The Secret History of the Mongols

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Name(s): The Secret History of the Mongols
Abbreviation(s): Mongols
Scope/Focus: Genghis Khan and the Mongols
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The Secret History of the Mongols is the earliest work concerning Chinggis (Genghis) Khan and his peoples and, as such, it is the source text (whether directly or indirectly) for all related canon and fandom content. The Secret History was prepared for the Mongol royal family around the time of Chinggis Khan's death in 1227.

The people or characters most often explored in canon and fandom works are:

  • Temujin, who took on the formal title Chinggis Khan in 1206, and founded the Mongol Empire.
  • Jamukha, Temujin's closest friend, and later rival and frenemy.
  • Börte, Temujin's first wife, and later head of the first Court of Chinggis Khan.

While the hugely negative notion of the bloodthirsty "Mongol Hordes" has been common, there is a growing awareness now that the actual history was far more complex. Elements of Temujin's history are similar to the Arthurian concern with bringing peace and order to a disrupted country and a unity to its peoples.

Scholar Jack Weatherford describes the Mongol Empire, with its trade routes enabling shared cultures and technologies, as an intrinsic part of the Renaissance.[1] Weatherford later wrote about "the impact and legacy of Genghis Khan's daughters and Mongol queens such as Mandukhai the Wise and Khutulun".[2]

Fandoms and Fanworks

The Mongols fandom has been a scatter of disparate activities, but is slowly starting to find common ground.

Mongolian History RPF

There are currently 20 works listed in the Mongolian History RPF fandom on AO3.[3] Many of them explore women and their historical roles in Mongolian culture.

Fanart of the 13thC Mongols can be found on DeviantArt. Some of it leans heavily into the (contested and perhaps problematic) notion that Chingghis Khan had red hair and green eyes.


Star Trek (TV and film franchise, 1966)

Klingons in Canon

When Gene Roddenberry first created the Klingons for Star Trek: TOS, this alien race was described as "the Mongol Hordes with spaceships and ray guns."[4] Just as with the Mongols themselves, however, the canon and fandom views of the Klingons have evolved to take into account their complexities. As the editor of fanzine Grip observes in Issue 37 (November 1990):

They were supposed to be the all-purpose Enemy, who could be trotted out whenever one was needed. ... With the New Generation (Star Trek: TNG) and the emergence of Worf we are seeing a resurgence of interest in Klingons, beyond the simple "bugaboo" stage. Just as the popular sentiment has gone beyond the "us vs. them" mentality of the Cold War, so has the public perception of the Klingon gone beyond the ready-made villain aspect. Fans are intrigued by the bits of Klingon culture revealed in ST:NG episodes.

Klingons in Fanworks

The earlier Klingon characters were portrayed with East Asian features, as seen in these fannish artworks. Perhaps the problematic "Ming the Merciless" aspects of this[5] helps explain the Klingons' physical evolution in later Star Trek iterations.

Vulcans in Fanworks

Fan Gayle F created a band of bonded warriors on the pre-reform planet Vulcan; these are called S'Kandarai. It was noted by one fan that "they've always been reminicent of the Mongol horse warriors of about 1200 A.D., especially the costumes and braided hairdos she sometimes draws them wearing".[6]

Star Wars, Episodes 1-3 (films, 1999)

The character Padmé Amidala, Queen and Senator of Naboo, wears a fantastic range of costumes, with impressive attention paid to hair and other cosmetic styling. Much of this - especially the more formal and regal instances - is based on a variety of Asian influences, including Mongolian. In particular, at least one of her headdresses is "directly inspired by the Mongolian headdress used by women from the Khalkha Mongols tribe, one of the largest ethnic groups in Mongolia today"; an article by Georgie Juszczyk on the MongolInk site considers the question of whether this was admiration or appropriation on the part of the Star Wars producers.[7]

What is undeniable, however, is the dramatic effect of Padmé's costumes, and hence the inspiration for fanart.


Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan (film, 2007)

This 2007 film directed by Sergei Bodrov deals with Temujin's early life and is intended as the first of a trilogy.


The beautiful cinematography of this film - and the intriguing relationship between Temujin and Börte - has inspired many an animated gif and picspam on Tumblr.

Amgalant (series of novels, 2012)

Amgalant is a trilogy of novels by Bryn Hammond that brings The Secret History to vivid life. The author has begun sharing fanfic based in her own universe.


Genghis Khan (Miike Snow song, and Ninian Doff music video, 2015)

This song's lyrics declare the singer's own identification with Genghis Khan, as he knows he is behaving tyrannously towards his girlfriend. The song's accompanying music video bursts open this cliché and pushes the concept to the next level.

The music video "depicts a love story between a villain and a James Bond-esque spy", with the villain struggling to kill the captive good-guy due to his own emotions for him. The villain ends up leaving his wife in order to start a new life with the secret agent.[8][9] While the characters don't directly reference Temujin and Jamukha, they share a frenemy relationship. This has naturally captured the imagination of slash fans, with 72 fanworks relating to the video currently listed on AO3.[10]


Легенда о Коловрате | Furious (film, 2017)

Легенда о Коловрате (English title "Furious", translates as "The Legend of Kolovrat"), Russian movie from 2017, inspired some fanworks mostly in Russian language. Most of them center on Batu Khan, who is often paired with OFCs and sometimes with the movie protagonist Evpaty Kolovrat.


Other Related Fandoms

  • Genghis Khan was a character in the animated series Clone High, and is currently tagged in two works on AO3 - one of which pairs him with Julius Ceasar.[11]


  1. ^ Wikipedia page on the book Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford (2004).
  2. ^ Wikipedia page on the book The Secret History of the Mongol Queens by Jack Weatherford (2010).
  3. ^ Mongolian History RPF fandom on AO3 (accessed 1 January 2021).
  4. ^ Academic paper "Star Trek: A Phenomenon and Social Statement on the 1960s" by J. William Snyder, Jr. (1995).
  5. ^ "Yellow Peril" section of the Ming the Merciless Wikipedia page.
  6. ^ from K/S & K.S. (Kindred Spirits) #11 (1984).
  7. ^ The Secret History of Star Wars article on MongolInk (accessed 12 October 2021).
  8. ^ Wikipedia page on the Genghis Khan (Miike Snow song).
  9. ^ YouTube page for the music video.
  10. ^ Genghis Khan - Miike Snow (Music Video) fandom on AO3 (accessed 31 December 2020).
  11. ^ Genghis Khan (Clone High) character on AO3 (accessed 1 January 2021).