Talking about Mongolian Violins (Morin khuur)

Morin Khuur - Click for closer viewThursday 8 June 2006 has become a special day for me. Remember way back in July last year (31 July I think it was) I mentioned the Morin Khuur or Mongolian Horse-Head Violin?

So on Thursday night my favourite Mongolian family presented me with a Morin Khuur. It is such a beautiful instrument. The photos are of some parts of it. The instrument has 39 horse heads on it. The bridge is carved horse bone. The strings are held to the end of the instrument by a carved piece of wood, carved to look like a horse’s skull.Morin Khuur - Click for closer view

The horse’s skull is revered in Mongolia and many are taken to the top of ovoo as a sign of respect, or piety.

The strings in the Morin Khuur and on the bow are horse’s hair as well.

Morin Khuur - Click for closer viewReally, this is one of the nicest gifts I have ever been given and I feel kind of special to have received this.

8 horses in different positions/stances are important in Mongolia as well, for good fortune. Funnily enough, a number of years ago I bought 8 carved horses in the Chinese style, partly as I was born in the Year of the Horse.

Morin Khuur - Click for closer viewTo my favourite Mongolian family, all I can say is bayarlalaa.

To the reader, all I can say is that there’ll be more about the Morin khuur later.


Mongolian Violins (Morin khuur)


As part of the entertainment for the evening, one of the better Morin khuur players in Mongolia, Tserendorj, was there, along with his son, Soyol-Erdene


Soyol-Erdene played on another Morin khuur. This is the first time I have heard this instrument played live and with it playing a lively piece. The sound that issues from it is magnificent and unique. It really is a wonderful instrument and when in the hands of an expert, as it was, the instrument lives, as does the music he plays.

The Morin khuur itself is a wooden violin type instrument with a horse head carved and added to the top of it.

I do, I do, I do, I do, I do!

Travelling back to the apartment tonight in a taxi here in Ulaanbaatar and I heard something on the radio that was at once familiar, yet strangely unfamiliar. It was ABBAs song, “I do, I do, I do, I do, I do”. It sounded like ABBA singing … but I can’t ever recall ABBA singing in Mongolian before.

Still, it sounded good in Mongolian 😀