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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,josepp Our debt to Central Asia (musical instruments) (16) RE: Our debt to Central Asia (musical instruments) 06 May 12

Ok, Suibhne,

I did some research on the jouhikko and talharpa. Both had their genesis in Scandinavia. You can tell the jouhikko is Finnish right off the bat if you have any familiarity with their language. The "tal-" prefix in talharpa made me wonder if it might be a variation of "tail" and I learned that this instrument is sometimes called a tegelharpa and that "tegel" means "tail hairs."

This is also an unbowed zither in Finland called the kantele. The earliest versions of this instrument had 5 strings made of horsehair (they now have as many as 40 metal strings). The Finnish creation epic called Kalevela where sage/hero Väinämöinen makes the first kantele from the jawbone of a giant pike fish and strung with the tail hairs of a stallion of a spirit-being called Hiisi.

So I wondered what nomads might have introduced these instruments to the Scandinavians. I thought about the Laplanders, of course, and then I ran across this:

It refers to a tribe called Sapmi that raise horses and depend on them for everything and even prepare koumiss from mare's milk which is a beverage also very popular among the Central Asian nomads (still widely available in Mongolia).

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