An exhibition on Genghis Khan at the Nantes History Museum censored by China

This was to be the event of the Nantes History Museum in the first half of 2021. Several years of work and the collaboration of researchers and academics had been necessary to mount an exhibition devoted to the history of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire. .

Two hundred and twenty-five coins, including imperial seals and gold objects from the 13th centurye and XIVe centuries never seen in France, were to make the trip to Nantes

Carried out in partnership with the Museum of Inner Mongolia in Hohhot, China, which has a rich archaeological, artistic and cartographic collection on this subject, it aimed to highlight one of the greatest conquerors in history. , born around 1160 and died in 1227, founder of the Empire bearing his name. Two hundred and twenty-five coins, including imperial seals and gold objects from the 13th centurye and XIVe centuries never seen in France, were to make the trip to Nantes.

Scheduled for October 2020, the exhibition, adapted from a first presentation made at the Netherlands Military Museum, in Soesterberg, in 2017, had been postponed due to health constraints due to Covid-19. However, it will ultimately not take place in its initial form due to acts “Censorship of central Chinese authorities”, deplores Bertrand Guillet, director of the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany-Nantes History Museum.

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Beijing’s interventions to change the content of the exhibition are an illustration, according to the director, of the “Hardening of the position of the Chinese government against the Mongolian minority”. Located in northern China, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region is populated by 4.2 million Mongols, who make up 17 percent of the region’s population. Demonstrations took place in September to protest against Beijing’s desire to impose Mandarin in school curricula.

Read the article (from September 2020): Chinese Mongols demonstrate in defense of their language and identity

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As a first step, details Bertrand Guillet, the Chinese authorities asked to remove elements of vocabulary – the words “Genghis Khan”, “Empire” and “Mongol”. The title is modified for a more vague formulation: “Son of the sky and the steppes”. “We had tried to trick by using this more poetic formulation, while keeping the name of Genghis Khan in the subtitle”, indicates the director.

Bertrand Guillet, director of the museum: “With this exhibition, our objective was to promote Mongolian culture. In counterpoint, apparently, with what China wants to write about its history ”

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