Power And Proper Name In Nomadism: Cognitive Aspect


The article deals with the insufficiently explored aspect of nomination in nomadism and reveals a specific aspect of nomination as conversion in the example of the proper name of chief Taisha Aginsk Steppe Duma – Tuguldur Toboyev. From the point of view of the cognitive aspect of the onoma, it is interesting to describe nominative practice in the ethnic reality through lexical conversion, when a personal name “passes” to the status of an appellative, thus adding to the lexical fund of the language. The abstract is devoted to the problem of correlation of the power and the personal name as the special sign of the power in nomadic practice of nomination. It is also important that the analysis of the personal name of an individual allows us to believe that there are correlations between power and proper names. This connection of power and name reflects an understudied aspect of nominative culture practice that is functionally significant in the historically foreseeable time. All these principles are undoubtedly important in the aspect of lingua-didactics and the practice of teaching Eastern languages.

Keywords: Tuguldur ToboyevTaishaAginsk Steppe Dumathe converse aspect of the nomination


It is known that the social hierarchy of medieval nomadic confederations was nominated and passed on by special terminology. Institutionalization of power was allowed through the introduction of special ranks, table of titles in order to maintain political and administrative balance in any state in any historically foreseeable times (see Kurbanov & Kayaev, 2019; Nolev, 2019).

Nomadic culture is a culture, stored only in oral traditions, genealogical chronicles of pedigrees. However, the institution of power in nomadism had its own prerogatives and ethnic characteristics. It is possible to delve into the problems of interaction between power and man by referring to documented institutions of power, for example, in neighbouring China.

Problem Statement

The purpose of the article is, first, to describe the nominative practice in nomadism, when a personal name “passes” to the status of an appellative through lexical conversion, thus adding to the common vocabulary of the language. Secondly, the article describes the cognitive potential of the proper name of the person who is invested with power in the tribal community. Third, it is interesting to establish an additional principle of nomination that reflects the interaction of power and name.

Research Questions

In China, as in other countries, two institutions of social relations have existed since ancient times. The first was the functioning of the so-called equivalent (reciprocal) exchange-gift, which consisted of the exchange-gift of material values for prestige. A member of the community expressed and emphasized with his gift the special respect and recognition of someone who was given power over others because of their talents or abilities over other members of the kin. On this basis of equivalent interchange, “the traditional system of patronage-client relations was formed, in which the recipients of gifts and consumers of the products given to all were dependent on those who generously gave and gave to others what they had” (Vasil’yev, 2002, p.12).

Vasil’yev (2002) writes that the second institution of public relations in traditional China was the practice of centralized redistricting (redistribution). This principle of redistribution consisted in the fact that the head of the family group (or house) had the right to dispose of all its collective property on behalf of the collective. Therefore, this principle also contributed to the rise of the head of the house or clan, when through generous distributions of the group's property, his personal prestige in society increased. This principle helped to make friends, associates, in other words, “clients” who could vote in free public elections. Due to this principle or the traditional practice of redistributing public property (goods), this person could apply for elected positions as an elder of the community or his assistant.

It is likely that the nomadic tribes had a similar structure of political and administrative apparatus as a traditional practice of institutionalization of power in general. The existence of a social hierarchy in nomadic society was strictly observed, being, in fact, the foundation of nomadic life, the basis of the nomadic confederation of tribal communities.

According to Vasil’yev (2002), these two institutions in the form of, first, mandatory reciprocal exchange and, second, the right of redistricting subsequently created conditions for the emergence of a more complex structure of society for agricultural crops, namely rural communities with elected leadership.

It is known that these institutions in nomadism are also designated by a special titular vocabulary. We are, first of all, interested in the practice of differentiation or hierarchy of power through the titular lexicon. Second, the article discusses the title taisha, which was nominated for the most honorable and respected member of the nomad community at the level of a separate kin, for example, in the Khori group of Buryats.

In the special situation of nomadism among the titular lexicon is the title taiji or taisha /Bur./, recorded in the written monument of the Mongolian law of the XVIII century "Halha Girum", described in detail by Purbeyev (2011). Skrynnikova (2018) notes that in the study of the stages of formation of the Mongol political culture already in the late period after the era of Genghis Khan, an important role was titular chiefs or “ruling taiji” (jasaγ-un tayiji). These people had a fairly high status in the hierarchy of power structures of the Mongolian power elite.

This conclusion Skrynnikova (2018) justifies by observing the order that is recorded in the list of participants in the congresses for the adoption of laws at the Congress of 1616, “where the great and small noyons discussed the small law of the four khoshuns, the participants are listed in the following order: the ruling taiji - jasay-un tayijinar, huntaiji, taiji, tabunangi, i.e. the status of the ruling taiji was even higher than the status of the huntaiji” (p. 40). Title huntaydzhi endowed with sons of major lords, chiefs, clan leaders or childbirth.

According to Purbeyev (2011), the title tayiži “taiji (or Taisha / Bur./), tsarevich (or prince)” as well as the title taiyži kümün “nobleman” is known since the Yuan’ dynasty, the rule of the Mongols in China and this title could only be worn by the sons of Mongol khans. Over time, the meaning of this title changed and already in the era of the Manchu Qing dynasty (1641-1911), the title of taiji began to spread among the propertied strata of the population. As privileges, people entitled as taiji received a salary from the Manchu court and, depending on the degree (there were 6 of them in the Qing era), acquired the right to have up to 10 ordinary arats (men) as serfs.

About the Qing state, it is known that “in 1644, the Manchurians, having seized Northern China and strengthened their power, changed the name of their state from “Jin” to “Qing” (Sacred). From that moment on, the Mongols’ relations with the Manchu state were characterized as relations with the Qing Empire” (Bazarov, 2016, p. 181). In relation to many other titles of the former power, “the Qing government eliminated the power of the Mongol khans, leaving them only the Khan's titles” and introducing their own (Batunaev, 2015, p. 109; Sundueva, 2019, p. 94-100).

The position of Taishi in the Buryat-Mongol tribal communities was quite significant, having historical significance. Purbeyev (2011) writes, referring to the opinions of B. Ya.Vladimirtsov and P. Pellio, that the title tayiži or Taiji (or Taisha / Bur./) ‘Tsarevich’ (like Prince) is a Chinese loan in the Mongolian languages. There is a literal translation of the title as “from the Chinese tai-shi - the great mentor (Muzraeva, 2016).

Shagdurova (2018) gives several opinions about the historiography of the title ‘tayiži / 'Taiji (or Taisha / Bur./), tsarevich’, which are reduced to confirmation of the Chinese borrowing with the meaning “Duke”, “Prince of blood”, “noble owner of the lot”, “great teacher, mentor” at different times. This title functioned for the Buryats during the period of accession to the Russian state, remaining until the beginning of the 20th century.

Purpose of the Study

In the history of the Aginsk Steppe Duma as one of the 12 Buryat steppe Dumas of the XIX century, the personality of the chief Taisha of the Buryat families, Tugultur Toboyev, is well known. First Tuguldur Toboyev held the position of the second Taisha in Aginskaya Steppe Duma. Encyclopedic facts about Toboyev Tuguldur (Tuguldur Tobyn) (Oct. 1793.-1878.) as the main Taisha of Aginsk group of Buryats, the provincial secretary, then from 1819 as Zaisan, from 1826 as the main Zaisan of Khuatsai kin, the head of Aginsk inorodchesky’s Council, the Chairman of the steppe Duma, the member of the Provincial Committee in the years 1823 till 1824. Tugultur Toboyev, being the member of the Provincial Committee took part in the process of creation of a set of steppe laws, approved in 1859 by the main Taisha of all 11 Buryat kins [http://encycl.chita.ru/encycl/person/?id=3261. Encyclopedia of Transbaikalia. Date of address 01.02.2020]. As a historical personality Toboyev is described as one of the outstanding personalities of his time.

In 1865, Tuguldur Toboyev served as the provincial Secretary, worked with the Imperial Free Economic Society to help those who studied in Eastern Siberia, and actively participated in the work of the Commission constructing a gymnasium in Chita. Toboyev organized the process of collecting donations for the Chita children's shelter, for residents who suffered from fires in 1876, for the Ayan settlers (the migrants from the province of Ayan – Western Siberia). As Taisha Toboyev was engaged in propaganda among the Buryats of grain farming and gardening, participated in the agricultural exhibition of 1862, presenting coal at the exhibition. For his service to the state as chief Taisha of the Aginsk Buryats, Tuguldur Toboyev was awarded the orders of St. Anna of the 3-rd and 2-nd degrees, St. Stanislaus of the 3-rd and 2-nd degrees, and a silver medal on the Anninsky ribbon.

Also, the name of Toboyev became legendary among the Buryats because of his authorship in compiling the Chronicles of the Aginsk and Khori Buryats (see: Chimitdorzhiev & Vanchikova, 1995). T. Toboyev in the literary Mongolian language described separately the history of the Khori and Aginsk groups of Buryats, used historical notes and chronicles, documents of the archives of the steppe Dumas, folk legends. Among the authors of the Buryat Chronicles, in addition to T. Toboyev, who described the facts before 1863, were V. Yumsunov, N. Hobituev, 1887. The history of the Barguzin Buryats was described by N. Sakharov, 1887. The Chronicles of V. Yumsunov (from ancient times to the 19th century) and T. Toboyev (until 1860), which tell about the origin and settlement of the Khori-Buryats, including the Aginsk group of Buryats, are diverse in content. Much has been written about their interaction with the Russian authorities, as well as the history of Buddhism.

Research Methods

In the modern Buryat anthroponymic system this name does not function and is not marked. The Buryat-Russian dictionary was published only in 1973, while the name Tugelder / Tuguldur was known long before the dictionary was compiled. In this regard, it is easy to understand that once this name, turned into an eponym as the name of one of the most notable people of his time, when compiling the dictionary, “passed” into the appellative vocabulary of the Buryat language through conversion. Attributive tugelder, which expresses the completeness of the quality of what is defined, used postpositionally with the preceding noun in the informal speech or Ablative case (Buryat-Russian dictionary, 1973, p. 442), is derived from the personal name Tugelder or Tuguldur.

In this case, the question of the etymology of the anthroponym arises. It is curious that the meaning of the name Tuguldur / Tugelder is comparable with the lexeme of the Soyot language (as one of Samoyedic languages). The lexeme тыъhығыры (adj.) means ‘profitable, happy and successful hunter’ (Rassadin, 2003, p. 113). A comparative analysis of the Taisha’s anthroponym of Buryat kin Tuguldur and the Soyot appellative allows, first, to confirm a high degree of probability of nominative practice, when the desiderative nature of this name is obvious. Secondly, the version about the presence of a Samoyedic language substrate in the Buryat onomastic system is confirmed. Third, the special feature of the nominative practice in this behalf by eponymously original name of desiderative semantic value becomes evident. In other words, the “influence” of the power on the process of nomination. The formation of the new name and its subsequent implementation in the appellative fund of the Buryat language is influenced by the eponymously original name.

The comparative-historical method allowed us to believe that the attributive тыъhығыры (adj.) with the meaning ‘profitable, happy and successful extraction’, which is usually is interpreted as ‘lucky hunter, lucky, happy for production’ is lexically and semantically comparable to the Buryat tygelder, revealing the presence of historical alternation of vowels of the Altaic languages, for example, Soyot –ыъ- in Buryat is transmitted as –e or –u. In addition, in Tofalar, vowels (“narrow”) of the “ы” type tend to be reduced, i.e. fall out in speech.

Rassadin (2003) refers to the weak consonants of the Tofalar language, which in the Buryat system of consonants “pass” and sound like sounds-g -, for example, тыъhығыры [tyhygyry] /Soyot/ < tygelder /Bur/. The initial Soyot тыъhығыры [tyhygyry], having passed lexically to the Buryat language in the form of a loan, morphologically rebuilt, “acquiring” instead of 4 morphemes ty-hy-gy-ry 3-morphemes tu-gel-der /Bur./ by means of elision and the addition of the inlaut –d- in morphemes -der in the Buryat language.

In relation to the conceptual meaning of the name Tuguldur / Togelder it is interesting to note the conditional coincidence of denotations of Buryat tugelder expressing the fullness of what is expressed is defined and attribute Soyot language тыъhығыры (adj.) ‘profitable, happy and successful hunter’ (Rassadin, 2003, p. 113). The coincidence of the names that nominate a successful, prey hunter of the Soyot language and the Buryat tugelder, which expresses the presence of an outstanding mind or talent, strength, is not accidental.

We believe that attributive Soyot language тыъhығыры (adj.) ‘profitable, happy and successful hunter’ as the root morpheme of a personal name such an outstanding person, what was the chief Taisha Aginsk steppe Duma Tuguldur Toboyev, staged from the Soyot name through the eponym of Tuguldur in lexeme tugelder later in Buryat language, expressing the fullness of some good abilities of a man with the desiderative meaning.


The primacy of the Soyot attributive in relation to the Buryat one is presented, allowing us to assume that the meaning of ‘lucky hunter, lucky, happy for production’/ Soyot./ has a greater anthroponymic potential in comparison with the additional meaning of the already secondary meaning (“expressing the completeness of the quality of what is defined” /Bur./) of the Buryat language. Presumably, the Soyot lexeme, because of its obvious anthroponymic potential, could be exactly the attribute that has a high degree of desirability. This is the meaning of the names-wishes of the ancient hunters-Soyots, Tofalars, who gave newborns as benevolent names, a kind of name-talisman, revealing the cognitive aspect of the personal name. A similar principle of nomination has been observed among the Turkic-Mongol peoples for a long time (Enkhbat, 2018; Lamozhapova, 2016; Semyonova, 2018; Torbokov, 2019; Vasilyeva, 2017; Zhamsaranova & Budaeva, 2018).


Thus, the obtained results of the analysis of a separate anthroponym objectify the original principle of nomination, when a “desirable” name is preferred due to its positive semantics. In addition, the presence of a Samoyed-language complement in the ethnogenesis of the Khori-Buryat is confirmed (Zhamsaranova, 2018). It is also important that the analysis of the personal name of an individual allows us to believe that there are correlations between power and proper names. This connection of power and name reflects a non-studied aspect of nominative culture practice that is functionally significant in the historically foreseeable time. All these principles are undoubtedly important in the aspect of lingua-didactics and the practice of teaching Eastern languages.


This study was funded by RFBR, Project No. 20-012-00335 А.


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Zhamsaranova, R. (2020). Power And Proper Name In Nomadism: Cognitive Aspect. In V. I. Karasik (Ed.), Topical Issues of Linguistics and Teaching Methods in Business and Professional Communication, vol 97. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 242-248). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.12.02.33