Mark Van Tongeren, Amsterdam, 2002, p.110


One of the most controversial recent developments of khoomei is the growing popularity of female throat singing.....
.....Women and khoomei are a bad combination according to Tuvans. Khoomei is an utterly masculine matter, which is clearly reflected in a number of taboos for women. Tuvan men and women, as well as a Western overtone practitioner who demonstrated her skills in Tuva have told me about the many alleged side effects of female throat singing. There is a general idea that a woman who sings khoomei is unhappy and brings misfortune of various kinds. Her khoomei may affect her brothers, her husband and her father who may fall ill or be deprived of material well-being. She gets problems in her abdomen or she will encounter great difficulties when she gives birth to a child. The child of a female khoomei singer itself isn't any better off either as it can fall ill of her singing khoomei. The most common concern about female throat singers, however, is that they may become infertile. In the worst case scenario her khoomei leads to the death of her male relatives. Taboos abound in almost any aspect of Tuvan life. It isn't just khoomeithat may have adverse effects on pregnant women. To name an example: the introduction of the Latin alphabet in 1930 was also believed to impose a threat on the health of women expecting a child.47 One could fill a book listing all Tuvan taboos. But in a society with such an abun¬dant folklore of superstitious beliefs things would only really be wrong if taboos were not broken. Valentina Salchak was hailed in 1979 as the first woman to sing khoomei in public.48 But a small-scale investigation learns that every epoch has its female throat singers that were considered as exceptions to the rule that women cannot and do not sing khoomei. During the 1990s Valentina Chuldum received much attention as a throat singer. Close relatives of famous singers, like Khunashtaar-ool's niece (in the 1960s) and Kombu's daughter (in the 1940's or 1950s), have performed khoomei in public more than once with their father. The wife of the throat-singing shaman Bilek-ool from Manchurek, Aldinsova Tortoyavna, told us that she has always sung khoomei 'because it was innate to her from birth.' She could not resist singing khoomei after she got married and had children, and sang khoomei in public in the 1950s and 1960s. But her sister, who also sang khoomei as a girl, gave up when others repeatedly reminded her of the dangers.50 In response to Khunashtaar-ool's wish, a group of female throat singers has now started a group called Tyva Kyzy. Unfortunately he didn't live to see this group, which formed around one his students, Aylangma Dambyrang (from Aylang, 'nightinggale'). This is how shy Aylangma began to sing khoomei, in the words of Tyva Kyzy spokeswoman Choduraa Tumat:

"She simply started to sing. She was born in Bai Taiga and was raised in a family of herdsmen. She has been singing as of her childhood time. In the morning or evening she pulled the blankets over her head, so that no body would bear her, and sang for herself. Then she entered art school and Khunashtaar-ool became her teacher. She took a few lessons when she was seventeen. He gave khoomei classes there during the last year of his life, in 1993. Then she performed on the Republican Festival of Chadan in 1995, in the competition preceding the large festival. She received a special prize for women."......

Mark Van Tongeren music Holand

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