“Genghis Kahn: Bring the Legend to Life” special exhibit comes to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
By Renée S. Gordon
Genghis Kahn, considered to have been one of the world’s greatest leaders, is the subject of a special exhibit that will make the first northeastern stop on an international tour.
On display in a series of chronologically themed galleries are 200 objects, the largest single collection of 13th-Century Mongolian artifacts ever exhibited, many never before available for public viewing. The exhibition focuses on a view of Genghis’ role as warrior, political leader and innovative statesman. His legacy includes paper money, passports, tollbooths, and diplomatic immunity.
Born Temujin, “of iron,” in 1162, he experienced adversity in his youth beginning with the poisoning death of his father and his family’s exile in 1171. The following year he killed his half-brother during an altercation and at the age of ten was already a legend in the making. In 1206 he was given the title of Genghis Khan, ruler of the Mongols; three years later, he would embark on his first war outside of Mongolian borders. He led his forces in conquest until his death on August 18, 1227 at the age of 60.
During the height of his power he controlled an empire that covered 11 million square miles and was three times larger than that of either Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar. Within a period of 25 years he conquered more than the Romans did in 400 years. His domain remains the largest contiguous empire the world has ever known.
A seated Genghis Khan sculpture, a copy of one in the Mongolian capital, greets visitors at the entry and a five-minute orientation film provides details on his life. The main galleries are immersive, with videos, murals, docents and activity kiosks supplementing the artifacts. Cases and display areas are filled with an authentic ger, armaments, textiles, gold jewelry, household items and religious objects that visually document the 100-year rise and fall of the Mongolian Empire, from Genghis to Kublai Khan.
The exhibit concludes with a gallery dedicated to modern Mongolia, where 33 percent of the population is still nomadic and Genghis Khan continues to be revered as a great leader. In 2008 a complex was built that includes an exhibition hall beneath a 250-ton stainless steel statue. The 131-ft. tall equestrian statue is 45-miles from Ulaanbaatar. It is oriented toward his birthplace and a panoramic view is offered from the horse’s head.
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– Photos by Renée S. Gordon
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