The Many Faces of Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan Alcove Mongolian National Parliment

Genghis Khan Alcove Mongolian National Parliament

 

Genghis Khan Carved in a Mountain

Genghis Khan Carved in a Mountain

I’ve been to Mongolia once, in 2007. I arrived at Genghis Khan (alt. sp. Chinggis Khaan) International Airport, and caught a taxi to the Genghis Khan hotel. (I got ripped off on the cab [buyer beware- find the queue and never go with anyone who approaches you saying they have a metered taxi], but the hotel is probably the best in the city.) Had it been light out when I arrived, I would have seen the massive visage of Genghis Khan on the side of the mountain. I did pass the bold Genghis Khan statue in the alcove on the front of the Parliament building  along the way.

You may be starting to see a pattern. Mongolians love Genghis Khan almost to the point of being a one-trick pony (they do have other statues – mostly of Lenin and homegrown Marxist-Leninist leaders). I’ve heard it said, I believe in all sincerity, that Buddhism was the worst thing ever to happen to Mongolia, and I don’t think it is an isolated opinion among Mongolians. For when the pacifistic religion gained hold, the marauding days of empire building came to a close.  Mongolia today is a sparsely populated and geographically isolated nation that is considered virtually inconsequential with respect to global politics, but, during its day, the Mongol Empire was the largest contiguous empire in the world. It makes you think about what might have been.

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