Music, Spirituality, and Shamanism – “Tuva” a land of Wonder

“The Heart of Asia”

 “Aldyn-Bulak” A Ethnocultural complex


The Tyva Republic is considered the heart of Asia, a land of beauty and intrigue. It is tucked between the Altai Republic, Republic of Khakassia, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Irkutsk Oblast, and the Republic of Buryatia in Russia. It’s extremely interesting culture is closely tied to Mongolia that lies to it’s southern border.

image190Attack of the Mongolian cavalry (modern reconstruction)

Genghis Khan’s Influence

Tatar Mongols lived in Tuva during the 9th – 13th centuries and was heavily influenced by Genghis Khan. During the turmoil of the 1911 revolution in China and Russian Revolution of 1917  Tuva was occupied by both the Russians and Chinese. Then in 1921 the Bolsheviks (supported by Russia) established a Tuvan People’s Republic that was able to stay a independent state between the World Wars. Tuva was annexed outright into the Soviet Union, under unusual circumstances Tuva’s Little Khural (parliament)  which gave it’s approval for incorporation into the USSR in 1944.


Today the Land is a place of Music, Spirituality, and Shamanism

Today Tuva has become a cultural mecca, one can come a learn the art of “khoomei”, throat singing at the Aldyn-Bulak cultural center. Kima Dongak the director of “Aldyn-Bulak” mentioned , in the USA alone a group of 80 people  are dreaming coming and learning throat-singing from famous Tuvan masters. There are applications from around the world including Turkey, Poland, Germany, other European countries, not even speaking of Russian lovers of exoticism. They all got their introduction through Huun-Huur-Tu  which has been one of the most well known Tuvan music ensembles since the late 1990s, this also includes the Alash ensemble which came to prominence in the early 2000s.


Siberian shamanism and Tibetan Lamaism

Tuva’s traditional religions are Siberian shamanism and Tibetan Lamaism, among the older people Lamaism is still practiced , in the countryside traces shamanism can still be found. In 1931 there were more than 4,000 lamas and two dozen lamaseries.  During the 1930s purges instigated, the lamas were dispersed and repressed, lamaseries were destroyed, and monks were shot and killed. In Tuva the Buddhist community recently became officially registered. Today efforts are underway in the rebuilding of the great lamasery at Chadan.


 The art of Khuresh Wrestling

The of Khuresh wrestling dates back to 3000 B.C. in Mongolia where cave painting show two naked men grappling while surrounded by a crowd. Genghis Khan used this sport to train and prepare his troops for battle. Mongolian and Khuresh wrestling have become a very popular national sporting event and a vital cultural piece for all Tuvans, Mongols, and Russians around the world. When a male child is born, Tuvan fathers want their boys to become wrestlers. Wrestling competitions take place each year in Mongolia, Tuva, west and south-eastern Russia and northern China. The biggest event is the National Naadam festival, takes place in Mongolia between up to 1024 wrestlers.

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Mountains, Mineral Springs, and much more

The culture of Tuva isn’t the only thing to enjoy about Tuva, the mountains are breathtaking, there are 100 plus minerals springs in Tuva as well. During a two-week stay in 2014 in the republic, representatives of the South Korean educational channel EBC ltd. Production Purme shared their impressions of Tuva. A question was asked about what was the most interesting thing for the film crew, the producer told them about their stay at the shepherds’ camp. In his opinion, people who live in such remote areas are “pure and not contaminated by social filth”. The impression of original and unique Tuvan culture was reinforced by the unusual natural landscapes and specifics of the climatic zone.

The following two YouTubes are several of the wonder short clips I found on this marvelous little republic of Russia. Hope you enjoy.

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