Another week, another Fierce Female to feature! Qutulun – sometimes referred to as Khutulun – was a Mongol Princess from the 1200s, who embodied all of the traits of a true warrior Goddess. She made an agreement with her father that if she were to marry, she would get to choose her suitor, and he would have to beat her at wrestling. Yep, you read that right – wrestling. Qutulun was a tall, muscular, fighting woman who insisted that, if someone wanted to marry her, they must beat her and, if they lost, they must then give her 100 horses. Long story short – no one beat her, and she was reported to have over 10,000 horses thanks to her wrestling skills.
Men were absolutely fascinated by her; both Rashid al-Din and Marco Polo wrote about her strength in both her suitor-wrestling as well as her military skills. As daughter to Qaidu, who was the most powerful ruler of a large portion of what is now parts of China, India, Siberia, and Mongolia, Qutulun was allowed to lead parts of their military and she fiercely led them into battle many times, thought by some to resemble a giantess on the front lines. Her skills in battle were rivalled by none, and she returned home safely after each battle.
Qutulun was also highly sought after for her advice, strategy, and political knowledge, and she was one of her father’s most trusted advisors prior to his death. Many stories were written about her – all fictional, loosely based on her life, such as this play, this opera, and Qutulun is even featured in the new series currently on Netflix called Marco Polo. During the time of her life, as well as for a period after her death, she was often referred to as the “ideal Mongolian Woman”, who was intelligent, strong, athletic, and fierce above all else.
After her father’s death, she was unable to take his position, as it was still within the rules of the time that women would not be able to succeed the throne – though it is speculated that prior to his death, her father attempted to have her named as his successor to the throne, to the opposition of all the male relatives. Qutulun, of course, challenged this rule – being the awesome feminist rule-breaker that she was – but it was to no avail. Her brother then took over, and was quickly defeated, causing the opposing force to annihilate their entire bloodline, including Qutulun. Fierce to the end, a truly inspiring woman!
Many have quoted; “Qutulun needs a husband like a fish needs a bicycle.”
If you’d like to learn more about Qutulun, check out this podcast for free – number 181!