Sunday, 11 September 2011

Rest In Peace, Great Singer

Just a few days ago, we blogged about Aldyn-ool Sevek, the Tuvan master khoomeizhi ("throat singer"). Today, the New Research of Tuva published sad news: Aldyn-ool Sevek passed away after a long struggle against illness.
He was able to spend his last days in his native home at the Mongun-Taiga, the "sacred wilderness" of Tuvinian nomads.

A dated, but still unique and fascinating documentary about this region was produced in 1989, just at the end of the Soviet era.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Greatest Khoomeizhi

As regular readers of The New Research of Tuva, we were delighted to discover this article about the master throat singer (khoomeizhi) Aldyn-ool Sevek by Valentina Suzukei, complete with this Chirayliq-friendly quote:
It was not only on a single occasion that women, both in Russia and in countries abroad told me that after listening to Aldyn-ool Sevek's recordings, they fell in love with all Tuvan men, unconditionally and sight unseen, because kargyraa is such a beautiful and vivid expression of male essence, that is very difficult to resist. "No matter how many times I heard this mighty, masculine sound, at the same time full of masculine nobility and dignity, every time it reaches into such depths of my soul, and every time it touches me to tears," - one of my colleagues-anthropologists told me, who dreams of marrying a Tuvan khoomeizhi, regardless of the fact that she is much taller than average, something that she even finds a bit embarrassing.

Kargyraa is a deep, growling double sound created with the vocal as well as the vestibular folds (more details). Here is an example of this technique:

Monday, 22 August 2011

Eduard Ondar

Tuvan actor Eduard Ondar recently visited Kazan during the all-Turkic Nauruz festival. Ondar starred in Yakut director Andrei Borisov's epic movie By the Will of Chingis Khan (2009), and his next great project is a Kazakh production where he plays a Dzungarian warlord. In an interview for Tuvinskaya Pravda, Ondar tells about the unexpected troubles that the role of the greatest warlord in Asian history brought him:

"Before, in my time off, just like most of my colleagues, I used to moonlight as a cab driver with my ancient Honda, to make a few extra kopeks. Genghis Khaan deprived me of this possibility. One day some elderly passenger that I was driving somewhere even complained to my bosses – how is this possible, the Khan himself, and he has sunk to driving a riksha? That is unsuitable."

See also: Preview of the new Kazakh movie.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Charles Bronson TV ad

Our perennial favourite Charles Bronson (who probably deserves his own tag soon, exhibit #1 and #2) on Japanese TV, advertising nothing less than MAN DOM. The original poster claims that this was made around 1970, and we are inclined to believe them.

Oh yeah... Happy birthday, Mum!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011


If you have nothing better to do, you surf around and look for Chirayliq material... Take a look at this inspiring album called "Isolation", so refreshing in the summer heat, isn't it? The lovely portfolio was created by Almaty photographer Ilyas Sadykov and also includes some nice backstage photos of the artist himself at work.

The model in "Isolation" is singer Nurmuhamed Nussipkozhanov.

Oh, and don't forget: Smoking papirosi is bad for your health...

Monday, 11 July 2011

Madness - Neg odor

Madness is a Mongolian rock band. This video was custom-made for Chirayliq ;-)

National Day of Mongolia

Today, Mongolia celebrates its 90th national day.

On July 11, 1921, Mongolia was declared independent after the victories of a Mongol revolutionary army led by Damdin Sükhbaatar and supported by the Soviet Red Army. They defeated a White army led by Baron Ungern-Sternberg (with his own motives in conflict with other White Russian leaders - a fantastic story worth it's own post one day!) and the Chinese occupants of Outer Mongolia.

Sükhbaatar and Choibalsan, revolutionary leaders. Sükhbaatar was a popular military leader. He died less than a year after the declaration of independence, an event surrounded by rumours. Choibalsan went on to lead Stalin-style purges, first among the Mongol monarchists and Buddhist leaders, later within the Communist party itself.

But that was not the first or only occasion in the 20th century that Mongolia's independence was declared. In December 29, 1911, the Khalkhas of Outer Mongolia declared their independence from the Qing Dynasty. They installed a lama of a high lineage as the Bögd Khaan, and thus the first independent Mongolian state of the 20th century became a theocracy. This state was later occupied by the newly established Republic of China. The second declaration of independence in 1921 led to the establishment of the Mongolian People's Republic under strong Soviet influence in 1924.

Squeezed in between two great powers, Mongolia has had a difficult task of balancing between outer pressure and inner power struggles. In 1990, a peaceful revolution led by young people and students eventually caused the single-party system to crumble. (Interestingly, even Wikipedia mentions the "thousand-year parliamentary tradition" of Mongolia!)

Protestors in Sükhbaatar square, among them Sanjaasürengiin Zorig, one of the student leaders, who became a notable progressive politician and was mysteriously murdered in 1998.

So much for the strange and violent 20th century! Now let's relax with Börte, a wonderful band that plays traditional instruments and invents new melodies on a grand scale, take us through some ancient elements of Mongolian history in this beautiful composition "Gobi".

Monday, 9 May 2011

День Победы

Soviet sailor. From the album Soviet Photography, published for the 1939 World Fair in New York.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Rescue Dogs

After the previous post on the disastrous 9.0 earthquake in Japan this weekend, I found lots of photos of search and rescue teams with dogs. Again, the core Central Asian states are seriously underrepresented - please point me in the right direction if you are in the know. Above, a Japanese dog team is looking for survivors among the destruction at the tsunami-stricken northeast coast. You can see how big ships have been thrown ashore by the mighty waves. Photo by Kazuki Wakasugi. Source: Yomiuri Shimbun

A South Korean rescue dog team arrives in Japan, as seen in the previous post. Source: Reuters

An inhabitant of the town Kesennuma, which suffered terribly under the tsunami, carries his little sheltie. Source: Der Spiegel

Indonesia is another island nation frequently experiencing earthquakes. This photo is from Sumatra 2009. A man is taking several dogs out for a walk in the partly-destroyed city.

Search and rescue dogs arrived in Sumatra from all over the world.
Taiwanese rescue workers with a search and rescue dog assisted with the recovery of survivors in Christchurch, New Zealand, earlier this year.

The Himalaya Rescue Dog Squad Nepal is the first-ever of its kind in the country. The squad's tasks include rescue operations at high altitudes and in deep jungles, after avalanches, floods, and serious traffic accidents. Since the project is so new and the working conditions are very difficult, there's a fundraising page with more information. The people involved in the project also run a caste-free school.

Ilya Zaslavski and search and rescue dog Perets arrived in Haiti 2010 from Russia. The Haiti earthquake struck a densely populated region with weak infrastructure, and recovery has been very difficult. The earthquake could inflict lasting damage on an already disadvantaged society, so we shouldn't forget about Haiti. The Red Cross has more information.

Speaking of Russia, I found a cute thread about rescue dog training in Russia by volunteers. If your dog likes to search for things and needs an interesting hobby, this could be a nice idea. Many of the more independent-minded breeds that tend to do naughty things when bored (such as shibas and terriers in the thread) are well suited for this kind of complex task.

Dogs that were injured in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake are being treated at a private shelter in Chengdu.

Rescue dog training in China: The People's Liberation Army tends towards rather showy exercises...

Jumping through fiery hoops... and the handler's arms.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Earthquakes in Asia

Japanese troops save an elderly man whose hometown has been destroyed by the Sendai earthquake and tsunami, magnitude 8.9, on 11. March 2011.

We have been following the news from Japan (live stream here:, and our thoughts go out to all the brave people, civilians and officials, who are doing their best to save lives in the greatest earthquake in recent Japanese history. Earthquakes happen all over the world, and we include here some photos of rescue operations during the last 5 years in Asia.

South Korean rescue workers and dogs arrive in Japan. Source: AFP

Source: Reuters. More images at (

In 2008, a devastating earthquake struck Sichuan Province in China. Here, the famous pandas of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding are being rescued.

The toll on human life was much greater. At least 68,000 people were killed in the 8.0 Ms quake centered on Wenchuan County on 12 May 2008.

Rescue workers help an elderly man.

In contrast to the numerous photos from Japan and China, it is slightly more challenging to find material from the Central Asian countries that have also been suffering from earthquakes during the last decade. These countries have also received less news coverage, globally. Above, rescue workers from the Kyrgyzstan Red Crescent Society pose for a group photo in the Alai region of Osh City in 2008. The town Nura and the village Kura were completely destroyed in the magnitude 6.6 earthquake that was felt in in Tajikistan and Xinjang Uighur as well.

Unicef specialist Yang Zhenbo among schoolkids in Sichuan after the earthquake 2008. (Source: Unicef)

And life goes on. See Claudia Janke's impressive photo series after the earthquake in Pakistan 2005. People rebuild their homes and even have time for a quick smile in spite of their difficult circumstances. But healing takes time and comes with a heavy cost - that's why international mutual help and aid always will be necessary.

EDIT: In 2010, the Yushu earthquake hit the Tibetan plateau with a magnitude of 7.1 Ms. Don't miss these images of Tibetan monks as rescue workers.

(The comparison is pretty pathetic, but Ainur has only experienced one "real" earthquake in her life and can only marvel at the survival stories above. Please correct any mistakes you can spot in this post, as it was written in a great hurry and emotional turmoil.)

Monday, 14 February 2011

Ali's Dream

This is a short documentary clip by the Swedish national television. Ali is a teenage boy from an unmentioned country - he could be anyone from anywhere, but circumstances made him a refugee in a small town in Sweden. He has to endure teasing from the very first day - other kids call him Chinese, Afghan, Turk, but always with curses. In the beginning, Ali says, he used to fight, but he realized that it's useless.
It's not easy for Ali to adapt to a situation where nobody speaks his language and nobody knows his past. But Ali finds a way that helps him release the accumulated stress and makes him dream of greater things - boxing. His host mother supports him.

In the end, Ali says that he has an even bigger dream. When he dies, he wants people to miss him. He wants do do something good. Like so many other kids who deserve that chance to explore their abilities, regardless of war and persecution... Good luck, Ali, and keep on fighting!