Discover the two faces of Genghis Khan, the ruthless Mongol conqueror who instilled fear in people throughout medieval Europe and Asia. Although he ruled with an iron fist, he rewarded loyalty and merit, established the rule of law, and opened trade and exchange across Asia. Mongolians today still revere him as the spirit of their nation.
Take a look at some of the entertaining experiences, engaging videos, and immersive environments within the exhibition that help reveal his dual role as both feared conqueror and revered statesman.
Genghis Khan Monument
Upon entering the exhibition, come face-to-face with Genghis Khan via a scaled-down recreation of the massive monument to him, which sits in front of the parliament building in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar.
The statue is flanked by two sulde, or spirit banners—white for peace and black for war. A sulde represented the Eternal Blue Sky spirit and remained in the open air, channeling the power of wind, sky, and sun to the warrior. Genghis Khan’s were made of the hair from his best stallions, tied to the end of a spear.
Wood and felt with replicas and modern Mongolian items
Born into a Mongol clan of nomads, Genghis Khan grew up on the grassland steppe of Asia. Like other nomads, his family lived in a ger (or yurt)—a low cylindrical structure made of felt (matted and compressed wool) supported by a wooden accordion-like frame.
View the interior of a ger within the exhibition and see how typical Mongol families lived both in the past and even today—about one third of the Mongolian population still makes their home in these unique dwellings.
Coffin of a Mongol Noble Woman
In 2005, Mongolian archaeologists discovered a casket holding the mummified body of a Mongol woman who died at about the same time as Genghis Khan. Her fine garments and jewelry suggest that she was of noble birth.
Come view the mummy and the personal items buried with her, including her clothing—she wore three layers of deel (a traditional Mongolian garment): two layers of fine silk beneath an outer layer of leather, which suggests that she died in winter.
Siege of Xi Xia Mural
Genghis Khan failed in his first attempt at siege warfare, trying to attack the walled capital of Xi Xia, one of three Chinese states at the time. After gaining more skill with siege engines, he succeeded in capturing other cities, but died in his second attempt to capture Xi Xia.
Gaze upon giant wall murals that provide an expansive view of the Xi Xia battlefield, Kublai Khan’s court, the marketplace at the Mongol capital city of Karakorum, and more.
Kublai became Great Khan in 1271 and succeeded where his grandfather Genghis had failed: he reunited China after 400 years of separation, establishing its first foreign dynasty (the Yuan Dynasty).
Kublai built his summer palace at Shangdu (Xanadu), made famous during the beginning lines of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem: "In Xanadu, did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree…." Come stroll through a recreation of a room in the summer palace to view treasures found in archaeological excavations there.
Map of the Mongolian Empire
Warrior and statesman Genghis Khan united Asia’s nomadic tribes into the largest land empire ever known. At its height, the Mongol Empire was more than three times the size of Alexander the Great’s, spanning more than 11 million square miles across Eastern Europe and Asia.
Come gaze upon the expanse of the Mongol Empire and witness its growth over time via an animated floor map.