Academic ProgramsAnthropology DepartmentMacalester College

First Year Course on Genghis Khan (Chinggis Khaan)

Homepage

blood

bone

brother

dog

drink

eat

falcon

fire

heaven

horse

light

mother

water

wind

wolf

woman

 

 

FIRE

Illustration of Word

FIRE

      Mongolian forms:
Cyrillic:
 
Гал
 
Classical:


Latin:

            Gal

Literary Analysis

Fire was used in Mongolian histories in many important ways. In the Secret History, fire was often used as a point of reference in the ger. Instead of saying that someone or something was in "the middle of the ger", the "hearth-fire" was used to denote this position. Also, instead of using the door of the ger, the "door-fire" was often used instead to denote position. This showed that fire was always present in ancient Mongolian society, and still holds importance in Mongolia today.

Cultural Significance

The most common description of young Temujin in the Secret History, "He has light in his face, and fire in his eyes." Fire thus held a deep cultural significance since the most prominent figure in Mongolian history was described by fire. This meant that you could see the power and destiny of Temujin far before he was the great leader he became. Also, the "hearth-fire" was metaphorically synomums with family ties. To "extinguish ones hearth-fire" was to kill either them or their family, and sometimes both. Fire was also used in many ceremonies and held a spiritual meaning to ancient Mongolian society.

Historical Significance

The historic significance of fire to ancient Mongolian society can be seen from the humble steppe to the battlefields of the Mongolian army. Genghis Khan used fire to his advantage in siege weapons, giving him a distinct edge in warfare. He was able to attack his enemies even when they stood behind fortified city walls, taking the Mongolian campaign to a higher level. Fire was also a ever present facet of Mongolian society whether you were a soldier or a herder, so fire held a great historical significance.

Macalester Home | Directory | Site Map | Search

Macalester College · 1600 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105 · 651-696-6000