Cultural Connections

Musings about my experiences, art, and life in Mongolia and beyond.

My Photo
Location: Ulaanbaatar, Tuv aimag, Mongolia

Native Chicagoan currently teaching in Mongolia.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Chingiss and me

When I have talked to Westerners or non-Mongols about Mongolia, they usually mention either Roy Chapman Andrews or Chingiss Khan (aka - Genghis). And usually when they mention Chingiss, they tell me how he was a cruel and unusual man. I can tell you Mongols would disagree. In fact, many would like to correct this western notion of Chingiss, which is based largely on accounts written by those countries, tribes, and people who were conquered by the Mongols.

In his recent book on Chingiss Khan, Jack Weatherford, an American Anthropologist, paints a different portrait of a wise and worldly Chingiss, who united the Mongol tribes into a nation-state. In fact, I think Time magazine named Chingiss "Man of the Millennium".

2006 marked the 800th anniversary of the formation of the Mongol state.
There have been many celebrations, conferences, new books, films, artwork, and monuments created to celebrate this great event. Even the airport was renamed in honor of Chingiss Khan. Since this summer, I have been watching the construction of an immense new monument in Sukhbaatar square, in front of the Parliament building. For those of you in the U.S., it is reminiscent of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The central bronze statue is that of a giant seated Chingiss.
He is flanked by two of his generals and then at the eastern end, by Kublai Khan. Inside this great monument will be a museum containing artifacts related to the Chingiss era. A friend of mine, Mr. Boldbaatar is actually working on the exhibits.

Since I am no expert on this legendary figure, I may save an entry for some of my Mongol friends to share their ideas with you. For now, here are some photos of the new monument.


Post a Comment

<< Home