Serfdom and clerical feudal lords in pre-Revolutionary Mongolia?

Vostok/Oriens '2018, №1

DOI: 10.7868/S086919081801003X

Comparative analysis of data on the status of serfs in Russia, Europe and the shav' arats in Mongolia before revolution was conducted. Formal and factual status of Mongolian aristocracy, the arat people subjected to them, Buddhist clergy and the shav' is discussed. The clergy in prerevolutionary Mongolia was a separate social group, and it is not correct to consider high lamas as “feudal lords”. The shav' actually were not serfs: there were no feudal lords whom they obeyed, and only in some aspects their status corresponds to the status of serfs. Only whole complex of features but not a part of it may serve as evidence for the presence of serfdom; otherwise, this term would be applied also to those societies where it was actually absent. Responsibilities of the shav', regardless of their social status, were explained based on the “disciple – guru” principle based on the Buddhist Canon and not on the feudal law.

Keywords: serfdom, serf, Mongolia, shav', feudalism, feudal lords, lamas, Buddhist church, social structure

Pages: С. 23–30

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