13th and 14th Century

Letter of peace sent from IL Khan Ulziit to Louis Phillipe, the King of France (13th - 14th century)The National Museum of Mongolia


In the 13th and 14th centuries, Mongolians conquered more than fifty countries and united almost half of the world’s population. They occupied territories  from Siberia to South Asia,  from the Korean Peninsula to Bulgaria. This exhibition hall presents the Great Mongolian State 1206 - 1260 and the Mongolian Empire, which consisted of : the Golden Horde State, Tsagadai Khanate, Il Khanate and the Yuan Dynasty.This hall also introduces visitors to the ancient capital Kharkhorum and to battle equipment, armour and ceremonial banners of  the Mongolian Empire. The origin and development of  Mongolia’s unique national culture and heritage is here illustrated through chronological displays of more than 300 historical, cultural objects. The end of this hall holds portraits of Chinggis Khan, Ogodei Khan and Khubilai Khan.

Монголын Үндэсний Музейн Дөрөвдүгээр танхим: МОНГОЛЫН ЭЗЭНТ ГҮРЭН, From the collection of: The National Museum of Mongolia
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White Banner, From the collection of: The National Museum of Mongolia
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White Banner The White Banner is also called ‘Yisun Kholt Tsagaan Tug’ or Peace Banner. It is mentioned in many historical works on the Mongols. The White Banner was raised during times of peace or in a place away from war. From ancient times until the present day, Mongolians have presented offerings to the White Banner. The main part of the White Banner is made from the tails of white mares. The main white banner is surrounded by eight banners. The offering ceremony to the White Banner was held during a grand ceremony once every three years. Since the 19th century this ceremony is part of the annual Naadam celebration.

Black Banner, From the collection of: The National Museum of Mongolia
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Black Banner
The Black Banner was the khan’s battlefield banner, standing for the power of the “Everlasting Blue Heaven,” which can concentrate and mobilise the spirit and power of all Mongols to defeat their enemies at any time in all directions. Folk stories mention that the Black Banner would be raised when the khan was at war.

Secret History of the MongolsThe National Museum of Mongolia

Secret History of the Mongols

This is the first literary document concerning the Mongols. It is an invaluable treasure for historians, linguists, ethnographers and ethnologists engaged in the field of oriental studies. It is believed to have been written in the year 1240. The identity of the author still remains unknown. The copy of the Secret History of the Mongols, which has survived to modern times, was transcribed in Chinese characters from some original manuscript in one of the Mongolian scripts. Some scholars believe it to have been in the Uighur script, others proposed Pags-pa script, and only a few think that it was originally recorded in Chinese characters. This copy was written in about the 14th century and contained Mongolian text (in Chinese phonetic transcription) and the Chinese translation. The first European to discover this manuscript was the Russian sinologist Palladij. In 1866 he translated the Chinese part of the Secret History into Russian - with considerable shortening. The name of this work in the Russian translation was “An Old Mongolian Tale about Chinggis Khan”. After that, the full text of the Secret History was  was published by S. A. Kozin in Leningrad (1941), E. Haenisch in Berlin (1948), and P. Pelliot in Paris (1949). Other important works were the dictionary of the language used in The Secret History of the Mongols (E. Haenisch, 1962) and the index to the manuscript compiled by Igor De Rachewiltz (1972).

Chinggis Khan (1162-1227)The National Museum of Mongolia

Chinggis Khan ~ 1162-1227

Researchers and scholars from various countries have proclaimed Chinggis Khan as the Man of the Millennium, acknowledging that he was a great organiser, diplomat, politician, and warrior who set up the legal system of Mongolia and played a decisive role in the development of foreign relations, economy and the art of war. In modern Mongolia, Chinggis Khan is regarded as the father of the nation for his role in uniting the Mongol confederations into the Great Mongolian State and therefore providing a common identity to what had previously been nomadic tribes sharing only a language and culture. Chinggis Khan had been a gifted boy named Temujin, born into a family of steppe nobility. Following the death of his father, Temujin’s family was banished from their tribe. Temujin eventually conquered his enemies and rose to the position of khan, or ruler. In 1189, he was elected Khan of the Khamag Mongols Khanlig (Mongolian tribe). By 1206, he had united “all those who dwelled in felt-walled tents” and at a Khurildai (assembly) of nobles was proclaimed Chinggis Khan, the Great Khan of Mongolia. His main achievement was the establishment of a unified Mongolian State through joining the disparate Mongolian tribes. He himself led battles against the Tangut State in 1205 -1227 and the Jin Dynasty (Northern China), taking Beijing in 1211 - 1217. In 1218, the Khwarazm Shah, Mohammed II, slaughtered a Mongolian caravan and following delegation of ambassadors at Otrar. This precipitated Chinggis’s attacks on Central Asia, although it might have been only a matter of time before he attacked. At approximately the same time, Chinggis’s general Subeedei began campaigning in Russia as part of a three year long reconnaissance through Russia and the area around the Black Sea. Chinggis Khan died in 1227.

Ogodei Khan (1187 – 1241)The National Museum of Mongolia

Ogodei Khan ~ 1187 – 1241

After the death of Chinggis Khan, his youngest son Tului acted as the temporary head of state affairs until 1228, when the third son of Chinggis Khan, Ogodei was enthroned by the Great Assemblage held in Hodoo Aral (east Mongolia) on the Herlen River.  Ogodei was born in 1187, and from the age of 17 he contributed to the strengthening of state affairs. Ogodei Khan improved the organisational form of the state and finished the ... ... construction of Kharkhorum City begun by his father Chinggis Khan, making it the capital of his Mongolian Empire. During Ogodei Khan’s reign, the functions of the state became more sophisticated. The most significant economic reform implemented by Ogodei Khan was the establishment of the regular horse-relay post service throughout the country. It played an important role in the centralised governance of the huge empire. In 1231, Ogodei Khan started a military campaign against northern China and 1234 conquered the Jin Dynasty. The period of his rule was also notable for the invasions by Mongolian troops in the west: in 1236 the Bulgarian Khanate; from 1236 -1240 Russian counties; and in 1241 Hungary and Poland.  All these were conquered by Mongolian warriors. These troops then advanced further to Vienna and the Adriatic Sea.

Khubilai Khan (1215 – 1294)The National Museum of Mongolia

Khubilai Khan ~ 1215 – 1294

Khubilai Khan is ranked just after Chinggis Khan as the most famous Mongolian king.  He continued the war that his ancestors had begun and fought against the southern Chinese. During Khubilai Khan’s time, almost all eastern countries except Japan were held by the Mongolian Empire, and the Mongolians’ reputation became ... ... famous throughout Eurasia. The influence of Kharkhorum, the previous capital, gradually weakened after Khubilai Khan moved his capital to Daidu (current day Beijing) in 1264. He adopted the Pags-pa script, a square alphabet created by Pagva Lama Lodoijamts, which was used for state affairs until 1368. Researchers agree that Khubilai was the most educated of the kings. He ruled the Yuan Dynasty for 34 years and died in 1294. The kings who ruled after Khubilai could not stop the state crisis that developed after his death. As a result of a rebellion by Chinese farmers in 1368, which chased Togoontumur Khan out of China, the Yuan Dynasty collapsed.

Armored boots (15th - 16th century)The National Museum of Mongolia

Armored boots
Leather, textiles
15th - 16th century
Khangai sum, Arkhangai aimag
In 1953, Samdan a local museum staff member collected these soldier’s plated boots from Dashragcha - an old woman of Khangai sum, Arkhangai aimag. For generations the soldiers in Dashragcha’s family had worn the armored boots - the first man to use them was from seven generations before her. During the people’s government, Dashragcha distributed the plates from the boots to several local men who were conscripted into the military.
The boots are made of calfskin, which was imported from central Asia, and quilted textiles to make the sole. The boots have high sides with ties, which were connected to the trouser belt.

Letter sent from Guyuk Khan to the Pope (13th - 14th century)The National Museum of Mongolia

Letter sent from
Guyuk Khan to the Pope
13th - 14th century
In 1920, the scholar Cyrill Karalevskii found the second letter in the Archives of the Vatican, and the French scholar Paul Pelliot published this material in his book “Les Mongols et la Papaute” in 1923.
In 1246, Guyuk, a grandson of Khubilai, was enthroned as Khan of the Great Mongol State. The same year this letter was sent to the Pope Innocent IV as a response to an earlier letter. The Italian Catholic priest Plano Carpini was dispatched to the Mongolian steppe to spy on these nomadic people who were becoming more and more powerful and to see the extent of their country, weapons, and customs. He arrived in Kharkhorum around 1245 -1246. The content of the letter from the
Pope was an attempt to convince the Mongols to follow his religion. Guyuk Khan, in response, threatened the Pope in his letter, delivered by Plano Carpini, expressing the power of his empire.

Khugshin Teel monument (1275)The National Museum of Mongolia

Khugshin Teel monument
Khugshin Teel. Hairhan dulaan, Uvurhangai aimag
This monument bearing Chinese inscription describes the building of a fortified city by Khubilai Khan’s soldiers during the period when Khubilai and Arigbuh were fighting for kingship. The castle was named ‘Suriig badruulagch tsergiin hot’ but locals call it the Ruins of Khugshin Teel. It was discovered by the Russian explorer P. Kozlov in 1926. It is known that a monument bearing a Chinese inscription was set up in the fifteenth year of Khubilai Khan’s Yuan Dynasty, giving a date for the foundation of the castle of 1275.

Letter of peace sent from IL Khan Ulziit to Louis Phillipe, the King of France (13th - 14th century)The National Museum of Mongolia

Letter of peace sent from IL Khan Ulziit to Louis Phillipe, the King of France
13th - 14th century
This letter of peace was written in 42 lines of ancient Mongolian script, on long, narrow paper. The content of the letter is as follows: “Ulziit Sultan of IL Khanate informed the European kings that he had established peace within his state, quashed the internal conflicts, and resolved to stand against foreign intruders with joint force, but he also expressed his wish to strengthen peace with those countries.” This letter was sent to Louis Philippe, King of France in 1304 -1305.

Bow and arrow set (11th -12th century)The National Museum of Mongolia

Bow and arrow set
Birch-bark, wood, iron
11th -12th century
The bow is one of the distinctive items of Mongol culture. The Mongol bow is a typical Asian recurve type: a composite bow made from ibex horn, sinew, birch wood, birch-bark and willow. The battle weapons carried by the Mongols included arrow, arrowheads, knife, sword, battle-axe, bow and quiver. Arrow shafts were made of willow, the arrowheads of iron and the fletching of bird feathers. The featured collections were found in a cave burial in 2004 in Artsat Del, Bayankhongor aimag. Very similar items were also found in Shiluustei, Zavkhan aimag, western Mongolia.

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