Art and Exhibitions

The Legacy of Genghis Khan | Mongolia: The Legacy of Chinggis Khan | Other exhibitions | Coinage | Miscellaneous art

The Legacy of Genghis Khan

The Legacy of Genghis Khan at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Genghis is not the focus here, but cultural and artistic developments under his successors. The beautiful--usefully beautiful--website includes sections on developments in China, and Iran, the Mongols and Islam, on illuminated books, and an excellent and highly detailed section on A New Visual Language, on the creative fusion of artistic styles.

The Legacy of Genghis Khan also stayed the Metropolitan Museum. There's less online than one might hope for, but it's still a major site if you're interested in the Mongol influence on artistic traditions, especially in Iran. The Catalogue Essay ties much of the rest together.

"This exhibition and accompanying catalogue represent the first systematic investigation of the important artistic and cultural achievements that occurred in the Iranian world as a by-product of the Mongol conquest of Asia. They consider the striking new visual language, and its functions, sources, and means of transmission, that developed under the Ilkhanid dynasty (1256–1353) within a vast territory encompassing present-day Iran, Iraq, southern Russia, western Afghanistan, and eastern Turkey."

Iranian criticism of the exhibition's title and contents, with to-and-fro between Ahmad Kamron Jabbari, of Mazda Publishers, and Linda Komaroff, currator of the LACMA. Jabbari writes,

"Given that the Genghis invasion disrupted all kinds of production for nearly three decades and that the art that followed was wholly that of the Iranian phoenix rising from the ashes (rather than the contributions of its brutal nomadic invaders), we find the title of this exhibition least appropriate and troubling. An analogy that may best explain the displeasure of the Iranian community with this title would be to name Jewish art following Hitler's atrocities as 'The Legacy of Hitler.'"
The point is well taken, but the argumentum ad Hitlerum is tasteless hyperbole. Genghis Khan may live in the ideological consciousness of Iran and Islam, but the Holocaust occurred in living memory!

The Mongol Tent in the Ilkhanid Period (1256–1353), from The Legacy of Genghis Khan. Text by Stefano Carboni and Qamar Adamjee.

Amazon. Exhibit book edited by Linda Komaroff and Stefano Carboni.

Publisher (Metropolitan Museum) description.

"Rude Warriors, Delicate Taste" review by Michael Kimmelman, New York Times (November 8, 2002)

"The exhibition is in the end a scholastically useful overview of Mongol art, which undercuts itself a bit through titular hype, although its ultimate value, as with all exhibitions of beautiful things, comes from hanging works like the Shahnama on the wall and just letting people look. History is instructive. Great art is sublime."

New York Indian website "Desi Talk" previews the exhibit. Article by Jyotirmoy Datta.

"'In the Empire of Genghis Khan': In Pursuit of a Historical Ghost" by Adam Goodheart, New York Times, in the course of reviewing Stanley Stewart's In the Empire of Genghis Khan: A Journey Among Nomads Goodheart has some choice words about the Met exhibition:

Strolling among vitrines full of silk tapestries, polychrome tiles and inlaid bowls, a casual visitor to the Metropolitan Museum's recent show ''The Legacy of Genghis Khan'' might have come away with the impression that the famous despot of the steppes was really all about interior decoration. ... But if you'd happened to be, say, a 13th-century resident of Nishapur, you'd have had a rather different view. The Mongol hordes breezed through that Persian city in 1221, and, according to one chronicler, spared not even a dog or cat. The invaders' redecorating program consisted of razing all the buildings and leaving pyramids of skulls in their place."

"A Mongol stereotype debunked" review of the Met exhibit, by Leigh Montgomery, Christian Science Monitor (January 2003).

"True, Mongols didn't create much of anything themselves. But they were oh-so-modern as disciples of the Knowledge Economy."

"The Treasures of Genghis Khan" by Caroline Kim, revewing the exhibit for Humanities, the magazine of the National Endowment for the Humanities, part sponsor of the exhibit. (mirror)

Mongolia: The Legacy of Chinggis Khan

Mongolia: The Legacy of Chinggis Khan (not to be confused with "The Legacy of Genghis Khan" (above). Website includes clickable images and an introductory essay. The exhibit, toured San Francisco, Denver, and Washington, DC in 1995–1996.

WebQuest from Scholastic with some questions about this site for students. Other links are broken.

Amazon. Mongolia: The Legacy of Chinggis Khan, edited by Therese T. Bartholomew. Exhibition guide.

Other exhibitions

Picture gallery from Genghis Khan, Treasures of Inner Mongolia (The Provincial Museum of Alberta). Includes weapons, jewelry, and such.

In the Footsteps of Marco Polo ("A Journey Through the Met to the Land of the Great Khan"), from the Metropolitan Museum. This is an illustrated and interactive journey along the route Marco Polo began when he was 17, to the Mongol Empire of Kublai Khan. Includes descriptions of the people and places he visited, and an excellent continue the adventure page, with suggested reading.

Info on "The Heritage of Genghis Khan" a 1996 exhibit at the City Gallery Wellington, New Zealand. No other info on the web.

Web Archive: Empires Beyond the Great Wall: The Heritage of Genghis Khan exhibit at the Royal British Columbia Museum (March–September 1995)


Pictures of Genghis Khan's coinage with other 13c. coins in the collection of Charles Calkins.

Miscellaneous art

Statue of Genghis Khan, from who knows where. Photo by Tim J Southerwood. "Ghengis Khan was the great king who united Mongolia in the 1400's [sic]."

Harvard Course: "Art in the Wake of the Mongol Conquests: Genghis Khan and His Successors" taught by David Roxburgh. The syllabus is elsewhere.

Image: Mongol archer from Paul Halsall's Chinese Culture class. I just like this picture.

LibraryThing: Catalog your books online.

If you enjoy this site you may also like these other sites by me:

Alexander the Great on the Web. Over 1,000 sites about Alexander the Great.

Ibn Battuta on the Web. Comprehensive guide to Ibn Battuta, the great 14th century Muslim traveler.