Mobility, Empire and Cross Cultural Contacts in Mongol Eurasia

Vered Shurany

Vered Shurny

Vered Shurany

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Department of Asian Studies

Personal Project:

The Islamization of Ningxia under Mongol Rule: The Life and Times of Prince Ananda

Qubilai Khan's grandson, prince Ananda 阿难答 (d. 1307), was the ruler of the Anxi province and headed the Yuan garrison in the Hexi region (modern Gansu and Ningxia). The region was formerly under the rule of the Buddhist dynasty of the Xi Xia, (1038-1227). Ananda was born a Buddhist; however, in 1295 he chose to embrace Islam influenced, among others, by his Turkestani wet nurse. Ananda's conversion allegedly led to the conversion of most of his troops, estimated at 150,000 soldiers.

In spite of being a devoted Muslim, Ananda had a Korean Buddhist wife and moreover, he summoned a Buddhist monk probably for his wife. Furthermore, Ananda himself had a close relation with this monk. Yet in the long run, the region over which he ruled became one of the centers of the Chinese Muslims (the Hui).

My thesis examines the reasons for Ananda's Islamization and the impact of his conversion on this primarily Buddhist region. Among the questions I examine are the role of the former Muslim community in pre-Mongol Hexi; and the forced migration of Muslims to the regions in the United Mongol Empire period: after the conquest, many Muslims, especially artisans and soldiers, were transferred eastwards, while others, especially merchants, chose to migrate. I will also examine the role of the army in determining Ananda's religion. While Rashid al-Din presents his conversion as promoting that of his troops, the Yuanshi  gives the impression that most soldiers were Muslims before him. Their religious affiliation might have stimulated his conversion and not vice versa.

It is interesting to examine what role, if any, the simultaneous Islamization of the Ilkhanate and of Ghazan Khan played in Ananda's conversion. How did his new religious identity affect his chances to gain the Yuan throne after the death of Temür Khan (d. 1307)? What was the importance of religion (Islam and Buddhism) during Ananda's life and what was the relationship between the Buddhists and Muslims in Ananda's time and afterwards?



English, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese and French.


  • 2014 – Present – PhD student at the Department of Asian Studies, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
  • 2012 – 2014 – Studies as a graduate student in the Asian Studies Department, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
  • 2011 – 2012 – Chinese studies at Tianjin Normal University, in Tianjin, People's Republic of   China.
  • 2010 – 2011 – Graduate student in the Asian Studies Department, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
  • 2007/8 – 2010 – B.A: East Asian Studies and International Relations, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
  • 2004 – Graduated the May Boyar High School in Jerusalem with honours – majoring in Biology and Arabic.

Awards and Scholarships

  • 2015 - present: Hanban PhD Fellow, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
  • 2013 – Ida and Charles Wechslar scholarship for M.A Students [A part of the Gutwirth Scholarships].
  • 2012 – Chinese Government Scholarship to study Chinese in Tianjin Normal University.
  • 2011 – Ida and Charles Wechslar scholarship for M.A Students [A part of the Gutwirth Scholarships].
  • 2010 – A scholarship from the East Asian Department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for academic achievements.


  • “Conversion to Islam in Mongol-ruled Hexi (China): The Life and Times of Prince Ananda”, Tenth Biennial Iranian Studies Conference (Montréal, Québec, Canada; August 6-9, 2014)

  • "Conversion to Islam in North West China under Mongol Rule" China and the Islamic World: Trade and Knowledge (Istanbul, Turkey, June 5-6, 2014).

  • Poster "Islam and Buddhism in Mongol-ruled Hexi at "poster session "Mobility and Transformations", conference Mobility and Transformations: New Directions in the Study of the Mongol Empire Conference (Jerusalem, June 29-July 4, 2014).

Other Educational Programs

  • 2009 – Participation in the Congressional Youth Leadership Council Conference – the University Presidential Inaugural Conference – including meeting leaders in the American Government and Media and attendance at President Barak Obama’s Inauguration.
  • 2007 – Participation in the Annual Global Young Leaders Summit in Australia.
  • 2003 – Participation in the Annual Global Young Youth Leaders Conference in the U.S. – dealing with global issues and international conflict resolution.


  • 2012-2013 – Working in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as Teaching Assistant in the course "Late Imperial China"; Working at "The Louis Frieberg Center for East-Asian Studies" 2011 – Working as a member of the Organizing Committee of the 10th Annual Conference of Asian Studies in Israel.
  • 2010 – 2011 – Working at "The Louis Frieberg Center for East-Asian Studies", the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
  • 2009 – 2010 – Internship in the office of the Mayor of Jerusalem, in the Foreign Relations Department, as part of the "New Spirit" Internship program.


  • 2012 – Present – "High School Project": Meetings with high school students, at their schools, and teaching them about China.
  • 2000 – 2003 – Worked and volunteered at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo as a volunteer – took care of small animals and was part of the Zoo’s Youth Program.