The Original Place of Skiing—Altay Prefecture of Xinjiang, China by Mr. Shan Zhaojian

April 06, 2012 6 min read 1 Comment

The Original Place of Skiing—Altay Prefecture of Xinjiang, China (人类滑雪起源地——中国·新疆·阿勒泰)

Skiers are ready to go in an ancient skiing competition held

in Altay prefecture.Skiers are ready to go in an ancient skiing competition held in Altay prefecture.

编者的话 · Editors’ note

Thanks to more than ten years of hard work, the research of The Original Place of Skiing—Altay of Xinjiang, Chinawas completed on Jan.16th, 2006 and achieved Altay Declaration which was issued by the museum of Xinjiang Autonomous region and China Northwestern University officially at a press conference held by Altay municipal government and Chinese Skiing Association at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Dec. 15th, 2006. The press conference was attended by many experts and researchers on relevant disciplines as well as hundreds of media attention home and abroad.

Since the birth of the Altay Declaration, the Expert Group has never stopped investigation. They have discovered new rock paintings in Chonghuer Village of Buerjin County, Handegate Village in Altay city and Saerbulake Village of Habahe County. They also collected some new “Snow Shoe” rock paintings in some historical materials, laying a solid foundation for the Altay Declaration.(see Tourism and Exploration Route Map for the Altay Skiing Rock Paintings·Xinjiang·China). For the past five years, there have been some heated debates on the Altay Declaration. Therefore, this book made a comprehensive explanation for the hot issued arising from those debates.(see The Explanatory Notes of Relevant Hot Issues on the Altay Declaration).

According to the Altay Declaration, the Altay government decided to make the Jan. 16th each year a Memorial Day for the place of origin of skiing——Altay of Xinjiang, China. Farmers and herdsman in Altay will hold skiing contests to celebrate this day. The 6th Skiing Contest will be held at the General Mountain Skiing Resort in Altay city on Jan. 16th, 2011 and other celebratory activities will also be held in Kanasi Lake, Hemu Village and Altay city center.

Nils Larsen, a U.S. cultural and historical ski researcher, has rich experiences in carrying out the research work of skiing in Humu in Kanas. He is the author, editor, photographer and commentator of the documentary film “Timeless Altay Skiers” (The DVD of Chinese version of the book “Timeless Altay Skiers” is produced by the Scenic Spot Management Committee in Kanas of Xinjiang: Shan Zhaojian, the commentator and planner; Xu Danian, the technician). He also made other three short films: “ Summer and Rock Paintings in the Altay”,2007 Altay Skiing Festival” and “Skiers in the Altay Mountains in 2009”. The Chinese version of those films are welcomed and praised by many Chinese readers. We extend our profound gratitude to him for his dedication to the completion of this book.

Before the publication of this book, Altay Municipal government and China Central Television (CCTV) made a significant Documentary Film called “A Journey for the Origin of Skiing by Skiers” which demonstrated the research course for the Original Place of Skiing——Altay Prefecture of Xinjiang, China,the rich natural resources like snow, the tradition of Altay skiing and the beautiful winter and summer landscapes in Altay prefecture. This film will provide the domestic and foreign readers with a fresh insight into the skiing industry.

On the occasion of the fifth Anniversary of the release of Altay Declaration, the Original Place of Skiing——Altay Prefecture of Xinjiang, China, is published by Beijing People’s Education Press and Xinjiang People’s Press on the request of Altay municipal government, the Museum of Xinjiang Autonomous Region, and China Northwestern University. It discusses some major theories of the origin of skiing in a systematic, comprehensive and scientific way, and supported by a variety of evidence, it certified that Altay of Xinjiang is the original place of skiing.

Many experts and scholars home and abroad contributed to the writing of the book which has been translated into English (Altay Declaration is also translated into Russian and Khalkha Mongolian) so that foreign readers can read, analyze and probe into new discoveries. 

We want express our sincere thanks to Mr. Josephine·Fitzgerald (Canadian) and Mr. Erwin Stricker (Italy) for their historical materialsprovided for the book

Upon the publication, we also extend our gratitude to the government departments and individuals which deserve our highest and sincere appreciation.

By the Editorial Board of the Original Place of Skiing—Altay of Xinjiang, ChinaJuly 30, 2010


Wang Shibin, Altay Municipal Party Secretary.Wang Shibin, Altay Municipal Party Secretary.
Mulati·kakai, Mayor of Altay Municipal Government.Mulati·kakai, Mayor of Altay Municipal Government.


Altay city is located in northern Xinjiang, China with an area of 11,500 km². It lies in northern margin of Junggar Basin and borders the south of Altay Mountains. It is the political, economic and cultural center of Altay Prefecture and the inheritance and research center of ancient skiing culture. Altay people have created its splendid skiing culture since the first human settlement which dates back to thousands of years ago. After the research and investigation of archaeologist, historians and some local experts, they come to the conclusion that Altay ancestors has long taken the skiing as a major means for hunting and Altay is the place of origin for human skiing.

In 2006, an Expert Group made up of those historians and archaeologists gathered in Altay city and held discussions and developed arguments to reach the consensus on the fact that Altay of Xinjiang in China is the place of origin for human skiing. The Group drafted an “Altay Declaration” which was officially announced at a press conference held by Altay municipal government and Chinese Skiing Association at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The museum of Xinjiang Autonomous region and China Northwestern University jointly issued the inspiring declaration at the press conference, making every Altai people feel proud of it. The Group cast new light on Altay by its skiing culture.

We are obliged and determined to protect this land and pass its skiing tradition to future generations. To that end, we decided to set Jan. 15th as the Day of Origin of human skiing origin marked by many commemorating events like Fur-Ski Skiing Game. We are confident to build Altay city as a modern tourist city with a taste of ancient skiing.

Altay city is a typical landscape city with a long history, rich resources, diverse culture and simple and unsophisticated folkways.It embodies the major features of traditional culture of skiing origin of mankind and has laid solid basis for carrying forward the legacy of ancient skiing from generation to generation. It is exceptionally rich in its snow and ice resources which we are trying to bring into full play. It has such advantages as long winter, plenty snow and pleasant climate and the locals are also enthusiastic in participating in snow activities.

By all those advantages stated above, we hope that we can build it into one of the most livable cities, tourists’ destinations and ecological parks in Western China.  We also expect that the skiing culture with Altai characteristics can promote the economic and social development of Altay Prefecture.

Altay was the only major subdivision of Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture with 26 ethnic groups such as Kazakhs, Han Chinese, Hui Chinese Uyghur and Mongolian. The birth of Altay Declaration makes Altay city and its people begin to be known by the outside world.    

Shan Zhaojian is the honorary citizen of Altay city, technical consultant of Chinese Skiing Association, well-known skiing expert with more than 50 years of skiing experience and a scholar specialized in the history of human skiing. He has been awarded Medal of Skiing Contribution by an international skiing organization. He carried out ten-year-plus extensive investigation and study on the theory of the origin of human skiing. Since 1993, he has put forward the idea in many books that Altay is the place of origin for human skiing.

The powerful skiers during an ancient skiing competition.The powerful skiers during an ancient skiing competition.
Altay skiers.Altay skiers.

Together with such archaeologists and historical experts as Wang Bo, Wang Jianxin, Liu Guofang, Lv En’guo, Liu Yongnian, Lu Jipeng and Zheng Jie, Mr. Shan collected strong evidences and arguments by looking through many historical records and finally come to the conclusion that Altay of Xinjiang in China is where the human skiing originates, which is an indisputable fact that rewrites the history of the study on the origin of human skiing. 

 We also feel honored to have contributed to the planning and publication of this book because it is our historical responsibility to promote the Altay ancient skiing tradition.

On the occasion of the publication of this book, we would like to, on behalf of the Altay municipal CPC committee and municipal government, pay my highest tributes to those experts and scholars who have made remarkable contributions in the research field of the origin of human skiing, and express our warm congratulations on the publication of this book. In particular, we want to express our sincere gratitude to Mr. Shan Zhaojian without whom all that we are discussing would not be possible.


© Vintage Winter

1 Response

chris tursen
chris tursen

August 23, 2013

i am kazakh born in altay living in hongkong

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