Legend of Horse headed violin
Perhaps the most ancient musical instrument of the Mongols is the
"morin-khuur", invented at least a thousand years ago. In Mongolian,
morin means horse, and khuur means sound, ryme, melody.
This instrument's history is based on a legend of a man who had a
beloved, magical horse that could fly. When an evil man killed the
horse, the man made an instrument from the horse so that he could
remember it. Originally, the handle of the horse-head fiddle was made
of horse ribs and its base was horse skin.
Today, the long tail hair of a horse ridden since childhood is used for
the strings. It is said each tail hair fiber should be processed until
it "starts talking". To honor the horse, its head is carved of wood and
placed where the
scroll would be on a violin. The wooden neck and the
sound box of the instrument are sometimes decorated by the five
elements and the horoscope animals of the Buddhist 12-year calendar,
and the symbol of eternity is depicted on the sides of the box. The
tone of the morin khuur is tender and slightly languorous.
There was a herder boy in the east of Mongolia whose name was Namjil. One day he went to the military and was defending the west border of the country. That place’s herders used to listen to his singing. Also people ,who are going around there, always dismount from their horses and sat down, in order to hear Namjil’s harmonious voice. They all admired him and gave a name “Cuckoo Namjil” because he made sounds similar to cuckoo. He became friends with the quenn of that country. When “ Cuckoo Namjil” leaft the army, the queen gave him a flying horse and said “ You can come here with this horse. He came back to his homeland , bred cattle and took care of his parents.
One of his maids suspected the horse and wanted to check it. Once, Namjil met the queen at night and came back home in the morning. When he tied his horse to the tether, he forgot to conceal horse’s wings .After he went to his yurt, the maid had come to the horse, seen it’s wings and cut them off. When he came to his horse and saw it was dead. Separating from his lovely horse was very hard. He was so grieved. When he was his dead flying horse, he got an idea that make an instrumental of it’s bones, hair and skin to remember his horse. When instrument was finished he always played it and sung about his horse.”