Russian version

THE YASSA OF GENGHIS KHAN

The Purpose of the Yassa

Genghis Khan was striving to provide people with such safety and security, whereby everyone within his rule could carry gold atop their heads without any threat (of being robbed) in the same way people carry regular pots.

State and administrative law

1. All religions were to be respected and that no preference was to be shown to any of them. It is ordered to believe that there is only one God, creator of heaven and earth, who alone gives life and death, riches and poverty as pleases Himand who has over everything an absolute power.
2. It is forbidden under penalty of death that any one, whoever he be, shall be proclaimed emperor unless he has been elected previously by the princes, khans, officers, and other Mongol nobles in a general council.
3. When talking to someone, do not speak to them with a title, calling them by their name. This applies to even the Khan himself.
4. He ordered his son Chagatai to see that the Yasa was observed.
5. (List of privileges and benefits granted to chieftains and officers of the new Empire.)

International law

6. Forbidden to ever make peace with a monarch, a prince or a people who have not submitted. Whoever kills the ambassador shall be killed along with his entire tribe.
7. Spare countries and cities that submit voluntary.

Criminal law

8.

A killer of a Mongolian, a coward, a liar, an adulterer (whether married or not), a sodomite, a thief, a receiver of stolen goods, a robber, a perjurer, a spy, a traitor, a wizard, anyone who disrespects old people and beggars, anybody addicted to vice, without regard to their age or title, is to be put to death.

An adulterer may be killed in the act.

Laws of Genghis Khan punished by death anybody who accidentally lost their arms during the march or in the battle.

The Yassa prescribes to love one another, not to commit adultery, not to steal, not to give false witness, not to be a traitor, and to respect old people and beggars. Whoever violates these commands is put to death.

9. Whoever intentionally lies, or practices sorcery, or spies upon the behavior of others, or intervenes between the two parties in a quarrel to help the one against the other is also to be put to death.
10. In cases of murder (punishment for murder) one could ransom himself by paying fines which were: for a Mohammedan - 40 golden coins (Barysh); and for a Chinese - one donkey.
11. The man in whose possession a stolen horse is found must return it to its owner and add nine horses of the same kind: if he is unable to pay this fine, his children must be taken instead of the horses, and if he have no children, he himself shall be slaughtered like a sheep.
12. For lesser thefts the punishment shall be, according to the value of the thing stolen, a number of blows of a staff-seven, seventeen, twenty-seven, up to seven hundred. But this bodily punishment may be avoided by paying nine times the worth of the thing stolen.
13.

Whoever is guilty must be punished by everybody, irrespective of their noble title, age or rank. Avoiding the punishment is to be deemed complicity.

The eldest of the emirs, having made an offense and thus causing an Emperor to send to him the last of the servants to punish him, must submit to the servant until the Emperors punishment is complete, even though such punishment be decapitation.

14. Humiliating and corporal punishments are forbidden. Only ill fame, banishment and death are permitted.
15. Should anybody attempt to evade punishment on the pretext of their noble title, age or rank, such person is to be put to death.

Military law

16. Whoever gives food or clothing to a captive without the permission of his captor is to be put to death.
17. Whoever finds a runaway slave or captive and does not return him to his captors (the person to whom he belongs) is to be put to death.
18.

Only prisoners of war and their family may be enslaved; that said, slavery shall not be inherited.

No subject of the empire may take a Mongol for servant or slave.

19. Every man, except in rare cases, must join the army.
20. The ruling that divides men of the army into tens, hundreds, thousands, and ten thousands is to be maintained.
21. The moment a campaign begins, each soldier must receive his arms from the hand of the officer who has them in charge. The soldier must keep them in good order, and have them inspected by his officer before a battle.
22. Forbidden, under death penalty, to pillage the enemy before the general commanding gives permission; but after this permission is given the soldier must have the same opportunity as the officer, and must be allowed to keep what he has carried off, provided he has paid his share to the receiver for the emperor.
  • 3/5 to the army;
  • 1/5 to the commanding general;
  • 1/5 to the Emperor.
23. To keep the men of the army exercised, a great hunt shall be held every winter. On this account, it is forbidden any man of the empire to kill from the month of March to October, deer, bucks, roe-bucks, hares, wild ass and some birds.
24. Officers and chieftains who fail in their duty, or do not come at the summons of the Khan are to be slain, especially in remote districts. If their offense be less grave, they must come in person before the Khan.

Labor law

25. It is forbidden to speak about any thing, word or affair as dirty, since all things are equally clean.
26. Women accompanying the troops are to do work and perform duties of men, when the latter are away fighting.

Trade law

27. Whoever takes goods (on credit) and becomes bankrupt, then again takes goods and again becomes bankrupt, then takes goods again and yet again becomes bankrupt is to be put to death after the third time.

Communication law

28. The Khan established a postal system so that he could quickly learn about events of the empire.

Tax law

29. Forbidden to charge anybody more than one tenth for a joint cause whether it is a thing, a man or cattle.
30.

No taxes or duties are to be imposed upon fakirs, religious devotees, lawmakers, physicians, scholars, people who devote themselves to prayer and asceticism, muezzins and those who wash the bodies of the dead.

Each and every descendant of Ali ibn Abi Talib is to be exempt from duties and taxes.

Temples dedicated to God and servants of such temples are to be exempt from taxes.

Clergymen of any denomination are to be released from duties.

All pure, holy, just, scholars and wise shall be praised and respected, whereas evil and unjust people shall be condemned.

31. Every man who does not go to war must work for the empire, without reward, for a certain time.

Sanitary law

32. Urinating in water or ashes is punishable by death.
33. One may not dip their hands into water and must instead use a vessel for the drawing of water.
34. It was forbidden to wash clothing until completely worn out. It is forbidden to bathe or wash garments in running water during thunder.
35.

It is forbidden to cut throats of animals slain for food; when an animal is to be eaten, its feet must be tied, its belly ripped open and its heart squeezed in the hand until the animal dies; then its meat may be eaten; but if anyone slaughters an animal after the Mohammedan fashion, he is to be himself slaughtered.

It is permitted to drink blood and eat entrails of animals although it used to be forbidden.

36. It was forbidden to eat food offered by another until the one offering the food tasted of it himself, even though one be a prince and the other a captive.
37. He forbade his people to step over a fire for cooking food or over a dish used for eating.
38. A man who chokes on food must be driven out of the camp and immediately killed; and whosoever puts his foot on the threshold of the tent of the commander of an army shall also be put to death.
39. A man is forbidden to drink alcohol until he is 40 years old, whereafter he may drink alcohol only on special occasions unless it is war time.

Private law

40. Forbidden to eat anything alone, eat more than others, and eat in the presence of another without having invited him to partake of the food;
41. When a wayfarer passes by a group of people eating, he must eat with them without asking for permission, and they must not forbid him in this.

Family law

42. At the beginning of each year, all people must present their daughters to the Khan so he may choose some of them for himself and his children.
43. The marriage law required the payment of a bride price and marriage between the first and second degrees of kinship was forbidden. A man could marry two sisters, or have several concubines.
44. If two families wish to be united by marriage and have only young children, the marriage of these children is allowed, if one be a boy and the other a girl. If the children are dead, the marriage contract may still be drawn up.

Hereditary law

45. , , , ( ).
46. The distribution of property is to be carried out on the basis of the senior son receiving more than the junior, the younger son inheriting the household of the father. The seniority of children depends upon the rank of their mother; one of the wives must always be the senior, this being determined chiefly by the time of her marriage.
47. After the death of his father, a son may dispose of the father's wives, all except his mother; he may marry them or give them in marriage to others.
48. All, except legal heirs, are forbidden under penalty of death to make use of any of the property of the deceased.

 

MONGOLIAN CUSTOMS (MORAL STANDARDS)

(source of information )

Hospitality-related customs (prohibitions)

1. In his classical monograph Mongolia of Today published in 1921, scholar and orientalist Maisky remarks astounding observation skills, natural curiosity, good nature and hospitality of Mongolians.
2. These days curiosity and hospitality of Mongolians as their national features are remarked by many travelers. You establish a camp and the next thing you know there is a horseman who appeared out of thin air. Local Mongols come to look from afar and observe life of the camp at length. After receiving some small souvenirs they would normally leave, but the next day others would come in their place.
3. In Mongolia it is unconventional to ask questions to guests. However, guests shouldnt be quick to share info about themselves either. Out in the open the pace of the life is slow, and so should be the process of knowing each other between a guest and a host. Before talking business it is conventional first to exchange snuffboxes and sniff each others tobacco, drink some tea at leisure while exchanging generic words about health and weather.
4. Mongolians attribute to the fire a magical cleansing effect. Cleansing by fire was considered a necessary ritual so as to protect oneself against evil that could be brought by guests. During a specific time all ambassadors, traders with gifts had to go in between two fires so as to be cleansed of ill intentions, which they could have had.
5. Hospitality custom. Until this day there is a legend, whereby the more guests drop by your tent, the happier the upcoming year will be. When serving tea, as a token of respect, a hostess should hand a tea-bowl with both hands, whereas the guest should accept that tea-bowl with both hands as well, so as to show his respect to that household. There is a right-hand tradition that remains in Mongolia and Buryatia, according to which during a ceremony the tea-bowl should be handed over only with your right hand. Naturally, the receiving party should accept that bowl with either right or both hands.
6. To show a special respect to the guest during the greeting the host should draw out both hands with palms together, as done in the Buddhist bow; in that case hand shaking is done with both hands as well.
7. It is prohibited do gift knives or any sharp objects.
8. When visiting someone a primary present shouldnt be gifted until the end of the visit. Gifts shouldnt be given all at once, but one at a time throughout the entire stay.
9. In Mongolia it is not accustomed to enter somebodys tent unless permitted by the host. You cant enter somebodys tent silently and looking around. You absolutely have to say something or cough, thus letting the host know that you come with peace.
10. It is not allowed to enter somebodys tent with arms. You should leave it outside. Visitors should take out their weapon and leave it on the right-hand side. Take out their bow, let go of the bow-string, and leave no arrows in the quiver.
11. It is prohibited to step on the tents threshold. Same goes for sitting, standing and talking to a guest.
12. When inside the tent a guest cant take a sit in the northern, honored part of it, unless told so. The guest is shown where to sit beforehand and he shouldnt take a sit wherever he fancies.
13. Prior to entering somebodys tent a guest shouldnt relieve himself; it is considered offensive and disrespectful towards the hosts of the tent.
14. It is forbidden to visit someones tent with sleeves rolled up, with a shovel or other ground engaging tools. According to Mongolian tradition Mongolians roll up their sleeves at funerals, whereas ground engaging tools trespassed inside the tent are considered an omen.
15. It is forbidden to visit somebody with empty dishes. It is absolutely necessary to fill dishes with anything at all, so as not to let happiness of the tent leave in the empty dishes.
16. It is considered impolite to help the hosts, whether by passing food or serving guests. It is frowned upon if you leave without tasting a treat offered by the hosts.
17. It if forbidden to drink vodka while standing. As table rules go, one has to drink an offered shot of vodka while sitting.
18. It is unconventional to leave tea at the bottom of the bowl or throw food remnants in it.
19. While feasting guests arent allowed to change their seats.
20. When the food is served it shouldnt be accepted with one hand; as a sign of respect it should be accepted with both hands.

Etiquette

21. It if forbidden to look at somebody askew, get angry, cuss, curse, snap at your father or mother. It is as sinful as killing an animal creature.
22. If a son guards fathers name, he will be just as happy in everything he does.
23. Never walk in front of an elderly person for it is considered offensive and disrespectful.
24. He who abandons his old customs will be despised by all and will taint his own name.
25. Never show your palms to others. It is believed that lines on the palm reflect destiny. That is why Mongolians hide their palms from others.
26. Dont greet anybody by kissing; slight touch of cheeks will do.
27. Mongolian women dont comb their hair in presence of their men.
28. One shouldnt cover their head with a dress, lock their hands together behind the neck or behind their back.
29. During the solar or lunar eclipse it is forbidden to eat, drink, sleep or lay.
30. Dont desecrate a sanctuary by bad actions, thoughts or words.
31. Dont scream or get seriously drunk.

Ground-related customs (prohibitions)

32. Mongolians believe that digging the ground is highly dangerous, because it brings unhappiness. So it is strictly prohibited to dig more than a handful of the ground with a knife, scraper, shovel, or plough.
33. It is also strictly prohibited to chop wood, go hunting and even visit some sacred sites.
34. Care for the ground has been instilled through the ban system. It was prohibited to damage ground with sharp objects, draw lines in it, or dig it, unless absolutely necessary.
35. When need to lay the foundation or sink a well arises, one had to carry out a ritual allowing this person to do so and perform a gifting ritual.

Prohibitions related with faith in spirits

36. Dont bathe in a river.
37. Dont draw water with a dish made of gold or silver.
38. Dont kill cattle by cutting their throats.
39. Dont step on the threshold of a dwelling.
40. Dont take meat out of the boiler with a knife.
41. Dont desecrate fire.
42. Dont bridle a horse. .
43. If wine is spilled on the ground, a thunderbolt will strike your horses.
44. If a lot of wine is spilled, a thunderbolt will most likely strike your house.
45. Spilling wine or milk on purpose was regarded by Mongolians as harmful magic against dwelling or animals.
46. Mongolians have a cult of Ovoo, a mountain cult, and they worship the Eternally Blue Sky (Tengri). According to Mongolians, sky can see every action and thought of a human, who can never hide from the heavenly justice; thats why when feeling they were right about something, Mongolians would exclaim, Sky, you be the judge.
47. When close to the Ovoo one should come to a halt and respectfully give gifts to the spirits, otherwise you will have no luck. Mongolians legend has it, that every mountain and every valley has its own spirit and that a human without spirits is nothing; one has to appease spirits, so that they dont harm you and render help.
48. Mongolians have a tradition to sprinkle for the vicinity spirits. As a rule, prior to drinking alcohol, Mongolians spill a couple of drops of the beverage on the table from their glass or using a finger, a third finger normally, they touch the beverage and sprinkle it sideways and skyward.

Nature-related customs (prohibitions)

49. Dont harm nature.
50. Dont remove plants and flowers unless absolutely necessary.
51. Dont kill an animal that has cubs.
52. Dont catch or kill young birds.
53. Dont chop young trees close to the sources.
54. Dont wash dirty clothing or bathe with soap close to the water source arshan. Such actions are considered to be desecrating to the source.
55. Dont relieve yourself facing the Pole star. Mongolians treat North with honor.
56. Dont throw garbage or spit in the hearthstone fire.
57. Dont leave any traces of your presence, i.e. overturned sod, garbage, or a fire.
58. Dont break, dig out, touch Mongolian ritual poles (Sairgeh) or make a fire close to them.

Fire-related customs (prohibitions)

59. Dont share hearthstone fire with other households or tents (unless those belong to relatives). Dont accept fire from strangers.Fire-related customs (prohibitions)
60. Dont place your tent where someone elses tent used to be.
61. Dont step into ash. Mongolians believe that dead mans soul leaves traces in it.
62. Dont water the fire.
63. Dont plunge a knife in the fire, touch fire with a knife or other sharp object, take meat out of the boiler with a knife, throw garbage or clothing in the hearthstone fire for it offenses the hearthstone spirit.
64. Sprinkling milk into the hearthstone fire is considered a sin.
65. Dont sleep with feet pointed towards hearthstone for it may scare away the host spirit of the tent.
66. Mongolians attribute to the fire a magical cleansing effect. Cleansing by fire was considered a necessary ritual so as to protect oneself against evil that could be brought by guests. During a specific time all ambassadors, traders with gifts had to go in between two fires so as to be cleansed of ill intentions, which they could have had.

Other customs (prohibitions)

67. Full moon or beginning of the lunar month is considered to be a good time to start a business. .
68. Within the temple walls on the monastery land you shall not kill animals, you shall not bring vodka or wine in here, nor shall you leave here a woman for a night, unless permitted by the head of the monastery.
69. Reading sacred books for fun is considered humiliating.
70. Dont drink water with animals, regardless of whether such water is intended for drinking, bathing, washing, teeth brushing, watering grass etc.
71. While visiting Buddhist temples you should first go round the temple area following the sun direction spinning all the prayer wheels. Dont enter the temple wearing shorts and once inside move clockwise. Dont occupy center of the temple during the service and dont take photos without permission. When inside the temple dont speak loud and avoid quick and restless movements.


BACK

Copying information from this website is only allowed under condition of referring to this web link.

Copyright © 2008 Andrey Gribov
All rights reserved