Two vols, 4to, new wrappers, new stitching. [China]: ca. 1908.
Two volumes of unique archival material from the Chahar Eight Banners of the Qing empire. Except for the titles, the documents are entirely in Manchu.
The Qing empire was to an important degree ruled by a “service elite” of bannermen belonging to different ethnicities, including some of the Chahar Mongols of eastern Inner Mongolia. Our archive shows that these Banner contingents maintained Manchu-language official records into the early 20th century, and these records still await study by historians.
The presence of Chahars in the banner system represents “one complex example” of how “the political circumstances of [the] submission” of people affected their status under the Qing. Some Chahars, notably those who submitted to the Qing along with Ejei Khan in 1635, were not made part of the banners but were made subordinate to a jasagh prince, the first of whom was Ejei. “But even as Ejei Khan was handled under the framework of the jasagh system, other Chahars who came under Qing control at around the same time were enrolled in the banners, forming separate Chahar companies, who would soon come to form a separate ethnic subdivision of the banner system from the three main categories: Manchus, Mongols, and Hanjun [Chinese Banners].” The Chahars subordinate to the jasagh were later distributed among the other Manchu and Mongol Banners, whereas “a number of non-Chahar Mongols, including some Oirat and Khalkha Mongols, were entered into the Chahar Eight Banners when they submitted to Qing rule during the Qing-Zunghar wars” (David Porter, Slaves of the Emperor: Service, Privilege, and Status in the Qing Eight Banners [Columbia, 2023], 54-55). Since our archival collection is from the early 20th century, it reflects this ethnically complex reality.
Our archive contains personnel files. They are résumés of officers in the Chahar Banners. These files were essential to the process of appointing personnel, and our archive appears to have been produced during this process. At the end of the résumés, there is a note on the increase in grade awarded to the person in question. For example, at the end of the résumé of Lieutenant Bayashūlang, 49 sui, who had begun his career as a guard (bayara) before, in 1887 (Guangxu 13), being made a clerk (rank 8), received an increase in grade by three. This grade, the meaning of which is obscure to us, should probably not be confused with the rank held, which for a lieutenant was 6a. The archive contains the résumés of approximately 103 individuals, making it a rich source for institutional history or a prosopographical study of Chahar Banner personnel.
The volume on the Plain Yellow Banner ends with the date “9th month of Guangxu 34” (1908). The volume on the Plain Red Banner is not dated.
The volumes contain a number of seals, mostly illegible to us, as they are written in Manchu seal script, and with some in Mongolian, but we recognize the Mongolian phrase čahar naiman qosiγu “Chahar Eight Banners,” which leads us to conclude that these are official seals.
Good set, the edges of some leaves somewhat worn; preserved in a hantao.
Item ID: 9991