JABA (Jebe; Jovayni uses the Turkish form Yeme), 13th-century Mongol general of the Besüt (Bisut) tribe under Čengiz Khan (q.v.). His original name was Jirḡoʾadai (“sixth”; Jirqutāy), but when, having deserted the Tayičiʾut tribe, he joined Čengiz Khan, the latter renamed him Jebe, a Mongolian term meaning “weapon” (Secret History, I, p. 69, par. 147; Rašid-al-Din gives a different etymology: Jāmeʿ al-tawāriḵ [Moscow], p. 488; ed. Rowšan and Musawi, I, p. 188). He rose from commanding a unit of ten to be commander of a tümen (10,000; Rašid al-Din, Jāmeʿ al-tawāriḵ [Moscow], pp. 551-53; ed. Rowšan and Musawi, I, pp. 207-8), and he distinguished himself in the war against the Chin Empire in northern China, taking Tung-ching (the modern Liao-yang), its eastern capital, by a ruse that involved a false retreat (Secret History, I, pp. 175-76, par. 247; Rašid-al-Din, Jāmeʿ al-tawāriḵ [Moscow], p. 563 ed. Rowšan and Musawi, I, pp. 210, 443). His most celebrated operations fell during the great seven-year campaign to Western Asia (1218-24), when he was first sent against Čengiz Khan’s enemy, the Naiman (Nāymān) chief Küčlüg (Kušluk), who had usurped the throne of the Qara-Khitay Empire. Jebe fomented a rising by the oppressed Muslim population with a proclamation of religious freedom (Rašid-al-Din, ed. Rowšan and Musawi, I, pp. 465-66; cf. Jovayni, ed. Qazvini, I, pp. 49-51). After Jebe’s success in hunting down and killing Küčlüg on the frontier of Badaḵšān, Čengiz Khan warned him against excessive self-confidence (Rašid-al-Din, Jāmeʿ al-tawāriḵ [Moscow], p. 554; ed. Rowšan and Musawi, I, p. 208). From Samarkand in 1220, Čengiz Khan dispatched Jebe and another general, Sübeʾetei (Subatāy), with an army of 30,000 men in pursuit of the Ḵᵛārazmšāh Moḥammad b. Tekeš (Jovayni, ed. Qazvini, I, pp. 92, 113-16; tr. Boyle, I, pp. 118, 143-49), who had fled to the Caspian coast; they were ordered to complete the task within three years, but did so in two-and-a-half (Rašid al-Din. Jāmeʿ al-tawāriḵ [Moscow], p. 557, ed. Rošwan and Musawi, I, pp, 209, 505). As the two generals moved rapidly through northern Persia, Jebe received the submission of Balḵ, Nišāpur, Ray, and Hamadān, but sacked towns such as Zāva, Āmol, and Ardabil, which offered resistance. The Mongol army then ravaged Azerbaijan, defeated the Georgian king and the Alans, and crossed the Caucasus to crush the Qepčāq (Cumans) and their Russian allies on the Kalka River before withdrawing eastwards to rejoin Čengiz Khan on his homeward march to Mongolia (Rašid-al-Din, ed. Rowšan and Musawi, I, pp. 501, 504-10, 521-25, giving slightly different details from Jovayni; Jovayni, ed. Qazvini, I, pp. 112-17). Garbled reports of these operations, reaching the Fifth Crusade in Egypt, brought the Mongols to the attention of Christian Europe for the first time. The Chinese dynastic history of the Mongol era, the Yuan Shih (chap. 120), suggests that Jebe died towards the close of the expedition (tr. Pelliot and Hambis, p. 270). An isolated reference in the Secret History (I, p. 202, par. 272) to his participation in a campaign in northern China in 1231 is therefore probably anachronistic.



Histoire des campagnes de Gengis Khan: Cheng-wou tsʾin-tcheng lou, tr. Paul Pelliot and Louis Hambis, Leiden, 1951, pp. 154-56.

Rašid al-Din Fażl-Allāh, Jāmeʿ al-tawāriḵ, ed. Moḥammad Rowšan and M. Musawi, 4 vols, Tehran, 1994.

Paul Ratchnevsky, Činggis-Khan: Sein Leben und Werken, Wiesbaden, 1983; tr. Thomas Nivison Haining as Genghis Khan: His Life and Legacy, Oxford, 1991, index.

Secret History of the Mongols: A Mongolian Epic Chronicle of the Thirteenth Century, tr. Igor de Rachewiltz, 2 vols, Leiden, 2004.

B. Spuler, MongoIen4, pp. 23-25.

(Peter Jackson)

Originally Published: December 15, 2007

Last Updated: April 5, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XIV, Fasc. 3, p. 305