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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Kalmucks

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(Tatar Khalimik, i.e. apostates), also called Olok or Eleutes, a Mongolian tribe of nomads, a portion of whom live under Chinese rule, while the greater number, during the last two centuries, have settled in or belong to Russia. They are similar to the Mongols proper, but inferior to them in point of civilization. They are divided into nobles, people (serfs), and priests; the last have, in particular, a very great influence among the Buddhistic Kalmucks. They are divided into tribes (Uluss), at the head of which are Tchaidas; and the tribes are subdivided into Aimaks (of from 150 to 300 families each), at the head of which are the Saisans. They call themselves Derben Eret (Dorbin-Oirat), i.e. the four allies, because, from time immemorial, they have been divided into four chief tribes:

1. The Dsongars, after whom Dsongaria is called, formerly the most powerful of the tribes, but subsequently subdued by the Chinese, and now extant only in small number.

2. The Koshotes (i.e. warriors); under princes from the family of Jenghis Khan, numbering from 50,000 to 60,000; they voluntarily placed themselves under the sceptre of Russia, and are loyal subjects; their favorite drink is the kumiss (fermented horse milk).

3. The Derbets, living, in the 16th and 17th centuries, on the Volga and Ural, now on the Don and the Ili.

4. The Torgots (Torga-Uten), or Kalmucks of the Volga, have, for the most part, left Russian territory; only the tribe Zoochor, under the prince Dundukor, a grand-uncle of the powerful khan Ayuka, remained. Dundukor himself was baptized, and, by order of Alexander I, the title passed over to his son-in-law Norkasov. Some of the Kalmucks live scattered in the government of Simbirsk (15,000 souls, all in connection with the Greek Church), others east of the Ural, on the Jhet River (professing Islamism), and in several commercial towns of Russia, altogether about 120,000 souls, of whom 73 per cent. live in the government of Astrachan. The majority of the Kalmucks are still Buddhists. They were all originally adherents of that form of Buddhism known as Lanaism, which the Mongols in general received from Thibet. In Dsongaria they have two celebrated temples; the one is situated on the Tekes, the other on the Ili. In the latter resides the Tchamba Lama in the winter, and with him a number of priests, who here teach reading and writing. They are joined by pious pilgrims and numerous Chinese merchants, who set up their shops around the temple. The chiefs of the Chinese Kalmucks used to receive from the mandarin the insignia of their rank, but of late the virtual independence of Dsongaria has severed the former relation of the Kalmucks to the Chinese government; and, after the occupation of Kultsha by the Russians in May, 1871, the Chinese Kalmucks generally declared their submission to the Russian government. The language of the Kalmucks is a branch of the Mongolian language; grammars of the language have been published by Bobrovnikov (Kasan, 1849) and Zwieck (Donaueschingen, 1857). The literature consists almost exclusively of translations of Buddhistic writings from India. A collection of legends (Siddhi-Kur), with German translation, was published by Jiilg (Leipzig, 1866). (A. J. S.)


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Kalmucks'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/k/kalmucks.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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