Bolad, also known as Bolad (Steel) chingsang (Mongolian: Болад чинсан, Болад ага, Болд, Persian: Pulad chinksank, Chinese: 孛羅; pinyin: Bóluó; Wade–Giles: Po-lo, "Chancellor Bolad", d. 1313), was a Mongol minister of the Yuan Dynasty, and later served in the Ilkhanate as the representative of the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire and cultural adviser to the Ilkhans. He also provided valuable information to Rashid-al-Din Hamadani to write about the Mongols. Mongolists consider him as a cultural bridge between East and West.
Bolad was born in the Dörben tribe (possibly Dörbet) family and his father, Jurghi (Yurki), who was a steward, attached to the palace of Genghis Khan's wife Börte. Since his father's title was prestige of honor, and he was explicitly trusted by Genghis Khan, Jurghi commanded a personal thousand of the guards of the Khagan.
In 1248, the prince Khubilai ordered the Chinese scholar, Chang te-hui, to tutor his eldest son, Dorji, and Bolad who was probably a child of seven or eight years, and Bolad became fluent in Chinese in addition to his native Mongolian language. After Khubilai’s election as Khagan in 1260, Bolad served as ba’urchi, designer of court ritual, censor, and chief of the agricultural administration (in Mongolian style). In addition, he did oral and written translations for the state affairs as one of intellectuals of the Mongols.
Bolad also served as judge in the sensitive cases of Ariq Böke (1264) and the murder of Ahmad Fanakati (1282). Bolad found the fraud activities of the latter and informed the Khagan. He was sent to the Ilkhanate in Persia soon after Arghun enthroned in 1285. He gave imperial seal, jarlig (зарлиг) and crown to the new Ilkhan. Bolad could not return to the Yuan Dynasty due to the conflicts between the Yuan and the Chagatai Khanate headed by Kaidu. Arghun appointed him a commander of his kheshig and assigned him of certain tasks in Khurasan. Although he had a family (his wife and two sons) left in Mongolia, Bolad was given a former concubine of Abaqa Khan, thus starting a new life in the Middle East. His sons served the Yuan government.
Facing difficulties to finance the coffers of the empty imperial treasury, Gaykhatu, summoned Bolad to advise him about the use of paper money then circulating in the Yuan. After taking consultation, the Ilkhan's court issued chao in Iran in 1294. Although it proved to be a failure owing to the resistance of local population, this was the first time, the paper money, chao, was issued in the history of Iran.
The Muslim convert Ghazan became the new Ilkhan in 1295. Although, his reputation may have been little diminished during Ghazan's reign, Ghazan respected Bolad. Seeing Mongol commoners selling their children as damaging the Mongol nation, similar to Khubilai, Ghazan budgeted funds to redeem Mongol slaves and made Bolad the commander of the tumen which consisted of Mongol slave boys.
It is claimed that Bolad assisted Rashid-al-Din Hamadani to write Universal History because he knew Mongolian history very well. Under Öljeitü (1304–16), Bolad achieved great influence as chingsang (chengxiang, grand councillor) and agha (Classic Mongolian: aqa, meaning elder). He was along with Chupan of the Suldus, and Kutlushah of the Qonkhoton served the Ilkhan as main advisors.
He was responsible for logistical support system during the Gilan campaign in 1307. In 1311 Bolad was awarded the title of the Duke of State of Tse by Ayurbarwada Khan of the Yuan. Bolad died in 1313. Long after his death, the Yuan government posthumously awarded him an honorary title.
- Reuven Amitai-Preiss-Ghazan, Islam and Mongol Tradition: A View from the Mamlūk sultanate, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 59,No. 1 (1996), pp. 1-10
- Christopher P. Atwood-Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire; see: Bolad chinsang