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— The Celestial Horses of Davan
Brino De Cordier has worked for several years, and traveled extensively, in Kyrgyzstan. He writes:

Aravan is a predominantly ethnic-Uzbek district center 23 km west of Osh and home to petroglyphs (carved stones) called «The Celestial Horses of Davan». The petroglyps, who date from the first century BC, are carved on a near-vertical rock face next to a cemetary and represent solar symbols and the legendary Ferghana horses which were much sought after by Chinese emperor Wu-Di in the second century BC. The site was archaeologically researched from the 1930s to the 1980s, and excavations at the foot of the rock produced evidence of animal sacrifice sites. Today, the horse carvings and nearby spring are still a local pilgrimage site and there is a small mosque. As a matter of fact, there are far more modern-day graffiti than ancient petroglyphs on the rock since a local superstition considers it as a luckbringer to have your name eternalized on the rocks. This is actually another good example of the influence of pre-Islamic animist practices that prevail in Central Asian Islam. There is said to be caves with more petroglyphs close to the sanatorium of Aravan, so bring a maglite or st. if you plan to look for those.

The Celestial Horses site itself is just near the local hospital when you are about to enter Aravan, on your right hand side when coming from Osh. The green wooden gate has a sign saying (in Kyrgyz) ’Dül dül at. Ziyarat zhai«. It can be done as a half-day excursion from Osh. Shared taxis (inexpensive, about half an hour) for Aravan stand on Alisher Navoi küçasi, about 100 m west of the crossing with Kurmanjan Datka. During the trip you will pass right near the barbed wire fences and watchtowers on the Uzbek border, giving you a glimpse on the virtual «Iron Curtain» that Uzbekistan is currently erecting along its borders.

Please note, the site of the Celestial Horses in Aravan is an example of living Central Asian Sufism, i. e. a site of religious significance — not a sterilized ’monument’ or ersatz culture, and so visitors should dress modestly when visiting, (of course, this doesn't mean that they have to put on a burkha but do stick to long trousers for men and women, long-sleeved t-shirts for women, but not Britney Spears-tops and other Jennifer Lopez-outfits etc.).

Nearby are the caves of Chil Ustin.

Comments on article

  • Bakhrom said...
  • I liked commentary regarding what kind of closing to wear while visiting celestial Horses of Davan, really funny
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  • Aravan from Kyrgyz Travel Encyclopedia




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