Revive Altai cultural/environmental sustainability

Sep 16, 2013

Hitching posts anchor Altai people between the three worlds

A hitching post
A hitching post

The Altai people deeply spiritual, but they are also semi-nomadic horsemen, so it is fitting that the an object as practical as a hitching post is central to their sacred culture.

The deep symbology of the hitching post serves the Altai people in their efforts to sustain their culture, so that they can continue to care for their traditional lands, which are sacred to them. Even though many Altai families are now living in cities far from their beloved horses, ceremonial installation of a hitching post can serve to tie them to their ancient culture. This is one of the projects which your donations support.

A home's hitching post documents who lives there

As late as the middle of the 20th Century, every Altai home had a hitching post, installed on the right side of the home. Horses were tied to it, but it was also constructed to document information about the ancestral lineage of the family. A similar post was installed inside the yurt, to document information about how many sons and daughters the family had, the year the couple was married, and more.

The symbology of the hitching post

The design of the hitching post conveys the Altai cosmology of the three worlds. The upper part of the post rests against the sky and connects people here on Earth with those in the afterllife. The middle rests on the ground and is the backbone of life on Earth. The buried section represents the underworld -- that which is hidden from our awareness.

Ceremony to maintain the connection between the three worlds

A hitching post is installed is more than a concrete material object. To pay homage to the upper world, people put food at the base of the hitching post to satisfy people in the afterlife. People give thanks, say blessings, sing songs, and conduct other ceremonies. Through the post, Altai people can speak to the other worlds.

When we ceremonially install a hitching post, it is a fusion of the material and the spiritual -- an moment of intimate knowledge about life. Thank you for enabling such joyful rituals to continue.


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Altai Mir University

Shoreline, WA, United States

Project Leader

Carol Hiltner

Shoreline, Washington United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Revive Altai cultural/environmental sustainability