Item description for The Jewel Translucent Sutra: Altan Khan and the Mongols in the Sixteenth Century (Brill's Inner Asian Library) by Johan Elverskog...
The first full-fledged critical edition and historical study of the Erdeni Tunumal Sudur, the Mongolian history of Altan Khan and his descendants, offering a full-range English-written historical and literary evaluation of this unique and fairly reliable, but long neglected discovery in Mongolian studies.
With transcription, word index and English translation, as well as extensive commentary on the historical events of Altan Khans reign, especially the 1550 attack on Beijing, the 1571 peace accord with the Ming, and the 1578 meeting with the Dalai Lama and the subsequent Buddhist conversion. In particular, the author shows how Altan Khans reformulation of the boundaries of Dayan Khans Mongol nation and state catalyzed the political fragmentation of the Mongols with dire consequences in relation to the rising Manchu state.
Vital for a better understanding of Mongol history during the late Ming.
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Mongolian Buddhist Prespectives on History Sep 8, 2004
The Jewel Translucent Sutra: Altan Khan and the Mongols in the Sixteenth Century by Johan Elverskog (Brill's Inner Asian Library, 8: Brill Academic) The first full-fledged critical edition and historical study of the Erdeni Tunumal Sudur, the Mongolian history of Altan Khan and his descendants, offering a full-range English-written historical and literary evaluation of this unique and fairly reliable, but long neglected discovery in Mongolian studies. In 1963 the existence of a singular seventeenth century manuscript, the Jewel Translucent Sutra, became known through Natsagdorj's History of the Khalkhas.l One would have imagined that the revelation of such an early Mongolian historical work would have created an explosion of interest. This should especially have been true with a work that describes the pivotal figure of Altan Khan, who signed the 1571 peace accord with the Ming dynasty and, most importantly, "reconverted" the Mongols to Buddhism. However, unlike the Secret History which had achieved an iconic status of near biblical proportions and had been appropriated within the gamut of intellectual agendas (Marxist, nationalist, philological, linguistic, literary, etc.), the Jewel Translucent Sutra languished in an archive for another sixteen years. The exact reasons for this are unclear, although the impact of Cold War politics and the unfathomable dislocations ensuing from Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution cannot be underestimated. Yet now, a generation later and in a much different world, the text and its attendant scholarly investigation has returned. On account of the ascendancy of literary-critical approaches to historical studies, how this work will now be read and interpreted, as opposed to when it first appeared nearly forty years ago, will undoubtedly have changed. And while such a process is seemingly inevitable, oddly enough it also seems appropriate in the case of this work. The reason is that this text meshes with the focus of most late twentieth century scholarship which questions dominant historical narratives, be it feminism, subaltern studies, post-colonialism, etc. All of these approaches entail lifting the blinders of ideological master narratives to reveal the past of those historiographically marginalized. This is not to suggest that Altan Khan has been ignored. Indeed, on account of the extraordinary 1571 Sino-Mongol detente, he has been the focus of extensive scholarship on Ming history and the politics that culminated in the peace process. Similarly, a discussion of Altan Khan's historic 1578 meeting with the Third Dalai Lama that presaged the conversion of the Mongols to Gelugpa Buddhism is a standard topic in all works touching on Tibetan or Mongolian Buddhist history. Yet, the Mongolian voice has been silent in all these works, since until now only Chinese and Tibetan sources have been available and utilized in reconstructing these events. The Jewel Translucent Sutra allows the heretofore marginalized natives to speak. In order to enable access to this source for the widest possible audience with an interest in this particular chapter of the past; however, it is necessary to provide a translation, since knowing or learning Mongolian is not a universal trait. And although currently it is the intellectual and institutional vogue to denigrate such work, to my mind, this is an unfortunate turn in intellectual culture as a whole. It must be recognized that translation is essential, not only in and of itself, but also on account of the fact that any form of critical interpretation is flawed without a proper understanding of the textual sources. A most striking example of such a case has recently been revealed in Davidson's work on classical Greece, which notes that Foucault's misunderstanding of the Greek terms katapugon and kinaidos resulted in his well-known interpretation of a phallocentric culture, as well as the attendant penetration-power schema that shaped his work on ethical systems and power relations. Foucault's views, based on his faulty Greek, still play a powerful role in all the disciplines of the academy. Thus, clearly, the need for accurate readings and translations is of paramount importance. It is with this goal in mind, and as grist for the discourse mill, that the following translation has been prepared.