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Torghut Urtiin Duu (Long Songs)

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Bulag, Uradyn E. 


Sanjiin Khand is an urtiin duu singer and deputy head of the Ejine Torghut Urtiin Duu Association. She says that her father often sang in the toorai (diversifolious poplar) forest of Ejine when he herded sheep and locals called him toorain duuchin. Her mother was also an urtiin duu singer who learned singing from Boov who was once the official urtiin duu singer of Prince Lhavangjav. Kand remembers her mother as someone who could sing for three nights and nights without repeating, and she helped her mother record about 100 songs which will be published soon. She regrets, however, that she only remembers 3 of the 13 special songs her mother liked to sing that praise Ejine Torghuts' thirteen light bay (13 heer) horses, which is a great cultural loss. The Ejine Urtiin Duu Association was established in 2002 as a branch of the Alasha League Urtiin Duu Association. Since its establishment, the Association published a series of Alsha folksong books. In 2012, the Ejine branch officially became an independent urtiin duu association in Ejine with about 100 members who were predominantly local elders. The new association has since been organising local Torghut urtiin duu singers to participate in the competitions in Alsha League and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. And Kand also keeps in touch with other Torghut singers in Xinjiang through Wechat. The association periodically teaches in primary schools in Ejine. Despite these successes, Kand has some worries as well. She is concerned that the younger generations now find the Torghut urtiin duu melodies too long and too difficult to sing, and they are more attracted to Halh Mongolian short songs.Kand sang three songs in this interview. The first song is called Shar Talin Burgas (Bushes in Shar Tal) which she believes was composed in Shar Tal where Ejine Torghuts temporarily lived before settling in Ejine. In her view, the song expresses the Torghuts’ aspiration to return to Kalmykia as soon as possible. The second one is Ejine Tuuliin Us, which sings about the Ejine river, the Bayanbogd mountains and Torghut leaders. Composed after their settlement in Ejine, the song celebrates their comfortable life along the Ejine river. The last one is Örgön Ih Ijil Zai, which she learned from her mother. She says this song was composed when the Torghuts were still in the Volga region.



Ejine Torghut, urtiin duu, 13 special songs, Ejine Urtiin Duu Association, history, competitions, disappearing tradition

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Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge

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Sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin