Tuvan throat singing as intangible cultural heritage and as Tuva’s cultural brand

Novye Issledovaniâ Tuvy. 2019;0(2) DOI 10.25178/nit.2019.2.6


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Journal Title: Novye Issledovaniâ Tuvy

ISSN: 2079-8482 (Online)

Publisher: Novye Issledovaniâ Tuvy

LCC Subject Category: Social Sciences: Communities. Classes. Races

Country of publisher: Russian Federation

Language of fulltext: Russian

Full-text formats available: PDF



Chimiza K. Lamazhaa (Московский гуманитарный университет)
Valentina Yu. Suzukey (Тувинский институт гуманитарных и прикладных социально-экономических исследований)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 18 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

The article deals with the issues of preserving the unique Tuvan throat singing tradition, Khѳѳmei, which is seen as part of Tuva’s intangible cultural heritage. Correspondingly, our article is based on the UN recommendations on how to deal with challenges to this type of heritage. There is a lot of information, including research, on Khѳѳmei available now. It has been collected primarily by two state institutions of Tuva whose task is to study and develop the throat singing tradition – Khѳѳmei International Research Center and the Center for Developing Traditional Tuvan Culture and Crafts. Although a number of publications have come out, there is still no dedicated catalogue of works on Khѳѳmei, nor of Khѳѳmei singers. Another set of challenges yet unmatched is to collect audio and video recordings of Khѳѳmei performances and provide access to it to all those interested. So far it has been in the hands of enthusiasts, including Khѳѳmei aficionados from outside Russia. A most important task to preserve the authentic, true form of Khѳѳmei as intangible heritage is augmented by the fact that orally transmitted traditions are by nature “nimble” and changeable. The art of Khѳѳmei now exists both in its original form and – transformed – within contemporary musical forms where it is fused with various genres of pop, jazz, rock and avant-garde music. It has also  entered the domain of what now is known as “world music”. This success has had an impact on Tuva’s international cultural ties and on the rise of ethnocultural tourism, and thus Khѳѳmei may and should be seen as a brand of contemporary Tuvan culture, as well as a factor of ethnic mobilization. In 2011, the job of a throat singer has been officially recognized in Russia, and  Khѳѳmeizhi now can enjoy the right for job benefits. This can be seen as an organizational victory. However, Khѳѳmei itself, as every form of art, needs legal protection. There is a global trend to see it as analogous to the so-called European mechanism of sound production (two-voice texture). Although Khѳѳmei can be entered on national and global registers as an asset of Tuvan ethnic culture, it is much more important to accept the correct methodology of teaching Khѳѳmei to students at educational institutions of art. Future progress of Khѳѳmei also requires international cooperation in the fields of both research and practice.