It is the early 17th century and the Mongol Empire has largely broken up. In fact, the Mongolian homelands have been invaded by an alliance of Manchu Chinese and Tibetans. The Tibetans are backing the Chinese with the assurance that their “Yellow Hat” sect of Buddhism will become the state religion of Mongolia. Manchurian general Ambagi Tsetsen has also enlisted the support of Mongol prince Khush Khan, who is fully on board with turning his country over to the Chinese and Tibetans.
Opposing them is Ligden Khan, king of independent Mongolia. His chief supporter is Tsogt Taij, a Mongol prince who loathes the Chinese and the Yellow Hat Buddhists and is a strong Mongolian nationalist. Tsogt’s son Arslan Taij is a warrior like his father but also has an eye for the ladies, and is distracted by a romance with princess Khulan, daughter of his father’s enemy Khush Khan. —TV Tropes
Tsogt Taij was made in a communist Mongolia that was a loyal client state of the Soviet Union. The anti-Buddhist theme of the film comes from the anti-Buddhist stance of the Mongolian government; this film was made less than ten years after violent government purges that killed thousands of monks and destroyed all but a few of the hundreds of Buddhist monasteries in Mongolia.
Tsogt Taij has traditionally been portrayed as evil by the Geluk sect. In contrast, this film treated him as a national hero.
Ligdan Khutugtu Khan (Лигдэн Хутугт хаан; 林丹汗; 1588–1634) was the last khan (ruled 1604–34) of the Northern Yuan dynasty based in Mongolia, the last in the Borjigin clan of Mongol Khans from the Chahar royal family. His unpopular reign generated violent opposition due to his harsh restrictions over the Mongols. Attacks from enemy Mongol tribes and clans and from the Manchus who were coming to power in China forced him and many of the Chahars to flee westward. Ligdan died of smallpox in 1634 while marching to attack Gelug order in Tibet. The Chahar line ended.
Tsogt Taij, Choghtu Khong Tayiji (Цогт хунтайж, 1581–1637), was a noble in Northern Khalkha. He expanded into Amdo (present-day Qinghai) to help the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism. He established a base on the Tuul river and built monasteries and castles. In 1601, he built the White Castle, or the White House of Choghtu Khong Tayiji.
He took part in Ligdan Khan’s campaign to Tibet to help the Karma sect. He sent an army under his son Arslan to central Tibet in 1635. However, Arslan attacked his ally Tsang army. He met the fifth Dalai Lama and paid homage to Gelug monasteries instead of destroying them. Arslan was eventually assassinated by Tsoghtu’s order. The Gelug sect asked for help Güshi Khan(Khush Khan),the leader of the Khoshuud tribe.
In the company of the Dzungar prince Erdeni Batur, Güshi marched into Qinghai with 10,000 Oirat troops in 1636. In the next year he confronted the 30,000 strong forces of Choghtu Khung Tayiji. The contest took place in the Kokonor Gorge. The Choghtu troops were defeated and scattered, and the survivors had to surrender. Choghtu himself hid in a marmot hole but was found and killed on the spot. Khalkhas were suppressed in Tibet a short time after they were subjugated in Mongolia by the invading Manchu people.
Khush Khan, Güshi Khan (Гүш хаан, གུ་ཤྲཱི་བསྟན་འཛིན, 1582-1655) was a leader of the Khoshut Khanate of the Oirat confederation. In 1637, Güshi Khan defeated a rival Mongol prince Tsogt Taij(Choghtu Khong Tayiji), near Qinghai Lake and established his khanate in Tibet over the next years. His military assistance to the Gelug school enabled the 5th Dalai Lama to establish political control over Tibet.
5th Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso, the Great Fifth (ངག་དབང་བློ་བཟང་རྒྱ་མཚོ་, 1617-1682), the first Dalai Lama to wield effective temporal and spiritual power over all Tibet.
He established, with the military assistance of the Khoshut Mongols, the supremacy of the Gelug sect over rival orders for the temporal rule of Tibet. As an independent head of state, he established diplomatic relations with China and other countries and also met early European explorers. Gyatso also wrote 24 volumes’ worth of scholarly and religious works on a wide range of subjects. During his reign the majestic winter palace of the Dalai Lamas, the Potala, was built in Lhasa.
Ambagi Tsetsen, Hong Taiji, Abahai (ᡥᠣᠩ ᡨᠠᡳᠵᡳ, 1592–1643) was an emperor of the Manchu, Mongols, and Chinese in Manchuria (Northeast China). He was the eighth son of Nurhachi (1559–1626), the great Manchu leader who extended his people’s rule over the tribes of the Inner Asian steppes and organized his tribesmen into a bureaucratic Chinese-style state.
Abahai was a great military leader. He led armies into Mongolia and Korea and made those countries vassal states of the Manchu. He perfected the military machine known as the Eight Banners. On the advice of his Chinese advisers, Abahai changed his dynastic name from Jin to Qing and began the conquest of China. Although he died before his goal was realized, his reign greatly strengthened the foundations of Manchu rule. A year after his death the Manchu conquered Beijing, the capital of China’s Ming dynasty, and shortly after subdued the remainder of the country.