The erection of the statue of the Mongolian leader, Genghis Khan, at Marble Arch, caused a great deal of controversy. To give you some idea of the kind of reaction here is a quote from labour member Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg: “To erect a statue of Genghis Khan at Marble Arch is a bizarre decision, when there are so many others who have a real connection to Westminster and the Olympics and who have improved the lives of their fellow citizens. What on earth were Westminster’s Conservative Councillors thinking when they agreed to a statue of Genghis Khan at Marble Arch? Who’s next – Stalin, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein?”
And then I found this response from a reader:
“Sadly Genghis Khan has had bad PR in the west. Much of our modern civilisation is based on their empire. And, if you say it was bloody, look at the Romans, the Greeks and the British – Genghis Khan was responsible for creating a vast empire that promoted religious tolerance, outlawed torture, created trade between distant geographic nations and smashed aristocratic privilege. When in the 13th C we were burning Jews, they were accepting of everyone. I could go on and mention the fact that the Renaissance would not have happened without them, but I want to point out – you Labour councillors are actually arguing against your own principles and you display utter ignorance. I am ashamed to support you.”
Ah! the joys and trepidations of history. Who’s right? Who’s closer to the truth? I get the feeling that the Genghis Khan archetype is found in all civilizations no matter how civilized they’ve profess to be. We’ve all had our Genghis Khans in some way or other. So perhaps, just perhaps it’s fitting to have this statue in the midst of civilized London.
Three things to notice. He carries no arms (sword or spear) in his hands. His face is not that of a warring warrior, but of a thinking and contemplating leader of his people. And lastly, he has his armour on, therefore not denying the fact that he was a warrior leader, but the sculptor, Dashi Namdakov, has obviously toned his person down and portrayed him differently from the traditional Western perception.