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Labels of the Golden Horde khans and Russian clergy

Labels of the Golden Horde khans and Russian clergy - e-history.kz

On March 20, 1908, at the meeting of the Eastern Department of the Imperial Russian Archaeological Society (I.R.A.O.), Professor Vasily Grigoriev’s dissertation was read on the labels given by the khans of the Golden Horde to the Russian clergy. Later, in November of the same year, the Russian archaeologist, orientalist, and researcher of the history and archaeology of Central Asia, Nikolai Veselovsky, published some explanations for this abstract, providing the known data with his observations. Among other significant things, the latter's work teaches a lot about the chronology of the Golden Horde, the influence of the khansha on the mobility of the metropolitans and the relationship between the Uighurs and the Golden Horde. The Editorial Board of Qazaqstan Tarihy portal collected the most interesting moments from the work of Veselovsky.

Veselovsky was convinced that the revision from time to time of previous studies on various issues of Oriental studies can, on the one hand, contribute to the further assimilation of the subject and, on the other hand, testify to how science is developing and to what results it leads. To clarify this idea, he pointed to one major example from the affected area, namely, the note of the Arab traveler and writer of the tenth century, Ibn Fadlan. When the Russian-German Arabist and academician Christian Frehn translated the works of this author in the 1820s (Ibn-Foszlan's und anderer arabischer Berichte über die Russen älterer Zeit. Von C. M. Frähn. 1823), the publication of the texts was not at the modern level of its development. Historical information, mainly archaeological, at that time was so weak that Fren could not provide any detailed commentary on Ibn Fadlan's story. Almost 60 years after the publication of Fren's work, a more detailed attempt was made to explain Ibn Fadlan's story. It belonged to V.V. Stasov, who analyzed one particular question of this author about Rus (“A Note on the Russian” by Ibn Fadlan and other Arab writers, 1881). Later, Baron V.R. took up the revision of the legends of Ibn Fadlan. But he managed to publish only “Prolegomena to the New Edition of Ibn Fadlan” (Notes of the Eastern Department of I.R.A.O., vol. XV). Regarding this work, the Arabist academician, who died prematurely, stated that he needed at least 10 years to complete it, but this period was not given to him.

At the beginning of the new century, Veselovsky made an attempt by himself to revise some old works in the field of Oriental studies, and for this purpose he chose the abstract of the Russian historian-orientalist, as well as the chief censor of the Russian Empire, Vasily Grigoriev, “On the reliability of the labels given by the khans of the Golden Horde to the Russian clergy”. It appeared in 1842, made a very favorable impression on the scientific world, and earned the author a master's degree in Russian history. Veselovsky paid very little attention to the persuasiveness of Grigoriev's arguments regarding controversial issues about the reliability of labels, but noted the importance of clarifying many obscure places in these documents. However, even so, some individual words and expressions still remained dark and mysterious. After him, no one was interested in these documents, except for the Buryat scholar Dorji Banzarov (1822–1855), who explained the word “Vaisu” (paize, or metal plates with the orders of the Mongol khans) in the 6th label. Meanwhile, to some extent, it is possible and, in any case, not useful since these labels are among the most important historical monuments of that period.

Veselovsky began with isolated words that never received a proper explanation.


A sheep’s year, a gift of seven hundred and eight (should be: eightieth) summer, a lie of a month, 10 days is new (2nd label).

V.V. Grigoriev remarked on this date, making the following statements “I can't guess what the word “daryk” would be, encountered after the "sheep's summer”. The well-known Mongolologist Academician Schmidt could not explain it to himself (Philologisch-Kritische Zugabe u.s.W., S. 26-27)”.

At the time when Professor Grigoriev's dissertation was being printed, another researcher in another place, namely the “Bishop of Saratov” and Tsaritsyno published his article “Study on the Place of Sarai, the Capital of the Kipchak Horde”, and there he touched the same words in the following expressions: “Sheep summer gift”. The word “sheep” seems as a translation of the word “daryka”, which responds to the word “saryk”, which is in Orenburg. Tatars' dialect means “A herd of sheep and a sheep” (Scientists of the Western Kazan University, 1842, book two). Both named authors did not know about each other's work and approached the issue on their own. It seems strange, but this word made some difficulties for the Russian Orientalists (the Mongolist Schmidt used the instructions of the Arabist Fren). “Daryk” is the most common Arabic word ‘tarikh” in documents, used by Muslims in relation to the year in the sense of chronology. In this case, it means “Chronology”. It is strictly found in the originals of the khan's labels. For example, in the label of Tokhtamysh to Yagaila we read: “Tary edi yuz toksan beshta” (V.V. Radlov, “Labels of Toktamysh and Temir-Kutlug”), i.e., according to the chronology of the year 795 (1393).

Therefore, the meaning of the above expression in the label of Atyulyak will be as follows: “The sheep's year, according to the chronology is 708”.


“Entya year, Aram month, is in the 2nd old age” (7th label). In place of “Entya” in the Suzdal chronicle is the word “Sita”.

V.V. Grigoriev gave a very lengthy discussion of this word, that he evaluated as unsatisfactory. His words are written here. “It would be necessary to think that “Entya” or “Sita” is the name of one of 12 years of the Mongolian cycle, just like “Tegiguya” or “Tetiguya” in Berdibek's label, but not only such, even something similar to this name is not found among the Mongolian names of the twelve years cycle”. What would it be, “Entya” or “Sitya”? We do not undertake to resolve in the affirmative form, but here is an assumption. Further, Grigoriev translated and converted the word “Sitya” into numbers and identified it as 1355. The number is very close to 1356, the year the label was given, as it comes from other considerations. This would mean that the Christian chronology is used in this label, that is very possible in the Mongolian state. It is not worth citing the following considerations of Grigoriev, which he characterized as follows: “All these are assumptions on assumptions and nothing more”. At the same time, it is clear from this that Grigoriev was very interested in this mysterious word and he really wanted to explain it. To do this, he even made the completely incredible assumption that the Christian chronology could be used in the Golden Horde.

Bishop Jacob did not bypass the word “Entya”. In the above article, he spoke briefly and decisively about the word “Entya”: “Entya year is marked in the eleventh year of the chronology cycle, which was called the year of the Dog (It)”.

To some extent, the production of “Entya” from its seductions. Moreover, if it was not included in the considerations of Grigoriev, who was looking for clues on the basis of consonance, then one must think only that he took the cyclic years in the Mongolian name, and among the Mongols, the dog is called “Nokhai”. It seemed to Veselovsky that this question was resolved differently. But before offering his own interpretation, he dwelled on the chronology of the Nikon chronicle and touched on Metropolitan Alexei's trips outside of Russia.

In March 1353, Metropolitan Feognost died, and in the same year, Metropolitan Alexei received an order from Patriarch Philotheus to go to Constantinople and occupy the place of Feognost. The chronicle does not write about the time of departure, but under the year 1354 it reports that Alexei returned from Constantinople to Moscow. In 1356, Alexei visited Tsargrad for the second time and returned the same year. The healing process of Uzbek Khan`s wife Taidula by Metropolitan Alexei took place in 1357. For the Horde, Aleksey was released “Because at that time the enmity and silence were greater in the Horde”. During this hush, Zhanibek Khan was deprived of his life by his son Berdibek in 1357.

In his work “The History of the Russian Church”, Golubinsky (1834-1912) analyzes in detail the time and circumstances of Alexei's stay in Constantinople and concludes that the Voskresenskaya and Typographic chronicles are incorrect about the year of the Metropolitan's return to Russia, pointing to 1354. The more authoritative Trinity and Novgorod chronicles attribute this event to the autumn of 1355. Despite the arguments of Golubinsky, the issue of chronology cannot be resolved, especially considering that the elevation of Metropolitan Alexei to this rank took place in June 1354, and further events in Constantinople are not quite stated clearly.

What of these years should the label of Khansha Taidula be attributed? It would seem that the closest thing to guess is 1357, when the healed Taidula issued a label to Metropolitan Alexei in gratitude for the help rendered to her. So Grigoriev concluded, but he concluded, contrary to the chronology of the Nikon Chronicle. Here is what Grigoriev wrote: “Alexei, installed in 1353, went there (to the horde) not earlier than 1356. Then, on the call of the khan, as a result of whose healing he received from her to treat his wife Taidula probably the label that we have from Taidula in the name of this metropolitan”. But the chronicle directly indicates the year 1357, and not 1356. The last (1356) year is the one in which Alexei went to Constantinople for the second time. Why did Taidula in 1357 (i.e., after the healing) provide Alexei with a label for a trip to Constantinople, when he had just returned from there and it is not visible from anything that he was going there for the third time? If we assume that things happened in exactly this way, then first of all we must abandon the convergence of the word “Entya” with “It”, since the year of the dog falls in 1358, when Zhanibek was no longer alive.

In any case, Veselovsky did not at all see the necessity of issuing a label to Alexei by Taidula in connection with her healing. The fact is that Taidula used to give labels to other metropolitans: one was written in the name of Metropolitan Jonah, in the year of the pig (1347), and the other one was issued to Metropolitan Feognost, in the year of the hare (1352). It follows from this that Taidula could have given a label to Alexei regardless of his trip, for the sake of healing and at another time. In that case, which one? Since the label was given by Taidula in case Alexei traveled to Constantinople, and the patriarch obliged the saint to appear to him every two years (Alexei fulfilled this requirement only once in 1356, and then at the call of the patriarch on the occasion of Metropolitan Roman’s harassment of Kyiv). Then no consideration cannot determine the exact chronology of the label. But this document has a date: “Entya year”.

At first, Grigoriev correctly assumed that “Entya” should mean the name of one of the twelve years in the Mongolian cycle, but only he, following the article by O.M. Kovalevsky “On the Chinese calendar” (1835), did not find anything similar to this name and abandoned this idea. Meanwhile, this word is in the animal cycle, but not in the Mongolian reckoning, unless in the Uighur.

Ulugbek in his tables, listing the years of this cycle, called the year of the horse, as it would be in Turkic and Tatar, not “Muren” (morin), as it would be in Mongolian, but “Yund” – in Uighur (Epochae celebriores, astronomis, historicis, etc. usitatae: ex traditione Ulug Beigi, Indiae citra extráque Gangem Principis: eas primus publicavit, recensuit et commentariis illustravit Iohannes Gravius), which may have been pronounced “Yonda”, as in Ottoman). If the identification of “Entya” with “Yunda” is acceptable, then the time of issuing the label by Taidula should be attributed to 1354, since during the entire period of Zhanibek’s Khanate, the year of the horse was twice: in 1342 and 1354. However, in view of the fact that the appointment of Metropolitan Alexei took place only in 1353, a label could not be drawn up for him until this year. This circumstance may have resolved the disagreement between the annals regarding 1354 and 1355.

By the way, about Taidula's labels, what does it mean that she provides Metropolitan Alexei with a label for passage to Constantinople when this apparently is the business of the khan? At the very beginning are the words: “According to Zenebekov's label, Taidulino's word”. The answer to this question seems to be easy. Taidula had a vast allotment of land, and even the name of Tula city was produced on her behalf, which is why she gave tarkhan labels to the Russian clergy only regarding her possessions, following in this case the example of the khans. By the way, Grigoriev looked at the matter differently and, believing that the khanshes took an active part in state affairs, they could give labels that were obligatory for the entire horde. This is very doubtful, and Grigoriev himself increased the doubt with the following argument: “The measure of interference in the affairs of state administration and the degree of influence in general depended a lot on the personal merits of the khans; their intelligence, beauty, leaving aside the right to do so”. One khansha could do something for which another would lack character, willpower or cunning. After all, the point is not that the khansha`s issues, but a label that has spread throughout the state, but in what application it will have. If such a label appears not according to custom but contrary to it, then the result may be either the displeasure of the people or even worse indignation. In any case, it will remain without execution. For an influential khansha, the most convenient way to achieve this goal is simply to beg the khan in giving him a label.

So, Taidula gave tarkhan labels to the Russian clergy only regarding their possessions, following in this case, the example of the khans. The same character should have had a label for the Metropolitan Alexei for his passage to Constantinople. The permission for such a trip should have been expected from the khan himself, that was probably given, but Taidula facilitated the path for the metropolitan only in her yurt. In addition, she could give labels to the whole of Russia, but in a personal matter. It is known that the khans were supposed to pay some tax from the conquered peoples to the queen's duty. The ambassadors of the Khansh or Baskaks came to receive it, which continued as long as existence of an order. The khanshi freed the Russian clergy from the tribute that followed them, and such a benefit required certification with a label.


This word, meaning the name of the month “Arama of the month” occurs twice: in the fourth label and the seventh. “We do not find such a month either in the Muslim calendar, or in the calendar of the Syrians, nor among the Jews, nor among the Persians, and only due to Erblo we can say after him that the month of March. The Khatai people have such a name, and the absence of the sources necessary for this does not allow us to get to know their time better. Further, “We can’t agree with the first of them (i.e., with Academician Schmidt) that “Arama is the month”. When this label was written, as well as Taidulin to Alexei, Muharrem was the Muslim month” (Phil. Krit Zugabe and s. W., S. 26).

So, the Academician Schmidt recognized the Muslim month of Muharrem in the name Aram, in all likelihood following the instructions of Fren, who in one handwritten note about Gulistan explained the word Aram in this way. Bishop Jacob followed the same path and declared without any hesitation: “Arama, or rather Muharrem, is the first month of the lunar year”.

There were no difficulties in determining this name quite accurately at the time when the above-mentioned works were written. Ulugbek (Epochae celebriores) also reported about the month of Arama, from which the year began among the Uyghurs. Thus, we have to deal with the Uyghur influence in the Golden Horde, which lasted a very long time in the calendar account. It is also interesting that this Uighur name of the month was conveyed by the Russian translator of labels quite accurately.


The second label contains the words: “Whoever our ambassadors or envoys are killed by church people over their goods, that’s will appear on TV”. In his research, Grigoriev completely bypassed this incomprehensible word, both to him and others. Meanwhile, a timely clarification of this word could serve to benefit Grigoriev's main position that the Russian text of the labels is an interlinear translation of the Horde (i.e., Uighur) original. From the meaning of the speech, one can guess that under this incomprehensible word “television”, there is some kind of legal term that speaks of exemption from punishment. And indeed, if we take the option “there is no television”, then its meaning is also found. The word “Tleu” is used by the Kazakhs in the sense of collection and payment. Therefore, it was preserved in the Russian transmission of the label without the slightest distortion. Thus, the above phrase can be stated as follows: “And which of our ambassadors or envoys the church people kill in defence of their property, there is no penalty for that”.


“May the Metropolitan live a quiet and meek life free of gore”. The explanation of this word is in Dahl's dictionary and means noise, shouting, unrest among the people, rebellion, quarrel.

The calendar system in the Golden Horde for official documents was very complex. They're, firstly, the cycle counting of years, according to the names of animals was used, which is generally very stable among nomadic peoples, and secondly, the Muslim chronology, which is obligatory for the followers of Islam. The names of the months were also twofold: Uighur (Arama) and Muslim. In addition, the general Turkic division of months, according to the seasons was also used (the first autumn month – in 1 and 5 labels).

Grigoriev completely lost sight of the Uighur calendar, according to which both years and months were counted in the horde. The effect of this omission concerning years (Entya) and months (Arama) has already been shown above. It remains to say a few more words about the translation of these months into the Muslim calendar. Since, he believed that the months in the labels corresponded to the Mongolian calendar, he stated: “The Mongols count the months of the year in order, without giving them special names”.


Grigoriev acted in this way, counting the months in Mongolian, so as, he went the wrong way. As for Bishop Jacob, who touched upon the chronology of the labels, then he found himself in a hopeless situation and thought to get out of it by being ready to read “The tenth month” instead of the “tenth month”, that made no sense.

Regarding the punctuation marks in the labels, Grigoriev quite rightly condemned the variations in the arrangement of Novikov and the publishers of the “Collection of State Letters”, since they were unfamiliar with either the Mongolian or Tatar languages. They could not understand where the beginning and end of the period were, and therefore they often confused the periods. On this basis, Grigoriev did not consider it possible to preserve the punctuation of his predecessors but introduced his own. But even here, Grigoriev had shortcomings. For example, how to understand the following statement on the 4th label: “The horde roamed in Saraj”, written by and the complaint was put in by Tayboga, Aikhocha, Mukhtar, Uchagui, and Karapchii.

Firstly, it is not clear why the word “Written” is separated by a dot from the previous phrase. If we are talking about the fact that the label was written, when the horde roamed in Sarai. The place where the label was drawn up was always clearly indicated, and in this case, it is said that the label was written when the horde roamed through Sarai. Secondly, how many people wrote the label? According to Grigoriev, there are either three or four of them, depending on how he understood “Karapchii”, which still remains unknown. If he has his own name (written with a capital letter), then four, and if he has the title, then three. As for Karapchii, there are always four of them — an honorary position among nomadic peoples, known to us from ancient time.

The Hunnu people had four noble families who supplied the wives to the khans. Among the Mongols, representatives of this steppe aristocracy raised the elected khan on the felt, holding the latter by the four corners. They were such a necessary accessory of the Khan's court that even the Kassimov`s Khanate could not do without them. In the Crimea, they survived both the khans and the Khanate itself. Perhaps this is how Grigoriev understood the word “Karachi” and attributed it to the three previous names. However, Veselovsky believed that “Karapchii” should be read not in the plural, but in the singular (karapchii) and dated only to the name Uchaguy on the grounds that “Mukhtar” is not a proper name, but a title that meant foreman. Consequently, only two people wrote the label, including Aihocha-mukhtar and Uchagui-karapchiy.

Label six says: “Seunch, Temir, and Murbakshey wrote”. The same question occurs here again. How did Grigoriev understand the word “Murbakshei”, as a proper name or as a title? Veselovsky divided this word into two parts. “Mur” should mean “Emir” in this case, “Bakshey” (chief) or “Bakshi” (scribe), all together they mean the head of the scribes. Since it was written in the Turkic language, the titles were always placed after one's own name, and this title also applied to Temir. The author also believed that the word “Seunch” belongs to the same person and instead of three people, there is only one.