Genghis Khan (born Temüjin), is reputed to have been born with a blood clot in his right hand.

Then Yisügei-ba’atur plundered Temüjin-üge, Qoribuga, and other Tatars. On his return, Lady Hö’elün was pregnant. They were at Deli’ün-boldaq on the Onon when Chinggis Qahan was born. At the time of his birth, he held in his right hand a clot of blood as big as a knucklebone. Born at the time of the capture of the Tatar Temüjin-üge, they thought to name him Temüjin.
The Secret History of the Mongols, trans. Urgunge Onon, page 57

I've seen vague statements of this being an auspicious sign for his birth, others claiming it to be a sign of leadership, and others taking it for a sign of bloodlust. The latter explanation I seem to see least commonly, and looks a bit like a westernized misunderstanding at first blush, but it does seem to be the interpretation taken later in The Secret History of the Mongols:

Accidentally issuing from my hot [womb],
this one was born holding a black clot of blood in his hand.
Like the qasar dog gnawing on its own afterbirth,
like a panther attacking on a rocky mountain,
like a lion unable to control its anger,
The Secret History of the Mongols, trans. Urgunge Onon, page 69

So, are there other sources to attest to the meaning of being born holding a blood clot? What was the traditional meaning of it in the Mongolian traditions of the time?

  • Great question. I would like to see more like it: most of the questions lately have been really easy to answer, and I have a feeling that this won't be.
    – user62
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 4:16
  • 1
    All I can find is various references to Mongol folklore that it signifies the child will be a great leader. Being a mostly oral tradition until the conquest of China its hard to pin down a definitive source from the Mongols themselves, only modern commentators that state this. The death and destruction does therefore seem to be a Western corruption of the true Mongol meaning. Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 11:46
  • @CearonO'Flynn - Definitely my immediate response, but it's in "the Secret History", so it's a bit harder to just dismiss. Probably unlikely to be a Western corruption, at any rate.
    – femtoRgon
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 19:53
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    Apparently someone wrote an article about this, I unfortunately do not have access to it.
    – plannapus
    Commented Apr 14, 2016 at 9:41
  • @plannapus - Nice find. Unfortunately I don't have access to it either (nor do I read Mandarin). Still, the abstract is something to go on!
    – femtoRgon
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 21:10

1 Answer 1


In shamanic cultures a child born with something special: hair, tooth, extra toe or finger or blood clot is considered as special sign. In Hungarian mythology these children are considered as táltos. They are born leaders mostly in a spiritual sense. Also some children born with a blood clot or placenta covering a part of their body has a special meaning. The right hand being involved is usually a sign of leadership. (When the head is covered it means that either the child can communicate outside the our physical world or means great intellect.)

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