Some of us may have heard of this particular commonly cited study: that about 8% of the men in Asia, or 0.5% of the world, share the same Y-chromosomal image as Genghis Khan; a Mongolian conqueror who lived about 1000 years ago. Picture this, for every 10 to 11 males you see in Central Asia, it’s probable that one of them is a ‘Descendant of the Khan’. Though Genghis Khan is known to have had a strong influence – through conquest and being a prolific lover – across the vast Central Asia, the Mongolian culture seems to have had little evolution and connection to the modern world. The spreading of culture through conquest may have been ineffective, and unethical, in the long run; In contrast, other cultures that grew and evolved through more peaceful means have stood the test of time.
A Brief History of Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan was born "Temujin" in the Mongolian-Manchurian steppe of Central Asia around 1162. His childhood was violent and full of uncertainty, as the nomadic tribes on the central Asian steppe were constantly at war; fighting and pillaging each other. Temujin’s father was killed by an enemy clan, and shortly after, he killed his older half-brother in order to secure his place at the head of the household; this marked the beginning of the violence caused by Temujin. Genghis Khan founded the Mongol Empire in 1206 by uniting the steppe tribes, and became one of the most feared conquerors of all time.
Some sources written during or around the time of Genghis Khan’s reign, document that from each conquest, Khan had first pick of the beautiful women; and that looting, pillaging, and rape were the spoils of war for his soldiers. Though he forbade the selling and kidnapping of women, he had many wives during his lifetime of warfare, and copulated across the land.
The Khan's Descendants
About 16 million people are descendants of Genghis Khan today. This would mean that he had to have fathered (we're using the term loosely!) thousands of children in his conquest across the silk road route from China to Persia. His hoard would plunder through the villages or cities and brutally murder all the men, leaving the women vulnerable for their taking. Genghis Khan would favour some of the women, and would sleep with multiple partners each night. Thus, making it difficult to trace if she would have been impregnated with his child. Also, Mongols live a nomadic live and would not stay within the same village for a long time.
Many people across the globe have taken an interest in finding out if they are directly related to Genghis Khan. Geneticists from the University of Leicester has a team dedicated to researching about the lineage of Genghis Khan. The gene of Genghis Khan is traced by matching of the Y-Chromosome of the human DNA. The Y-Chromosome is known to be passed down from Fathers to Sons, and is thus traceable in nature. In accordance with our research, many geneticists and universities have studied the history and genome of Genghis Khan, using it as a subject of interest and found that it is true that Genghis Khan indeed fathered many children from his conquest across the regions. Traces of his gene can be found all the way in Kazakhstan, Persia, China, and even in Singapore!
Was it humane for Genghis Khan to have done what he did all those years which resulted in the 16 million people becoming his descendants? No way, especially not in today’s context. To us, the polygamous lifestyle of Genghis Khan goes against our laws and social convention, and would be punishable in various ways.
Even so, the expanse of Genghis Khan's lineage did have its benefits. The mapping of Genghis Khan’s lineage highlights two research breakthroughs. First, according to the Human Genome Project, the Y-Chromosome could help to trace ancestral lines and find out about the health issues that came with it. Second is the fact that Genghis Khan made an impact on the population of today, affecting the physical qualities of those who carry his blood. As stated in the research findings, Genghis Khan has a certain preferential liking towards certain features of women. With this, the children he fathered could possibly carry similar features as that of Genghis Khan.
The Mongolians did not share cultures with other regions the way other nations did via peaceful means; for example, trade between nations on the Silk Road. Instead, the Mongol Empire conquered the neighbouring regions, and these regions were then forced to adopt the Mongol culture. At the same time, any form of defiance to the Mongol rule was met with severe punishment, which involved the death and destruction of rebellious communities.
After Genghis Khan’s death, the rulership of the Mongol Empire was passed to Ögedei, his third son. During his ruling, there were signs of the weakening and eventual disintegration of the Mongol Empire; which first manifested in the form of the weakening link between the kurultai – Genghis Khan’s council of Mongol chiefs. The last great Khan, Kublai, was sympathetic to most religions, and adopted many Chinese laws and customs following his conquest of North China; against the will of the other Mongol leaders.
Much of the Mongol culture dissolved through the descendant empires, such as the Yuan Dynasty in China. The Mongols amalgamated with these foreign nations, diluting their original culture, and became associated with them in identity; losing the Mongol name.
The dissolution of the khan
The Mongol Empire under the rule of the Khans was short-lived, only spanning across a century or so. Though the modern Mongolians still retain the old ways to some extent – in particular their nomadic lifestyle – the Mongolian population is among the most sparse in the world. Perhaps a reason why the Mongol culture did not prevail could have been due to the extremely spread out populace; disallowing the Mongols to build a strong civilization like other modern countries/nations. Most of the other facets of Mongolian culture, such as religious beliefs, etiquette, or social stratification, have been diluted through the spread of the four descendant empires.