Sacred Binder Mountain and its Associated Cultural Heritage Sites
Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO
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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party
Located in Batshireet soum of Khentii province, sacred Binder Mountain and its associated cultural heritage sites are inseparable part of the Khentii Mountain rang in centre of which the Mongolian most sacred mountain Burkhan Khaldun is situated.
Proposed property and the sacred Burkhan Khaldun Mountain are located in same geographical zone and belong to same type of cultural landscape of same historic-cultural group, though they situated separately from each other. The nominated property bears an exceptional evidence of the existence of human beings within grassland steppe region at the juncture of Central and North East Asia, which offers a uniquely extensive view of nomadic culture and its communities from Palaeolithic time to the present.
There are many cultural, archaeological and worship vestiges dated from Palaeolithic period through the Bronze, Iron Ages and the successive historical periods including the Binder Ovoo (cairn) of the sacred Binder Mountain, stone aged archaeological sites of Rashaan Khad, the huge number of burial and ceremonial sites, deer stones and rock arts, within and around of the nominated landscape.
Within the nominated area, near the Binder Ovoo is located very famous heritage site of Rashaan Khad (rock) which embraces Palaeolithic, Neolithic Age ancient human settlements, and Hunnu, Kitan and Mongolian burial sites, rock arts, carvings of hundreds of tribal stamps and around twenty inscriptions in Orkhon-Enisei, Kitanese, Arabic-Persian, Chinese, Tibetan and Mongolian scripts covering a range of various historical periods starting from the upper Palaeolithic to the middle Ages.
The Uglugchiin Kherem or Almsgiver’s Wall is situated 8-10 km from the Binder Ovoo. This stone masonry wall with a length of approximately 3 km is laid out orderly and accurately supporting the mountain. Mongolian historian Kh. Perlee supposed that the site dates back to the Kitan Empire relying on findings and fragments of clay potteries discovered from the site.
Binder’s deer stone site is located about 2 km to the north of the Binder Ovoo. In addition to the main deer stone the site encloses 12 square burials, and two other smaller deer stones. The main deer stone is of 230 cm tall, 42 cm wide and 30 cm thick and covered with seven carved depictions of deer which go all the way around the stone.
These very rich and important cultural and worship sites are the explicit indication that the this landscape round the Binder Mountain has long standing sacred associations for the ancestors of nomadic people.
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
Sacred Binder Mountain and its associated cultural monuments and sites are an outstanding example of evolving sacred cultural landscape. Through sustainable land-use practices of nomadic pastoralism and shamanistic, religious and spiritual relationship and respect to nature, has created the specific nomadic civilization that has been evolved from prehistoric origins in harmony with the natural landscape of the vast grassland steppes.
Today, Mongolian herders who are living around the area of sacred Binder Mountain are still experiencing the nomadic pastoralism and culture, way of life, custom and traditional craftsmanship technique, traditional performing arts and festive events left by ancestors within the territory of the landscape.
The sacred Binder Mountain and historic and cultural sites including the Rashaan Khad, Almsgiver’s Wall and others vestiges illustrate outstanding example of sacred landscape that reflects a persistent and long lasting tradition of culture of worship and practices of sacred sites since a prehistoric times.
Criterion (ii): The proposed sacred landscape illustrates a unique fusion between Shamanism and Buddhism. Through stone inscriptions in different languages, it demonstrates the important interchanges and development of some world spiritual and religious cultures in remote part of Central Asian steppe belt.
Criterion (iii): Proposed property is exceptional testimony to unique cultural tradition and practices of the worshipping and offering for sacred mountain by Mongolian nomadic people within a cultural area of Eurasia.
Criterion (v): Proposed sacred landscape is an outstanding example of traditional land-use and specific culture of nomadic pastoralism which evolved from prehistoric origins in harmony with the natural landscape of the grassland steppes and resulted in developing unique social and cultural environments of nomadic civilization.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
Authenticity: By virtue of longstanding worshipping practices, their isolated settings within the nomadic pastoral environment, their partial inclusion in a national strictly protected area, the sacred Binder Mountain and its associated cultural heritage sites suffered little human adverse impact over the years until now.
In this respect and with the exception of problems arising from the natural disasters and environmental factors, natural and both tangible and intangible cultural values within the proposed property are in a good state of preservation relative to all other major sacred sites in Mongolia.
Proposed landscape preserves the real pactoral management regime of the grassland steppe and nomadic way of life with herdsmen moving their flocks in season transhumance.
Integrity: The nominated property includes within its boundary all the elements necessary to express its outstanding universal value. Its completeness is represented by the fact that the main worshipping Ovoo (cairn) of sacred Binder Mountain exists today in an original form and also other monuments and sites are located at initial sites in good state of conservation and preservation within the nominated area.
Comparison with other similar properties
On global level, the nominated properties can be firstly compared with sacred mountains that were already inscribed in the WHL, which are considered and known as most sacred.
A number of sacred mountains of the world have been inscribed on the World Heritage List under natural or cultural criteria, and sometimes as mixed property examples of which are: Mount Athos of Greece (C-I. II, IV,VI), (N-VII), Tongariro of New Zealand (C-I, VI) (N-VII, VIII), Machu Picchu of Peru (C-I. III,) (N-VII, IX), Mount Kenya of Kenya (N-VII, IX), Kilimanjaro of Tanzania (N-VII), Mount Taishan (C-I-VI) (N-IX), Mount Emei (C-IV, VI) (N-VII), Mount Huang Shan (C-II), (N-IX,X), Mount Wuyi (C-III,VI),(N-IX,X) of China, Sacred Kii Mountain Range of Japan (C-II, III, IV, VI), Sulaiman-Too Sacred Mountain of Kyrgyzstan (C-III, VI) and some others. Addition to these sacred mountains, there are some very famous and well known in the world sacred mountains as mount Khailas (Tibet), Fuji (Japan), Mount Everest (Sagarmatha) (Nepal), Otgon Tenger (Mongolia) and others. Many of these mountains clearly embrace certain characteristics of the sacredness.
Comparing sacred Binder Mountain and associated sacred landscape with above mentioned other sacred or worshipped mountains; there are several similar characteristics and cases. For example Mount Tai Shan is a symbol of Chinese nation and ancient civilization and spiritual homeland of China. Mount Athos is a self-governing monastic Republic within Greece. It is a symbol and spiritual homeland of Orthodox Chiristaining and its civilization. Mount Fuji is most symbolic mountain for Japanese nation and culture and spiritual homeland of Japan. Sacred Binder Mountain together with Mount Burkhan Khaldun is a cradle place of the origins of Mongolian nation and its symbol and spiritual homeland of Mongolia, and also a one of cradle place and epitome of Mongolian nomadic civilization.
All of them have of exceptional religious cultural significance in connection with a worship practices and ritual ceremonies. The Tai Shan is associated with Confucianism founded by Confucius in this area while the Fuji with Shintoism, the principal religion for Japanese people, the Athos with Christian world, but sacred Binder Mountain deeply associated with native for the nomadic people shamanistic beliefs and later Mongolian Buddhism.
The Sulaiman-Too Sacred Mountain is inscribed on the WHL as a representative of most complete picture of a sacred mountain of Central Asia. In term of worshipping tradition and practices the Sulaiman-Too and the sacred Binder Mountain both have strong traditions of worship span several millennia, contain many anceint cult places interconnected by many historic and cultural monuments and sites. But as Sulaiman-Too and its sacred landscape, and other cultural sites reflect the fusion of ancient religious belief and Islamism, while the sacred Binder Mountain and its sacred landscape represent the fusion of shamanism, rooted in the ancient tradition of nature worshiping practices of nomadic people, and Buddhism which has introduced from Tibet.
Comparing the sacred Binder Mountain and surrounding landscape also with other most sacred mountains of the world, we note the some very distinctive features and differences of sacred the Binder Mountain from the compared world sacred mountains.
In nominated property what is distinctive is the natural combination of grassland nomadic culture with the longstanding shamanistic and religious tradition and customs of the benevolence and respect towards nature and sacred sites that are interconnected via tangible and intangible treads of spiritual and ancestral trails, cultural meanings and religious beliefs with a profound sense of piety and sanctity.
The Burkhan Khaldun and Binder Mountains have similar sacred characteristics in general with other sacred mountains including Bogd Khan and Otgontenger Mountains. They have very specific exceptional additional features and values which are not to be found in any of this serial and other sacred mountains in Mongolia. For example:
- Burkhan Khladun and Binder mountains are cradle place of origins of Mongolian nationhood and historical spiritual homeland of Mongolian people and national symbol and totem of Mongolia.
- Burkhan Khaldun and Binder Mountains have outstanding historical values associated with the history of Asia and the World. These sacred mountains and their surrounding areas are the birthplace of the Mongolian Empire which profoundly changed and shaped Eurasia in the XII-XIV centuries. There are no exact analogues to these mountains not only in Mongolia but in the World.
- Nominated mountain and surrounding sacred landscapes are holy place of Mongolian people near which Chinggis Khan was born and where probably was buried.
- Great Burkhan Khaldun Mountain and its surrounding sacred landscape including sacred Binder Mountain has a close link with worldwide famous documentary heritage, the “Secret History of the Mongols”.