At the beginning of the Field Museum's latest exhibit, Genghis Khan, a model of the legendary warrior sits with a spirit banner on either side: a black banner for war and a white banner for peace, introducing visitors immediately to the two sides of Khan.
For his black side, there are ancient swords and armor, as well as replicas of larger weapons and videos of battle re-enactments. While most people remember Khan for his mighty Mongolian empire, the largest ever created, he also was a man of progress. For his white side, visitors learn how Khan would impose laws on his conquered lands concerning everything from murder and adultery to picking up litter. Khan is to thank for modern-day conveniences like forks, the postal service and eyeglasses.
The exhibit also educates visitors on the life of all Mongolian nomads. A replica of a Ger, or a hut made mostly from felt that housed an entire family, helps explain the lifestyle and habits of these 13th century families. And the remains of a woman are displayed along with tokens she was buried with, clues to what her daily routine may have included. Visitors also learn about the role of Buddhism, music and even Marco Polo.
During my Genghis Khan visit, it seemed boys ages 8-12 and adults enjoyed it the most. Some of the videos and artifacts can be a bit graphic, but the exhibit provides a great history lesson.
Alaina is the digital content editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Chicago.
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