Dutch exhibition provides new insight into Genghis Khan

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More than 200 items linked with Genghis Khan and his descendants went on exhibition at the Dutch National Military Museum Friday to display the history of the Mongol Empire that ruled most of Eurasia throughout the 13th and 14th centuries and the multiple facets of its mysterious founder.

Illustrating his life from his birth in 1162 into the Borjigid clan of the Mongol tribe as a bizarre baby "born with a clot of blood the size of a knucklebone clutched in his tiny fist" [which symbolizes courage and power in Mongol legends], to his ascension to Great Khan in 1206 and his campaigns which expanded the Mongol Empire from China to the Caspian Sea, the exhibition shows that during his rule Genghis exhibited impressive vision and strategic brilliance.

With horse gears, armours, weapons, seals, imperial decrees, utensils, clothes and jewelry on display, the exhibition also stages that one of the best-known figures in world history had ground-breaking developments in military equipment, strategies and tactics, endorsed tolerant religious and social policies, established a legal code and sparked a new era of exchange and interconnection between East Asia and Europe.

"Genghis Khan and his successors have profoundly influenced the history of the world with their military inventions and strategies, but also through their culture and the cultural and religious exchange that took place via the Silk Route," Hedwig Saam, director of the Dutch National Military Museum, told the press.

The museum, built at a former air base in the central region of the Low Lands, combines the collections of the former Military Aviation Museum in Soesterberg and Army Museum in Delft.

"We want to give the European audience an insight into Genghis Khan in a way that hasn't been done before," Tim Pethick, designer of the exhibition, told Xinhua.

"The concept of conquest is one aspect of the story of Genghis, but we want to talk about Khans' encouragement to literacy, and his keenness to build a multi-faiths society. We want to show that when approaching a town for siege, the Mongols actually were much happier to take that town peacefully rather than aggressively, because they wanted to trade with those people and learn from them," he said.

Yong Ding, researcher of China's Inner Mongolia Museum where all the items on display come from, was glad the exhibition immerses visitors in a gripping way. "Inner Mongolia is a mysterious place with a long history, and via this exhibition we hope to bring a better understanding about the culture and history of Inner Mongolia to the Dutch audience," he told Xinhua.

For him, the eye-catching golden saddle decorated with Mongol style pattern is one of top pieces in this exhibition. "It was found in a tomb whose owner is believed to be a Mongol noble living in the Yuan dynasty established by Genghis Khan's grandson, Kublai Khan. Its sophisticated relief sculptures tell us the cultural and artistic attainments of the Mongols."

A bronze seal used by Genghis Khan's third daughter is also among Ding's most beloved archaeological discoveries. "It is one of the rare preserved artifacts that relates directly to Genghis Khan's family. The Chinese, Mongol and Uyghur characters carved on it tell us that when Genghis Khan went out to conquer the world he trusted his daughter to rule at home. Actually his daughter had the power to reign over not just the Mongols but also the vast region till the Yellow River," he explained.

Since the 1990s, the Inner Mongolia Museum has organized many exhibitions focused on Genghis Khan in cooperation with colleagues in America, Europe and Asia, according to Ding.

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