Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet/Volume 2/The Dungans

P. 122.

There is no need to add to what has been written about these Tungani, whom Russian ears apparently transform into Dungans. The name does not seem to be applied in any sense of race, but simply to be the popular name by which Chinese Mahommedans are known among the Turki-speaking people of Central Asia, and on the Russian frontier.

The earliest mention of it that I have met with is in 'Izzat Ullah's 'Itineraries,' published in the seventh volume of the 'Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society' (p. 310). The name also occurs thus in Burnes:—

' These soldiers (of the Chinese garrisons in Kashgar) are drawn from the tribe of Toonganee, who claim relationship to the army of Alexander; they are Mahommedans from the adjacent provinces, but dress as Chinese. '[1]

And in Mr. Wathen's 'Notes on Chinese Tartary,' derived from certain pilgrims who passed through Bombay to Mecca in 1835, we find the following:—

'The Tungani live in the country, the chief towns of which are Salar and Sairam. Alexander the Great is said to have penetrated as far as Salar, and to have left a colony of his soldiers in the country, from whom the Tunganis are descended. They derive the name from several Turkish and Persian words signifying "left behind," "looking back," &c.'[2] This shows how old is the question of the obscure etymology of the name. The most probable seems to be that assigned by Vámbéry, from a Turki word signifying 'a convert.'—[Y.]

  1. Travels to Bokhara, 1834; ii. 229.
  2. Journ. As. Soc. Bengal, iv. 655.