In a small stage setting surrounded by 13th century artifacts and curious spectators, a Mongolian dance troupe performs traditional dances to ethnic music in brightly colored costumes. As they elegantly spin and jump, the dancers demonstrate what they understand to be the significance of the historical collection.
The dance troupe, composed of students originally from Mongolia, is
performing until Sept. 1 at Genghis Khan: The Exhibition in the Irving Arts Center. The exhibit includes Mongolian artifacts, small-scale weapon demonstrations, performances and video screens.
The legacy of Genghis Khan is not only evident in Mongolia. His empire’s influence is seen around the world, some historians say.
“The importance of the Mongols is that they ushered in global history,” exhibit cultural consultant Morris Rossabi said. “The greatest contacts occurred during the reign of Khubilai Khan, [Genghis Khan’s] grandson.”
Rossabi said during Khubilai Khan’s reign, the Mongols made their first contact with Europe and China, which “would have tremendous ramifications on science, philosophy and the arts” around the world.
The artifacts range from eccentric musical instruments to colorful robes, including an original diplomatic passport on display — an item that was pioneered at the time of the Mongolian Empire.
Visitors learn that Khan also introduced items still in use today such as pants, paper money, eyeglasses and forks.
The entire exhibit is kept chilly to appease the needs of the mummy known as “The Princess Giant.” She is believed to be an unusually tall noblewoman whose remains were found in a Mongolian cave. Her robes, casket and belongings suggest she was a prominent woman.
Following “The Princess Giant” is a look into the life of a warrior. Volunteers demonstrate the uses of a bow and catapult in front of full scale models of a trebuchet and triple-bow siege crossbow.
Toward the end of the exhibit, the dancers take turns performing in front of an audience of all ages. The dancers imitate animals, warriors and other aspects of their native culture.
“Dance is a big part of the Mongolian culture,” Arslanbaatar said. “In nomadic life, there’s also some spare time, so you bring out your instrument and start playing or start dancing.”
Enkhzaya Myamochir, 16, added that remembering Mongolian culture extends to the home life.
“We celebrate holidays and any type of ritual we have. We’d always keep them lively,” Myamochir said. “We try not to forget our culture as much as we can.”
Courtesy of The Shorthorn
August 23, 2011
Full article here