Tuva is a Siberian region of Russia, bordering on Mongolia. The republic may be difficult to access, but we contend that that adds mystery and purity. The pristine nature and untouched culture of the Republic of Tyva attracts only the most daring urbanites, who have long been bored with the typical touristy destinations.
If you crave wild travels, unforgettable impressions and great stories to tell, you’re driven off the grid, and that’s exactly where Tyva is. It is only possible to experience such vivid emotions in the heart of Asia – in Tyva. Thus, Tyva.me launches a series of articles where readers will learn about the unusual places in Tuva and reveal to themselves the mysteries of the ancient land of the Scythians.
The golden mean of Asia was determined in 1910. The image of the obelisk symbolising the centre of Asia has undergone many changes over the years. According to available sources, the geographical centre of Asia was first mentioned in the book “Essay on the Uryanghai Territory (the Mongolian Basin of the Yenisei River).” The author of the book is the engineer of communications, the head of the party for the study of the Upper Yenisei, VM Rodevich. The researcher mentioned that an English traveller came to Urianghai. His personal mission was to see the geographical centre of Asia for himself. He had already visited the centres of Europe, Africa, and Australia. According to his calculations, the centre of Asia is located near the estate of Georgy Safyanov, which was 23 versts (approx. 24 km) lower than Biy-Khem and Kaa-Khem on the left bank of the Yenisei.
At the start of the last century, the middle of the Asian continent was marked by an obelisk in Safyanov’s courtyard. Half a century later, in 1964, the centre of Asia was transformed. A concrete obelisk replaced the wooden one. The heart of Asia was symbolised with a globe on a two-meter squared pedestal with an ascending trihedral spire. On the pedestal was the inscription “Centre of Asia” in three languages: Tuvan, Russian and English.
The author of the obelisk, established in honour of the 20th anniversary of the voluntary entry of the Tuvan People’s Republic into Russia, was the oldest artist of the Republic – Vasily Fadeevich Dyomin. Exactly 50 years, the obelisk of Dyomin served as a symbol of the centre of Asia. The Republic celebrated an important historical date – the 100th anniversary of the Union of Tuva with Russia. In 2014, to celebrate the big event, the centre of Asia radically changed its appearance.
Excavations of two mounds, namely “Arzhaan 1” and “Arzhaan 2”, gave us a glimpse of ancient Scythian culture. The findings inspired the Tuvan people into rejuvenating the previously laconic image of the centre-point obelisk.
The Russian sculptor, artist, jeweler, member of the Union of Russian Artists, Dashi Namdakov, interprets the current symbol of the central point of Asia as follows. “The symbols of the three elements present throughout Scythian culture are enshrined in the installation, namely, an obelisk directed to the sky with a pommel in the form of a deer figure, a globe with contours of the land continents and a fountain representing water. The bowl of the fountain is decorated with twelve animal figures, which in turn symbolize the 12-year calendar cycle adopted in the cultures of the East. Two dragons, He and She, personify the merger of two great rivers into the Yenisei.”
The composition, called “The Tsar’s Hunt” tells that the Tuva land has a great history, since the Scythian times, and managed to preserve traditions and customs in their original form. Parallel to the Republic’s historical continuity in culture, it is dynamically developing and moving forward.
The “Centre of Asia” cultural compound is the starting point of many journeys, and is inspirational for residents and guests. It links today to the ancient culture of the Scythians and the customs of nomadic life. Today, being the ‘Centre of Asia’ is one of the most recognisable aspects and nicknames of Tuva.