4. CULTURAL & HISTORICAL HERITAGES

THE MONGOLIAN THROAT SINGING – KHUUMII

No one knows exactly where and when khuumii comes from. According to the Mongolians khuumii's “birth place” is in Chandmani Soum in the west of Mongolia. However, the kind of singing is also found in other places. They mainly center on the Altai and Sayan Mountain ranges.


Overtone singing or Khuumii is a type of singing in which the singer manipulates the resonances created as air travels from the lungs, past the vocal folds, and out the lips to produce a melody. It is believed the art of throat singing has originated from south western Mongolia in today’s Khovd and Govi-Altai provinces. Today, throat singing is found throughout the country and Mongolia is often considered as the most active place of throat singing in the world.


Most of the other theories about the origin of khuumii are connected with the sounds of nature or supernatural events.


Birds are said to produce khuumii like sounds especially the bittern, which makes a special sound when its head is under water. The crane call and the sound of the snow cocks wings are said to be like khuumii.  Khuumii is sometimes referred to as voice echo or birds echo.


The sounds of water running between rocks and in particular the sound of the river Eev are said to be where the origins of khuumii belong. No one knows the exact location of the river but the Tuvans, Uriangkhai and western Khalkh Mongolians all say that khuumii was connected to the rivers magical features.


UNESCO listed Mongolian Khuumii or Mongolian Throat Singing as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mankind.