The Name of the Mongols in Asia and Europe: A Reappraisal

Igor de Rachewiltz

Perhaps I should have entitled this paper ‘The Names of the Mongols in Asia and Europe’, since, at the time of their greatest expansion in the thirteenth century, the Mongols were known by several names which, curiously enough, were mostly inaccurate for different reasons.

In a Chinese source of the mid-10th century (the Chiu T’ang-shu), which refers to events in the previous century, the Mongols’ tribal name appears for the first time.[1] The Chinese transcription meng-wu 蒙兀 (*mung-nguat) represents an original *Mongγut or * Mongγul. In the corresponding passage of the Hsin T’ang-shu, in place of meng-wu we find meng-wa 蒙瓦 (*mung-ngwa), that is, * Mongγa.[2] Although this may well be a mere graphic variant of meng-wu, as claimed by Pelliot,[3] it is possible that *Mongγa is a phonetic variant of *Mongγut/*Mongγul in the form of *Mongγa(l), as suggested by H. Serruys.[4] If the correct interpretation of meng-wu is * Mongγut, as I believe, this form is in all probability an ancient plural of * Mongγul.[5] The tribal name in question would then occur in its earliest recorded forms as *Mongγul/*Mongγal.[6]

By the thirteenth century, *Mongγul had developed into Mongγol through regular progressive assimilation in some Mongolian dialects, but Mongγul was still retained in other dialects and the form Mongγal is also well attested.[7]

The Mongols’ name is first recorded in Uighur script (which the Mongols had adopted early in the thirteenth century) in the legend of the seal of Güyüg (r. 1246–48) on the famous letter to Pope Innocent IV (1246) in the form MWNKQWL, that is, Mongγol or Mongγul.[8] From then on, and irrespective of dialect variations, this name has always been written in the same way, which we have conventionally transcribed as ‘Mongγol’.[9]

(Regarding the etymology of the name Mongγul, the ending γul may be a suffix denoting a clan, tribe or people.[10] If so, we are left with the root mong the origin and meaning of which still elude us.[11] Other etymologies have been proposed, but they are hypothetical and speculative.[12])

In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, however, the name of the Mongols in Central and Western Asia, as well as in Europe, was either Tatar/Tartar, or a variation of Mogol (Moγol); only occasionally, but never in Central or Western Asia, do we find the name Mongol (Mongγol).

I shall only briefly review the designation Tatar/Tartar, since much has been written already on the subject and there is not much I can add to it.[13]

In the 12th century, the Tatar people of eastern Mongolia were the most powerful tribal complex north of the Gobi. Therefore, in China and Central Asia, and further west, the name Tatar became the common, general designation for all Mongol- and Turkic-speaking peoples of Mongolia just as, in the Middle Ages, ‘Frank’ designated any western European.[14] The Persian historian Rašīd-al-Dīn (ca. 1247–1318), who discusses this question at length in his great work, can hardly disguise his wonder at the fact that the Tatar tribe’s name and renown should have spread so far and wide, from China and India to Dašt-i Qïpčaq and Syria, and to the Arab populations of north Africa, indeed as far as the Maghreb.[15]

Because of this, the Mongolian tribesmen in Činggis Qan’s time were also called Tatars by the Chinese and other peoples of Asia, and even after the destruction of the Tatar tribe by Činggis Qan in 1202, the Mongols continued to be referred to as Tatars, not only because the name had stuck, as it were, but also (and chiefly) because they had replaced the latter in the hegemony of the steppe. We must not forget that very few people outside the vast grassland of Mongolia knew what was happening there, and which of the many barbarian tribes roaming the steppe had conquered which.[16]

The Tatars thus enjoyed a posthumous, albeit undeserved glory (or notoriety) as their name penetrated Europe in the first decades of the thirteenth century from the south through the Near East and the crusaders, and via the Cumans, the Bulgars and other populations of the Volga regions in the north. The terrifying horsemen from the depths of Asia who defeated the Russian princes, destroyed Kiev, routed the Polish and Hungarian armies and nearly took Vienna in 1242 were, of course, the dreaded Tatars, promptly and pointedly renamed Tartarus (Hell), and the invaders’ resemblance (in popular imagination) with devils.[17]

And so the Mongols, assimilated on the one had to a tribe which, ironically, had been their worst enemy, and on the other to a host of devils released from Hell, continued to be called Tatars by the Russians, and Tartars by the rest of Europe, and this not for a few decades but for centuries — in fact until modern times.[18]

This does not mean, however, that the name Mongol remained unknown in Europe after the European nations had established direct contact with the Mongolian empire through various diplomatic missions. Nevertheless, this true name was regarded as just another name for the Tartars, the latter designation being by now well established and widespread.[19] The name Mongol appears sporadically in the thirteenth century chronicles and envoys’ reports in several forms, often greatly corrupted in the course of transmission. Thus we find Mongal(i) in John of Pian di Carpine’s Historia, Moal in William of Rubruck’s Itinerarium, and Mongul in Marco Polo’s Il Milione.[20] Simon of St Quentin alternates between Mongli and Mogli, Mongol and Mogol.[21] Some of the forms recorded by these travellers are either contracted (Moal) or denasalised (Mogli, Mogol), and this poses an interesting problem.

Figure 1 Suvarṇaprabhāsa, Uighur text edited by V.V. Radlov and S.E. Malov.

Figure 1
Suvarṇaprabhāsa, Uighur text edited by V.V. Radlov and S.E. Malov.

If we look at the name of the Mongols in Central and Western Asia at the time (middle and second half of the thirteenth century), we see that neither the Turks, nor the Persians, nor for that matter any other people who had close relations with the Mongols actually spelled their name with an n. The Turks called them Moγul and Moγal (Moγul in Chaghatai), corresponding of course to Mongolian Mongγol and Mongγal respectively; the Persians called them Moγōl/Muγūl and Moγāl/ Muγāl (according to the different transcriptions of the same words); in Arabic we have Mughūl (as in Persian); in Hindustani Mugh(a)l; in Armenian Muγal; in Syriac Mûglâyê — a metathetical form from Mûgâl; and in Greek Μουγούλιοι (from Muγul).[22] All the vowel changes in these forms can be easily explained, but what happened to the n?

The mystery of the missing n has been puzzling me for a long time. It is evident that all the above-mentioned forms originally go back to Uighur Turkic. Now, phonetically, an alternation Moηγul ~ Moγul is certainly possible in the Turkic languages,[23] but in Uighur we find only the non-nasalised forms Moγul and Moγal. When it comes to the name of the nation there is no alternation: the form with –η- simply does not exist in Uighur, witness the fact that in Persian and all the other languages which ultimately borrowed the word from Uighur we find only the denasalised form.

We must then ask ourselves: what made the Uighur Turks, who first taught their script to the Mongols and who, for several decades, acted as their scribes and secretaries, use the correct form Mongγol in the edicts and documents that they drafted in Mongolian for their masters, but Moγul (=Moγol) in those they wrote in their own language? There is no doubt that the Uighurs could write the correct form, and did so when it was part of an individual’s personal name (as in contract or business transaction), but not in the case of the name of the ruling nation.[24]

The answer, is think may be provided by a passage from the Suvarṇaprabhāsa in Uighur (the Altun yaruq) in the illustration at hand (Figure 1).[25]

In Uighur there is a word muηγul meaning ‘unwise, fool’ which in Uighur script is written exactly as the name Mongγol (as can be seen from the legend on Güyüg’s seal, Figure 2). Clearly, it would have been courting disaster for a scribe in the Mongol khan’s service to employ the same name in Turkic (thus making the two words synonymous), for this would have been regarded as deliberately offensive. An act of lèse-majesté of this kind brought to the notice of the khan by a jealous colleague or enemy of the scribe would undoubtedly have cost him his life. But a very slight orthographic change — allowed moreover by the nature of the language (because of –ηγ- ~ -γ-) — would have easily solved the problem. This is why, in my opinion, Mongγol became Moγol in Uighur and, ultimately, why the Mongols of Afghanistan are called Moghols and not Monghols, why the famous Turkish rulers of India are called Mughals and not Munghals, and also why today we read about ‘media moguls’ and not ‘media monguls’.

Figure 2 Seal of the Great Khan (r. 1246–48).

Figure 2
Seal of the Great Khan (r. 1246–48).

This article was first published in Marie-Dominique Even et al., eds Actes de la 37e P.I.A.C., Conférence internationale permanente des études altaiques: Chantilly, 20–24 juin 1994, 1997, Etudes mongoles et sibériennes 27 (1996): 199–210.

Igor de Rachewiltz


1 The Mongols first appear (under this name) as a small branch of the Shih-wei 室韋 tribe which in the 9th century resided in the valley of the Argun River near the present Sino-Russian border. In the following two centuries, no doubt as a result of internal and external pressures, they moved westwards, almost certainly along the Kerulen River (Xerlen Gol), eventually settling at the sources of this river on the wooded slopes of the sacred mountain Burqan Qaldan of The Secret History of the Mongols, that is, present-day Kenti Qan (Xentii Xan) in northern Mongolia. Except for their mention in the T’ang Histories (see n.2) in connection with the Shih-wei and a few other tantalisingly brief and unlightening references to them in the Chinese sources (s.a. 1071 and 1084), the Mongols do not reappear historically as such until the 12th century. All we have for the preceding period are semi-historical accounts and legends preserved in The Secret History of the Mongols and in Rašīd al-Dīn’s great work. See P. Ratchnevsky, ‘Les Che-wei étaient-ils des Mongols?,’ in Mélanges de sinolgie offerts à Monsieur Paul Demiéville (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1966), t.I, pp.225–51 [Bibilothèque de l’Institut des hautes études chinoises, XX]; Idem, Činggis-khan. Sein Leben und Wirken (Wiesbaden: Steiner Verlag, 1983), pp.5–14 (also for earlier references to P. Pelliot, Wang Kuo-wei, etc.). CF. also Louis Hambis, L’histoire des Mongols avant Genghis-khan d’après les sources chinoises et mongoles, et la documentation conservée par Rašīd-ud-’Dīn, T’oung Pao, 14 (1970), pp.125–33. Besides the Shih-wei ‘Mongols’ (who appear to have been a people of mixed Mongol and Tungus culture), other Mongolian-speaking tribes had had intercourse with China before the historical Mongols; those may be regarded therefore as ‘Proto-Mongols’. Among them are the T’o-pa (*Tabγač) founders of the Wei dynasty (382–557) and the Khitans who established the Liao dynasty (907–1125). However, the identification of these tribes as Mongols or Proto-Mongols is difficult and controversial.

2 See Chiu T’ang-chu 舊唐書 (all references to the Chinese Standard Histories are to the Ssu-pu ts’ung-k’an 四部叢刊 edition), 129B, 10a; Hsin T’ang-shu 新唐書 p.219, 7a. Strictly speaking, the transcription *mung-nguat would postulate an original *Mungγut or, less strictly, *Mungγul (since Chinese cannot render the final l). However, the character *mung/meng 蒙, as later the character mang 忙, was used to render Mongolian mong, because Chinese has no other way of rendering that sound. Moreover, we know from the Latin transcriptions of the name that in the first half of the 13th century the vowel of the first syllable was definitely o, not u. Since in Mongolian the vowel o of the first accented syllable is quite stable, there is no reason to believe that it could be have developed from an earlier u. Therefore, the Chiu T’ang-shu transcription must be interpreted as representing *Mongγut or *Mongγul.

3 See Journal asiatique, 15 (1920), p.146, n.1; T’oung Pao, 26 (1929), p.126, n.2. Cf. Ratchnevsky, Les Che-wei …, pp.228, n.2; 237, 238 and n.5; D. Sinor, ‘On Some Ural-Altaic Plural Suffixes,’ Asia Major, N.S. 2 (1952): pp.214–15.

4 See H. Serruys, ‘Mongγol: Moγal and Mangγus: Maγus,’ Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 36 (1982): 475–78, at pp.475ff. However, Serruys reconstructs *mung-nguət (sic) as Mongγol, and for him Mongγol < Mongγal (ibid. p.478), as Onon ‘the Onon R’. < Onan, olon ‘many’ < olan, etc. (For this common phenomenon, see N. Poppe, ‘Remarks on the Vocalism of the Second Syllable in Mongolian,’ Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 14 (1951): 189–207, at pp.194–97. This is also the view shared by Poppe, op. cit. pp.189–90. In our case, however, the form *Mongγal is simply due to the weakening of the vowel of the second (unstressed) syllable which makes the u sound like an a. For example, *ordu (< Tukic ordu) ‘the khan’s encampment of palace’> Middle Mongolian ordo (through progressive assimilation), but orda in John of Pian di Carpine’s and William of Rubruck’s reports. The ‘Caracaron’ (= Qara Qorum) of one of the mss. of the Historia Mongalorum may be a metathetical form of ‘Caracoran’; cf. the ‘Carachora’ of the Catalan Map. See P. Pelliot, Notes on Marco Polo (Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1959), I, p.165; A. Van Den Wyngaert OFM, ed., Sinica Franciscana, I. Itinera et relationes Fratrum Minorum saeculi XIII et XIV (Quaracchi [Firenze], Apud Collegium S. Bonaventurae, 1929), pp.118, 213. For u > a, v in the modern Mongolian dialects, cf. Mongolian tuγul) (< *tuγul> Middle Mongolian tuqul) ‘one-year-old calf’, Buryat (Alar) tu˱gǎ͔l, Khalkha t’u˱gvl. See Poppe, op. cit., p.199; cf. G.J. Ramstedt, Das Schriftmongolische und die Urgamundart phonetisch verglichen (Helsingfors: Druckerei der finnischen Litteratugesellschaft, 1902), pp.34, §39; 40, §48; A. Mostaert, Le dialecte des Mongols Urdus (Sud), Anthropos, 22 (1927), p.867, §43.

5 According to Pelliot, ‘Monghod’ is the plural of ‘Monghol’ — just as ‘Taiči’ud’ is the plural of ‘Taiči’ul’. See the entry ‘Mongoli’ in the Enciclopedia Italiana di Scienze, Lettere e Arti (Rome: Giovanni Treccani, 1949), XXIII, p.661a; P. Pelliot et L. Hambis, Histoire des campagnes de Gengis Khan: Cheng-wou ts’in-tcheng lou (Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1951), I, p.151.

6 The names in Chinese transcription found in the Chiu T’ang-shu 195, 3a; in the Wu-tai shih 五代史, 73, 9a; and in the Liao-shih 遼史 33, 8b, 35, 9a, and 46, 5a, which have been hypothetically reconstructed as *mäkäs and *moγos, refer to Tangut and Turkic tribes, not to tribes or clans of Mongol stock. Therefore, these names cannot be called into question in the present discussion, See Serruys, op. cit. pp.476–77. Cf. K.A. Wittfogel and Fêng Chia-shêng, History of Chinese Society. Liao (907–1125), Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, N.S. 36 [1946] (Philadelphia, 1949), p.91, n.23.

7 The form Mongγol (<*Mongγul) is found, for example, in Simon of St Quentin’s Historia Tartarorum. See S. de Saint-Quentin, Histoire des Tartares, ed. J. Richard (Paris: Paul Geuthner, 1965), p.92 (XXXII, 34): ‘Ipsi quoque Tartari proprie loquendo se vocant Mongli sive Mongol’. The form Mongγol is the one regularly attested in the Chinese transcriptions of the 13th and 14th centuries (in the Yüan tien-chang 元典章, Yüan-shih 元史, etc.) as meng-ku 蒙古 (*Mongγu[l]); it is also the one found in Marco Polo’s book, but unfortunately in a passage of doubtful authenticity. See A.C. Moule and P. Pelliot, Marco Polo: The Description of the World (London: Routledge, 1938), I, p.183: ‘And therefore the Tartars are sometimes called Mongul’. As for Mongal, it is found in this form in John of Pian di Carpine’s account (for example in the very title of the work Historia Mongalorum), and in the Uighurised and contracted form Moal (=Mo’al) in William of Rubruck’s Itinerarium (Van Den Wyngaert, op. cit, p.205 et passim), about which see further on.

8 It is in the last word in the second line of the legend. See I. de Rachewiltz, ‘Qan, Qa’an and the Seal of Güyüg,’ in eds K. Sagaster and M. Weiers, Documenta Barbarorum: Festschrift für W. Heissig zum 70. Geburtstag, Veröffentlichungen der Societas Uralo-Altaica, 18 (Wiesbaden, Otto Harrassowtiz, 1983), pl.I (p.274). The name Mongγol (or Mongγul) occurs also in the second line of the so-called ‘Stone of Chingis’, that is, the stele of Činggis Qan’s nephew Yisüngge, reputedly the earliest monument in Uighur-Mongol script (ca. 1225). In my opinion, however, this monument is of much later date. See my article ‘Some Remarks on the Stele of Yisüngge,’ in eds Walter Heissig et al., Tracata altaica: Denis Sinor, sexagenario optime de rebus altaicis merito dedicata (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1976), pp.487–508, esp. pp.494–95. The Uighur script does not distinguish between o and u, therefore the Mongols’ name can be read Mongγol, Mongγul and Mungγul.

9 That is, in Script (or Written) Mongolian; however, ‘Mongγul’ is still occasionally employed by Mongolists. See, for example, J.R. Kreuger, Materials for an Oirat-Mongolian to English Citation Dictionary (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Publications, 1978–84), I–III, p.602. Mongγul is also the form given in F.D. Lessing, gen. ed., Mongolian-English Dictionary (Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press/London: Cambridge University Press, 1960), pp.542b–3a (several reprints by the Mongolia Society, Inc., Bloomington, Ind.). This is no doubt ultimately due to G.J. Ramstedt’s influence. See his Kalmückishces Wörterbuch (Helsinki: Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura, 1935), p.264b: moŋgul, moŋgol. Some scholars in Japan, like S. Imanishi (1907–79), also use Mongγul pro Mongγol — an indication of the long survival of this old (and obsolete!) form. The precise Korean and Manchu phonetic transcriptions of the name confirm the correctness of Mongγol v. Mongγul. There are no great dialect variations in modern Mongolian (in all dialects the vowel of the second syllable is of course greatly reduced), except for Monguour in which the word for Mongl is Monguor (moŋG͔uor ~ moŋG͔or).

10 As we find, for example, in the word Sartaγul (Middle Mongolian Sarta’ul) ‘Muslim native of Central or Western Asia’, from sartaγ = Turkic sart (< Sanskrit sārtha ‘caravan, wealthy’ ‘an Iranian; merchant’. See G. Clauson, An Etymological Dictionary of Pre-Thirteenth-Century Turkish (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), p.846a.

11 Cf. N.P. Shastina, ‘Mongol and Turkic Ethnonyms in the Secret History of the Mongols,’ in ed. L. Ligeti, Researches in Altaic Languages (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1975), pp.231–32.

12 Rašīd al-Dīn says that the word ‘Mongol’ was originally ‘Mūngōl’ (mūng-ōl) meaning ‘feeble’ and ‘naive’ — clearly a folk etymology still current in Rašīd’s own time which, as we shall see, was not without some justification. (Rašīd naturally thought that mūng-ōl was a Mongolian expression and, in this respect, he was of course mistaken.) Other proposed etymologies include: < Mongolian mönggü ‘silver’; Mongolian Mong Γol ‘the Mong (?) River’; Chinese meng 猛 ‘fierce, valiant’; and Yakut moŋol ‘great, big’. See Ratchnevsky, Činggis-khan, pp.5–6, n.23; G. Doerfer, ‘Der Name der Mongolen bei Rašīd ad-Dīn,’ Central Asiatic Journal 14 (1970): 68–77.

13 The following is a short list of references on this complex issue: U. Monneret de Villard, Il Libro della peregrinazione nelle parti d’oriente di Frate Ricoldo da Montecroce (Rome: Istituto Storico Domenicano, 1948), pp.54ff.; Marco Polo, La Description du monde, text intégral en français moderne avec introduction et notes par L. Hambis (Paris: C. Klincksieck, 1955), p.383; L. Olschkii, Marco Polo’s Asia: An Introduction to his ‘Description of the World’ Called ‘Il Milione,’ trans. J.A. Scott (Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1960), pp.26, n.44, 308ff.; J.J. Saunders, ‘Matthew Paris and the Mongols,’ in eds T.A. Sandquist and M.R. Powicke, Essays in Medieval History Presented to Bertie Wilkinson (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1969), p.124; G.A. Bezzola, Die Mongolen in abendländischer Sicht [1220–1270]. Ein Beitrag zur Frage der Völkerbegegnungen (Bern/München, Francke, 1974), pp.33ff., 125–26; The Mission of Friar William of Rubruck: His Journey to the Court of the Great Khan Möngke 1253–1255, trans P. Jackson, with D. Morgan (London: The Hackluyt Society, 1990), pp.16–17, n.4; A. Klopprogge, Ursprung und Ausprägung des abendländischen Mongolenbildes im 13. Jahrhundert: Ein Versuch zur Ideengeschichte des Mittelalters (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowtiz, 1993), pp.168–76 [Asiatiche Forschungen, 122].

14 On the Tartar tribe see Ratchnevsky, Ĉinggis-khan, pp.3–4, and the literature cited on p.4, n.15. Pelliot (Histoire de campagnes, p.2) makes some interesting remarks on the manner in which the tribal name Tatar became the generic name for the Mongols and also for part of the Turks. Pelliot’s remarks were prompted by Rašīd al-Dīn’s statement on this very question. See below, n.15. Cf. S.G. Klyaštornyĭ, ‘Gosudarstva Tatar v Central’noĭ Azii (dočingisova ėpokha),’ in eds V.M. Solncev et al., Mongolica: K 750-letiyu ‘Sokrovennogo skazaniya’ (Moscow: Nauka, 1993), pp.139–47; and Central Asiatic Journal 36 (1992), pp.72–83.

15 See Rašīd al-Dīn, Sbornik letopisei, trans. L.A. Khetagurov (Moskow/Leningrad: AN SSSR, 1952), pp.75, 101–103.

16 For the Chinese generic designation Ta-ta 韃靼 (= Tatar/Mongol), see Meng-Ta pei-lu und Hei-Ta shih-lüeh. Chinesische Gesandtenberichte über die frühen Mongolen 1221 und 1237, trans., annot. and eds E. Haenisch, Yao Ts’ung-wu, P. Olbricht, E. Pinks and W. Banck (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrasso-witz, 1980), pp.4–7, nn.1–5 [Asiatische Forschungen, 56]. It should be mentioned, however, that once China was under Mongol rule, the name Ta-ta was replaced by Meng-ku (see above, n.7).

17 The pun on Tatari: Tartari apparently originates with Louis IX. See Saunders, op.cit. p.124. For the ‘image’ of the Mongols in western Europe see Bezzola, op. cit., esp. part II/iv–v; and Klopprogge’s excellent monograph cited above, n.13.

18 See G. Vernadsky, The Mongols and Russia (London/Oxford: Yale University Press, 1953), p.12. Cf. L.N. Gumilev, Searches for an Imaginary Kingdom: The Legend of the Kingdom of Prester John, trans. R.E.F. Smith (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), p.94. To call the Mongols ‘Tartars’ and ‘Tatars’ is a tradition that has been kept alive to the present time in literature, general histories of China and Asia, reference works, etc., as well as in speech. Cf., for example, the Enciclopedia Italiana … (see above, n.5), XIX, p.39b, s.v. ‘India’: ‘i Tartari di Genghīz Khān’. We know from William of Rubruck that the Mongols objected to being referred to as Tartars, that is, Tatars. See Van Den Wyngaert, op. cit. p.205; C. Dawson, The Mongol Mission: Narratives and Letters of the Franciscan Missionaries in Mongolia and China in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries, trans. a Nun of Stanbrook Abbay (London/New York: Sheed and Ward, 1955), p.121.

19 This fact is epitomised in Marco Polo’s statement cited.

20 See above, n.7

21 See Histoire des Tartares (cf. above, n.7), p.92.

22 Turkic Moγal is evidenced by William of Rubruck’s “Moal” which can only be a development of Moγal (> Mo’al > Moal), a form that must be either Turkic or Persian, not Mongolian. The transcriptions from Persian sources (J̌uvanī, Rašīd al-Dīn, etc.) vary from author to author because of the ambiguity of o/u in Persian. In J̌uvanī the usual form of the name is Moγol/Muγūl — the form used also by Rašīd — but occasionally we find also Moγāl/Muγūl. It is my opinion that Persian Moγāl/Muγāl, as well as Moγol/Muγūl, reflect Turkic forms. Cf. also modern Uighur (Aksu) Moγal. The form ‘Mongγol’ of the Sino-Uighur vocabulary of the Translations Bureau of the Ming (15th–16th ca.) edited by L. Ligeti (see AO Hung., 19, 1966, p.183) cannot be taken into account for it is a much later (post-Mongol Empire) production and issued by a Chinese office. In the Chinese transcription, it is customary to use mang (= mong) for the first syllable of the Mongols’ name. See above, n.2. For Armenian Muγal, cf. F.W. Cleaves, The Mongolian Names and Terms in the History of the Nation of Archers by Grigor of Akanc,’ Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 12 (1949), p.424. For Syriac Mûglâyê, cf. trans., Sir E.A. Wallis Budge, The Monks of Ḳûblâi Khân Emperor of China (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1929), p.152. For Greek Moύγλιoι, cf. G. Moravcsik, Byzantinoturcica. II. Sprachreste der Türkvölker in den Byzantinischen Quellen, 2nd ed. (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1958), p.193. The Chaghatai from Moγul is given by N.N. Poppe, Mongol’skiĭ slovar’ Mukaddimat al-Adab (Moscow/Leningrad: Izdatel’stvo Akademii Nauk, 1938), I–III, p.238a (repr. Gregg Int. Publ. Ltd, 1971, in one vol.). For the Persian and other forms, cf. also H. Serruys, Mongγol: Moγal …, p.477; G. Doerfer, Der Name der Mongolen, passim. On Anglo-Indian Mogul, see the numerous references in H. Yule and A.C. Burnell, Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases, and of Kindred Terms, Etymological, Historical, Geographical and Discursive, (new ed. by W. Crooke) (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968), pp.570–73, s.vv. ‘Mogul’ and ‘Mogul, the Great’.

23 See Ė.R. Tenišev, ed., Sravnitel’no-istoričeskaya grammatika tyurkskikh yazykov: Fonetika (Moscow: Nauka, 1984), pp.340–41. Cf. also Yakut moŋol ~ moγol ~ moγul ‘great, big’. See S. Kałużyński, Mongolische Element in der jakutischen Sprache (Warsaw/The Hague: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1962), p.120.

24 In the third line of the Uighur (private) document published by W. Radloff in Uigurishce Sprachdenkmäler (Leningrad: AN SSSR, 1928) [repr. Osnabrück: Biblio Verlag, 1972], p.137, no.81, we find a proper name spelled MWNKWL PWQ’, that is, Moŋol (? Moŋul) Buqa. On the basis of this reading, L. Ligeti, loc. cit., gives the Uighur word for ‘Mongol’ as ‘Monγul’. This is not correct, since the word in question is the first element, that is, an integral part, of a proper name and does not refer to the Mongol state. In a document of this kind, individual names would have, of course, to be spelled correctly, and here, in any case, the reading MWNKQWL may well be Turkic muŋul (= muŋγul) ‘foolish’. It is interesting to note that in this name we have a good example of ŋγ > ŋ (Moŋγul/Moŋγul > Moŋol/Moŋul). Cf. the Mukaddimat al-Adab, loc. cit., where the Mongol form is ‘Moŋγol’ not ‘Mongγol’.

25 See V.V. Radlov and S.E. Malov, eds, Suvarṇaprabhāsa (Sutra zolotogo bleska): Tekst uĭgurskoĭ redakcii (St Petersburg/Petrograd: Imp. Akad. Nauk, 1913–17), I–VIII, p.624, l. 18 [Bibliotheca Buddhica, 17] (repr. Osnabrück, Biblio Verlag, 1970). For muŋγul ‘unwise, fool’, see Clauson, op. cit. pp.768b–9a; V.M. Nadelyaev et al., eds, Drevnetyurkskiĭ slovar’ (Leningrad: Nauka, 1969), p.351a–b. The possible connection between Turkic muŋ ‘foolish, simpleton, silly’ (cf. Mongolian mungqaγ id.) and the name Mongγol has been discussed and highlighted by Doerfer, op. cit., in relation to the folk etymology recorded by Rašīd al-Dīn; the fuller implications of this precious evidence seem to have escaped him however. In Rašīd’s etymology we find an echo of the problem that must have beset the Turkic speaking entourage of Činggis Qan and his ‘Uighur’ Chancellery. See the biographies of Činqai (ca. 1169–1252) and Yeh-lü Ch’u-tsai (1189–1243) in I. de Rachewiltz, H.-L. Chan, C.-C. Hsiao and P.W. Geier, eds, In the Service of the Khan: Eminent Personalities of the Early Mongol-Yüan Period (1200–1300) (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1993), pp.95–112; 136–72 [Asiatische Forschungen, 123].