Kongar-ol Ondar: Pride of Tuva

 

The master throat singer Kongar-ol Ondar passed away recently at the age of 51. He was the preeminent throat singer from Tuva, a master performer who represented Tuva, and Siberia around the world and in the US several times. You can check out his performance on David Letterman here: Kongar-ol Ondar

Kongar-ol Ondar. Image found here: http://www.last.fm/music/Kongar-ol+Ondar?v=free&utm_expid=44142428-15.uxR-C0rwSuKQIKnffD_JVg.3&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.ru%2Furl%3Fsa%3Di%26rct%3Dj%26q%3D%26esrc%3Ds%26source%3Dimages%26cd%3D%26docid%3DOVTJJYIifXcOJM%26tbnid%3DOVQMMmWYiNHZLM%3A%26ved%3D0CAUQjRw%26url%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.last.fm%252Fmusic%252FKongar-ol%252BOndar%26ei%3DQHb2UZPwEpCM4gTFjoHoBw%26bvm%3Dbv.49784469%2Cd.bGE%26psig%3DAFQjCNEfBwVM-yWLMMwvaffTKUwdRXIX3w%26ust%3D1375192987232369 (Last.fm)

Kongar-ol Ondar. Image found here: http://www.last.fm/music/Kongar-ol+Ondar (Last.fm)

Reuters Obituary for Kongar-ol Ondar: Obituary

Paul Pena and Kongar-ol Ondar making music together. http://www.missionmission.org/tag/kongar-ol-ondar/

Paul Pena and Kongar-ol Ondar making music together. http://www.missionmission.org/tag/kongar-ol-ondar/

Here is the trailer to “Ghengis Blues”, a cool documentary about Paul Pena, a blind guitarist who learns throat singing, travels to Tuva and gets to perform with Kongar-ol Ondar. You can watch the whole film on Youtube. “Ghengis Blues Trailer”

What the Moscow Times wrote about him: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/tuvan-throat-singer-kongar-ol-ondar-dead-at-51-video/483714.html

It is a sad day for Tuva, and anyone who loves the fascinating and mysterious style of throat singing practiced by herders and nomads across the Central Asian steppes. Kongar-ol Ondar, pride of the Republic of Tuva, and a prince amoung musicians. You are missed.

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“All Mongols” Come to Ulan-Ude

Melodic nomads are the norm. Singing passed the time, and kept a herder from feeling lonely. When the steppe opens up before you, clouds towering for sky miles, suede grasses stretching to China, you can’t help but let your lungs loose! And in an instant some lowly pastoral horseman becomes a world famous opera singer, the whole world his stage.

“All Mongols” is riding into town to tickle the ears of the local population. All Mongols is so named because the five young men who make up the group are from the five main areas populated by peoples of the Mongol Empire: Kalmykia, Tuva, Inner Mongolia, “Outer” Mongolia, and Buryatia. Here is your chance to marvel at Mongol voices from the steppes. Enjoy.

The Gates of Sagaalgaan

Entry gate to the Ethnographic Museum in Ulan-Ude, all done up Buryat style. Another fine example of Steppe Bling.

Entry gate to the Ethnographic Museum in Ulan-Ude, all done up Buryat style. Another fine example of Steppe Bling.

The gates of Sagaalgaan (White Month) are about to open! White Month is celebrated across the Southern Siberian steppe, Mongolia and parts of China where ever the remnant people of Genghis Khan’s great empire reside. Known as Shagaa in Tuva, Tsagaan Sar in Mongolia and Chagan Sar in Kalmykia, and Sagaalgaan in Buryatia, White Month hastens in the first month of the Lunar New Year. I am not sure what the Lunar New Year is called across the rest of Asia, but it is celebrated throughout Asia. If you know what the Lunar New Year is called in Korea, Nepal, Tibet, Thailand, India, China, or any other Asian country, please leave me a comment below!

Serpant Khan; lord of the Lunar New Year.

Serpant Khan; lord of the Lunar New Year.

This is the year of the snake, which explains this giant ice serpent lording itself over Soviet Square in the center of Ulan-Ude. As the New Year approaches, you always know what next years Wild Kingdom representative (shout out to Marlin Perkins!) will be, as images of it materialize everywhere in plastic, plush, poster, and confection. I was severely tempted to purchase snake embellished porcelain tea cups several days back. I bet your grandmother does not have porcelain ware with snakes in her hutch.

White Month is sure to be a grand month-long celebration. There will be family to visit and feast with, concerts to attend, ceremonies at local Buddhist temples, Shamanistic rituals, and white foods (any milk product, and mutton counts as a white meat) consumed by the stomach-full. White Month also serves to welcome the spring sun to the steppe. (We are in the fit of a cold spell with lows in the -40’s.) After February, it’s all downhill to summer, only March, April and May remain between hardy Siberians and the God blessed month of June!

Stay tuned to this White channel, where I will endeavor to introduce to you the joys, foods and spiritual perspectives of the Buryat during White Month. (Previous years White Month posts: 1. Melody of the Western Buryats, 2. White Month, and 3. Buryat Dance Troupe Ulaalzai.) And, for your enjoyment, images from White Month across the Mongolian World!

Tuva

Shamans lead a ritual during Shagaa in Kyzyl, Tuva. (Alexander Kryazhev RIA Novosti)

Shamans lead a ritual during Shagaa in Kyzyl, Tuva. (Alexander Kryazhev RIA Novosti)

Buddhist Ritual Dance for Shagaa in Kyzyl, capital of Tuva. (found on Sib-infor.ru)

Buddhist Ritual Dance for Shagaa in Kyzyl, capital of Tuva. (found on Sib-infor.ru)

Kalmykia

Traditional steppe greeting with white silk for an honored guest. Kalmykia. (Nikolai Boshev, Rossiskaya Gazeta)

Traditional steppe greeting with white silk for an honored guest. Kalmykia. (Nikolai Boshev, Rossiskaya Gazeta)

Dancers celebrate Tsagaan Sar in the capital city of Kalmykia, Elista. (Nikolai Boshev Rossiskaya Gazeta)

Dancers celebrate Tsagaan Sar in the capital city of Kalmykia, Elista. (Nikolai Boshev, Rossiskaya Gazeta)

Worshipers gather in the main Temple in Elista. (SaveTibet.ru)

Worshipers gather in the main Temple in Elista. (SaveTibet.ru)

Mongolia

State ceremony in honor of Tsagaan Sar. I believe the man in the center is the former President of Mongolia. (my.englishclub.com)

State ceremony in honor of Tsagaan Sar. I believe the man in the center is the former President of Mongolia. (my.englishclub.com)

Trading snuff bottles, an old tradition with Mongolian peoples. (my.englishclub.com)

Trading snuff bottles, an old tradition with Mongolian peoples. (my.englishclub.com)