Fictionalizing Genghiz Khan's genealogy

mike salovesh (T20MXS1@MVS.CSO.NIU.EDU)
Wed, 26 Oct 1994 00:58:00 CDT

Okay, Warren, I'll consider a footnote now and get back to the Inka
tomorrow. (Busy!) You say

". . . the implications of Mike's aside that we *know* Genghiz Khan's
genealogy to be fictional because of the written, ie *authoritative*,
accounts of Chinese scribes . . . "

First of all, my source comes out of having taken a course from
Larrie Krader a long time ago: it's what he said. But I remember
asking, in class, why we should trust the Chinese, who surely had
their own political motives when writing about those Inner Asian
folks. To which Krader answered, as I recall, that the important
parts of the genealogy in question antedated Genghiz by several
generations--and were confirmed at several dates.

I'm not claiming that the scribes' word, or words, are authoritative
because they were written down. You can't get that out of me: as it
happens, I'm learning disabled--I have to live with dysgraphia, which
is to say it's extremely difficult for me to make writing marks on
paper. I'm FORCED to depend on other means of longterm recall, which
is part of why I can believe that memory-keepers without writing can
preserve a helluva lot of detail for a long time. I do it as a
matter of routine.

What I'm claiming, based in part on my recall of Krader's remarks, is
that it was normal for Chinese scribes to write out genealogies of
(for them) contemporary Mongols, for legalistic reasons of their own.
And if, as Krader said, * those * records confirm each other and
disagree with Mongol records, you ask why. Fictionalizing the facts
would make sense in the case of Genghiz Khan if the real issue was
the legitimacy of his succession to leadership, which as I recall had
something to do with being the descendant of a series of first-born
sons. And somewhere back in the genealogy some legitimizer made a
change in birth order to suit the obvious fact that Genghiz sure as
hell WAS a leader. A little genealogy juggling would suit the case.

But I am perfectly willing to yield on this to anybody who knows a
better source than my memory. (You know, I might be convinced I was
falling into that Alzamajigger disease if I could only remember
what you call it.) How about it, Inner Asia or China specialists?

BTW, my lengthy messages are also an artifact of dysgraphia: it
takes me so long to get a message written, even on the computer, that
if I were to try to edit for length I'd never say anything. But
thank God for computers--if I were doing handwriting, I wouldn't
even start.

mike salovesh <SALOVESH@NIU.EDU>