The Anda Bond
Along with practices of male bonding that are shared with other times and places, such as membership in all-male groups with distinctive uniforms or clothing or socializing in places where women are not allowed or do not go, the Mongols also had a specific type of male bonding, the anda bond. In an anda bond, the two men pledged to aid each other under any circumstances, creating a permanent spiritual bond between them, ritually consecrated by an oath and the exchange of gifts. The usual translation is “sworn friend.” Chinggis Khan’s father Yesügei had an anda bond with a leader of another tribe, as does Chinggis Khan himself with Jamugha, a nobleman from another clan. In this section from The Secret History of the Mongols, Chinggis Khan and Jamugha renew the anda bond they had made as children, and then stay together for a year and a half. Ritualized bonds between men are part of many warrior cultures, including the ancient Greek city of Sparta as well as the Mongols, and may or may not have included sexual relations between the two men. In the case of the Mongols, anda bonds shaped military strategy and alliance networks; for example, despite the fact that Jamugha becomes his enemy, Chinggis Khan refuses to do him direct harm many times when he could have, and ultimately has him executed in the way he asks. The anda bond can be seen as part of Mongol masculinity, shaping understandings of what it meant to be a Mongol man.
This source is a part of the Masculinity and Femininity in the Mongol Empire teaching module.
Temujin and Jamugha pitched their tents in the Khorkonagh Valley.
With their people united in one great camp,
the two leaders decided they should renew their friendship,
their pledge of anda.
They remembered when they’d first made that pledge,
and said, “We should love one another again.”
That first time they’d met Temujin was eleven years old.
In those days
when he and his family had been abandoned by the Tayichigud,
he’d first met Jamugha,
a young noble of the Jadaran clan,
and they’d played at games of knucklebone dice on the banks of the Onan,
casting bones on the frozen waters of the Onan.
Jamugha had given Temujin the knucklebone of a roebuck
and in return Temujin gave Jamugha a knucklebone of brass.
With that exchange the two boys had pledged themselves anda forever.
Then later that spring
when the two were off in the forest together shooting arrows,
Jamugha took two pieces of calf-horn.
He bored holes in them,
glued them together to fashion a whistling arrowhead,
and he gave this arrow as a present to Temujin.
In return Temujin gave him a beautiful arrow with a cypresswood tip.
With that exchange of arrows
they declared themselves anda a second time.
So Temujin and Jamugha said to each other:
“We’ve heard the elders say,
‘When two men become anda their lives become one.
One will never desert the other and will always defend him.
This is the way we'll act from now on.
We’ll renew our old pledge and love each other forever.”
Temujin took the golden belt he’d received
in the spoils from Toghtogai defeat
and placed it around Anda Jamugha’s waist.
Then he led out the Merkid chief’s warhorse,
a light yellow mare with black mane and tail,
and gave it to Anda Jamugha to ride.
Jamugha took the golden belt he’d received
in the spoils from Dayir Usun’s defeat
and placed it around the waist of Anda Temujin.
Then he led out the whitish-tan warhorse of Dayir Usun
and had Anda Temujin ride on it.
Before the cliffs of Khuldaghar
in the Khorkhonagh Valley,
beneath the Great Branching Tree of the Mongol,
they pledged their friendship and promised to love one another.
They held a feast on the spot
and there was great celebration.
Temujin and Jamugha spent that night alone,
sharing one blanket to cover them both.
Temujin and Jamugha loved each other for one year,
and when half of the second year had passed
they agreed it was time to move camp.
[Despite this bond, Jamugha later becomes Chinggis Khan’s bitter enemy, but when he is captured he says:]
“Together we ate the food that is not to be digested,
To each other we spoke words that are not to be forgotten,
Together we were under our blanket
Sharing it between us…
When I became disloyal to my sworn friend I made a mistake…
If you, my anda, want to show favor to me,
Let me die swiftly and your heart will be at rest,
And if you, my anda, condescend to put me to death,
Let them kill me without shedding blood.
When I lie dead, my bones buried in a high place
Forever and ever I will protect you and be a blessing to the offspring of your offspring.
[Chinggis Khan obliges him and has him killed in a way that does not shed his blood and then gives him a fitting burial.]
From The Secret History of the Mongols: The Origin of Chingis Kahn, adapted by Paul Kahn (Boston: Cheng and Tsui Company, 1984), pp. 40-41, 111.