China’s Cultural Heritage: A Glance Inside Genghis Khan Mausoleum

The temple in Ordos City draws scores of tourists and worshippers of the great Mongolian leader who reigned almost 800 years ago.

Genghis Khan is a familiar historical figure across the globe largely because of his characteristic ruthlessness during his many wars. History records that Genghis Khan, initially known as Temujin (“of iron” or “blacksmith”), is estimated to have killed about 40 million people between 1206 and 1227 during his conquest of at least 40 nations covering 12 million square miles. But amongst his native Mongol people and other ethnic groups in China’s northeastern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Genghis Khan, who died almost 800 years ago, is still held in high esteem.

Elsewhere in Ordos City where his mausoleum is located and the rest of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the presence of Genghis Khan towers in the daily lives of local people. His statues are commonplace in private homes and public places. A sprawling square in Ordos City is named after him. “He is worshipped and considered as a demi-god,” a local regional government official told Cameroon Tribune recently in Hohhot, the capital city. Inside the Genghis Khan Mausoleum in Ordos City are his imposing statues with lit candles in front, which are regularly replaced by vigilant guardians.

Before the statues, devotees prostrate in total submission to the man they believe still holds much blessings in stock for them. The mausoleum also contains civilization items of the time of Khan’s reign like utensils, weapons, clothing and written records. Wagier Qaqi, a female guide, on June 21, 2017, led 27 African journalists round the site. “Genghis Khan was so secretive that he did allow himself to be photographed. The only drawing we have of him today is based on descriptions of his physical features given by aides after his death,” Wagier Qaqi explained to Cameroon Tribune.

According to Qaqi, the mausoleum receives 200 and 8,000 visitors daily respectively during low and peak periods. Ji Ran Ba Ya Er, 54, is one of the over 30 full-time guardians of the temple – all descendants of the late warrior king’s trusted army generals. Their work consists in ensuring that visitors do not take pictures inside the temple. They also keep the candles alight and retain custody of Genghis Khan’s keys and books. Ji Ran Ba Ya Er has been keeping watch over the temple for 10 years and in compensation, he and colleagues are each paid 4,000 Yuan Renminbi (about 343,000 FCFA) per month by the State.

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