Traditions of the Altai people

The modern people of the Altai preserved lots of their ancestors’ traditions. Certainly, this is mainly true for the villagers. Due to the Altai government’s support some lost customs of the people are gradually appearing again. We will tell you about some traditions which you can meet during your staying in the present Altai.

The Altai guttural singing (kay)

The singing art of the Altai people is very ancient. The Altai songs are usually legends about the ancient heroes, stories about the meetings of ghosts, hunts and heroical deeds. The longest kay can last up to some days. The songs are often accompanied by playing the national instruments – topshur and yatkan. Kay is the men’s occupation, but not every man can master this art.

National instruments

The Altai komus is a type of a guimbarde, a reed instrument. Many nations have different modifications of such an instrument with different names. Its initial origin isn’t known. On the Russian territory the instrument is mostly widespread in Bashkiria (kubyz), in Tuva, Yakutia (homus) and in the Altai (komus).
While playing a metal or wooden komus, a musician presses the instrument to his teeth or lips and the mouth works as a resonator. Using various changes in articulation, breathing etc. one can change the sound of a komus and create fascinating tunes.
In the Altai komus is considered to be a women’s musical instrument, which helped the ancient Altai women to lullaby their children, calm down the cattle and even declare their love. Today it is a popular Altai souvenir, which can be bought in souvenir’s shops at the Chyuycky tract or order it by mail. Apart from that, there are lots of various manuals for learning to play the Altai komus.

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