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"People think that diamonds are lying under our feet"

How the Association of Yakut Youth Establishes Cultural Relations in St. Petersburg

In St. Petersburg recently the announcement "teach the game on the khomus" is more popular than "teach the guitar." The cultural capital, which is new to the whole new one, is mastering the ancient musical instrument - thanks to the Yakut settlers in St. Petersburg.

"People think that diamonds are lying under our feet"
Photo: Association of Youth of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in St. Petersburg, Erkin Alekseev
Classes are held in the representative office of the Republic of Sakha with the support of the Saidy youth association, however, as well as a host of other events, at which full halls always gather. The world-renowned virtuoso musician Erkin Alekseev teaches to play a unique instrument, who considers St. Petersburg to be his second homeland. A large number of people invariably come to the courses, including the motley Petersburg audience. It was 10 years ago that the khomus in St. Petersburg was a wonder - now it has ceased to be exotic.
"The popularity of this tool has grown very much both in our country and abroad," says the presenter of the courses, a musician-khomusist, master of traditional and modern style, a virtuoso with the world name Erkin Alekseev. - People began to understand more, now almost everyone knows that this is a very ancient musical instrument, on which many people of the planet played and play. Including - Russian.
As for the Sakha people, for him, khomus is a traditional musical instrument, moreover, it occupies the main place among others, which is not peculiar to any other people, the musician says. And it has come down to our days thanks to the preservation of traditions, although even a musical instrument had to undergo serious tests. In the Soviet era, he was considered a relic of the past and there was an opinion that this "relic" should remain in the past. Sometimes it was forbidden to play on the khomus - so a simple musical instrument managed to get into politics.
"Thanks to the enthusiasts, as well as to the smith masters, the khomus has been preserved," Erkin Alekseev explains. - And after perestroika began to return from oblivion. For example, in Yakutia the first and only state museum in the world dedicated to the harp was opened, although according to some information it is found in more than 200 peoples of the world.
Today in Russia there were masters who make harpoons, and, thanks to a whole host of cultural figures, khomus is popular among the people more than ever. Both in Yakutia and in St. Petersburg. And if people with a certain philosophy were interested in khomus, now the tool is popular with the most ordinary people, not only among St. Petersburg people, but also from Muscovites and residents of other cities.
And not far the last role in this played Yakutia.
- It is interesting that the Yakut style of the game has greatly influenced the manner of playing other nations, - notes the virtuoso musician. - Many performers prefer Yakut khomuses instead of their own, and sometimes even situations arise when representatives of other peoples borrow the whole thing and even begin to perceive it as their own, primordial.

As for learning, then even a three-year-old child can extract the first and basic sounds on the khomus, the musician is sure. But to play real music on it, you need to work hard and hard - however, like on any other instrument.
- Music khomus unusual - shares the secrets of the game on the instrument Alekseev. - He only has one tongue, which can not be clamped to change the tone, but you can change the timbre and catch the rich overtone. Here the instrument's body is played by the man himself: a plastic case with a blowing air regime is obtained, which can change directly during the game on it. If the body of a violin or a guitar could be changed, then the sound would change too.
Many people believe that khomus has the power of healing. However, official medicine has recently recognized music therapy as an unconventional method of treatment. There is a belief that on the khomus you can not play in the dark, as it attracts evil spirits.
And they say that in the old days in Yakutia only women played on the khomus, the musician shares legends. Young girls on girlish gatherings through khomus gave out their secrets to girlfriends, shared about who they were in love with. And older women could be exchanged for jokes gossip or even scold.

- And all because through the khomus you can "pronounce" the words without a voice, simply articulating with the speech apparatus, - reveals the "secret" Erkin Alekseev.
The musician is sure: learning the game on the khomus is a deep journey inside yourself. In a literal and figurative sense. I fully agree with this statement, a third-year student of one of St. Petersburg's universities, Mikhail. In Peter, he came to study from central Russia, with the Yakut students became friends in the first year.
"Big workers - these people of the north," Mikhail concludes. - Yes, here is at least learning to play on the khomus! In order to learn to play it, you need a lot of patience, the ability to pull yourself together, to take your mind off everything, to concentrate. Music, of course, appropriate - bewitch. The time is lost - the century would have listened. I am happy to go to all events that the Saidy is happy with, they are very interesting. I can not say that we are anything different from each other, except in appearance. Now, at the time of the Internet and various technologies, there is some single - global that is - thinking. Well, girls behave more restrained, yes.

However, learning to play on the khomus is not the only project of the Saidy association, which was created in the middle of the 90 to support "our own" who came to live and study in St. Petersburg.
- This year we celebrate the anniversary - the 20 anniversary of our organization, - says the chairman of the council of the organization, a third-year student of the Polytechnic University Tatiana Baisheva. - The association was founded by students from Yakutia to keep in touch with each other and help in adapting to newcomers. It was just the time when the program of state targeted education began in Yakutia and the number of students enrolled in the central universities of Russia increased sharply. Basically it was the guys from the villages, who found it difficult to adapt in a large and foreign city. Many unfolded and returned home in the first year of school. So, to help students solve problems, to rally them, and our association was created.
Now, of course, there are no such problems with adaptation, Tatyana says. And the main activity of Saidy, which translates as "Development", is the presentation of the traditions and culture of Yakutia. In the organization there is no obligation, everything is entirely voluntary, but the participants do not become less of it. These are students from different St. Petersburg universities, graduate students, working youth - those who miss their native land.
"Often students are afraid of what awaits them after graduation," Tatiana notes. - And we help them, encourage them, give advice. Recently, more and more of our graduates remain in St. Petersburg.
There is also help from the government of the republic: thus, every year a competition is held for the scholarship of the head of Yakutia, and this applies to all students from the region, not only from St. Petersburg. The Ministry of Education annually issues awards to distinguished students, and the association annually takes part in drawing a grant among public organizations that represent the interests of the republic beyond its borders. It is interesting that there are associations of Yakut students now in Moscow, Khabarovsk, Novosibirsk, Tomsk and other cities, recently it was opened in Kazan.
- We try to hold our events primarily for the local population, - says Tatiana Baisheva. - We talk about Yakutia, because often even among adult educated people there is an opinion that somewhere in very distant Yakutia people are still riding deer, eating raw meat, mammoths are walking along the streets, and diamonds are lying under their feet. Before moving to St. Petersburg, I did not believe in the existence of such people, but here I meet them quite often. This is both funny and sad.
For "their own" by tradition there is a dedication to students, freshman day, subbotniks, trips and excursions. Such, for example, as a traditional trip on the eve of the Victory Day on Lake Ilmen, where 75 years ago, the tragic battle of the 19 and 3 individual ski brigades, formed mainly from Yakutians, took place. Or the holiday of the Republic of Sakha Day, within the framework of which this year competitions were held in the Yakut table games.
But the most important event of the Yakutians is the contest of beauty and talent "Kytalyk kuo". In translation - a girl who personifies the beauty and grace of the Siberian Crane. The competition is held from the foundation of the organization.

 - At first glance, the competition does not have any global goal, except for the choice of the most beautiful Yakut woman in Petersburg, - Tatyana explains. "But the competition is becoming a platform for acquaintance of Yakutians from different spheres, and an occasion to tell about our organization through cooperation with famous people and firms, and a concert concert. At this event, we call everyone, including those who help us. We try to make it as rich and understandable for the viewer-guest, who has little idea about our republic.
The contest was not only a demonstration of colorful national costumes and talents of girls. Applicants for the victory were prepared under the guidance of professionals in oratory, make-up artists, fitness trainers. Separately from the final concert, the intellectual stage of the contest was held, at which the participants flashed knowledge on the history and geography of Yakutia and Russia, talked about the world art and even held a small debate.
This year the topic "Symbols of Yakutia" was chosen: the girls came out in unusual images of the Sardanian flower, the musical instrument Khomus, the gold of the taiga - Furs, the mighty Moroz, the gigantic Mamont, the sparkling Diamond and, of course, the great Lena River.
- Dazzling and incredible, the girls are very good, - one of the spectators of St. Petersburg Marina Napolskikh shares her impressions. - I am very impressed, so many new emotions, new information ... It's good that this abnormal Soviet attitude to the culture of small Russian peoples is leaving. Already once again, and the language does not turn to utter the word "Chukchi".
At 9 May Yakutians presented St. Petersburgers a small surprise. Participants of the "Immortal Regiment" - students, representatives of the Yakut community, employees of the Permanent Mission - walked along Nevsky Prospekt in Yakut clothes. After the march, the Yakutians danced the round dance of the Oboohai on the Palace Square - in honor of the Victory Day.
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