Mongolian Culture

Morin Khuur – Horse head fiddle

Morin Khuur

Morin Khuur - Horse head fiddle

Morin Khuur (Horse head fiddle) It is believed that this instrument originated in Xiongnu. This instrument is an inseparable part of equestrian culture of Mongolian nomads. Every family exalts the horse head fiddle, placing them at the rear side of the Ger, which is considered the most honored area by nomads. It is common for people to tie khadag, a ceremonial religious scarf on the instrument to honor it. Horse head fiddle is a symbol of peace and tranquility, happiness and prosperity. This instrument is one of the most unique instruments in the world, because it can imitate a wide range of notes and melodies with only two strings. The Morin Khuur Ensemble of Mongolia was established in 1992, inspired by the Morin Khuur Ensemble of Inner Mongolia.

In 1962, renowned Russian luthier Denis Yaravoi was invited to Mongolia by the Mongolian Ministry of Culture to create a modern and professional version of traditional horse head fiddle. The sound box of original horse head fiddle had leather cover and had actual bow shaped bow. Luthier Denis constructed all wooden horse head fiddle and used violin bow for aesthetics. Horse head fiddle was registered in the UNESCO List of Cultural Heritage in November of 2003, which made Morin Khuur known to the world.

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