Mongolians need surnames. Actually, they had surnames, but they lost them. How do you loose your surname? Well, it seems that the use of Surnames was banned during the communist era in order to “eliminate the clan system, the hereditary aristocracy and the class structure.” But now they need them again, and unfortunately for the government bureaucracy, it seems everyone wants to have the surname “Borjigin”:
Borjigin, the tribal name of Genghis Khan, has become the most popular name in the country. It means “master of the blue wolf,” a reference to Mongolia’s creation myth.
“Everyone wants the name Borjigin, as if they have some connection to Genghis Khan,” said Serjee Besud, director of Mongolia’s state library and a leading researcher on surnames.
“It’s like a fashion. But it has no meaning if everyone has the same name. It’s like having no name at all.”
Luckily for nameless Mongolians, the director of the State Library has unearthed a treasure trove of historically accurate Mongolian surnames:
Mr. Besud has spent years poring over the dusty archives of the state library to compile a book of possible surnames for the nameless. He obtained access to the highly secret archives of the country’s Communist Party, which included detailed lists of the names of noble families who were prohibited from party membership.
He discovered his own long-lost surname, Besud, by finding his grandfather’s name on a 1925 list of conscripts in a Communist army.
His book, called Advice on Mongolian Surnames, provides maps and lists of historically used surnames in each region of the country.