One World, Many Voices

Language Communities

Tuvan: Nomadic Knowledge and Experience

Tuvan music cannot live without the Tuvan language. Language is the beginning and the source.
— Ayana Mongush, Tuvan musician and composer, Republic of Tuva

“Hello” in Tuvan is ekii, and with a little practice, you might learn to sing khöömey, the famous Tuvan style of throat singing. The Tuvan language reflects cultural adaptation to their nomadic lifestyle on the steppes of southern Siberia. It has many words for the patterns and colors of domesticated animals, and the subtly musical sounds made by winds and streams. Tuvan has one foot in traditional ways, such as nomadic arts, stone carving, instrument making, and horse-breeding. The Tuvan language is rooted in traditions such as nomadic arts, stone carving, instrument making, and horse-breeding. However, the language also looks ahead to the internet age, utilizing technologies like talking dictionaries, smartphone apps, and automated machine translation from Tuvan to English. Tuvans are one of the few indigenous Siberian peoples who have managed to bring their language back from threatened to vibrant.

This presentation was made possible by the Dr. Frederik Paulsen Foundation.


Click to watch video

Watch a video of Eduard Damdyn, a traditional throat singer and instrument maker

Click to watch video

Watch a video about reviving and renewing traditional Tuvan music


Festival Participants:

Marat Boragaevich Damdyn, instrument maker
Ayana Samiyaevna Mongush, musician, composer
Artysh Kherlievich Salchak, nomad traditions
Cheynesh Ivanovna Salchak, nomad traditions
Artur Dorzhuevich Shozhunchap, stone carver
Aldar Konstantinovich Tamdyn, instrument maker, throat singer, yurt and furniture maker
Said Chüldük, saddle maker, leatherworker, throat singer, musician
Raisa Kopeekovna Tas-ool, seamstress