Articles » History of dombyra

History of the instrument.

In 1989 Pofessor Mr. Akitaev S. with the help of ethnographer Mr. Zhagda Babakuly found a picture varved on a rock in the Republic of Kazakhstan in the plateau “Maitobe” (Almaty region). The carved picture contains four dancing people and a musical instrument very similar to Kazakh Dombyra. The picture is dated by Neolithic period according to archeologist Mr. Akishev K.  Now the picture is in the museum of the national instruments after Yqylas Dukenuly in Almaty city, Kazakhstan. Basing on the fact we may say that the instrument’s birth might take place more than 4000 years ago on our continent.

Also during the excavation of the ancient Horezm archeologists found a terracotta sculpture (little figure) of the musicians playing on plucked instrument with two strings which was 2000 years old. The scholars say that the instrument looks exactly like for instance Kazakh dombyra and was widely spread all over  the  territory of Kazakhstan among Turkic nomad tribes.  


According to the historical documents existing on the continent, it is known that this kind of plucked instrument was widely used long time ago amongst people that lived on the continent. It is also known that this instrument was used by Huns and Scythians. Cuman (Kipchaks in the past)  used the instrumeny as well. There are many kuis that came from those centuries like: ertis tolqyndary-waves of Irtysh river), mundy kyz-a sad girl, tepen kok-lynx), aqsaq qaz-lame goose),  bozingen-white female camel, zhelmaja-dromedary),  qulannyn tarpu’y-tramp of onager),  kokeikesti-deep disturbance and others.

Also in the works of Marco Polo (1254-1323) it says that nomad Tartar tribes used to play two stringed plucked instrument before the battle, they sang and thus were tuned to the fighting. It was in 1298. It is very important to say that even though this article’s chapter is about Kazakh Dombyra still this kind instrument also belongs to many Turkic peoples of the continent.

Dombyra is the instrument to play Kui.

Kui is a musical composition in traditional culture of Kazakh people and Kyrgys people. Usually Kui is 1.5-2 minutes long. There are two types of it: folk’s and by authors. Kui may be played with different national instrument but mostly with Dombyra. Kuishi (the one who performs the kui and composes it) were respected very much in Kazakh culture and were always famous far beyond their villages and towns where they lived.

Source: Zhumagali Nazhmedenov. Acoustic features of Kazakh dombyra. Aktobe, Kazakhstan, 2003.

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