Mongolia’s Horse Head Fiddle

In 2014, Mick Egan (who took this photo) joined on our Mountains, Monasteries and Nomads Mongolia small group adventure. It includes two days at the Bulgan Naadam in Bulgan Aimag (northern Mongolia). All Naadam festivals no matter the size have an opening ceremony and this great image was captured by Mick during the opening ceremony. The instrument is the Morin Khuur -the Horse Head Fiddle.

The Morin Khuur is used in another aspect of Mongolian music – the Long Song or Urtin Duu. A long song is when each syllable of text is extended for a long duration (typically by a soloist accompanied by the horse head fiddle). Tumee Ekh (First of the Ten Thousand) is a long song that begins all Borjigin Khalkha (Mongolia’s main ethnic group) celebrations. It is played at the start of something new – the construction of a newly married couple’s ger or the beginning of a Naadam Festival.

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