What Pegman Saw: My Horsehead Fiddle

Mongolia by BRA… on google maps

Sükhe regarded the dead body of his once-perfect white horse… and wailed louder than the wind that tore o’er the land. The hand of his neighbour’s lord was in that. All that day, Sükhe wept, his father despairing he’d ever stop weeping.

Hush, his horse whispered to him in the night. Dry your eyes and listen… take my bones and form them into a long neck. See how? And the horse showed him how. Now take my skin and use it to cover a soundbox. And take my hair and from it form strings. And atop the neck carve my head. See how? And the horse showed him how.

The next day, Sükhe did as his horse’s spirit had shown him.

“What is it?” asked his father.

“It is my morin khuur, my horsehead fiddle. So my horse and I together can still ride the wind.”

146 words, written for What Pegman Saw: Mongolia

There exist two stories to account for the first creation of the morin khuur… this is my take on one of those.

And for those who want a taste of the horseheaded fiddle … as performed by the Dutch Pagan Rock band Omnia. And it’s worth listening through to the 3 minutes mark, as it then livens up

About crispina kemp

Spinner of Asaric and Mythic tales
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50 Responses to What Pegman Saw: My Horsehead Fiddle

  1. Jen Goldie says:

    Great story Crispina. Folklore is something I’ve yet to explore. So I listened to Omnia, then I listened to another and another. Mesmerizing. You’re words and the PRAYER were perfect together.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dale says:

    You have a knack with these, Crispina. I love how you go digging to find the folklore of a place and bring it to life.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Violet Lentz says:

    I had two girls on my crew over the summer from Mongolia. I had really given little thought to it before that. They gifted me a metal of Ghenghis Kahn still a proud part of their heritage.

    Liked by 1 person

    • An extremely high % of easter Eurasian males carry Ghengis Kahn’s dna. From Hungary through to China. He had rather a lot of wives. But yes, he’s still an important character, memory, feature, in their culture.


  4. Judy says:

    Totally enjoyable and magical Crispina!! You do have a knack for these things and they always seem a lead-in that begs for more!!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Great story, I love the spirit of the horse that runs through it, and the sense of freedom.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This was inspired by a documentary I saw (on YouTube) some years back, about these children learning to place the horsehead fiddle. It went quite into depth regards the music. It is the wind across the steppe, it is the horses. The image of those children, manically drawing the music from those simple-seeming fiddles (though in truth they’re not simple) stays with me.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lynn Love says:

    This is great stuff, Crispina. Love the voice of the horse speaking to its owner, telling him how to create the fiddle so they’ll never be apart. Just cracking mythic storytelling. Loved it

    Liked by 1 person

  7. pennygadd51 says:

    This is a nice retelling of a folk-tale. I particularly like the way you include “The hand of his neighbour’s lord was in that.” You add to the grief of losing a beloved companion, the sense that the companion was snatched away deliberately and brutally.
    I enjoyed Omnia’s music – thank you for including it!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. k rawson says:

    I’m utterly captivated, both by the legend you’ve bought to life, and the side of Mongolia you’ve shown me. The music is great too!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is beautifully written. The music you added in the link is utterly hypnotic. I love ‘throat singing’ and the amazing ways people have found ways to tie down music and make folklore their own. Fabulously done.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I loved reading it. Folklore is one of my favourite things to read and Mongolia is such an interesting place. Do you know about the Mughal (Moguls)?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Joy Pixley says:

    What a mythical take on the origin of a musical instrument, it makes it feel so powerful and important in the culture. I enjoyed the song, too — I’m a big fan of folk music, so I liked it even before it livened up. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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