Have you encountered the feeling of astonishment, when you meet remarkably talented people? Have you ever felt how you yourself become purer simply by being close to such people? Have you experienced music which fills the room and the hearts of each person in the room and you could observe enlightenment on the faces of those who sit next to you… ? If at least one answer is “yes” you will understand me.
I have been wondering how will I introduce my country to you:
1. I could bring up basic facts about it: For example, Kyrgyzstan is (?) square meters
2. I could describe it: For example, Kyrgyzstan is a mountainous country
But then I thought that the first can be easily found online, even on Wikipedia; as for the second, pictures will tell you more than words.
Mountains of Kyrgyzstan. Credit
But what cannot be transferred in pictures is the essence, the soul of my country, and that is what I would like to introduce to you. Yes, it’s a challenging task, yes the term “soul” and its borders can be argued. But luckily my attempts are quite simple: I will write about something that moves me, and that I consider unique about my country, hoping that you will share my feelings.
House of Komuz
Kyrgyzstan is originally a nomadic country, and despite the fact that we have settled centuries ago, a variety of traditions and characteristics have lived on through those centuries, reminding how nomadic we are …
A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and uncharted places ~ I.Eberhardt
One of the most ancient traditions of Kyrgyzstan is playing Komuz. Komuz is the national Instrument of Kyrgyz people.
Komuz is one of the most ancient Kyrgyz instruments. It’s light and easy to carry, just what the nomads would need. It’s made out of materials easily found in everyday life:
“The komuz is the best-known national instrument and one of the better-known Kyrgyz national symbols. The komuz is generally made from a single piece of wood (usually apricot or juniper) and has three strings traditionally made out of gut, and often from fishing line in modern times. In the most common tunings the middle string is the highest in pitch. Virtuosos frequently play the komuz in a variety of different positions; over the shoulder, between the knees and upside down.” Source: Wikipedia
There is a legend behind the komuz. Kyrgyz as nomads ate a lot of meat, mainly lamb. Once somebody hanged the guts outside to dry and after a few days there was a wind, and from nowhere beautiful sounds of river, of running mountain goats, of falling water, of running horse were sounding in the yard. The person ran out of the yurt to find out where the melody came from and found… the guts waving in the wind. According to the legend, that’s how Kyrgyz have invented the komuz. And truly it captures the most beautiful of mountain sounds, as you listen to some melodies try to imagine high mountains and quietness, and all the sounds nature can make: goats, water, running animals, falling drops of rain, racing horses.
The site Kyrgyz music has more stories about Komuz and Komuz players.
During the seventy years that Kyrgyzstan was part of the Soviet Union, not much emphasis was put on komuz, nor on preservation of other Kyrgyz traditions. So development of komuz was stopped.
And really the future of Komuz is unknown, but recently I realized that komuz is still alive, and will be alive as long as Kyrgyz people exist.
Kingdom of komuz
We left the car and felt a unique sense of traveling in time. I was not in the past, but in the future Kyrgyzstan. Mountains of surprising beauty and at the foot of the mountains – a yurt. But not made of wool and wood as it has always been made, but of brick and clay. The yurt is round as usual, it has five windows, there is so much light …
Outside children are playing, “samovar” (tea urn) is boiling. In the cauldron steaming pilaf cooked by the young daughter-in-law. The exact image of my parents’ dream … and thus mine to some extent …
High mountains, blue sky, the smoke of the cooked food, the smell of the cauldron, and the laughter of children – Kyrgyz perfect life. What was my delight, to hear the sound of the komuz in addition to such an idyllic scene.
But first, where exactly were we?
We went to visit a famous komuzchu (komuz player) – Nuraki Abdrahmanov
This famous komuzchu plays komuz so wonderfully that the music can awaken in your mind all the corners of your soul connected to the Kyrgyz Republic; not only if you love the mountains, the sound of a running river, the singing of the eagle and the silence of the fields … you’ll understand what I mean. Miraculously, in one word!
Miraculous was the house, the family was wonderful too (13 children and more than a dozen grandchildren, each one younger and sweeter than the other), as was the weather and hospitality.
We uncovered a feast of unprecedented beauty right there in this house-yurt.
Besides all these miracles, in the courtyard sat a boy with komuz, playing some melody. Through the window I could see a man walking in the garden with komuz, playing something, inside were several komuz, and even in the yard were several komuz. Then the car pulls out and two boys, they too with komuz, came out of it.
I felt as if I had chanced upon the kingdom of komuz.
It turned out that in addition to his own 13 children, aksakal (the elder) trains other students, who prepared for us a mini concert. A virtuoso ten-year apprentice at a popular instrument does not compare to anything else. But when seven year old student, a boy of half my size, began to perform a folk song about a deep voice…. I did not at first understand how such a little boy develops such timbre … amazing.
In addition to the wonderful children, we saw an excellent demonstration of the komuz and what it can do. It is not true that komuz is obsolete.
– Komuz can entertain: Melody “Train” sounds and looks as if it is really on the train going into a far country.
– Komuz can dance: when a musician rotates it and throws it from one hand, while uttering a wonderful melody.
– Komuz can teach: Puppet theater mountain goats.
Komuz can be a wonderful way of learning about folk art and the true essence of the Kyrgyz people, if you know how to listen, ladies and gentlemen!
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