In this video clip, a candidate plays the matouqin, or horse-head fiddle, during a music instrument playing competition organized by China's Central Television in 2009.
The matouqin, or horse-head fiddle, is a Mongolian instrument. It is called horse-head fiddle because the top of the pole is carved in the shape of a horse head. The instrument has a long history, and it was quite popular with the Mongolian people during the early period of the 13th century. The names, structures, tones, and performance styles vary from place to place.
The strings, which are made of horsehair, are fixed with silk onto the organ. The sound produced by the instrument is sweet, deep, and pleasant. The early performers made the instruments themselves. The instruments could only be performed inside, due to their low volume. Later, designers made improvements on the traditional instrument. The range was expanded, and strings were changed to nylon, which enhanced the volume. With those improvements, listeners could still hear the soft and deep sound, yet at a clearer and brighter level. The new organ could be performed outdoors and has since become one of the main solo instruments.