Words by: Ace Accosta
Though archetypical of Genghis Khans images, not much is know about his personal life and physical appearance. Any statues or portraits of him had been destroyed. And what little evidence historians do have for his appearance is contradictory or unreliable to popular belief. Most accounts describe him as tall and strong with a flowing mane of hair and a long bushy beard.
Mongol legend says that Genghis Khan was born with a blood clot grasped in his fist – a sign that he was destined to become a great leader. That legend came true a went on to be foretold. Born Temujin, Genghis Khan grew into an outstanding warrior of the 13th century, and managed to forge the largest contiguous empire in history.
Revered as “The Supreme Warrior”, Genghis Khan was known to have a rough childhood. Was it not for that experience, Genghis Khan probably wouldn’t have matured as quickly as he did. By his early 20s, he had established himself as a formidable warrior and leader. After amassing his army and alliance with the heads of important Mongolian tribes, in the year 1206, he had turned his conquest to neighboring lands. He was a warrior and genius of a ruler.
Temujin was born into a nomadic Mongol tribe in 1162. At a young age, his family suffered a major loss.
One day, while heading home, his father crossed paths with a rivaling neighbor tribe – the Tatars. They fed his father food which they tainted with poison, ultimately leading to his death.
Upon learning this, Temujin choose to rise up and become the new heir following his father’s leadership. Refusing to be led by a mere child, they abandoned he and his family and left them to fend for themselves in the harsh Mongolian winters. Though, through sheer willpower and perseverance, Temujin and his family survived.
The brutality and hardships that he lived through at an early age, are what matured him early on and help him become the warrior known as Genghis Khan.
The ‘Universal’ Ruler
Temujin began his gradual ascent to power by amassing an army of more than 20,000 men. In doing so, his mission was to destroy the various divisions among Mongolian tribes and unify them all under his rule.
Through a combination of his genius military tactics and merciless brutality, Temujin avenged his father’s death by decimating the Tatars.
Through the course of his unification, Temujin built an extensive spy network. This allowed him and his army to adapt to the various tactics used by his enemies, and swiftly adopt their technology.
His well trained army coordinated their attacks with precision and sophistication. Using signaling systems of smoke, burning torches, the sounds of large drums to command, and signal flags, it wasn’t long until his Mongolian army was going 80,000 warriors strong.
Temujin was also sure to take care of his army and supporters
Every soldier was equipped with a bow, arrows, a shield, a dagger, and a lasso for their artillery. Even necessities were supplied to them such as food, tools, and spare clothes. If his soldiers were in need of restock or supplies, a well-organized supply of ox carts wasn’t too far to tag along behind.
Following the victories over the rival Mongol tribes, it was then that other tribal leaders came to an agreement and bestow Temujin the title ‘Genghis Khan’, which means ‘universal ruler’. This title not only played political importance, but also spiritual significance. A leading shaman declared Genghis Khan the representative of Mongke Koko Tengri, meaning ‘Eternal Blue Sky’ and the supreme god of the Mongols. It was said that to defy Genghis Khan, was equal to defying the will of God himself. Bestowed upon such divinity, it has been said that Genghis Khan stated this to one of his enemies,
“I am the flail of God. If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.”
Genghis Khan’s Death
Genghis Khan died in 1227. The exact cause of his death is unknown. Some say he fell off his horse while on a hunt, and died of fatigue. Other proclaim that he died due to respiratory disease.
It is not known where Genghis body lay.
Genghis Khan was buried in secret according to the customs of his tribe’s customs – somewhere near his birthplace.
Legend has it that the funeral escort killed anyone they encountered to conceal the location of the burial site. It has been said that a river was irrigated over his grave.