Gentle reminder for women who approach the cenotaph of Genghis Khan

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Trilingual tablet at the altar of Genghis Khan (ca. 1162-1227) in Kandehuo Enclosure in the town of Xinjie, in the Ejin Horo Banner in the Ordos Prefecture of Inner Mongolia:


The Mongolian says:

Dotono Sanagulumǰi

Mongġol ündüsüten-ü ulamǰilaltu yoso surtaqun-du emegteyičiül ni sülde0yin mandal-du derge ber ġardaġ ügei. Degedüs-eče ulamǰilaǰu iregsen ariġun ĵurśil-i ebdeǰü, öber-ün bey-e-dü aśiġ ügei kemen üǰedeg. Örgen olan ĵiġulčin emegteyičiül üǰün bügüdeger medeǰü bolġ-a!

Friendly Reminder

In the traditional morals of the Mongolian nation, women do not go by the platform of the Standard (sülde-yin mandal). It is considered a flouting of the pure norms inherited from ancestors, and disadvantageous to oneself. Let the many tourist women all read [this], understand, and be cautious!

The Chinese says:

Wēnxīn tíshì
Ménggǔ zú chuántǒng lǐsú zhōng fùnǚ bù shàng Sūlēdé jìtán bàiyè, rènwéi duì qí shēntǐ bùlì, wàng guǎngdà nǚxìng yóukè zhōuzhī zì biàn!





Gentle reminder*

According to traditional Mongolian custom, women do not go to the Sulde** altar to pay homage, thinking that it will be bad for their health.  It is hoped that the majority of female tourists will be aware of this for their own sake.


*Elsewhere in the Chinese literature concerning the encouraged absence of women from worship at the Sulde is referred as a "yǒuqíng tíshì 友情提示" ("friendly reminder").

**It's сүлд in Cyrillic, and an online dictionary gives it thus (with spoken pronunciation, Mongolian script, Cyrillic script, and a long list of English translations.  Google Translate gives "coat of arms" or "crest". The Chinese book Láng túténg 狼圖騰 ("Wolf Totem") was translated into Mongolian using the word ᠰᠦᠯᠳᠡ / сүлд.

The English panel ("Tips") speaks for itself, more or less.

Notes on the Mongolian version

The transcription and translation were kindly prepared by Dotno Pount, who observes:  "pure or ari'un is literally 'clean, chaste' but basically means 'exalted,' not 'unmixed'".

I was curious that the first word of the Mongolian text, Dotono (in the heading), looks similar to her name and asked Dotno whether her name means "friendly"?  She replied:  "Yes, that is indeed my name! By root and derivation it is literally 'close' or 'proximate,' and 'inside'. I lost the middle 'o' to the Cyrillic writing system…".

Update (8/4/22)

Another treatment of the Mongolian inscription:

dotno sanaġulumji

mongġol ündüsüten ü ulamjilaltu yoso surtaqun du emegteyicüd ni sülde yin mandal du

dur-a bar ġardaġ ügei, degedüs ese ulamjilaju iregsen ariġun jursil i ebdejü, öber ün bey-e dü

asiġ ügei kemen üjedeg, örgen olan jiġulcin emegteyicüd jocid bügüdeger medejü bolġ-a!

Дотно санууламж

монгол үндэстний уламжлалт ёс суртахуунд эмэгтэйчүүд нь сүлдний мандалд

дураар гардаггүй, дээдсээс уламжилж ирсэн ариун зуршлыг эвдэж, өөрийн биед

ашиггүй хэмээн үздэг, өргөн олон жуулчин эмэгтэйчүүд зочид бүгдээр мэдэж болго!

Kind Reminder

According to the traditional morality of the Mongolian nation, women do not go on the suld alter as they please. It is seen as breaking the sacred tradition carried down from the ancestors and not good for themselves. Let all the wide range of female tourists know!

By Yuqing Yang (arrived after I [VHM] had completed the final draft of the original post)

Selected readings

[h.t. Liwei Jiao; thanks to Greg Pringle, Zihan Guo, Kristen Pearson, Pamela Crossley, and Morris Rossabi]


  1. Andreas Johansson said,

    August 4, 2022 @ 12:11 am

    I'd think she lost the middle 'o' to sound change, which is reflected in the Cyrillic spelling but not in the conservative Mongolian script orthography.

  2. rpsms said,

    August 4, 2022 @ 11:31 am

    The first translation sounds more of the "do that and you'll go blind" variety, while the updated one sounds like the "it would be a shame if something were to happen to you" variety.

  3. Jonathan Smith said,

    August 5, 2022 @ 11:04 pm

    interesting that the Chinese has avoided the suggestion found in Mongolian that so doing might be improper / impure to focus on the notion that 'it's for your own good' :D (though of course it's easy to sense the undercurrent.) 望广大女性游客周知自便 is simply "we hope our female visitors might be aware and 'do as they please' i.e. act accordingly"

  4. Michael Watts said,

    August 6, 2022 @ 4:23 am

    On a tangent:

    I know someone by the name of 莎如拉 (sha rula) who says that her name means "beautiful moonlight" in Mongolian. I would be interested if someone can explain the Mongolian phrase being referenced. (Or, I guess, explain that no such interpretation is possible, though Google Translate suggests that the moon is "sar" in Mongolian, which is a promising start.)

  5. Victor Mair said,

    August 10, 2022 @ 8:59 pm

    From Jichang Lulu:

    The two transcriptions differ slightly; e.g., in one word in the last sentence (üjün (a converbal form of ‘to see’) vs jocid (’guest’)). The second version is clearly the right one. Admittedly it's hard to transcribe at this resolution and I had to squint to read it.

    The actual sign is presumably big enough for the Mongolian to be readable, but the micro-Mongolian in plurilingual text is an issue known to the Log.

  6. Bathrobe said,

    August 12, 2022 @ 6:02 pm

    "Saruul" does indeed mean 'beautiful moonlight' in Mongolian and is a common girl's name. It is written саруул in Cyrillic and ᠰ‍ᠠ‍᠊ᠷ‍ᠠ‍ᡍᠣ᠊ᠯ in Mongol bichig. I'm not sure why your acquantance's name is 莎如拉 (sharula), which would be шаруул in Cyrillic and presumably ᠱᠠᠷᠠᠭᠤᠯ in Mongol bichig. As far as I know this does not exist as a word in Mongolian, unless it is a dialect pronunciation…. (Sharuulah means 'to fry, roast', which doesn't seem relevant here). Perhaps someone else can give us more insight.

  7. Bathrobe said,

    August 12, 2022 @ 6:11 pm

    Of course it's possible that in attempting to fit her name into the Chinese mould, with 莎 as a family name and 如拉 as her given name, her parents chose 莎 as more appropriate than any characters read sa (e.g., 萨).

  8. Bathrobe said,

    August 12, 2022 @ 6:23 pm

    Final comment: Baidu has an article in Chinese about 苏勒德 in relation to Chinggis Khaan at 苏勒德.

    The black suld is indeed associated with Chinggis Khaan.

  9. anonymouse said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 1:47 pm

    Are women actually prevented from going? These signs would inspire me to see this place.
    Also, I can't tell from the sign how much a tourist woman going would insult the feelings of Mongolians.

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