Living the Nomad’s Life
The man the world would know as Genghis Khan was born as Temüjin (tem-OO-jeen), the grandson of a respected leader, and son of a chief, Yesügei, who was murdered when the boy was nine.
Since Yesügei had kidnapped Temüjin’s mother from another tribe, the clan abandoned him and his family. This harsh childhood and nomadic life helped shape Temüjin as a leader and the future Genghis Khan.
Temüjin grew up in the Mongol Tribal heartland, on the grasslands of Central Asia. In Genghis’s time, the Mongols were nomads, living in gers (or yurts)—felt-lined, wood-framed, cylindrical tents that could be easily packed up and carried with the tribe as they moved.
These nomads depended entirely on what they could gather from their environment. They ate livestock, dairy products, and wild game. And in times of starvation, they drank the blood of their horses.
Horses played a central role in Mongolian life as both food and transportation. Mongols learned to ride at a very young age and could shoot with their bows from any direction without falling from a horse—a skill that became particularly important in warfare.