One World, Many Voices

Language Communities

Kalmyk: Revitalizing Language through Music and Dance

Language is the foundation of the Kalmyk nation.
— Dmitriy Sergejevich Sharayev, Kalymk musician

The Republic of Kalmykia lies in Russia, at the southeastern corner of Europe. It is home to the continent’s only Buddhist indigenous people, the Kalmyks, who speak an endangered Mongolic language. Despite considerable odds, the Kalmyk language, culture, and religion—all intimately connected within the Kalmyk’s sense of self-identity—have endured. The Kalmyk have a highly developed oral, musical, and dance culture, centered around the epic tale Jangar, which celebrates the conquests of Kalmyk leaders of four hundred years ago, who created an empire that dominated the region stretching from western Mongolia to eastern Europe. A fascinating process of cultural renewal and linguistic revival is taking place today in Kalmykia. This grassroots movement is spearheaded by the generation of teenagers and young adults.

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

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Watch a video of Nyamin Songajieyavich Manjieyev and Nina Kochayevna Manjieyeva at their home in Komsomolsky.

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Watch a video of Dmitriy Sergejevich Sharayev and Viktor Batyrovich Okchayev.

Festival Participants:

Olga Semenovna Andratova, musician, singer
Baator Bukhaev, musician
Arkady Nyaminovich Manjieyev
Nyamin Songajieyavich Manjieyev, singer, dancer
Nina Kochayevna Manjieyeva, musician, singer
Ervena Semenovna Matsakova, musician, singer
Alexander Nikolaevich Nasakaev, instrument maker, woodcarver
Viktor Batyrovich Okchayev, musician
Dmitriy Sergejevich Sharayev, musician, singer