The undefeated wrestler princess c.1260-c.1306
Genghis Khan’s great-great-granddaughter had one rule: if you wanted to marry her, you had to beat her in wrestling and if you lost, you owed her 100 horses. She ended up with 10,000 horses and no husband. An expert equestrian, archer and athlete, Khutulun was famous for splitting off from the Mongol forces and quickly picking off enemies, just to intimidate them. She left quite the impression on historical tourists like Marco Polo and Rashid al-din. She even shows up in the Netflix series
Marco Polo, although her character there is an utter betrayal of her historical personage: the on-screen woman is immediately thrust into a Romeo-and-juliet relationship that never existed. Sad as this is, it’s hardly the first time her story has been warped – she is also the inspiration for the story, and later opera, Turandot. In that European retelling of her life, she becomes a woman who challenges her suitors with riddles instead of wrestling, killing them if they lose. The opera is about her finally giving in to love. While the West may continue mangling her legacy, the Mongolians of today still find ways to subtly revere her. Notably, traditional Mongolian wrestler outfits are open-chested to show that the contestant is not a woman, in deference to the undefeated Khutulun.
“While the West may continue mangling her legacy, the Mongolians of today still find ways to subtly revere her”
Can’t you just imagine a musical number happening this funny scene? in