them.[1]


The Secret History states that Alan Gua's clan is from a place called Arig usun (= pure water), and some Mongolian authors believe that this refers to the Arig gol in Mongolian Khövsgöl aimag. A statue of her, three metres high, has been erected at the river in 1992, at the confluence with the Khökhöö gol and twelve kilometres from the center of Chandmani-Öndör sum.[2][3]


  1. ^ Erich Haenisch, Die Geheime Geschichte der Mongolen, Leipzig 1948, p. 1-3, 6-7 (sections 1-22, 43-50). Eleven generations: Sections 1-7. Nine generations: Sections 43-50. Alan Goa's life: Sections 5-22.
  2. ^ M.Nyamaa, Khövsgöl aimgiin lavlakh toli, Ulaanbaatar 2001, p. 16-17
  3. ^ G. Tseepil, Hovsgol Aimag Map, no date