Before the Mongols created their steppe federation under the leadership of Činggis Qaɣan (Genghis Khan, r. 1206-1227) the inhabitants of the steppe north of the Gobi desert were called "Black Tartars" (Hei Dada 黑韃靼) by the Chinese, while the Mongols living south of the Gobi were the "White Tartars" (Bai dada 白韃靼, Önggüd).
Peng Daya 彭大雅 (d. 1245), and later Xu Ting 徐霆, traveled as ambassadors of the Song court to the Black Tartars during the 1230es. Peng first wrote down his observances in a kind of travel report (jianwenlu 見聞錄 "what I have seen and heard") in a draft form. Xu Ting later added his own impressions as a kind of commentary. Both describe personalities, geography and climate, the economic life of pastoral nomadism, language, calendar and many more aspects of daily life of the steppe inhabitants.
The oldest surviving print is the 1542 reproduction of a Song period manuscript copy. In 1925 the historian Wang Guowei 王國維 (1877-1927) published a modern annotated edition.