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I live in a quiet, historic town where the only exciting things to happen occur in books. Most days, you can find me with a cup of tea in one hand, hunched over my laptop as I write, read, or research.

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What’s in a Name?

TW: Mention of domestic abuse

As a new member of the SCA, with whom I’ve been learning swordplay for the past year, I get to turn my attention to choosing a persona. If I thought choosing an era was tough — I eventually settled on Mongolian, because of the power women wielded around the death of Genghis Khan — choosing a name was even worse. I almost chose one out of the book I’m reading about Mongol Queens. Then I decided to cast my net farther.

After all, I am choosing a name for myself, not for a character. This name has to be something I can identify with. It has to be me. So I did a bit of research.

In the era to which I’m looking to devote myself, many names were derived from root words. It wasn’t uncommon for someone to be named after a number or an animal or a colour. Altani, the name from the book that I was considering for myself, means “gold.”

Although root words were commonly used, there were various suffixes that alter the name to give it a slightly different meaning. Temujin, Genghis Khan’s birth name, means “of iron” because of the suffix “jin”. Several varieties of suffix changed a word to mean “possessing” or “in possession of”.

I used the root word Nasan, meaning “life”, with one of these suffixes to create Nasadai. (Pronounced NAH-sah-dEYE.) Possessing life. After surviving my abusive husband, I consider one of my greatest gifts and accomplishments to be the fact that I am still alive. My marrying one of the root words I found with an applicable suffix, I created a name that celebrates who I am. It is intensely personal, and I can’t find the right words at the moment to express how I am Nasadai. The name fits better than any other I’ve worn.

The SCA requires two names. Although the Mongols didn’t have surnames, there are various other naming schemes I could use. Some names are compound, with two complimentary elements. Mongke Erdene or “eternal jewel” for instance. Some names reference home clans. Some names add the position in the family, like daughter — Oki Nasadai was one I considered. Ultimately, the naming scheme I chose is adding more of a moniker to my name. Nasadai Ukhagatai. Nasadai the Intelligent. I value my intelligence most out of my qualities.

Choosing a name wasn’t easy. I went through multiple arrangements, viewed many elements, scoured books, but ultimately, the name that best fit me was the name I created. A bit of poetic justice, I think, considering that is what I devote most of my life to — creating things.

 

Sources:

On the Documentation and Construction of Period Mongolian Names by Baras-aghur Naran

Mongolian Naming Practices by Marta as tu Mika-Mysliwy

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