The Final Battle With The Naiman did have one unexpected consequence. Found wandering around the field of battle was a well-dressed man who appeared to be armed only with wooden pens. He also had in his possession the official seals of Tayang Khan. Taken before Chingis himself, he explained that he had been the Naiman ruler’s personal scribe and seal bearer. His name was Tatatunga and he was a Uighur originally from Uighuristan. He had been hired by the Naiman as a scribe and court intellectual. He apparently spoke the Naiman language, whatever that might have been, and presumably he knew at least some Mongolian. Chingis was always quick to utilize the talents of those caught up in his dragnets. Soon realizing how Tatatunga’s particular skills might be used, he set him the task of developing a script for the Mongol language, which up until then did not have a writing system. This Tatatunga proceeded to do, adapting his own vertical Uighur script to the peculiarities of Mongolian. The Uighur script itself was based on that of the Sogdians, the merchants who for almost a thousand years had dominated trade on the Silk Road. The resulting Uighuro-Mongolian Script would remain the standard writing system among Mongols up until the twentieth century, when it was finally replaced with the Cyrillic script, and as the twenty-first century dawns it is experiencing somewhat of a revival.
Tatatunga was also tasked with teaching selected members of the Mongolian upper crust to read and write; Shigikhutag, whose name has been mentioned several times already, was reportedly one of his first students. After the Uighurs recognized the suzerainty of the Mongols still more Uighur intellectuals, teachers, and tutors came to Mongolia, creating the basis of a Mongol literate class that grew up amidst the court of Chingis Khan. Some member of this group (as mentioned, Shigikhutag has been cited, rightly or wrongly, as a candidate) went on to write the Secret History of the Mongols in 1228, just twenty-four years after Tatatunga had been captured, although some portions may have been written later. Thus this Uighur scribe who fell into Chingis’s hands after the defeat of the Naiman would have an incalculable effect on Mongolian history.
Mongol Script by Calligraphy Artist Sarantuya. The text reads "First Bogd Gegeen - Zanabazar". Also see Mongolian Calligraphy.