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Siberia 11: Bear Songs, Harps and Lyres from the Banks of the Ob River - Khanty Mansi

Music of the world

The Khanty and Mansi are two peoples who speak Finno-Ugric (Finnish-Hungarian) languages and live on the banks of the Ob River and its tributaries, to the east of the Ural Mountains. The “game of the bear” ritual has prime of place in their culture, as can be gathered from this CD – the 80 years of Soviet banning could not prevent hamper the importance of this plantigrade. The Khanty and Mansi are also amongst the very rare peoples in Eurasia who still use a harp, as well as a lyre, tuned to a hemitonic pentatonic scale. They also play a string-activated mouth harp made of reindeer bone, as well as a frame drum. Besides the Bear, their songs –some of them comical– celebrate the Raven and the beauty of their land, its forests and rivers. Indeed, nature has a central role in the reindeer breeder communities.