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Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit



Hosung Shim

Visiting Scholar, MIASU, University of Cambridge 

The Dörböd Aristocracy, Four Oirad Confederation, and Zunghar Empire in the Early Modern Central Asian Steppe

This talk discusses how the state ruling system transformed in the early modern Central Asian steppe by scrutinizing the political history of the Dörböds in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. During the early period of the Four Oirad Confederation (ca. in the early seventeenth century), Dalai Taishi––the head prince of the Dörböd aristocratic house as well as the lord of the Dörböd principality––was a core constituent of the Four Oirad Confederation, maintaining a political and military alliance with his fellow Oirad princes. Following the death of Dalai Taishi (d. 1637), the Dörböd house and its principality continued to function as a principal member of the Four Oirad Confederation despite the rise of two factions within the royal family. Thus, during the period of the Four Oirad Confederation (ca. from 1600 to 1671), the Dörböd house and principality retained independent power as well as a huge domain in today's northern Kazakh steppe. In the late seventeenth century, the Zunghar principality gained ascendancy and thus developed into an empire in the Central Asian steppe. With the dramatic rise of the Zunghar power, the Dörböd house lost its previous status as an independent ruler of the Dörböd principality and an equal ally of Zunghar princes, being demoted to subordinate nobles of the Zunghar supreme ruler. This transition of the Dörböd house's political status clarifies that the state ruling system of the early modern Central Asian steppe changed from a decentralized confederated system based on the Oirad aristocracy into a centralized imperial system based on the Zunghar autocracy.

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Tuesday, 15 June, 2021 - 16:30 to 18:00
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