In Qara Qorum did Ogedei KhanKajmeister, riffing on Samuel Coleridge
A stately Mongol palace built
A courtyard tree sounded angel horns
And snakes of silver guilt
The Mongols swept across Asia in the early thirteenth century, conquering the cities along the Silk Road, using a combination of brutal and brilliant military tactics accompanied by innovative siege weaponry. They extracted wealth from places like Merv, Zhongdu, Baghdad, and Samarkand on a massive scale, until the cartloads of goods flowed into Mongolia like a “river of silk” as Mongolian chronicler Jack Weatherford said.
It was as though [Chinggis] Genghis Khan had rerouted all the different twisting channels of the Silk Route, combined them into one large stream, and redirected it northward to spill out across the Mongols steppes.Jack Weatherford, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
A Palace of Their Own
What might a nomadic people do with all that treasure? Ogodei, son of Chinggis Khan, built a palace. It was called Qara Qorum or Kharakorum, meaning black walls, tall with “lofty pillars” according to Rashad al-Din, the historian. It was a place that looked good for a large camp of Mongols nomads, with ample water, high winds to drive away bugs, and mountains as a sanctuary for the herds.Continue reading “Q is for Qara Qorum”