The epic hero Shunu rescued the Altai people from a dungeon by playing the 7-stringed dyadagan---a musical instrument out legends. Remnants of the instrument, unearthed from a kurgan in 1939, were recently rediscovered at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. A local Altai artisan of traditional instruments attempted a reconstruction of the 2500-year-old instrument, but the sound quality falls short.
As part of Altai Mir University's ongoing efforts to revive the venerable Altai culture, our Altai project leader Svetlana Katynova is organizing a research project to analyze the fragments, in hopes of reconstruction an instrument worthy of the legends. The dyadagan was hollowed out from a piece of solid wood, was wrapped with a thin piece of skin.
A legend tells of a Khan of Altai who had seven sons. When an invasion wiped out all of his people, he made his seven sons into a musical instrument and hid it in the cleft of the mountains. The instrument absorbed all the sounds of nature and could play by itself, emitting marvelous melodies. There are many related legends from Altai oral history, including one about a constellation of seven "men of power." Recently, I was sent a video shot next door to Altai in Mongolia where the music is in the same tradition. The video is in Dutch, but the music is fabulous, showing the richness and the international impact of the musical renaissance we are fostering in the Altai Mountains. The link is attached.
Thank you for your continuing support for such valuable projects.
Joe and Lena Fast Horse run a "safe house" for Lakota children, even though, with a leaky roof and rampant black mold, the cramped house in Wounded Knee would not be considered safe by most standards. You have been supporting construction of a truly safe home for their children on a beautiful hillside overlooking Pine Ridge.
The logistics of building on the Pine Ridge Reservation are daunting: the nearest hardware store is five hours away; volunteers are ready to help, but depend on donated tools and building supplies.
The Fast Horse family urgently needs to get out of their mold-infested house before winter. This is a good-news, bad-news story:
Just being out on the land instead of in a dilapidated village will renew their souls during the long winter ahead. And then, next spring, building of the permanent structures will continue with renewed enthusiasm.
After the children stranded in Gorno-Altaisk because of washed-out roads were able to get home, project leader Svetlana Katynova made the grueling two-day trip to Tyungur Village at the base of Mount Belukha. With your donations for materials, she had built a free children's camp there over the past several years, to immerse local children in their native culture and to teach them their language and heritage.
The camp was completely destroyed by the flooded Katun River, which rose in June to thirty feet above normal spring highs. What remained is a tangle of tree trunks and brush. Svetlana made the best of it: "At least we won't lack for firewood this winter."
However, because Tyungur Village was completely flooded and the villagers are essentially on their own, the kids' camp was needed more than ever -- if only to free the adults to rebuild their homes. Svetlana arranged for the camp to be moved to the Ust Kan district, which was not affected by the flooding. She sends her deepest gratitude for your donations that enabled the camp to continue.
Then she and her husband Sasha -- both senior citizens now -- returned to Tyungur to help with the clean-up. The villagers may have plenty of wood, but their subsistence gardens were all washed away. So your autumn donations will help provide for winter food, which is essential for cultural sustainability. Thank you for your interest and support.