среда, 30 марта 2011 г.


The universe of the nomads

«Юрты» на Яндекс.Фотках

The nomadic dimension of the populations of these steppe-like areas binds them to nature in an indissoluble relationship, penetrating their deeper spiritual dimension: symbol of this bond is the dwelling of the nomad, the tent.
Called gheer among the Mongols and yurt among the Tuvinians, the house of the nomad is extremely practical and functional, easy to disassemble and to transport, a sure and solid shelter, suitable for their hard living conditions. Always oriented with the door to the south, it also works as an astronomical clock, making it possible to tell the time according to the position of the sun when it shines through the central hole.

Юрта, мужская половина
«Юрта, мужская половина» на Яндекс.Фотках
Men's half

As soon as the small door is opened and its threshold is crossed, we are projected in a magical world where every object, every furnishing, the fire and the place where you take a seat follow a precise symbolic order, unchanged in the course of ages. The Sacred Fire is set in the centre and it represents the ancient world, our memory, our ancestors we have to respect and to pay tribute with offerings of sacred food.
Inside the yurta, are represented the ties between the cosmos, time and human beings. There is a precise relationship between the animals of the oriental horoscope, the disposition of the household goods and the places where you seat yourself. To north opposite the door there is the rat, the picker, where we find the trunks with the familiar treasures and next to the treasures, there is the seat of the oldest guest, that is worth of great respect.
Then there is the position of the snake, the place of the servants, in a well-to-do family or where it is seated the woman guest, the one that like the servants brings news, messages, gossips of the external world. The door is the horse, symbol of the work and the relationships with the world. Afterwards, we find the sheep, symbol of wealth and fertility; connected with it, where they hung the butchered animals.
Then we find the monkey, symbol of the working ability, that is why in this place the harness of the horses are hunged. The rooster comes next, where the hosts and the strangers take a seat: just like the rooster, they raise at sunshine in order to continue their journey. Afterwards, there is the dog, symbol of abundance and property, in fact it is up to the dog to defend the property and in that spot they keep the bags containing the harvest of the year, their clothes and blankets. Finally, we find the pig, symbol of the products of nature, and as the Tuvinians are mainly hunters, this is the place where they keep their guns, they hang their game and their furs.

Юрта, женская половина.
«Юрта, женская половина.» на Яндекс.Фотках
Women's half

Nothing is at random in the yurt, but it corresponds to an ancient, immutable order that nowadays is still respected, not only as a sign of tradition, but as a precise way to interact with the cosmos.


четверг, 17 марта 2011 г.


Gudok is an ancient Russian folk music instrument. In spite of its name (meaning “hooter” in Russian) it is a string instrument. Skomorokhi (wandering minstrel-cum-clowns) used it in a combination with the Gusli. Gudok consisted of an oval or pear-shaped dugout wooden case, a flat sounding board with resonator holes, and a short fingerboard without frets, with a straight or unbent head. The instrument could be 30 to 80 cm long. It had three strings posited at one level to the sounding board. When playing the bow touched all the three strings simultaneously. The melody was played on the first string, and the second and the third ones sounded without pitch variations. Continuous sounding of the bottom strings was one of the prominent features of Russian folk music. During the performance the instrument was held on a player’s knee in the vertical position. Has been extended later, in XVII-XIX centuries.

Gudok reminds of a number of string instruments of the world. These are Bulgarian Gadulka and Southern Slavic Gusle and Liritsa, as well as West European Rebek and the Greek stringed lyre. There are also various Middle Asian instruments, less similar in the shape of the case. One of the Middle Asian names of such a stringed instrument – gidjak also reminds of the Russian Gudok.

All these instruments are placed vertically on a knee and play with the bow on three (most often) strings. The tune is played only on the highest string. There are only four “playing” fingers, though the little finger is often not used. Taking into account the open string there are only five (or four) sounds, just like in early Gusli. The remaining two strings "hooted" similar to the well-known Scottish bagpipes.

Gudok can be referred to professionally made, but musically simplified instruments. Though many folk masters who knew joiner's craft, could make such an instrument independently.

European instruments differed from their Eastern analogs by having a wooden upper sounding board instead of a leather membrane or an animal’s bladder, like the latter ones. So European versions with richer and more powerful sounding can be considered more progressive.

Most likely, metamorphoses with a pro-Gudok occurred in Greece and from there got spread across the Eastern Europe, including Russia. However, Russian Gudok had its own peculiar features. Its case was of a pointed boat-like shape instead of a pear-like shape.

It is remarkable that Gudok was recorded in archeological excavation of Veliky Novgorod earlier than Gusli. By the way, in the Astrakhan Province a reed pipe and svirel were also called Gudok.

Gudok was often used in small ensembles both with other instruments and with their relatives. There was a whole family: Gudok, Gudochek and Gudische.

Gudok was very popular in Russia at all times. It managed to survive even persecutions of secular music in the 17th century, under Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich. But it could not withstand the attack of the western music in the 19th century and disappeared from Russian culture, without having lived to its millennium. Gudok was partly replaced by the violin.