Decision : 33 COM 8B.16
Cultural properties - Properties deferred or referred back by previous sessions of the World Heritage Committee - Sulamain-Too Sacred Mountain (Kyrgyzstan)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-09/33.COM/8B and WHC-09/33.COM/INF.8B1.Add,

2. Inscribes Sulamain-Too Sacred Mountain, Kyrgyzstan, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criteria (iii) and (vi);

3. Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

Brief Synthesis

Sulaiman-Too Mountain dominates the surrounding landscape of the Fergana Valley and forms the backdrop to the city of Osh. In mediaeval times Osh was one of the largest cities of the fertile Fergana valley at the crossroads of important routes on the Central Asian Silk Roads system, and Sulaiman-Too was a beacon for travellers. For at least a millennium and a half Sulaiman-Too has been revered as a sacred mountain. Its five peaks and slopes contain a large assembly of ancient cult places and caves with petroglyphs, all interconnected with a network of ancient paths, as well as later mosques. The mountain is an exceptional spiritual landscape reflecting both Islamic and pre-Islamic beliefs and particularly the cult of the horse. Sulaiman-Too corresponds closely to iconic images in the Universe of Avesta and Vedic traditions: a single mountain with a peak dominating four others, standing in the virtual centre of a vast river valley, and surrounded by and related to other mountains in the landscape system.

Criterion (iii): The rich concentration of material evidence for cult practices preserved on Sulaiman-Too mountain from pre- and post-Islamic times, together with its 'ideal' form present the most complete picture of a sacred mountain anywhere in Central Asia.

Criterion (vi): Sulaiman-Too presents exceptionally vivid evidence for strong traditions of mountain worship which have spanned several millennia and been absorbed successfully by Islam. It has had a profound effect over a wide part of Central Asia.

Integrity and Authenticity

The authenticity of the mountain, its cult places, uses and functions are without doubt, even given the numerous interventions over the past 50 years. However, since the sacred associations of the mountain are linked to its dramatic form rising from the surrounding plain, it is highly vulnerable to continuing new development on it and around its base. In order to protect its majesty, spirituality, visual coherence and setting and thus the full authenticity of the property, great vigilance will be needed in enforcing protection of its setting. The integrity of the mountain relies on protection of the cult places and their connecting paths as well as their visual linkages and views to and from the mountain.

Management and protection requirements

The management of the mountain and its setting is coordinated by a Site Management Council who oversees the implementation of the Management Plan and Action Plan. Its effective protection relies on approval of an agreed zoning arrangement within the Osh Master Plan. To protect the property and its buffer zone against modern developments during the period before the completion and final approval of the Legal Protection Zoning Document and the Osh Urban Master Plan, a map showing the agreed boundaries of the nominated area, of the buffer zone and its sub-zones have been distributed as a reference to the responsible agencies of the Osh oblast, Osh city, Karasu district and Kyzylkyshtak rural area.

4. Recommends that the State Party should give consideration to the following:

a) Define urgently a sustainable tourism strategy that addresses visitor access issues and protection of the sacred sites and petroglyphs from visitor impacts;

b) Ensure that the proposed upgrading of the Sulaiman-Too National Historical and Archaeological Museum Complex's status will bring benefit in respect of funding, staffing (expertise on the conservation of petroglyph sites) and increased possibilities for capacity building;

c) Recommends to the State Party to integrate in the management plan measures which limit environmental degradation from uncontrolled access.

Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
States Parties: Kyrgyzstan
Year: 2009
Decision Code: 33 COM 8B.16