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A World Trimmed with FurWild Things, Pristine Places, and the Natural Fringes of Qing Rule$
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Jonathan Schlesinger

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780804799966

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804799966.001.0001

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The Mushroom Crisis

The Mushroom Crisis

(p.93) Three The Mushroom Crisis
A World Trimmed with Fur

Jonathan Schlesinger

Stanford University Press

As the pearl crisis raged, a rush for wild steppe mushroom moved to the center of the imperial agenda in Mongolia. Unheralded and forgotten, steppe mushrooms were big business in the Qing; by the 1820s, thousands of undocumented workers crossed the internal boundary from China to Mongolia each year in search of mushrooms. The chapter opens with the case of a passport forger whose arrest triggered a court edict against mushroom picking in 1829; we have little else of the affair in Chinese. The archives in Ulaanbaatar, however, contain hundreds of documents that detail the long, violent conflict that culminated in his arrest. By analyzing the confessions of mushroom pickers and the depositions of local officials, the chapter reconstructs the history of the mushroom rush and explores how a recreating a “pure” and pristine environment in Mongolia became the top concern of the court.

Keywords:   Mushrooms, Mongolia, purity, steppe, archives, Qing, China

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