Indiana University Bloomington
A photo collage of images. Click on the images to learn more.
Inner Asian & Uralic National Resource Center (IAUNRC) Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies (SRIFIAS) Center for Languages of the Central Asian Region (CeLCAR) Summer Language Workshop (SWSEEL)
Central Eurasian Studies >> Courses >> Course List
Introduction to Ordos Documents
CEUS-R 761
Christopher Atwood


In this course we will read in English translation Mongolian texts and documents copied or collected in  the early twentieth century by Catholic Scheut missionaries  in southern Ordos (Inner Mongolia).  The documents in this valuable collection, covering a wide range of Mongolian life, have been extensively transcribed and translated, giving a unique window onto both Mongolian life and the methodology of Mongolistics.  As we read and discuss the documents, we will learn the various pre-modern poetic, epistolary, prayer, ritual handbook, and legal formats used by writers and officials in pre-revolutionary Inner Mongolia and be introduced to the major problems and pitfalls in their use.  Topics covered by the documents and to be discussed in class include Buddhist didactic poetry, Buddhist and folk religious prayers, political ideology and rituals of the Mongolian banner administration, the Chinggis Khan cult, manuals for weddings and horse races, legal privileges of the nobility, district self-defense and border disputes, financial structure and difficulties of the Mongolian banners, Chinese colonization and Mongolian resistance organizations (duguilangs), banditry, and Mongolian relations with the Scheut missionaries themselves.  The ultimate aim of the course will be to develop a rounded picture of a pre-revolutionary Mongolian society through the use of native documentary material.

Prerequisite: Some prior course work in Chinese or Mongolian history or Tibeto-Mongolian religion.  Knowledge of Mongolian and/or French helpful but not necessary.

Requirements: The class will be held in seminar format.  Students will write a research paper on a topic chosen in conjunction with the instructor. The format will be one of an extended introduction giving background to and explication of a defined body of Ordos documents including those dealt with in the course and/or others published by Antoine Mostaert, Joseph van Hecken, or Altan’orgil and other contemporary Inner Mongolian scholars.  No exams.  Grades will be based on class participation and the paper.  Students will be required to submit weekly e-mail questions or comments on the reading two days before class, and will give an oral presentation of their research topics near the end of the semester.

Course Materials: A course packet with relevant articles and Henry Serruys’s Kumiss Ceremonies and Horse Races (1974) will be all the weekly class readings.