First a little bit of business. Last week I announced that I was giving away a copy of this book:
As promised, this morning My Own True Love drew a name out of my favorite summer hat. The winner is Jessica, who blogs about books at Quirky Bookworm. Send me an e-mail with your address and I’ll send Genghis Khan on this way.
Now, back to Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan’s influence didn’t end with his death in China in 1227. The Mongol army took his body back to the Central Asian steppes and buried it in secret. His soldiers sealed off the area around it for several hundred square miles. Known as the Great Taboo, the area was closed to everyone except members of Genghis Khan’s family and a cadre of specially trained warriors who were sworn to kill intruders. For more than 150 years, his descendants ruled over his empire, expanding it and finally divided it into four separate khanates. Long after the khanates collapsed in the fourteen and fifteenth centuries, Mongols continued to guard the Great Taboo against intruders.
When the Soviets captured Mongolia in 1924, they feared the memory of Genghis Khan would become a nationalist rallying point. They squashed the name of the Great Taboo, but continued to guard the area, which they termed a Highly Restricted Area (basically, another way of saying Great Taboo). In fact, the Soviets went a step further than the Mongols and surrounded the Highly Restricted Area with an equally large Restricted Area. Instead of Mongol warriors guarding the borders, a Soviet tank base blocked the entrance into the security zone The dual forbidden zone was not governed as part of the surrounding province, but controlled directly from Moscow.
Soviet concerns were not entirely unreasonable; since the end of the cold War, Mongolia has celebrated Genghis Khan as their greatest national hero.