Excerpts from Professor Igor De Rachewiltz’s translation of:
“The Secret History of the Mongols”; A Mongolian Epic Chronicle of the Thirteenth Century. Translated with a historical and philological commentary.
Published by Brill Inner Asian Library 2004 www.brill.nl
Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2004, 2 Vols, 1,347 pp, ISBN 90-04-13159,
Excerpted by The Indo-Mongolian Society of New York
Main website: www.Mongolianculture.com
The Secret History of the Mongols is the only genuine Mongolian account of Chinggis Khan (Genghis Khan) and his family’s history and was most likely assembled a few decades after his death in 1227. The original text of the Secret History of the Mongols was written in the vertical Uighur script which the Mongols had adopted from the Turkic Uighurs at about the turn of the 13th century. The only extant copies of this work are in Chinese titled Yüan pi-shih or Secret History of the Yüan Dynasty from the archives of the Ming government. However, regardless of its Turkic component, the Secret History of the Mongols remains a truly original Mongol product, unique of its kind, for no other nomadic or semi-nomadic people has ever created a literary masterpiece like it, in which epic poetry and narrative are so skillfully and indeed artistically blended with fictional and historical accounts. The Secret History of the Mongols is above all a source of the first magnitude for the social history of the Mongols before the establishment of their world empire.
This excerpt from Professor Igor de Rachewiltz’s translation of the famous thirteenth century epic chronicle known as the Secret History of the Mongols is the product of thirty years’ continuous investigation of this difficult text. It presents a more accurate translation of The Secret History of the Mongols than previous efforts by other translators of this important work. Over 1,300 primary and secondary sources, as well as monographs and essays in many languages have been consulted by the author who is a specialist in Sino-Mongolian Studies at the Australian National University, Canberra. Its chief value lies in the historical and philological commentary accompanying the translation, by far the most extensive of its kind. The translation itself, while close to the original, is at the same time eminently readable. The lengthy introduction provides a valuable and original insight into the history of the text and its importance as a historical sources and literary monument. The three comprehensive indices (of names, subjects, grammar and lexis) also make this book a useful reference work for research on a variety of subjects related to Central Asia and China in the 12th and 13th centuries.
Excerpts from Professor Igor De Rachewiltz’s translation of “The Secret History of the Mongols”; A Mongolian Epic Chronicle of the Thirteenth Century. Translated with a historical and philological commentary.
Published by Brill Inner Asian Library, 2004. www.brill.nl