Name: Morin Khuur.

Type: Bowed > Chordophone.

Region: Mongolia > Far East Asia.

Tuning: F - Bb.

Dimensions: Scale Length 70 cm.

Acquisition Date:

Acquisition Source: a close friend > Trip to Mongolia.

The Morin Khuur (in Mongolian морин хуур) it is known by other alternate names including Шоор (shuur), Ikil and in Mandarin Chinese (Ma Tou Qin). In Western Mongolia a name for the Khuur is "Ikil" in which there is a connection to the Tuvan Igil (a related bowed instrument). The morin khuur is also played in the neighbouring Buryat Republic. During the Qing Dynasty (c. 1644-1901) the Ma Tou Qin likely has originated from the same instrument. In the Chinese system of classification this khuur belongs to the huqin branch of the silk-instrument family. The khuur is one of the main instruments played for the "long song" or "epic song".

Playing Techniques: The Morin Khuur is played upright in the same manner as a cello. Unlike a cello the on the left string or the first string of the instrument, the musician holds his finger nail on the string and applies very nimble pressure in which allows for vibrato and applied acoustic effects during performance. However this is where the cello and the Morin khuur similarities end. On the cello the musician places their fingers directly onto the string in which touches the fingerboard. Where as on the morin khuur the space in between the strings and the fingerboard allow room for some fancy finger techniques including a picking technique with the left hand whose movements resembles the sound of horses galloping.

Construction: Typically the morin-khuur is usually constructed of wood, from a trapezoidal body, neck, head stock and tuning pegs. Although some morin-khuurs have a double-skin body in where animal hyde is stretched on both sides of the body. The head stock is carved in the theme of a horses head with a serpents face. From the head stock where the serpent's mouth is located the two strings travel across the bridge to the tail peace. In which the strings are actually held underneath tail piece rather then at the tail its self. The strings represent the fangs of the serpent.

Several influences as borrowed from violin luthiers include the use of a sound-post and f-holes as ornamental sound holes. Ornamental details of this specimen are quite intricate including the additional outlay of the animals featured in the Chinese Zodiac including the rooster, rat pig, serpent or snake. The artwork on the Morin Khuur is also influenced by a shared heritage of Tibetan Buddhism. The pair of strings are called “Narin” and “Bhuddin”. In Mongolian the word “narin” means “thick” and “bhuddin” means “thin”. The Bhuddin or thicker strings has a count of 130 individually selected strands from a mares tale. The thinner strands of hair amount to approximately 105 individual strands selected from a horses tail.