Historically, the origin of Morin Khuur(Horse-head Fiddle) has been defined by Mongols folklore and musicians. Firstly, different legends about the origin of Horse-Head Fiddle, namely, Хөхөө Намжилын домог”, “Аргасун хуурчийн домог”, “Жонон харын домог” had been popular among the Mongolian people for a long period of time. The main idea of the legends was primarily about great relationships between humans and horses.
For musicians, Horse-Head Fiddle means big language or ‘ikel’ instruments, which played for telling horse’s tales with a long neck of Morin khuur and a bucket-shaped feature covered with camel, goat, or sheepskins. This kind of bucket- shaped Morin Huurs are still used in the Western Mongolia. Morin Khuurs are different from regions to regions, they can vary in forms and shapes representing horses, humans, lions and crocodile’s heads on the instruments.
The French Scientist M. Each suggested that the origin of Morin Khuur can be dated back to the ancient times and linked to the turtle’s footage. However, his arty ideas have not been traced due to a lack of proof.
In conclusion, Khuur and Ikel were existent in the ancient Mongolia and different forms of animals and humans head were carved on Morin khuur. What is more, the Mongolians perceived their horses not only as a means of transport but also as a valuable treasure by carving the horse’s head on their musical instruments.
Genghis Khan who was a founder of the Mongol Empire ordered to open all ceremonies with Morin huur which symbolized the importance of musical instruments in Mongolia. For instance, in the beginning of the state ceremonies, Morin huur was played for accompanying the national hymn ‘Ancient Beauty”.
Since XVI century Morin Khuur’s neck was made in the form of a dragon’s head which was related to Manchu Qing’s occupation, as Machu people believed that yellow color denotes the color of the sun and the dragon characterizes a great power as their king who was bright and powerful as the sun. Therefore, Morin huur was a musical instrument for Commons as well as for royalty.
Morin Huur plays a significant role in Mongolian music and dance festivals. For example, the Western Mongolian national ‘bielgee’ would be impossible imagine without Morin huur.
The main figure who developed and modernized the Morin huur music tradition is Mr. G. Jamiyan. He is called ‘Master of Mongolian music’. Jamiyan has not only incorporated methodology of holding the instrument and fingering the notes on the string but also opened the first Morin Khuur’s professional classes in Mongolia.
After 1930, traditional and folklore music was played on Morin huur by Mongolian musicians in different parts of the world; in some humid, hot countries it was hard to play any music because of the leather roughness of the instrument, which was shrunk or even stretched. Therefore, the Mongolian Ministry of Culture invited Mr.Denis Yarovoi (the Russian musician) to change leather of Morin Khuur to a wooden surface, which is currently used as a modern Morin huur instrument.
Morin Khuur’s consists of three main parts such as neck, body, and bow, which neck is made in the form of a horse’s head on the top, also it has a tuning peg, body or the box that produce sounds, with two strings, upper and lower bridges and bows. Morin huur has high and low strings, which `Mongolian people craft during 365 days. The larger of the two strings (the “male” string) has made from a mail tail, while the smaller or lower string has used female tail. Nowadays the strings are made of nylon. Traditionally, the strings were tuned a fifth apart, though in modern music they are more often tuned a fourth apart, usually, The bow is very important thing for Morin Khuur which has been made from willows, birches woods and has two main designs:
The sound from the bow is similar to that of a violin or a cello. The normal weight of the bow should be from 86-95 gram. The string of Morin khuur is made from horsetail hair coated with cedar wood resin and around 250 pieces of horsetails are used in one instrument.
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