Although the dynasty would ultimately prove to be short-lived, lasting only until 1368, it served as a precedent for the later Qing Dynasty.Though Kublai Khan’s Chinese-centric policies had their political advantages in some parts of the empire, it also earned him enemies in others, particularly among the Mongolian aristocracy, who felt that he had betrayed his heritage.He began to drink and eat in excess, becoming overweight and developing gout. “Naadam” in Mongolian means “games,” which makes sense since the holiday is primarily centred on three Mongolian pastimes: wrestling, horse racing, and archery.Raised in the nomadic traditions of the Mongolian steppes by his father, Tolui, and mother, Sorghaghtani Beki, Kublai was taught the art of warfare from a young age and, while still a boy, became a skilled fighter, hunter and horseman.In addition, he was exposed to Chinese culture and philosophy, for which he developed an affinity that would stay with him and inform many of his decisions later in life.Their armies’ hunting tournaments and parades, nomadic wedding celebrations, and sporting competitions all fed into what later officially became Naadam.The holiday took on a more patriotic aura when it was chosen to celebrate the 1921 revolution that freed Mongolia from Chinese control.
No mere bureaucrat, Kublai also helped his brother expand the empire with successful military campaigns of his own.
He also introduced a new social structure that divided the population into four classes: The Mongolian aristocracy and a foreign merchant class were both exempt from taxation and enjoyed special privileges, while the northern and southern Chinese bore most of the empire's economic burden and were compelled to do much of the manual labor.
For his relatively benevolent reign, Kublai would eventually earn himself the nickname Wise Khan.
Kublai would gain his first real opportunity to apply his education when his brother Möngke became the Great Khan in 1251.
He placed Kublai in charge of northern China while he set out to conquer their enemies to the south.