Genghis Khan

Genghis KhanWhen a man gets drunk on wine and tarasun [rice wine], he is just like a blind man who can’t see anything, a deaf man who can’t hear when he’s called, and a mute who can’t reply when he’s spoken to. When a man gets drunk he is like someone in a state of death: he can’t sit up straight even if he wants to. He’s as dazed and senseless as someone who’s been hit over the head. Neither are there intelligence and skill in a wine-drinker nor are there morals or good conduct. He does bad things: he fights and kills. It keeps a person from doing the things he knows how to do and from practising the skills he possesses, and when one loses these two, [it is like bringing food from the fire and throwing it into the water]. If a ruler is avid for wine and tarasun, he cannot perform weighty deeds and important functions; any officer who drinks too much wine or tarasun is incapable of commanding his unit; a guard who is avid for drinking wine will suffer great catastrophe; common people who like to drink will lose their flocks and herds and everything they possess and go bankrupt; a servant who is addicted to drink will pass his days in torment. Wine and tarasun make the heart drunk, and they intoxicate good and bad people alike [so that one] is unable to say whether [a thing] is good or bad. They intoxicate the hand so that it is incapable of holding; they intoxicate the foot so that it cannot walk; they intoxicate the heart so that it cannot have correct thoughts; they keep all the senses and limbs from functioning. If one must drink, then let one drink thrice a month, for more is bad. If one gets drunk twice a month, it is better; if one gets drunk once a month, that is better still; and if one doesn’t drink at all, that is the best of all.

1 thought on “Genghis Khan

  1. shinichi Post author

    Genghis Khan and Mongol Rule

    by George Lane


    Document 4

    Chinngis Khan on Wine

    This short piece on Chinggis Khan’s attitude toward wine is interesting because it seems to contradict the usual picture painted of the Mongols as hard-drinking drunkards. Alcohol was definitely a central component of Mongol social life, and drunkenness was not generally frowned on. The Qa’an, Ögedei, was famous for his drinking, drunkenness, and his futile attempts to give up. Both he and the Il-Khan, Abaqa Khan (d. 1282), are commonly assumed to have died of alcohol abuse. It was reputedly a common cause of death among the Mongols. It is for these reasons that Rashīd al-Dīn’s quotation of Chinggis Khan’s words of wisdom concerning wine comes as a curious surprise.


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