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Borte-Chino: progenitor of Genghis Khan?

28 September 2016
Borte-Chino: progenitor of Genghis Khan?
Ancient totemic representations of Mongols formed the basis of Mongolian name Borte-Chino. However, was Borte-Chino a real or mythical progenitor of Genghis Khan?

Different opinions were expressed on the issue of departure time of the Mongols’ ancestors to Ergune-kun. In order to understand them thoroughly, it is necessary to consider the name Borte-Chino. Ancient totemic representations of Mongols formed the basis of Mongolian name Borte-Chino. It allows understanding the text ‘Erdeniyn tobchi’, which states that once in battue hunting in Khangai, Genghis Khan said: ‘If a deer and a wolf will get in the battue, we should not kill them’. 

 A wolf as the totemic progenitor of Genghis Khan named Borte-Chino in the sources was a totem of the chino clan. Mongolian khan belonged to the borjigin clan. However, we should not forget that this ethnic group separated from chino. Therefore, Genghis Khan honoring the wolf, did not separate himself from chino clan, mentioned in the legend Nukuz about Ergune-kun, was located in Ergune-kun. The legend says that people who escaped to Ergune-kun were called nukuz. Rashid ad-Din, specifying the name, wrote that it was the name of chino clan. In confirmation of his words, he brought the story of chinos clan as an example, that existed in the period of writing ‘Chronicle Collection’ and was formed from Taichiud Charake-Lingum — Gandu chine and Ulugchin-chine. Speaking of him, Rashid ad-Din repeatedly specified that another name for this clan was nukuz. He writes that ‘chinos is the plural form of (the word) chine... The chinos clan is also called nukuz’ [Rashid ad-Din, 1952p: 25]. Then he made important explanation that the Mongols had another clan chino in the ancient times, which had the name nukuz as well. It is evident from the words: ‘This clan (chinos that originated from Gandu-chine and Ulugchin-chine) is another one than nukuz, they both ancient, but they have no connection except the name’. Ancient Nukuz, i.e. Chino people lived in Ergune-kun, as Rashid ad-Din said: ‘Darlekin clan that belonged to the Mongols was also called Nukuz’. 

‘This tribe is the branch of those, which came out of Ergune-kun and melted iron by seventy bellows of blacksmiths...’ (Rashid аd-Din, 1952а: 184). From the mentioned statements, it is clear that chino tribe like Chino clan originated from the sons of Charake-Lingum and called Nukuz in Ergune-kune was called Nukuz too. It is difficult to say, why two tribes Chino different by origin, that existed in long-term time from each other had another name Nukuz. Probably, it was due to the need in some specific cases for taboo word — tribal name Chino. Then, we can probably agree with the assumption that the word Nukuz is formed with the help plural suffix — Mongolian word ‘nokhoi’ (Sukhbaatar, 1996: 71). As it is mentioned above, Mongol people call the wolf by expression ‘tengeriin nokhoi’ — ‘celestial dog’ in allegorical manner. 

 Over time, there was rethinking of ethnic name Nukuz like anthropomorhization of totemic ancestor Genghis Khan and introduction of the name Borte-Chino, which Mongol people understood as the name of their ancestor, who lived by the name Nukuz. We should add to the mentioned above to explain this phenomenon: this conversion is explained by the fact that ethno-genetic legends of any nations carry important information about their generic origins and historical past ‘passed through’ collective-psychological representation and collective thinking, so they are inseparable from the ethnic identity and are specific ethnically. But ethno-genetic legends due to preservation of people’s memory about its origin did not appear to be something motionless; the changes were made by ideological doctrine that was dominant in the society. 

 One of the powerful ideological factors that made the greatest influence on ethno-genetic legends was the phenomenon of the cult of ancestors, the idea tribe unity was not expressed by mythical image of totemic ancestor, it was showed by the cult of tribal leaders, their names became personalized names of the tribes who lived along with ancestor-relatives on the later stage of evolution. Various nations have many examples. One of the most characteristic is the Buryat legend about the boy Bulagat who was found in the pit of bull’s ;air and the boy Ekhirit who came out of Baikal lake, whose descendants formed the tribes Bulagat and Ekhirit. In fact, situation was on the other way around: the names of the Buryat tribes Bulagat and Ekhirit were considered as the names of the real ancestors Bulagat and Ekhirit under domination of ancestor’s cult ideology, although there were not such people in the history of these tribes. It is clearly seen that under revealed regularities, the ethnonym ‘Nukuz’ is typical as an example in the legend about Ergune-kun, who was reinterpreted in the name of one of Mongol ancestors after ‘melting’ in the pot of ancestors’ cult. 

 The word Borte-Chino was formed similarly, based on the words ‘chano’ (wolf), as shown above. It allows saying that Nukuz, having identical origin and the semantics was the name of Genghis Khan’s mythical ancestor. But how it is occurred that Nukuz and Brote-Chino became the names of two completely different characters in ‘The Chronicle Collection’? In order to find the answer, you must assume that Borte-Chino is mentioned once as an ordinary man in the first volume of ‘The Chronicle Collection’, whereas Nukuz was stated repeatedly as the ancestor of all tribes in Ergune-kun. This fact tells that Nukuz specifically ‘invented’ by people’s imagination as his closest ancestor to give more veracity to Borte-Chino’s image, who actually was the mythical ancestor of all Ergune-Kun tribes. This example shows that anthropomorphization process of totemic ancestors progressed in its development by the time of creation of ‘The Chronicle Collection’ compared with previous periods. 


 Used material: 

 G.Zh.Таbuldin, R.К.Оmurzakov, А.G.Оlovintsev. Kazakh khans and their descendants. — Kokshetau, «Mir pechati» publishing house, 2013

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