What is Morin Huur / Horsehead fiddle

Morin Huur is a string instrument with a trapezoid body, played with horsehair bows. It is a traditional instrument of the nomadic Mongols. Morin Huur literally means "Horse's fiddle" in Mongolian.
Mongolian folk songs are often accompanied by morin huur. Of course people in Mongolia still love it. They even consider it as a symbol of fortunate, because it is thought to have a magical power in music to avoid something bad. People like it played especially in party or festival.

Morin huur is played in various style nowadays - orchestra, ensemble, even rock band in Mongolia. The range is three octaves and two strings are usually tuned to an interval of a fourth.

The origin of Morin Huur.

There are some stories about the origin of Morin huur. "Sukhee's white horse" is a story of Inner Mongolia and so famous in Japan, cause many of Japanese children read this story at school. It is a sad story about boy named Sukhee and his white horse.
A white horse of Sukhee is a swift horse and won the first place in a horse race. King was watching it and then take it without Sukhees permission.
One day the horse escaped from the king and tried to go back to Sukhee. But the armies of King chased the horse and shoot him with arrows. The horse arrived to yurt of Sukhee at last. Sukhee was so shocked to see the wounded horse and tried to take arrows from his horse.But finally, the horse died. Sukhee was so sad and couldn't eat or sleep for a long while. But one night,he dreamed of the white horse. The horse talked to him in a soft voice, Don't feel so sad. I want you to make an instrument using my body. Then I can always be with you.
After awakening, he started to make an instrument as the horse said in his dream, using horse's bone, hair, and skin. The instrument was now done. Sukhee usually played it after dark, singing about his horse. That's the origin of the Morin Huur.

"Khukhuu Namjil" is well-known story in Mongolia. A herdsman, Khukhuu Namjil, received a magical winged horse"jonon har" from his sweetheart. He flew to see her every night with this magical horse. But one day his wife found out his secret: his horse's wings. She became so furious and then cut them off. The magical horse,"jonon har", died. Khukhuu Namjil was grieved over his death and now he missed also his sweetheart. Then he made a fiddle from bones, skin and hairs of horse. He played the fiddle and sung about his love for the horse.
So we introduce the other, very simple and short story. Mr.Baigaljav (he is a famous craftman of Morin Huur) told us this one. We hope you feel aroma of pastoral life.

A long time ago, a herdsman lived in a vast Gobi desert. One beautiful day, he heard something sounds outside his Ger(yurt). He went to outside.

He found out that it was a sound of horsehair rubbed against one another in the wind. Even winds can play sound like this. How would it be if we play it. He decided to make an instrument and made it. Then he played it. Afterwards, a camel once refused to accept its first born foal, began to feed. Her eyes were filled with tears.


The power of so enigmatic sound. That's the story of Morin Huur.