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The Glories of Genghis

The lords of the Steppes in all their finery

The Mongols swept into Istanbul this winter (2007), in the wake of Picasso and Rodin. The ravishing culture of the Turkic steppes was the subject of the latest stunning wxhibition at the Sakıp Sabancı Museum. In this review, Michael Franses shows that the Mongols were men of taste as well as conquest

  • Above: a 14th-century miniature painted in Tabriz, from the Diez Album in Berlin
  • Silver and silver-gilt deer, 8th century AD, crown of Bilge Khan, marble head AD 750, stone balbal 7th century AD, Kül Tigin Monument AD 732

Mongolia 2,000 years ago
The exhibition at the Sabancı Museum is not only about Genghis Khan and his heirs. It starts several centuries BC with beautiful pieces created by the peoples of the Steppes that tell us about the animals on which they depended in daily life and the mythical creatutes that saw them through to the afterlife.

A common language of symbols came to be shared for thousands of years by all ther peoples of the Steppes, particularly the Mongols and Turks. Bronze and gold objects of the first millennium BC found great distances apart show striking similarities. Horse, deer and all hunted animals were depicted with extraordinary naturalism.

First lords of the Steppes
During the first millennium AD the numerous peoples of Central Asia formed tribal alliances. They were to build great empires that expanded westwards and spread their cultures and traditions as far as Eastern Europe

To read the full article, purchase Issue 37

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Issue 37, 2007 A Riot of Textiles
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Other Highlights from Cornucopia 37
  • Silks for the Sultans

    Imperial kaftans were presented in kaleidoscopic patchworks of silk that were works of art in their own right

  • Lesley Blanch: My Life on the Wilder Shores

    She has long lived in France, but Turkey has inspired ‘pangs of longing’ since her first visit in 1946. The celebrated author of The Wilder Shores of Love and The Sabres of Paradise, talks to Philip Mansel about a life of adventure and the landscape of the heart

  • Edirne: The Forgotten City

    Once the Jewel in the Ottoman crown, Edirne is now a somnolent backwater on the Turkish borders of Greece and Bulgaria. Caroline and Andrew Finkel catch glimpses of its glorious past.

  • Hot Pots

    The Turkish yahni has evolved little since the days of Genghis Khan. Since Ottoman times it has been the same rich, satisfying dish. It fed the Janissaries, it fed the poor, it nourished students and it sustained sultans.
    More cookery features

Buy the issue
Issue 37, 2007 A Riot of Textiles
£300.00 / $382.07 / 12,439.07 TL
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