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  • Altai Maktal - Nohon - from the golden Altai Mountains

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P & C December 1998
- Face Music / Albi

- last update 03-2016

- FM 50020 - P & C 2000
more information songs - see: Nohon and friends

1. Üch-Sümerge maktal - music: trad., text: N. Shumarov - 5:54
2. Bööl, bööl - music: N. Shumarov, text: T. Akulova - 2:33
3. Kyiralarlu ak kaiyn - music: N. Shumarov, text: B. Bedyurov - 3:49
4. Tyiyk ejemnin küzi - music: trad. - 2:24
5. Suunin oyiny - music: N. Shumarov - 4:53
6. Menin kalganchi janarim - music and text: N. Shumarov - 3:55
7. Bairam - music: N. Shumarov - 2:51
8. Kamdash - music: N. Shumarov, text: trad.. - 4:05
9. Kan Kerenin kabai kozhoni - music. N. Shumarov, text: trad. - 2:21
10. Saniskannin sygydy - music: N. Shumarov, text: trad. - 3:08
11. Keler uiege - music and text: N. Shumarov - 7:20
12. Menin Altaiym - music: N. Shumarov - 3:26
13. Altai maktal - music and text: trad. - 5:31
14. Jas - music: N. Shumarov - 3:56
15. Taadamnin kabai kozhoni - music and text: N. Shumarov - 4:54
16. Sary bürler - music: N. Shumarov, text: E. Palkin - 3:39
17 Bash-Adar - music: N. Shumarov - 3:16

left: Nohon in the open air museum in Kuladu, Ongudai aimak
right: Stone pillars at the gate to the memorial site "Kazer-Tash", in Iyin-Ichi, Ongudai aimak

I was born in the small village of Ogosh-Jalaman on the side of the Katun River. This was in the afternoon at the beginning of Big Heat's month (July), when the stones were burning hot and breathing out their heat. My mother heated a sauna-bath, and then she struck me with a fresh birch bunch and bathed me in the Katun water. That's the moment my first scream echoed in the rocky mountains .....

Fifty-four years have passed since that day. Now, my hair is grey and I have a beard. Passing by my village, I stop my car, lie down on the ground and ask my Altai for its blessing and then I wash myself in the Katun water.
The years of my childhood I passed in the village of Kuladu (this is the name of a bird similar to an eagle, but smaller). There are also the graves of my father Nökör, my grandfather Shumar and his father and grandfathers Tüdürmen, Kytash and Ürbeke. The other ancestors Köchkünek, Kuragan, Katu-Kara, Parchygysh, Ak-Buka and Tüde lived on the coast of the Golden Lake (Altyn-Köl). Our kin of Tölös (tribe of Telengits or Tele / Tölös) is one of the biggest in Altai and it unites several different tribes. Now, I live in the village of Ulala, known today as the city of Gorno-Altaisk. This is the most ancient city of the oldest tribe from the Altai. People have lived in the Altai since the earliest time of mankind (according to scientists, homo erectus was already there 1,5 million years ago).

Our singing style, called kai, has been transmitted from our ancestors through all generations up to date. With kai singing the human voice imitates the sounds of nature, so one can hear the roar of dinosaurs, the sound of a "boiling" volcano or the waves of the Katun and Biya rivers..


1. Üch-Sümerge maktal - Prais song for Üch-Sümer
music: trad., text: N. Shumarov - topshur, voice (throat singing in the kai style): Nohon
The sacred mountain Üch-Sümer lies at the source of the river Aru-Kem (Pure River) in the Ongudaisky aimak (district). In the area of this mountain, it is forbidden to hunt birds and the maral (an Asiatic red deer, also called Persian deer). At foot of this mountain, my ancestors built a ritual kuree (stone fence), where they prayed to their gods. Part of the text for the praise song to Üch-Sümer, I heard in 1960 from my father's elder sister, Shumarova Tyiyk (1904-1986), when she was praying.
- You were father to us, White Glacier / you were mother to us, Pure River / taking a hairy rope, I caught a flying horse / drawing up water with my arms, I drank from a pure spring / in hot summer days, I cleaned myself under the rain / in the cold of winter, I lay on the white downy snow / you protect your birds and animals, my sacred mountain / you do not allow anyone to climb your peaks, my praised taiga / people are living here and say prayers to honour you, my mountain / give your children, give the flying bird, give the running beast / peace and your blessing.

2. Bööl, bööl - music: N. Shumarov, text: T. Akulova (Mendur-Sokkon, South Altai)
- topshur, karkiraa (low-pitched guttural singing), komus: Nohon - dömbra: Shanajdar
This ritual is carried out when a child starts to make his first steps. The child's feet are tied up with a rope made of silk threads of different colours. During the ritual, this rope is with scissors and then people start to sing. Here I sing my own revised version of this song.
- Run fast to outrun a fox / jump to outrun a chick / stamp your feet to outrun a calf / leap far to outrun a foal.

3. Kyiralarlu ak kaiyn - white birch - music: N. Shumarov, text: B. Bedyurov
- topshur, voice, komus: Nohon - dömbra, shatra: Shanajdar
- The holy white birch stands there, shining / as clean as a girl, keep your holiness / may Üch-Sümer forever be a fortress for us / my people never break down, they go on living for generations / I am to be a master of my homeland / and to find my happiness.

4. Tyiyk ejemnin küzi - my aunt Tyiyk - instrumental - music: trad.
- shoor: Nohon
My aunt Tyiyk liked to play the shoor, and I enjoyed listening to her own versions of traditional melodies. Now I play her versions of traditional melodies.

5. Suunin oyiny - song of water - instrumental - music: N. Shumarov
- komus: Nohon

6. Menin kalganchi janarim - my last song - music and text: N. Shumarov
- topshur, voice: Nohon
- If a holy birch is cut down / how can it get green again? / If a pure spring has been polluted / where shall we drink water? / If a prayer place has been destroyed / where shall we pray? / If the tribe of epic-singers dies out / who will sing epics then? / If song-makers die? / Who will create songs then? / If we forget our native tongue / will we survive as a folk? / In this universe of different faces / will we be able to remain?

7. Bairam - shepard's holiday - instrumental - music: N. Shumarov
- komus: Nohon - dömbra: Shanajdar

8. Kamdash - shaman's song - music: N. Shumarov, text: trad., recorded by S. Pelekova (Kunandinsky dialect, Aleskino-Kozha, North Altai)
- komus, voice: Nohon
When a man dies, a shaman is invited to his house on the ninth day after his death. The shaman fumigates the dead man's house with juniper, thus purge it of evil spirits.
- At our doors do not idle about / in our four angles do not tangle / your place is out there in a bottomless and black cave / go away from us, Üzüt.

9. Kan Kerenin kabai kozhoni - Kan-Kere s lullaby - music: N. Shumarov, text: trad., recorded by A. Pustogasheva in 1962 (Chalkan dialect, Kurmach-Baigol, North Altai)
- topshur, komus, voice: Nohon - dömbra: Shanajdar
Kan-Kere (or Garuda) is a mythical bird with the body of a lion. A felt hanging with the image of this mythical creature was found at Pazyryk, a Scythian burial site in a dry valley opening on the Bolshoy Ulagan River valley in Kazakhstan.
Kan-Kere's child / must jump and fly high / bird-hunter's child / must hunt and fly away.

10. Saniskannin sygydy - complaints of a magpie (imitation of a magpie s plaintive calls) - music: N. Shumarov, text: trad., recorded by V. Radlov, XVIII century (Bayat dialect, North Altai)
- topshur, voice: Nohon
I did not heed the words of the old ones and made my nest on a low branch / the big water rose and my nestling sank / a big-eyed pike swallowed my nestling / now I follow the old ones' advise and make my nest on the top of a tree.

11. Keler uiege - for the next generations - music and text: N. Shumarov
- topshur, voice: Nohon - dömbra, komus: Shanajdar
- From the depths of the universe, I brought a book of wisdom / from the distant space, I brought bright knowledge / beyond the blue spaces, invisible stars exist / beyond the polar star, unattainable knowledge exists / I went to the end of the universe's axis / I attained the high ideals of the cosmic axis.

12. Menin Altaiym - my Altai - instrumental - music: N. Shumarov
- shoor: Nohon

13. Altai maktal - prise for the Altai - music and text: trad.
- topshur, voice (throat singing in the kai style): Nohon
- Sing, my two-stringed topshur / ask the great epic-tellers and my Altai for their blessing / I now start to sing my song about the pure and blue peaks of the Altai Mountains / where a nightingale is singing all night long.

14. Jas - spring - instrumental - music: N. Shumarov
- komus: Nohon

15. Taadamnin kabai kozhoni - my grandfather's lullaby - music and text: N. Shumarov
- voice: Nohon
- Mother has gone to milk the cow, hot milk she will bring to you / mother has gone to herd the sheep, thick milk she will bring to you / father has gone hunting, soft meat he will bring to you / father has gone for firewood, toys he will make for you.

16. Sary bürler - yellow tree branches - music: N. Shumarov, text: E. Palkin
- topshur, komus, voice: Nohon - dömbra, shatra, voice: Shanajdar
- The golden days of brown autumn are burning off, there is a standstill, thick fog covers the peaks of mountains, the time has come for the green summer to return, yellow leaves, yellow leaves spin around.
17. Bash-Adar - instrumental - music: N. Shumarov
- komus: Nohon
Praise song for the Bash-Adar Mountain, where many warriors were buried.

English translation: Chagat Almashev
Revised by Silvia Delorenzi-Schenkel

Board with a picture at the beginning of the Balyktujul village, Ulagan aimak "Sovjetskiy Altai"

The Turkic peoples in the Altai were hunters and nomadic shepherds tending sheep, horses and sometimes camels. They bequeathed an extremely interesting culture to their descendants, the basic features of which have been handed down from ancient times until the present day. One of the most important forms of Altai art, apart from painting and poetry, is the narration of epics in a falsetto voice to the accompaniment of the two-string lute topshur. Texts are usually enunciated in a low guttural bass register used by throat singers.

- More information on the history of the people from Altai and the Altai region you can look up in Nohon's first Album: Üch-Sümer - Face Music - FM 50018.