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The Anxi Principality: [un]Making a Muslim Mongol Prince in Northwest China during the Yuan Dynasty

Pages 185 - 200


This offering to the memory of Professor Evgeny Kychanov, historian of Sino-Inner Asian history, examines the curious career of Qubilai Qa'an's grandson Ananda 阿難答 (?–1307), whose appanage (fendi 分地) adjoined the former Tangut realm (Xi Xia) and whose portrait as a pious Muslim in Rashīd al-Dīn's (1247–1318) Persian history has encouraged speculation about his role in the ethno-religious transformation of northwest China. My aim here is to assess Rashīd al-Dīn's account in the light of contemporary Chinese data about the Anxi Prince (anxi wang 安西王), in order to clarify and problematise the historiographical record concerning this Mongol prince, and to examine his identity (as a Mongol or a Muslim) in relation to the regional and empire-wide politics of the time. What exactly do we know about Ananda? To what extent might political considerations have shaped religious activity or behaviour (never mind beliefs)? What did it mean to be a (the only?) Muslim Mongol prince in Yuan China?


Kenyon College, Gambier/Ohio

1 Secondary studies of the Anxi Prince include Matsuda Kōichi 松田孝一, “Genchō chi no bumpōsei – Anseiō no jirei wo chūshin to shite 元朝の分封制 -安西王の事例を中として”, Shigaku zasshi 史學雜誌 88 (1979), pp. 1249–1286 (37–74); Wen Yucheng 溫玉成, “Yuan Anxi wang yu zongjiao 元安西王與宗教”, Kaogu yu wenwu 考古與文物 4 (1984), pp. 95–97; Yu Guixiao 余贵孝, “Shi lun Guyuan diqu Huizu de zuyuan yu fazhan 试论固原地区回族的族源与发展”, Ningxia wenshi 寧夏文史 11(1995), pp. 22–35; Chen Guang'en 陳廣恩, “Shilun Yisilan jiao zai Xi Xia de liuchuan 試論伊斯蘭教在西夏的流傳”, Huizu yanjiu 回族研究 no. 1 (2005), pp. 87–90; “Yuan Anxiwang Ananda changdao Yisilanjiao de zhenzheng mudi 元安西王阿難答倡導伊斯蘭教的真正目的, Xiyu yanjiu 西域研究 no. 2 (2005), pp. 58–62; and “Yuan Anxiwang Manggela si yin zhi mi 元安西王忙哥剌死因之谜”, Minzu yanjiu no. 3 (2008), pp. 96–104; Xi Lei 喜蕾, “Anxiwang Ananda dui Gaoli zhengzhi shili de liyong 安西王阿難答對高麗政治勢力的利用” Xibei minzu yanjiu 西北民族研究 no. 1 (2001), pp. 27–36.

2 Rashiduddin Fazlullah, Jami'u't-tawarikh: Compendium of Chronicles, trans. W. M. Thackston (Cambridge: Harvard University Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, 1998–1999) (hereafter Rashid/Thackston), esp. 2: 463–467. Rashīd al-Dīn, The Successors of Genghis Khan, trans. John Andrew Boyle (New York: Columbia U.P., 1971) (hereafter Rashīd/Boyle).

3 Peter Jackson, “The Mongols and the Faith of the Conquered”, in Mongols, Turks, and Others, eds. Reuven Amitai and Michal Biran (Leiden & Boston: E.J. Brill, 2005), pp. 245–290, epitomizes the Realpolitik view. Christopher Atwood elaborates a theological argument in “Validation by Holiness or Sovereignty: Religious Toleration as Political Theology in the Mongol World Empire of the Thirteenth Century”, The International History Review, vol. 26, no. 2 (Jun., 2004), pp. 237–256.

4 For example, see Matsui Dai 松井太, “Tōzai Chyagatai kei shōoka to Uigurujin Chibetto Bukkyōto – Tonkō shin hakken Mongoru go bunsho no sai kentō kara 東西チャガタイ系諸王家とウイグル人チベット仏教徒: 敦煌新発現モンゴル語文書の再検討から”, Nairiku Ajia shi kenyu 內陸アジア史研究, vol. 23 (2008), pp. 25–48.

5 On the empress and her name, see Francis Woodman Cleaves, “The Biography of the Empress Ĉabi in the Yüan shih“, Harvard Ukrainian Studies, nos. 3–4 (1979–80), pp. 138–150. Manggala's birth year is not recorded, but he was probably around thirty when he died in 1278.

6 Song Lian 宋濂, et al., Yuanshi 元史 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1976), j. 108, pp. 1735–36, and the basic annals of Qubilai and Chengzong (jj. 9–21) (hereafter YS); Ke Shaomin 柯紹忞 (1850–1933), Xin Yuanshi 新元史, j. 114 (hereafter XYS); and Tu Ji 屠寄 (1856–1921), Mengwu'er shiji 蒙兀兒史記, j. 76 (hereafter Tu Ji), published together as Yuanzhi erzhong 元史二種 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1989).

7 YS, j. 29, p. 641; YS, j. 36, p. 803; YS, j. 202, pp. 4519–4520; Hsiao Ch'i-ch'ing, “Mid-Yüan politics”, in The Cambridge History of China, Vol. 6, Alien regimes and border states, 907–1368, Herbert Franke and Denis Twitchett (eds) (Cambridge: CUP, 1994), pp. 532–547, esp. 533 (hereafter CHC).

8 Matsuda, “Genchō chi no bumpōsei – Anseiō no jirei wo chūshin to shite”, pp. 56–57, 71 (hereafter Matsuda).

9 See Hu Xiaopeng 胡小鵬 “Yuandai Hexi zhuwang yu Gansu xingsheng guanxi shulun 元代河西諸王與甘肅行省關係述論 Gansu shehui kexue 甘肅社會科學, 1992, no. 3, 70–74, 83; and Sugiyama Masaaki 杉山正, Mongoru teigoku to Dai-ön Urus モんゴル帝國と大元ウルス (Kyoto: Kyoto U.P., 2004).

10 Rashid/Thackston, 2: 465–467; Rashīd/Boyle, pp. 323–326. Khoshi (Hexi MB) means “west of the [Yellow] River,” and in the Yuan refers specifically to western Gansu and the Yinchuan area. On the meanings of Hexi in Chinese and Tangut sources, see Su Hang 河西, “Šidurϒu he Qāshīn—posiwen ‘Shiji’ buzu zhi Tangute bufen yuedue zhaji erze (Šidurϒu 和 Qāshīn—波斯文'史集'部族志唐古特部分閱讀札記二則),” Xi Xia xue 西夏學 9 (2013), 144–157.

11 David Farquhar also assumes that the Anxi princes “had their fief in the old Tanggut country”, in The Government of China under Mongol Rule (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1990), p. 393 (hereafter Farquhar), though perhaps he meant the pre-imperial Dangxiang Tanguts.

12 Hu Xiaopeng 胡小鵬, Xibei minzu wenxian yu lishi yanjiu 西北民族文獻與歷史研究 (Gansu: Renmin chubanshe, 2004), pp. 165–186, argues that the Wang were Sinicized Tibetans, not Önggüts. See Hsiao Ch'i-ch'ing, The Military Establishment of the Yuan Dynasty (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1978), p. 209 n413, on the identity of “the twenty-four cities of Kung-ch'ang”, encountered often in the Yuan shi; and Sugiyama Masaaki 杉山正, Mongoru teigoku to Dai-ön Urus モんゴル帝國と大元ウルス (Kyoto: Kyoto U.P., 2004), p. 113 (hereafter Sugiyama).

13 Matsuda, pp. 50–51 and 61 makes this point clearly.

14 See Wang Zongwei's 王宗维 comparison of Rashīd's description of Ananda's territory to Marco Polo's account of Hexi (where most people were “idolaters”), in his “Yuandai Anxiwang xinyang Yisilanjiao shuo zhiyi 元代安西王信仰伊斯蘭教說質疑”, Minzu yanjiu no. 2 (1993), pp. 72–79 (77–78). Wang no doubt exaggerates the influence of Confucian officials serving in the Anxi region, but his skepticism about Rashīd's particulars merits careful consideration.

15 Matsuda, pp. 37–38; Sugiyama, pp. 136–137, 146–152.

16 Rashid/Thackston, 2: 465; Rashīd/Boyle, pp. 323–324.

17 Matsuda, pp. 59–70, estimates the actual number of people and troops subordinate to the Anxi Prince between 4,000 and 10,000. Hsiao Ch'i-ch'ing notes the difficulty of estimating Yuan troop strength in the northwest in The Military Establishment of the Yuan Dynasty, p. 59.

18 Rashid/Thackston, 2: 466; Rashīd/Boyle, pp. 324–325.

19 YS j. 19, p. 401, in the first month of the second year of Yuanzhen (1296).

20 For Ghazan's conversion, see Dewin Deweese, “Islamization in the Mongol Empire”, in Nicola de Cosmo et al. (eds), The Cambridge History of Inner Asia: The Chinggisid Age (Cambridge: CUP, 2009), p. 124 (hereafter The Cambridge History of Inner Asia).

21 Rashid/Thackston, 2: 466–467; Rashīd/Boyle, pp. 325–326. In Boyle's translation, Ananda is “corpulent”, perhaps a result of the Mongols' love of alcohol, which even Muslim Mongols found hard to avoid.

22 The classic work is Dewin Deweese, Islamization and Native Religion in the Golden Horde (University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 1994). See the essays by him and Michal Biran in The Cambridge History of Inner Asia; and Biran, “The Chaghadaids and Islam: The Conversion of Tarmashirin Khan (1331–34)”, JAOS vol. 122, no. 4 (2002), pp. 742–752. Zeki Velidi Togan has commented on Rashid's self-justification in his writings in “The Composition of the History of the Mongols by Rashīd Al-Dīn”, CAJ, no. 7 (1962), pp. 68–71.

23 Rashid/Thackston, 2: 466; Rashīd/Boyle, 324–325. Kököjin, beloved of the Persian historian for her sagacious tolerance, was dead by 1300 (YS 116, pp. 2898–2899).

24 George Qingzhi Zhao, Marriage as Political Strategy and Cultural Expression (New York: Peter Lang, 2008), pp. 21, 218.

25 Deweese, “Islamization in the Mongol Empire”, Cambridge History of Inner Asia, p. 127; Rashid/Thackston, 1: 28 describes how newborn Oghuz Khan appeared in his mother's dreams, saying that he would only drink her milk if she (secretly, at least) worshipped the Muslim God.

26 Rashid/Thackston, 2: 465; Rashīd/Boyle, p. 243. On Nomuqan's captivity, see Michal Biran, Qaidu and the Rise of the Independent Mongol State in Central Asia (Surrey: Curzon, 1992), pp. 37–54, 65.

27 XYS j. 114, p. 518; Tu Ji, j. 76, pp. 507–509. See Louis Hambis and Paul Pelliot, Le Chaptire CVII du Yuan Che (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1945), p. 114–115, and Hambis, Le Chapitre CVIII du Yuan Che (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1954), pp. 2–3, 24 n4, 30, 88 for the genealogical complexities of the family.

28 Rashid/Thackston, 2: 466; Rashīd/Boyle, p. 325; for aqtachi, see Farquhar, pp. 89–90.

29 John Dardess analyzes these events in Conquerors and Confucians (New York: Columbia U.P., 1973). For “The Pacification of Daula-shah” see p. 51; Su Tianjue 蘇天爵 (1294–1352), Yuan wen lei 元文類 (Taibei: Shijie shuju, 1962), j. 41, pp. 37b–38a; and CHC, pp. 535–549. One result of the 1328 events, according to Dardess, was a purging of Muslims associated with the defeated faction of Temüder.

30 YS j. 22, p. 477.

31 For a reference to a milk brother of Ananda's future ally Melik-Temür, see Rashid/Thackston, 2:462.

32 On this bureau, see Farquhar, pp. 73–81.

33 Yu Ji, Daoyuan xuegulu, j. 17, p. 285; YS, j. 169, p. 3971, in Gu Xila's biography; Farquhar, pp. 73–81 on the Xuanhui Yuan.

34 YS j.19, p. 401; j. 169, p. 3972.

35 Yu Ji 虞集, Daoyuan xuegulu 道園學古錄 (GXJBC edn), j. 17, p. 284. Tujianli-buhua was a descendant of Jin defector Gu Xila 賈昔剌 (YS, j. 169, pp. 3969–3972). It is unclear which of Qaishan's four recorded wives (YS 114, pp. 2874–2875) is meant. Wang Yun 王惲 (1227–1304), Qiuxian xiansheng da quan wenji 秋澖先生大全文集, j. 5, pp. 1a–5b, records a 1295 eulogy to Hulinchi, Hubacha's husband and head of the imperial kitchen and apothecary, in which Hubacha (“nursed by the same woman as the Anxi prince”) is praised at length.

36 Hambis 1954, pp. 30 n2, 34 n8, 158 n2: she was born of Manggala's daughter Nu'ulun (Ch. 奴兀倫) and prince Solangqa (Ch. 鎖郎哈), possibly a descendant of Botu (Ch. 孛徒), a son-in-law of Chinggis Qan, but confusion exists over two princes with similar names.

37 Chen, “Yuan Anxiwang Manggela si yin zhi mi”, 96–104, cites the testimony of the contemporary Song Chinese Zheng Sijiao 鄭思肖 (13th c.), Xinshi 心史 on Qubilai's killing of Manggala. Zheng's account is flawed and its reliability, Chen admits, has been questioned.

38 Chen Xiyu yanjiu 2005 and Xi Lei 2001 (see note 1) both develop this line of reasoning.

39 XYS, j. 114, p. 517; YS, j. 159, pp. 3741–3742 in the biography of Shang Ting 商挺 (1209–1289), Qubilai's principal advisor to Manggala's establishment until 1279. For Manggala's wife Putri (Qutui) of the Qonggirat, see Rashid/ Thackston, 2: 422; Rashīd/Boyle, p. 243. Putri, like Ananda, is a Sanskrit name. Little else is known about her. The influential Qonggirat tribe had supplied wives to imperial Mongols since Temüjin (future Chinggis Qan) married Börte.

40 Cheng Jufu 程鉅夫 (1249–1318), Xuelouji 雪樓集 (SKQS edn), j. 8, pp. 22a–23a, under “Qin guo xian mubei 秦國先墓碑” (cited in Matsuda, p. 47).

41 Rashid/Thackston, 2:422; Rashīd/Boyle, p. 243. Arslan-buqa presumably died young, for no more is heard of him. This is a rare Chinese reference to Manggala's third son.

42 Cheng Jufu 程鉅夫, Xuelouji 雪樓集, j. 8, p. 23a.

43 Igor de Rachewiltz, et al, ed., In the Service of the Khan (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1993) (hereafter In the Service of the Khan), pp. 343–344; biographies of Shang Ting in YS, j. 159, pp. 3741–3742, and Zhao Bing in YS, j. 163, p. 3837.

44 Su Tianjue 蘇天爵 (1294–1352), Yuanchao mingchen shilue 元朝名臣事略 (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1996), p. 223.

45 In the Service of the Khan, pp. 565–66; YS 14, p. 302; YS 108, p. 2735; XYS 14, p. 517. Qubilai's powerful minister Sangha strove for greater fiscal accountability and control over the princely appanages. It remains to be clarified why the younger brother was using the higher-ranking Qin seal, or if this was simply a pretext to take it away from Ananda himself.

46 Wang Shidian 王士點 (?–1359?), Yuan Mishu jian zhi 元秘書監志 (Yangzhou: Jiangsu Guangling gushi keyinshe chuban, 1988), j. 7, p. 8b; cited in Yu Guixiao (note 1). The Anxi prince is also listed as an honorary member of the staff of the Institute of Muslim Astronomy (j. 7, pp. 1a, 7b). On the Institute of Muslim Astronomy, see Farquhar, pp. 133, 137; Thomas T. Allsen, Culture and Conquest in Mongol Eurasia (Cambridge: CUP, 2001), pp. 166–175.

47 Allsen, Culture and Conquest, pp. 172–173, notes Ming interest in Muslim astronomy and calendrical science, and the continued production of unofficial Hui Hui calendars.

48 Allsen, pp. 170–171.

49 See Wen Yucheng, “Yuan Anxi wang yu zongjiao”, and Wang Chang 王昶 (1725–1806), Jinshi cuibian weike gao 金石萃编未刻稿 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 1995, j. zhong, pp. 2ab; Cai Meibiao 蔡美彪, Yuandai baihua bei jilu 元代白話碑集錄 (Beijing: Kexue chubanshe, 1955), pp. 30, 31, 119 (hereafter Cai).

50 For the first such Muslim inscription from the early Ming era, see Funada Yoshiyuki 船田善之, “Xi'an qingzhensi Hongwu 25 nian shengzhi bei suo jian Yuan Ming shiqi Musilin de bianqian 《西安清真寺洪武 25 年聖旨碑》所見元明時期穆斯林的變遷”, in Zhongguo Mengyuan shixueshu yanjiu taolunhui ji Fang Linggui jiaoshou shou jiushi huadan qingzhu hui wenji 中國蒙元史學術研討會譬方齡貴教授九十華誕慶祝會文集, ed. Fang Tie 方鐵 and Zou Jianda 鄒建達 (Beijing: Minzu chubanshe, 2009), pp. 172–183; p. 174. The inscription is reproduced in Marshall Broomhall, Islam in China: A Neglected Problem (London: China Inland Mission, 1910), pp. 90–92.

51 Cai, p. 31, #29. A rubbing of the 1283 inscription was first published by Prince Roland Bonaparte, Documents de L'Époque Mongole des XIIIe siècles (Paris, 1895), plate XII. Bonaparte's rubbing seems to be clearer than the one Cai consulted.

52 M.G. Devéria, “Notes d'épigraphie Mongole-Chinoise”, JA, vol. 8, pt. 2 (1896), pp. 95–119, p. 106. He uses the Bonaparte rubbing.

53 XYS, j. 113, p. 515; Tu Ji, j. 76, p. 507. Cai, p. 14, for a 1247 decree issued by Köden as huang taizi; if Güyük did not designate his brother as his successor, Köden took similar liberties.

54 Dardess claims that Ananda was heir apparent from 1285 to 1293, when Temür displaced him, but provides no evidence (Confucians and Conquerors, p. 13).

55 Devéria, “Notes d'épigraphie Mongole-Chinoise”, p. 106.

56 Matsuda, p. 71, pp. 52–55 for Ananda's relations with Chengzong; Yao Sui 姚燧, Mu'anji 牧庵集, j. 10, pp. 5b–9a for an inscription to the newly built Yanli Temple 延釐寺碑 at Kaicheng, dated 1304.

57 YS, j. 21, p. 471, calls her the “wife of the Qin Prince, Yeliwan (也里完)”, which must refer to the Yeliman (葉里蠻) cited by Hambis 1954 on p. 24 n2 as the wife of Altan-Buqa; Yu Guixiao, “Shi lun Guyuan diqu Huizu de zuyuan yu fazhan” p. 26.

58 On Sayyid Ajall, see Paul Buel's biography in In the Service of the Khan, pp. 466–479; Jacqueline Armijo-Hussein, “Sayyid 'Ajall Shams al-Din: A Muslim from Central Asia, Serving the Mongols in China, and Bringing ‘Civilization’ to Yunnan”, PhD thesis, Harvard University, 1996; YS 125, pp. 3063–3070.

59 Yoshiyuki, cited in note 49; Tasaka Kōdō 田坡興道, Chūgoku ni okeru kaikyō no denrai to sono kōtsū 中國における回教の傳來とその弘通 (Tokyo: Toyo Bunko, 1964), esp. pt. 3, pp. 630–633.

60 DeWeese, The Cambridge History of Inner Asia, pp. 123–124.

61 Matsuda, p. 70, speculates that the four princely advisors assigned to Ananda's administration in 1294 (YS j. 17, p. 375, Zhiyuan 30.12) may have been the generals of his chiliarch, reflecting an empire-wide practice.

62 Yu Ji, Daoyuan xuegulu, j. 24, p. 8b, in his inscription to the Gaochang Uighur princes.

63 Xi Lei, “Anxiwang Ananda dui Gaoli zhengzhi shili de liyong” (see note 1); on the influence of Korean men and women in fourteenth-century north China, see David M. Robinson, Empire's Twilight: Northeast Asia under the Mongols (Cambridge & London: Harvard U.P., 2009.

64 Robinson, Empire's Twilight, pp. 103, 100–102.

65 Xi Lei, pp. 33–34.

66 YS, j. 21, p. 454; Liu Yingsheng 劉迎勝, Chahetai hanguo shi yanjiu 察合台汗國史研究 (Shanghai: Shanghai guji chubanshe, 2006), p. 320; Biran, Qaidu and the Rise of the Independent Mongol State in Central Asia, pp. 72–74.

67 Biran, p. 94, citing Rashid's younger colleague, Qāshāni.

68 On Buluqan (卜魯罕), see Rashid/Thackston, 2:463; Rashīd/Boyle, p. 319; YS j. 106, pp. 2697–2698; CHC, pp. 504–506; and note 6 above.


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