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Detailed biography of Kaigal-ool Khovalyg, one of the best throat singers of the world, has been published in Tuva

Detailed biography of Kaigal-ool Khovalyg, one of the best throat singers of the world, has been published in TuvaUlyana Mongush, a scholar, has completed a titanic work, having collected under one cover all the interesting facts about the life of the legendary Tuvan khoomeizhi, leader oft eh group Huun-Huur-Tu, Kaigal-ool Khovalyg, who celebrated his 50th birthday earlier this year. The book “The Willful Khovalyg and Huun-Huur-Tu was published I two languages - Russian and Tuvan. There is also a short summary of the book in English.  “Khurtuun Khovalyg bile Khun-Khurtu” quotes the rich speech of the throat singer, who has a remarkable sense of humor and knows all the intricacies of Tuvan folk traditions.

The book discusses in detail the development of Kaigal-ool Khovalyg, his family and parents, as well as his famous great-uncle Kombu Sembilovich Ondar (1892-47), whose khoomei was recorded on a vinyl disc by the “Melodiya” firm. And about another legendary uncle - Kommuna Sodunamovich Mongush (1931-2006). He was given that name because of his birthday - March 18, 1931, which is the Day of Paris Communards. The talented Kommuna, who was expelled from school at the age of 12 as a son of an “enemy of the people”, is known as the author of beautiful songs “Astyn kishtin turlaa bolgan” (Place where ermines and sables live), “Bayan-Dugai kozhannary” (Songs of Bayan-Dugai), and “Chyrgaky Khem”.  Kommuna enjoyed great authority in Bazhyn-Alaak, and it was he who was called upon to name the firstborn of the family of Kim-ool Azyrandayevich Khovalyg and Chudur Enche-Kulakovna Oorzhak. He named the newborn boy Kaigal-ool ( a brave lad).

Bazhyn-Alaak is a singing village, the native place of many khoomeizhis. In 1978, artists from Kyzyl came there to hold a contest of talented youths, and their attention was captured by a 16-year-old sheep herder who was singing chastushkas. They invited him to Kyzyl, and the family approved it.

“A small, skinny kid arrived to the city with a balalaika bearing an inscription “Olympiada-80” (his mother got it on mail-order). When 18-year-old Kaigal-ool was hired to work with the vocal-istrumental ensemble “Ayan” , the minister of culture, Matpa Khomushku, remarked with pleasure: “Your face burnished by the winds shows that you are truly a child of nature, riding freely in the expanses of Bayan-Dugai.”

The new-baked artist went on tour of the Tuvan districts almost immediately. He stayed faithful to his style- boots and beloved “Belomorkanal” cigarettes - for a long time. While he was on tour in Bora-taiga, the remarkable master-craftsman musical instrument maker Marzhymal Ondar gave his igil to Kaigal-ool. The fact that this legendary master gave a present to a totally unknown young artist, who did not even know how to play the igil, was a sign. Marzhymal Ondar’s igil was thoroughly utilized for several years. And today Kaigal-ool is considered a virtuoso igil player.

This year, by the decree of the head of the republic, Sholban Kara-ool, Kaigal-ool Khovalyg received the highest award -  the Order of the Republic.

The book contains many photographs and texts of sons with notes. The book also comes with a CD. The disc, in particular, has recordings of igil with horse-hair and with synthetic strings; rituals of teaching female animals to take care of their young, prayer-address of a hunter to the Master of the Taiga, and the poem by A. Topchaa “Grudinka na spine valukh” in Kaigal-ool Khovalyg’s rendition.

Dina Oyun, translated by Heda Jindrak
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