The great Khan Batu, who ruled the Golden Horde, ordered to make 2 figures of horses in natural growth out of gold. After Khan’s death, these sculptures disappeared. According to some reports, you need to look for them in the Volgograd region. Other researchers claim that the golden horses were buried in the area of Feodosia.
Legends about the existence of gold full-weight sculptures depicting horses have been forcing many treasure hunters to go in search of them for several centuries. The famous golden horses of Batu once decorated one of the entrances to the capital of the Golden Horde. Yet, for 6 centuries now, the legendary statues have disappeared without a trace, and no one will dare to say with accuracy whether they really were. And if there were, where to look for them today?
The history of the golden horses of Batu Khan
The Mongol Empire existed for 428 years, and during its heyday, it was so large that it was impossible to manage it centrally. It was divided into uluses, the largest of which, known to us as the Golden Horde state, existed for almost 300 years. Of these, the Golden Horde dominated Russia for 245 years, lived at the expense of the Russian population, and enriched itself with its labors.
At that time, one of the richest states occupied a vast territory of 6 million square kilometers from Central Siberia to the Black Sea and from the Volga region to the territories of modern Kazakhstan.
The first Golden Horde khan was Batu. The Khan needed the capital of a new vast state, where his tributaries would come to bow to him. And the capital was built on the territory of the present Astrakhan region. It was a rich multinational city, which could hardly be compared to any of the Russian cities of that era. There was everything here: temples of many faiths, statues and fountains, and even running water.
According to many contemporaries, the entrance to the Horde’s capital Sarai-Batu or Sarai al-Mahrus was decorated with statues of two life-size golden horses. The fact that the golden horses existed for certain is confirmed by the written testimony of a contemporary of Guillaume de Rubruk, the ambassador of Louis IX of France.
He writes: “Even from afar, we saw a sparkle at the gate and decided that a fire had started in the city. When we got closer, we realized that it was two life-size golden statues of horses shining in the rays of the rising sun.”
Steeds have always been faithful companions of nomadic Mongols, so the statues of horses are very symbolic of the capital of the Horde.
In addition, there is a legend: when Batu Khan’s beloved horse died, he ordered all the gold collected by the tribute to be poured into a statue of a horse in memory of a faithful friend. After the Khan came up with the idea to create a double horse and put both of them to guard the entrance to the capital in order to surprise the numerous guests of the city and demonstrate their wealth and greatness.
Batu Khan died in 1256. His brother Berke became the fifth ruler of the Golden Horde and built a new capital, even richer and more extensive. The new Shed or Shed-Berke was already located on the territory of the modern Volgograd region. The golden horses were also transported there.
The defeat of Mamai and the disappearance of the horse
A hundred years have passed. The Golden Horde and its capital grew rich due to tribute and trade. Its khans were fewer and fewer warriors, and more and more became pampered and greedy for money and power rulers. The death of the eighth Horde Khan Berdibek marked the beginning of the great turmoil. Several contenders entered the struggle for power over the vast territories of the Central Asian state at once, one of which was the commander Mamai.
The Russian princes, tired of the burden of the Tatar-Mongol yoke, also did not hesitate to take advantage of the moment. They gave the Khan’s troops a battle that went down in history as the legendary Battle of Kulikovo and defeated the Tatars. Mamai fled to Crimea, where he eventually died.
There is a version that Mamai took one of the golden horses with him during his flight. Subsequently, the supposedly Tatar-Mongol commander was buried there with honors along with his trophy – a horse made of noble metal. According to another version, the horse was buried in the grave of one of the last Genghisids – the true hereditary khans of the Horde.
According to these versions, the golden horse should be sought either in the Volgograd region or near Feodosia. But this is only one horse out of a pair. Where could the second statue weighing about 15 tons have gone?
The legend of the abduction of the golden horse from Sarai-Berke
And again, we embark on the path of legends, conjectures and legends. The most common tale is that the second precious horse was taken out of Sarai-Berke by a Cossack detachment. In the last years of the existence of the Golden Horde, these desperate warriors often visited the capital of the Khanate. By that time, the state was torn apart by internal strife and was hardly able to fight back against external enemies. And there was still something to profit from in the Barn. It was the rich booty that so attracted the Cossack detachments.
Just such a fair profit was the second golden horse. But a small army, accustomed to traveling light, could not carry a heavy cargo far away. Most likely, the precious trophy was hidden somewhere near the capital: buried or drowned in the river.
If so, no one still knows whether the desperate Cossacks managed to return for the loot or whether they were all killed. And whether the golden statue is still waiting when it is discovered.
A beautiful legend or real treasures
Many adventurers started hunting for Batu’s golden horses, guided by fragmentary knowledge from legends and legends. It is likely that the famous sculptures were melted down during the existence of the Horde. Another outcome is also possible. The horses could have been taken with them by another great Mongol conqueror Tamerlane, who finally wiped out the once-prosperous Sarai-Berke from the face of the earth.
However, according to some reports, various treasures were repeatedly found on the territory of the former Golden Horde. Currently, these territories are partially a nature reserve. It is possible that all the riches of this land will sooner or later be brought to the surface.