By the early 1900s, Mongolian society was divided into a strict
hierarchy of social classes:
· At the top were the Manchu emperor and his administrators,
located in Mongolia and China.
· Genghis Khan's descendants, the princes (noyon)
and noblemen (taij) formed the Mongolian class of overlords,
about 6% of the male population.
· Serfs, 17% of Mongolian males, served various masters -
Manchu rulers, Mongolian overlords, and Buddhist lamas. Serfs paid
taxes and provided free labor for one or more of these overlords.
These services ranged from military duty to farming, herding, or
· Between the overlords and serfs was the commoner, or free
class - herders, merchants, and public servants who ranged from
poor to wealthy. Representing 27% of the male population, they owed
fealty to no one but they did pay taxes.