eTolbo: June 2015

On the Relevance of Chinggis Khaan

By Derek Amur Kuldinow

With the opening of the Chinggis Khaan exhibition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, many eyes have been turned to the story of the Great Khaan. There can be no mistake that Chinggis Khaan’s empire was one of unrivaled power and its influence on the modern world is unprecedented. The empire of Chinggis Khaan provided the foundations for much more advanced societies, setting a precedent throughout his kingdom that would later be incorporated into much of modern civilization. Furthermore, Chinggis Khaan’s battle strategies showed a level of understanding of the workings of the world, that allowed his empire, and many that would follow, to prosper.

The Mongol Empire was the first to grant a number of rights to its people, some unalienable rights that are still disputed today, but that Chinggis Khaan had the foresight to grant his people. The first was the right to practice religion. Though much of the empire was Tibetan Buddhist, Chinggis allowed his subjects to practice beliefs freely; believing it to be a personal matter, not one that is subject to a government. The capital, Karakorum, indeed had mosques, temples and churches within its walls, showing that the empire welcomed all religions. Along with religion, race was not an issue in Mongolian society. The ethnic Mongols had no prejudices against ethnic Arabs, Chinese or Europeans. All were seen as equal under the law of the empire and only Chinggis Khaan was given a higher status. The government of the empire incorporated many ideas from the lands it conquered. The man Zurgadai had shot an arrow and wounded Chinggis Khaan during the Battle of Thirteen Sides. As a tribute for Zurgadai being such a good archer, he was made one of the most prominent General of the Army. Zurgadai went on to raid the Caspian Sea and defeat the Khar Khitan Khanate. Additionally, the use of passports, musical instruments and translatable writings showed Chinggis Khaan’s appreciation for finer arts and organization. Finally, Chinggis Khaan brought women to the same standards as men as well as providing tax exemptions to teachers and doctors, this being to increase the education and promote health within the empire. After the fall of the Mongol empire, similar amounts of tolerance and modern thinking were unheard of for centuries; thus, Chinggis Khaan’s empire was one of unparalleled sophistication and foresight.

The military prowess of the Mongol empire is unquestionable, with the largest extent being from the edge of Europe to the Korean peninsula, its power was unmatched at the time. Currently on display at the Franklin Institute is a replica of a crossbow and traction trebuchet that were in use during the time of the Great Khaan. The innovative and synergistic weapons that were used in the armies of the Mongol empire far overpowered the armies of any single force, because the weapons of the empire were collected and improved upon from many different cultures and peoples. The incorporation of many different styles of weaponry into the arsenal of the empire, allowed it to have the advantage over any opposition they faced. Additionally, the strategies employed by the Mongols, such as the three-prong attack and the retreat and ambush methods aided in the conquering of Asia. The three-prong attack in particular was visible in another form in Napoleon’s divide-and-conquer technique. Chinggis Khaan’s military strategies were nothing short of genius and inspired future conquerors to imitate him, thereby shaping the course of much of the world.

It is undeniable that Chinggis Khaan made a profound difference in the world; from introducing ideas and rights that were centuries ahead of his time, to using his ingenious military strategies and weaponry to unify Asia. Indeed, the world today would be far different had Chinggis Khaan not existed, perhaps set hundreds of years backward without his ability of foresight.

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Announcing the Successful Book Launch for Dzomba: Kalmyk Tea is pleased to announce the successful book launch for Dzomba: Kalmyk Tea.

On Saturday, March 14, 2015 Dzhomba: Kalmyk Tea was presented to the public at the 4th Annual Tsagaan Sar Celebration in New York City, conducted by the Mongol Heritage Foundation. The guest of honor was H.E. Ambassador Od Och, Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the United Nations. Members of the Mongolian, Buryat, Tyvan, Kalmyk, Hazara, and Inner Mongolian diasporas represented the Mongolian ulus. The Celebration was blessed by attending monks from the Nitsan temple in Howell, New Jersey, and greetings to the attendees was given by Sanj Altan, President of the Mongolian-American Cultural Foundation, which was a sponsor of the event.

Poems by Rimma Khaninova, a Kalmyk poet living in Elista, Kalmykia, and a poetic well wish were read in Russian and English by the author of Dzhomba, Nikolai Burlakoff. The poetry was well received by the audience and a number of people, including HE Ambassador Och, requested autographed copies of the work.

Dzhomba is the result of a two-year collaborative effort involving scholars from Kalmykia, Armenia, and the United States, as well as, numerous poets and translators. Two poets involved in the book, Vera Shugraeva and Erdne Eldyshev, are National Poets of the Republic of Kalmykia. A special contribution, in the form of the iconic image of “Dzhomba” was made by the famed artist Dmitry Sandzhiev. Other images and photos add an important visual element to the first book-length study of this important liquid food that is part of the culture of all Mongols.

Financial assistance from the Mongolian-American Cultural Association and the New Jersey Folk Festival helped support the production of this work.

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The Genome of a Mongolian Individual Reveals the Genetic Imprints of Mongolians on Modern Human Populations

Abstract: Mongolians have played a significant role in modern human evolution, especially after the rise of Genghis Khan (1162[?]–1227). Although the social cultural impacts of Genghis Khan and the Mongolian population have been well documented, explorations of their genome structure and genetic imprints on other human populations have been lacking. We here present the genome of a Mongolian male individual. The genome was de novo assembled using a total of 130.8-fold genomic data produced from massively parallel whole-genome sequencing. We identified high-confidence variation sets, including 3.7 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and 756,234 short insertions and deletions. Functional SNP analysis predicted that the individual has a pathogenic risk for carnitine deficiency. We located the patrilineal inheritance of the Mongolian genome to the lineage D3a through Y haplogroup analysis and inferred that the individual has a common patrilineal ancestor with Tibeto-Burman populations and is likely to be the progeny of the earliest settlers in East Asia. We finally investigated the genetic imprints of Mongolians on other human populations using different approaches. We found varying degrees of gene flows between Mongolians and populations living in Europe, South/Central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. The analyses demonstrate that the genetic impacts of Mongolians likely resulted from the expansion of the Mongolian Empire in the 13th century. The genome will be of great help in further explorations of modern human evolution and genetic causes of diseases/traits specific to Mongolians.

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