Monday, December 25, 2006

Chinggis Khan and His Heirs

This year marks the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Great Mongol Empire, the largest and most powerful that history has ever known.

Forged by nomadic people, within a century this world empire had expanded to stretch from the shores of the Pacific Ocean, across the steppe land of Iran and Russia to the plains of Hungary.

Not all these qualities can be attributed to a single man, the empire's founder Chinggis Khan. Nevertheless, it was he who created the first sparks of this fire that began on the steppes of Central Asia at the beginning of the 13th century and blazed across the greater part of the world. His successors developed the state-building project whose outlines he had drawn, and extended it to the farflung corners of the world.

The Great Mongol Empire enjoyed its golden age in the 13th and 14th centuries, as it spread from the Pacific seaboard to Central Europe, leaving lastingtraces on every people and culture with which it came in contact. The Mongols were not only outstanding warriors, but superb administrators of the lands and people they ruled. An efficient system of government, measures to encourage trade, an advanced communications and transportation system, and cultural and religious tolerance were the building stones of the Pax Mongolica. The extensive commerce and exchange of thought and culture between Asia and Europe that resulted continued until the 16th century.

CHINGGIS KHAN AND HIS HEIRS / The Great Mongol Empire is an exhibition which illustrates the story of this visionary world empire in the latest archeological discoveries, gold and silver treasuries, magnificent weapons and armour, manuscripts illustrated with miniatures, ancient maps, textiles, porcelains, and rare sacral objects that reflect the colorful world of Mongol Buddhism. Spectacular works of art loaned by Mongolia's leading museums, and major collections in East Asia, Europe and Turkey throw light on the complex cultural relations between the nomad tribes and settled populations, and following their conversion to Islam the contributions to art and culture of the Ilkhanids in Iran, the Golden Horde in Russia, and the Yuan Dynasty established by Kubilay Khan in China.

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