Yugur Bone Clan Names


Currently, the Yugur people officially use Chinese surnames. These surnames were usually chosen in view of their resemblance in form or meaning to the formerly employed Yugur clan names or bone clan names. Already Malov, who visited the Yugur in the 1910s, mentions a few of these Chinese names; they are usually followed by the word ja, a loanword from Chinese, jia, meaning family or household.
      So one can ask: sen ni sïmïk-i? what is your surname (clan name)? to which the answer could be: men Çoñïl sïmïk, my surname (clan name) is Chongyl.
      The Western Yugur word sïmïk means both bone and clan, or, in modern usage, surname; its Eastern Yugur equivalent is yasên. In the languages Literary Mongolian, Tibetan, Khakas, Tuva, Tofa, Altay, Kyrgyz and Kazak, the word for bone also means clan, hence the term bone clan.
      A bone clan is a genealogical clan, to be distinguished from an otoq, a tribe or administrative division, although the latter could take its name from a bone clan. People of the same bone clan were not allowed to marry.

The table of the names of the Yugur bone clans as mentioned in the sources is shown in a separate window.

When after the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949 China's minority peoples were investigated on a large scale for the first time, there were thirty Yugur surnames or clan names reported. Earlier travellers and researchers of the Yugur languages, however, mention some additional bone clan names.
      Anjang Sanyshkap told Malov in 1910:

Mïstïñ Yughurta Çuñïl madro, Xorañghat ma dro, Anjan ma dro, Toghshy ma dro, Yaghlaxqïr ma dro, Sïña ma dro, Qoñrat pa dro: Among our Yugur are the Chongyl, the Khorangqat, the Anjan, the Toghshy, the Yaghlahqyr, the Synga, and the Qongyrat (Malov 1967: 9, no. 6).

Several bone clan names, such as Ançañ, Thoghshï and Ïghlañ occur among the Turkic speaking Western Yugur as well as the Mongolic speaking Eastern Yugur.
      A few bone clans having a slightly different Yugur name share one Chinese name, for instance Guo, and Bái. It is not clear whether these differently named Yugur bone clans were originally considered to be one and the same bone clan or not.

The Anjañ bone clan is the clan from which the rulers originated. It is assumed to derive from the name of a 15th century military leader; an alternative etymology is that this name derives from the name of an ancient Sogdian merchant family, An.
      According to Mannerheim, the Pegeshi clan was a Western Yugur clan from which the rulers were taken; according to Léi and Chén, the name Phegshey refers to the Anjañ clan. Malov considered this clan to be a sub-division of the Yaghlahqïr.
      The name Yaghlahqïr already occurs in the Turkic runic inscriptions as the name of one of the leading clans.
      The name Soqalïgh derives from soqa, a bunch or cluster of çïgh or needle grass (Achnatherum splendens); -lïgh is an adjective suffix meaning having, rich in.
      The name Qïzïl means red; the Chinese equivalent Hóng was obviously chosen in view of its homonym hóng, red.
      The name Aq means white, just as the Chinese equivalent Bái. The Chinese rendering suggests that the original name of this bone clan may have been Aq Thathar, White Tatar. The Yugur of Qiántan Township, who only speak Chinese, also belong to this clan but are called Sïna. It is not clear what the connection is between this clan and the Eastern Yugur bone clan Pêyat, which also has Bái as one of its Chinese equivalents. The bone clan name Päy, mentioned by Malov, may in fact represent the Chinese form Bái. Furthermore, Malov mentions a clan name Çïghallïq, derived from Eastern Yugur çhêqaan, white, to which a Turkic suffix -lïq was added.
      The Western Yugur name Törteñ, wolf, which occurs as an alternative name of the bone clan name Ïghlañ, is probably calqued from Chinese láng, wolf, which is a homophone of the Chinese surname Láng; this surname was most likely chosen as an equivalent of Ïghlañ for phonetic reasons.
      Likewise, the Western Yugur surname Saqïs, which means eight, was probably calqued from Chinese ba, eight, which is a homophone of the Chinese surname Ba. It is not clear what the connection is between this clan and the Eastern Yugur bone clan Pêyat, which also has Ba as one of its Chinese equivalents.
      The Chinese name as an equivalent for the Eastern Yugur bone clan Pêyat, may have been chosen in view of the otoq this bone clan belonged to, the Wugèjia (Five Clans).

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