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date: 20 January 2020

Topshuur [tobshuur]locked

  • Carole Pegg

Extract

[tobshuur]

Two-string plucked lute used to accompany heroic epics in contemporary west Mongolia. Two-string lutes have been associated with the Mongols since Marco Polo's description of instruments played before battle in the 13th century. There is evidence to suggest that Kalmyk Mongols used a three-string lute during the 17th century and that they were also used to accompany epics.

Topshuur bodies vary in shape according to ethnic and family traditions. The instruments of Baits, Dörbets and Hotons may be small and round shaped like a cup or bowl, rectangular or trapezoidal. Some Altai Urianghais, Baits and Torguts make necked bowl topshuur (for further illustration see). Altai Urianghais prefer to fashion their instruments from juniper in the shape of the wooden tsatsal ladle used to offer milk-aspersions to the spirits of nature. It is often named after the shape of its pegbox or table. If the body is shaped like a milk ladle, it is called a ...

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The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments