Khoshut Ablai-taiji and his Fortified Monastery on the Upper Irtysh

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This paper argues that until 1680s, the Oirat political culture in the upper Irtysh area was based on the leadership of Khoshut clan rather than Junghars, as it is believed nowadays. The leading role of the Khoshuts extended not only to military and political matters but also to the religious sphere. Ablai Taiji of the Khoshut nobility, the founder of the Buddhist monastery Ablai-kit, the ruins of which are among the most prominent historical sites in today’s Kazakhstan, did much to reinforce his positions among other Oirats. He inherited and pursued a policy of cooperation with Muscovy in an attempt to profit from its trade with China. The accounts of early observers and recent findings and manuscripts allow us to claim that in the mid-17t h c., the monastery might have been the most significant Buddhist center of the Irtysh area. Over the course of 1670s, the Khoshut clan gradually declined. Under pressure from his brother, Ablai lost his domains and was defeated by his enemies. To construct this narrative, this paper engages in critical analysis of diverse archival sources and existing historiography.
Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Orientalia
Publication statusSubmitted - 2019


  • Ablai-Kit
  • Oirats
  • Khoshuts
  • Buddhism
  • Ablai-taiji
  • monastery
  • history of Kazakhstan


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