Reviews

This historical dictionary, like all the other ones in the same collection, is divided into two parts: a historical survey composed of several chapters, and the dictionary properly said (of proper names, place names, technical terms and notions mentioned in the historical overview).  The introduction is preceded by a list of the dictionary’s notices (xxi-xxxii) and three maps (Mongolia at the eve of the Empire, Iran and Turkistan in the Mongol era).  The maps are very succinct and could have benefited from a more careful treatment.  A four-page chronology also precedes the book’s historical survey.

The survey’s first chapter entitled “Essay 1: Mongolia before Empire (to 1206)” [1-16] provides an overview of the situation of Mongol tribes before Temüjin, the future Genghis Khan, emerged as the uncontested leader of the steppe.  In the “Essay 2: Mongolian Empire (1206-1260)” [17-52] the author reconstructs the great lines of the empire’s evolution since its creation by Genghis Khan, its division between his four sons after his death in 1227, and the creation on Möngke’s initiative of a new ulus, that of Hülegü after the latter’s conquest of Muslim territories.  The chapter “Essay 3: Qanate China (1260-1368)” [53-70] offers a glance of the situation in China after the Great Khan Qubilai decided to transfer the capital to Beijing (Khanbaligh or Qanbalïq).  The chapter entitled “Essay 4: Golden Horde (1235-1502)” [71-8] describes the history of this occidental part of the empire, still poorly known notably because of the shortage of ‘indigenous’ sources.  In “Essay 5: Ca’adai Ulus and Qaidu (1260-1338)” [79-88] the author traces the eventful history of the Chaghatayid khanate, of of its relarion with its rival Qaidu who, for some time, managed to create his own ulus (the reference work in this subject being that by Michal Biran, Qaidu and the Rise of the Independent Mongol State in Central Asia, Richmond: Curzon, 1997).  P. Buell closes this introductory part with a chapter entitled “Essay 6: Ilqanate (1260-1356)” [89-99] devoted to the history of the Persian Khanate.  The purpose of these short “essays,” not intended for a specialised readership, is to sketch the history of the varied components of the Mongol Empire.  This collection of dictionaries is to be accessible to a large audience, though the dictionary itself (101-292) will show useful to specialists, who can easily find there loads of information.

The dictionary is still followed by useful appendixes.  The first one (293-5) introduces different models of Mongol writing; the second one (297-307) is a very helpful glossary of Mongol terms employed in the text, translated into English; the last one (309-12) consists of receipts of meals consumed at the Khan’s table.  The book ends with a bibliographical part in which the author traces the development of Mongol studies since the eighteenth century.  This overview is followed by a very selective bibliography organised thematically.  One can only deplore the absence there of references in French language: the only French-writing authors who appear once or twice in this list are P. Pelliot, L. Hambis, C. Langlois, J. Aubin and J.-P. Roux.

Denise Aigle, EPHE, Paris
CER: I-1.3.C-104