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A Khalkha noble woman

The Khalkha, or Halh (Classical Mongolian: qalq-a, Khalkha Mongolian Халх [χɑɬχ]) are a subgroup of the Mongols. The word "Khalkha" means Guardian in Mongolian and it is a administrative unit term not specific clan or tribal name. It can be said it is analogous to New York -> New Yorker, California -> Californian. Khalkhas comprise the majority of the population of the independent state of Mongolia. The standard language of Mongolia is based on the Khalkha dialect.


Temple at Erdene Zuu monastery established by Abtai Khan in the Khalkha heartland in the XVI century

The first reference to the Khalkha people is of the early 16th century.

Batmunkh Dayan Khaan created Khalkh Tumen (10000) out of Mongols residing in the territory of current day central Mongolia and northern part of Southern Mongolia (now Chinese territory). In Mongolian historical sources such as “Erdeniin Erh = Treasure Scripture” it clearly stated about how Khalkha Tumen was created and where these people resided at the time of its creation. The statement goes as follows:

Khangai Khaand nutgalan suuj- Dwelling in Khangai Mountains (Central Mongolian Mountain range called Khangai Mountain Range near which Kharakorum, ancient campital was built.
Hari daisind chinu Khalkh bolson - Being a Shield ( in Mongolian "Khalkh" means Shield or Protection ) against alien enemies.
Haluun amind chinu Tushee bolson- Supporting to core of life.
Irehiin uzuur, Harahiin haruul bolson – Blade in your spear, Guard in your awarenes
Khalkh tumen chinu Ter bukhii beer ajaamuu- Be Khalkh Tumen (Shield ) from now on.

Хангай ханд нутагтай
Харь дайсанд чинь халх болсон
Халуун аминд чинь түшээ болсон
Ирэхийн үзүүр
Харахын харуул болсон
Халх түмэн чинь тэр бүхний дээр ажаамуу

It is also believed that Southern Khalkha people who now reside in Inner Mongolia were moved to south from its original territory Khangai Mountains. To commemorate and signify its origin, every new year during white month/moon celebration all southern khalkhas (ovor khalkha) perform special Khangai Mountain worshipping ceremonies and they face northwest and pray. This special ceremony is maintained by only southern khalkhas and no other southern Mongolians have such rituals.

Under Dayan Khan, the Khalkha were organized as one of three tümen of the Left Wing. Dayan Khan installed the fifth son Alchu Bolad and the eleventh son Geresenje on the Khalkha. The former became the founder of the Five Khalkha (tabun otuγ qalq-a) of Southern Mongolia and the latter became the founder of the Seven Khalkha (doluγan otuγ qalq-a) of the Northern Mongolia. They were called Inner Khalkha and Outer Khalkha respectively, by the Manchus.

Mongolian chronicles called Geresenje as "Khong Tayiji of the Jalayir," which indicates that the core part of the Khalkha were descendants of the Jalayir tribe. By extension, some scholars consider that the Khalkha had a close connection with the Five Ulus of the Left Wing of the former Yuan Dynasty, which was led by the five powerful tribes of Jalayir, Onggirat, Ikires, Uruud and Mangghud.

"The Country of the Khalkhas" (Pays des Kalkas) on a 1734 map by d'Anville, based on Jesuits' fieldwork ca. 1700

The Five Khalkha consisted of five tribes called Jarud, Baarin, Onggirat, Bayaud and Öjiyed. They lived around the Shira Mören valley east of the Greater Khingan. They clashed with but were eventually conquered by the rising Manchus. The Five Khalkha except for the Jarud and the Baarin were organized into the Eight Banners. Note that Khalkha Left Banner of Juu Uda League and Khalkha Right Banner of Ulaanchab League were offshoots of the Seven Khalkha.

Shirindambyn Namnansüren of Khalkha, a leader of the National Liberation Movement of 1911

The Seven Khalkha were involved in regular fights against the Oyirad in the west. Geresenje's descendants formed the houses of Zasagt Khan, Tüsheet Khan and Setsen Khan. They preserved their independence until they had to seek help from the Kangxi Emperor of the Manchu Qing Dynasty against the Dzungar leader Galdan in 1688. In 1725 the Yongzheng Emperor gave Tsering independence from the house of Tüsheet Khan, forming the Sain Noyon Khan Aimag.

The Khalkha led the Mongolian independence movement in the 20th century. After enduring countless hardships, they established the independent state of Mongolia in northern Mongolia.


  • Morikawa Tetsuo 森川哲雄: Haruha Tumen to Sono Seiritsu ni Tsuite ハルハ・トゥメンとその成立について, Tōyō Gakuhō 東洋学報 Vol. 55, No. 2, pp. 32–63, 1972.
  • Okada Hidehiro 岡田英弘: Dayan Hān no Rokumanko no Kigen ダヤン・ハーンの六万戸の起源, Enoki Hakushi Kanreki Kinen Tōyōshi Ronsō 榎博士還暦記念東洋史論叢, pp. 127–137, 1975.
Preceded by
Post-imperial Mongolia
States in Mongolian history
Succeeded by
Bogd Khaanate Mongolia


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