Wang Guojin and Lobsangčoyidan: A Forgotten Mongolian Manuscript of the Erdeni-yin tobči

Wang Guojin and Lobsangčoyidan: A Forgotten Mongolian Manuscript of the Erdeni-yin tobči

Nakami Tatsuo

(53rd Annual Meeting of the PIAC, St. Petersburg 2010)

Japan has long had an academic tradition of historical studies on the Mongols. The first Japanese scholarship on “Oriental history (Tôyô-shi)” was Naka Michiyo’s annotated Japanese translation of the Secret History of the Mongols in 1907. At least until the first half of the 20th century, historical research on the Mongols and Manchus were the main stream within the “Oriental historical studies” in Japan.

Non-Japanese researchers quite naturally assume that Japanese libraries preserve large and excellent collections of Mongolian materials as in StPetersburg. The search for Mongolian historical sources was started during the late 19th century by the forerunners of “Oriental history” in Japan, Naka Michio, Shiratori Kurakichi, Naito Konan and others. However, we are now unable to find many good and rare items written in the Mongolian language in Japan. This indicates that the main concern of early Japanese scholars’ lay in historical sources written in Han Chinese, not with those written in Mongolian.

However, in their pursuit of historical sources, Japanese researchers found some rare and unique materials concerning Mongol history. One of them is the so-called “Qaračin version of Erdeni-yin tobči (“Karachin-bon Môko genryû” in Japanese)”, which is not well known among the researchers outside Japan. The original Mongolian manuscripts of it were temporary lent to the Dalian Library of the South Manchurian Railways Company from the Palace of Qaračin Right Banner, Inner Mongolia, in 1910s. At that time, in Dalian, the manuscripts were copied and translated into Chinese by Wang Guojin, a clerk of the Banner office. The blue prints of Wang Guojin’s Han Chinese and Mongolian bilingual draft were sent to the Toyo Bunko and other Japanese research institutions. In this way the Japanese scholars first gained access to this unique, but strange manuscript of the Erdeni-yin tobči, and it was then studied by Fujioka Katsuji, professor of the Tokyo Imperial University. After Fujioka’s death in 1940, his roman transcription of the Mongolian text and his partial translation into Japanese were published by his student, Hattori Shirô. However, the Mongolian manuscripts originally held in Qaračin Right Banner’s Palace have now disappeared.

When Wang Guojin was engaged into translating the “Qaračin version of Erdeni-yin tobči“, he also wrote a memoir on daily life in the Qaračin Right Banner’s Palace in Chinese, entitled Neimenggu Jiwen, a manuscript which is an important historical source on modern Mongolia. The Neimenggu Jiwen was rediscovered and introduced by Nakami Tatsuo in the 1980s. Wang Guojin’s friend, Lobsangčoyidan also wrote Mongγol-un jang aγali üilebüri, which is an unique record of Mongolian ethnography, while he was in Dalian. A manuscript of this work was presented to the Tokyo College of Foreign Languages (now Tokyo University of Foreign Studies). Walther Heissig published it in 1968.

In this paper, I will introduce the original contents of this long forgotten “Qaračin version of Erdeni-yin tobči”, and discuss the relationship between Wang Guojin and Lobsangčoyidan.