Princess of Altai Mountains

Mountain plateau Ukok is located in the south of the Altai Mountains at a height of about three kilometers above sea level  and has long been considered a sacred territory.

ukok1The plateau borders with Russia, China, Mongolia, and Kazahstan. According to indigenous Altai tribes, exactly here, at the foot of the great mountains Tavyn Bogdo Ola, the mountainous  world, the second layer of the heavens begins.

Even today modern day Altai residents believe that this is a a closed area,  which can not be disturbed in vain, and if a person comes into this place with bad intentions, his family will have an  inevitable punishment.

Local residents are afraid to go up to the glacier, firmly believing there are living spirits there and consider the mountains to be sacred. Any form of regular activities is prohibited, except for the ritual ones, which is allowed only for the shamans.


It is difficult to get here, from a helicopter you can see a breathtaking, beautiful and eerie view with giant, towering boulders, steep cliffs, and the river Ak-Alah. Perhaps there is no other  place in the Altai more fantastic and unearthly than this one.

There is the following explanation of the name of  Ukok plateau, in Mongolian uheg literally means extended cabinet, drawer, a massive mountain or large hill with a flat top.

Ukok in Kyrgyz language is used to describe  mountains with flat peak. The word “Ukek” was used as the name of the city in the ancient Bulgar kingdom, the ruins of which were found near Saratov.

Burial complexes on Ukok Plateau also have a sacred character. It was here, near the border with China, the researchers found a buried mummy of a young woman, who was probably revered as goddess during her lifetime.

On her left shoulder there is a well-preserved tattoo with a depicted sacred symbol, the Altaic griffin. This wonderful lady was named the Altai Princess.

What makes this burial unique is that six chestnut horses were buried together with the woman … According to Chinese mythology, these horses were called cylin heavenly horses that were able to take a man to ascend to dizzying heights.


They were a mixture with a griffin and were associated with the image of the Mother Goddess, who gave birth to the whole human race.

The vestment of the woman is also very unusual. Her clothes were made of fine silk, and  framed with thick red belt.

Archaeologists believe that this is the sign mark of a warrior and of an initiate. Her tall hat with golden complex decorations says of her magic power, according to ancient beliefs she was a keeper of secrets of creation and immortality.

Local residents claim that they have always known about the burial on the plateau Ukok and their ancestress named Kadyn, but did not dare to disturb her sacred dream.

The ancient Greek historian Herodotus, a contemporary of the mysterious Princess, was writing about Scythians, the tribes inhabiting the mountainous Altai, who were able to shape-shift into griffins guarding the gold. These unknown beings were very tall and had  an unearthly appearance.

Herodotus says that the Scythians had their kings, which were governed by a Great Mother, the ruler of Scythians. The graves of this period are full images with eared griffins and mythological creatures guarding the gold. On the plateau Ukok they are especially many.

One of them, the largest one, was found applied to the human body. Perhaps this stamped tattoo  on her shoulder was the sign of great priestess of Scythians.

According to an anthropological reconstruction, people of that era were rather tall, with large heads, and most likely, it was a mixture of various ethnicities. It also looks like the women were wearing wigs and used cosmetics.teletskoe-ozero-shambala1

The bodies of both men and women from Princess Ukok times were covered with tattoos, with themes strictly subject to the general concepts of the three-level structure of the world. On their feet there were images of fish, symbolizing  the underworld, arms and body were covered with animals and scenes of confrontation of predators symbolizing the middle”earth” and in the upper arm there were images of birds or other solar symbols.

Part of Ukok Plateau is a protected area, called the Natural Park “Ukok Quiet Zone.” The area is of ​​252,904 hectares. The facility is listed as a World Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO.

By E.Baldaeva

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