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Tashi Tsering: The Last Mongol Queen of ‘Sogpo’ (Henan)

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image of Inner Asia

Tashi Tsering was the last qinwang or queen of a Mongolian enclave in southeastern Qinghai called Sogpo or Henan. This outline of her and her family's history illustrates the different roles played by a woman leader during the enforced transition of her community from a traditional to a modern society. As a representative of the traditional local élite she was positioned as a symbol of her nationality within the framework of the emerging Chinese state, and, when the Communists came to power in and ‘liberated’ Henan, she adapted rapidly to the changing social order. She therefore participated in the process of modern state construction, in her case in the effort to transform Henan from a small Mongolian kingdom into a ‘minority nationality autonomous county’ in the Communist era. Like many traditional leaders, she was killed in the Cultural Revolution, to be posthumously reinstated only in the 1980s, when she became seen again as a representative of ‘Mongolness’ in general. She and her daughter, also given high position, worked with the modern nation-state that absorbed them, but as emblems of ethnicity or gender remained constantly vulnerable to larger political forces.


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