CMRS Research Workshop
Los Angeles, CA 90095 United States + Google Map
“Haptic Phenomenologies: Bloody Fists and Feeling Fingers in The Secret History of the Mongols”
Misho Ishikawa (Graduate Student, English, UCLA)
This paper looks at Ming-era (ca. 1400) translations of The Secret History of the Mongols. The focus of the workshop is on how these texts attune to hands and fingers as the dominant metaphor for unification under Chinggis Khan. The author begins by arguing that touch is a necessary, but temporary, form of frictive contact throughout The Secret History. Chinggis, born raising a bloody fist, is figured as the hero who wears the nails from his fingers, and the fingers away from his hands. The suggestion is made that after Chinggis’ death, rule through violent touch is no longer appropriate. Ogodei, thus, makes the bloody fist like feet: decreeing that peace shall reign as long as the people have their feet on the ground and their hands on the earth. Ultimately, the research shows that touch becomes an epistemological metaphor throughout the text that deals with shifting political realities in light of tribal unification under Chinggis Khan. The world, and ways of knowing the world, are shaped—literally—in the hands of Chinggis and Ogodei. In order to support this claim, there are additional primary sources that address contemporaneous ideas of phenomenology, including Yuan-era prophetic books, sutra translations, and Mongolian tuuli.
Each CMRS Research Workshop is based on a pre-circulated research paper that the presenter—who may be a CMRS faculty member, associate, affiliate, or graduate student—wishes to discuss with colleagues. All attendees must read the paper under consideration and be prepared to contribute to the discussion.
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