Two-stringed Fiddle Produces Soundtrack for Nation

Updated: 2007-08-08 09:04

Deeply influenced by folk musicians, Chiborag started to learn music at the age of seven, when he first demonstrated his unique musical talent.

One of his matouqin masterpieces is "Thousands of Horses Galloping", or "Wan Ma Ben Teng" in Chinese, in which players use many performance skills to describe a magnificent scene of thousands of horses neighing and galloping.

"As long as I have a matouqin, I can communicate with the rest of the world," he said.

"Its strings vibrate like the human heart and it can also sound like the cry of a newborn baby."

Chiborag is exited about plans to establish an international matouqin art school in Ulanqab city. He is also busy preparing a rehearsal for 2,008 musicians who will perform during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"The Olympics can help the matouqin become known internationally," he said.

Today, Chiborag's students come from China, Mongolia and all over the world, including the United States, France and Japan.

About a fifth of them, 350, are Japanese, but they all share his passion for the instrument shaped like a horse's head.

When Mongolia was an entirely nomadic nation, the horse was people's primary means of transport, and also man's best friend.

Fine horses are said to be the eyes of the Mongolian prairie and they symbolize the spirit of the people, who spend much of their lives on horseback.

So central was (and still is) the horse to Mongolian way of life that its head was placed on top of the nation's principal musical instrument, and hair from its tail is used for the two strings and the bow.

UNESCO, in 2003, and China, in 2006, have granted the matouqin the status of an oral and non-material cultural heritage item.

"The matouqin was left by Genghis Khan so it is an instrument blessed by our ancestors," Chiborag said. "When I play it, I see my mother, my child and my people."

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