The Friends of Tuva newsletter.
Eighth issue: Fall, 1993
Published by Friends of Tuva
Box 70021, Pasadena CA 91117 USA.
Fax: (213) 221-8882
The Adventure Continues
"Whatever happened to Tannu Tuva?" The question, posed in 1977 by Richard
Feynman, continues to be timely. First, there is political news: despite having a rabidly
anti-Yeltsin Representative in the Parliament (see previous issue), the government of Tuva
is siding with Boris Yeltsin--at least as of this writing, on September 27. There is also
exciting artistic news: the music for one of the biggest movies of the holiday season is
in large part Tuvan! No, the movie is not about Tuva; it is about Geronimo, the last
American Indian to be captured by the US Army.
The music for the film was scored by Ry Cooder, a guitarist--if you haven't heard of
him already--whose music and life is usually described with terms such as
"respect," "down-to-earth," and "unpretentious." For many
guitar players, he is an incarnation of god.
Ry introduced himself to the Tuvans in February at their last concert, and later
contacted me about having them play music for Geronimo. (For the next four
paragraphs I draw on some passages I have written for a possible article to be
available--if I'm able to finish it--from the Tuva Trader, which will appear in
Then Ry began talking about the music. In most major films, orchestral music was used
to represent Indians--French horns and such. One might think the obvious thing to do in
this movie would be to use Apache music, but Ry reasoned that so much of it is gone, and
what's left of it is so irritating to white people, that you can't use if for an hour and
a half in a film. But the music of the Tuvans, with its pure harmonics and its firm
connection to wide open spaces, seems to be well suited for the film.
I hesitated. I've prided myself on cooking up some pretty wild schemes, but Tuvan music
to describe American Indians? "What'll the Indians think?" I asked, cautiously.
"I think I can handle it," Ry replied. He went into some explanations of the
politics of making movies about Indians, mentioning the name of American Indian Movement
(AIM) co-founder Dennis Banks as someone he was working with, but it was all over my head.
"I've been playing the Tuvans' stuff in one of the trailers out there in Moab, Utah,
where they're shooting the scenes now," he said. "Everybody, including the
director, has been stopping in and saying, `What is that stuff--it's great!'
I wasn't going to argue. "It's true that Tuvans and Indians have a lot in common,
culturally," I said, "especially shamanism. And a friend of Tuva once sent in a
reference describing a Sioux chief singing in two voices." (It is an intriguing
reference that I've since misplaced. Whoever sent it to me, if you're reading this, could
you please send it to me again? Thanks!)
Anyway, the director ended up liking Kaigal-ool Khovalyg's rendition of Lament Over
a Lost Friend so much that he asked him to sing it again for the final scene. Thus
Tuvan music will be the last sounds that people hear in the movie, as the final credits
roll, and will no doubt be reverberating in their heads as they wipe their eyes and leave
the theater. There is a chance, if the Geronimo is a big enough hit, that Tuvan
music will thus enter the American cultural mainstream. With this in mind, I hope to
persuade the powers that be to put a credit in at the end of the film:
Special thanks to Richard Feynman.
Long live the Chief!
FoT Paul Pena of San Francisco has developed a throat-singing tutorial on cassette.
Anyone interested in receiving it should send $12 (cash or check made out to Paul Pena)
and an address label (important!--Mr. Pena is blind) to: Paul Pena, 1212 Willard St. # 1,
San Francisco CA 94117. I find his observations, delivered in a deep, "cool
jazz" voice, highly entertaining. Listening to his cassette prompted me to take the
leap into kargyraa, the deep, "rattling style" of throat-singing, which I find
to be the most fun.
Sainkho to Tour the US
Sainkho Namchylak, a female vocalist from Tuva, will be touring the US with saxophonist
Ned Rothenberg in October and November. Sainkho will not be singing traditional Tuvan
songs; rather she will be singing and vocalizing an extremely wide range of sounds, some
of them hard to believe that a human voice can make, interacting with the saxophone, bass
clarinet, and other instruments played by Ned. Some call it "new music," but it
is really in a category all its own.
Sainkho is very independent, and has made her own way in the world, now living in
Vienna. Her music is very adventurous -- not for people with preconceived notions of what
a Tuvan woman should be singing. (Yes, she does perform throat-singing -- normally the
province of men -- fleetingly here and there, but does not make a big deal about it.) The
World Music Institute of New York writes: "She is part of an important development in
World Music -- artists with a unique cultural heritage making aesthetic connections with
the West on their own terms. Her work is an unprecedented combination of the ancient and
the cutting edge. . . . This unique cross-cultural duo breaks new ground, forging
unimaginable connections between New York's urban vanguard and Tuvan folk wisdom."
Here are places and dates:
- Allentown PA Sunday Oct 24: (215) 820-9017
- Burlington VT Monday Oct 25: (802) 863-8778
- SUNY, New Paltz NY Tuesday Oct 26: (914) 257-3880
- New York NY Thursday Oct 28, 8pm at The Kitchen, 512 W. 19th St: (212) 255-5793
- Seattle WA Friday Oct 29: (206) 328-7155
- Eugene OR Saturday Oct 30: (503) 895-2965
- Los Angeles CA Sunday Oct 31: (310) 305-8010
- San Francisco Tuesday Nov 2: (415) 626-5416
- Telluride CO Thursday Nov 4: (303) 728-4402
- Santa Fe NM Saturday Nov 6: (505) 982-1338
- Taos Pueblo NM Monday Nov 8: (505) 982-1338
- Oberlin OH Thursday Nov 11: (216) 775-8200
- New York NY at Washington Square Church, Friday Nov 12: (212) 545-7536
- Minneapolis Saturday Nov 13: (612) 375-7600
- Milwaukee WI Sunday Nov 14: (414) 263-5001
Tuvans to Tour in January
For those desiring a more traditional rendition of Tuvan music than what Sainkho will
deliver--but still with some modern influences such as mellow guitar playing, the group Kungurtug
will be touring the US in January, 1994. Headed by Kaigal-ool Khovalyg, the group consists
of Anatoly Kuular, Sayan Bappa, and Alexander Bappa. (Unfortunately, personality and
artistic conflicts have made it impossible for Kongar-ool Ondar to perform with the group.
I am working to bring Ondar to the US with other Tuvan musicians some time in the future.)
A CD of music by Kungurtug (minus Kuular, but with the very interesting voice of
one Alexander Kovezin) will be released by Shanachie Records late this fall. It will, of
course, be available in the Tuva Trader as soon as it is released, as will the soundtrack
CD of Geronimo.
Here are the places and dates of the performances. Unfortunately, contact numbers were
not available at press time, so please call (213) 221-8882 at the beginning of January if
you haven't seen an advertisement by then.
- San Diego CA UCSD: Thursday Jan 6
- San Luis Obispo CA Cal Poly: Friday Jan 7
- Stanford CA: Saturday Jan 8
- Ashland OR Sunday Jan 9
- Portland OR tentative Jan 10 or 11
- Seattle WA tentative Jan 12 or 13
- Minneapolis MN Cedar Cultural Center: Friday Jan 14
- Chicago IL Park West: Saturday Jan 15
- Springfield OH Wittenberg U: Thurs Jan 20
- Columbus OH OSU: Friday Jan 21
- Philadelphia PA Folklife Center: Sat Jan 22
- Washington DC Smithsonian: Sunday Jan 23
- Durham NC Duke University: Monday Jan 24
- Somerville MA Somerville Theatre: Fri Jan 28
- New York NY: Saturday Jan 29
Travel to Tuva is steadily increasing to the point where I can't keep track of it all
(a good sign!). Shep Kopp, who engineered a resolution by the San Francisco Board of
Supervisors proclaiming February 6, 1993, Republic of Tuva Day there, travelled around the
country by mountain bike with several friends. They also crossed into Mongolia, where
material life is much worse than in Tuva, but where hospitality is just as warm. An
entertaining description, complete with photographs, by Rita Koselka of the Mongolian part
of the journey can be found on pp 238-242 in the September 13th issue of Forbes
Magazine. (I will try to coax Shep into writing a report for the newsletter when he
returns--he is still in Central Asia!)
Buddhism in Tuva
by Gary Wintz
Exactly two weeks after my recent return from Tuva in September, I was invited to the
Regent Beverly Hills Wilshire Hotel to attend a dinner in honor of His Holiness, the Dalai
Lama of Tibet. Amidst a sea of movie stars and politicians this god-king in burgundy robes
who calls himself "just a simple monk" was enchanting his receptive audience
with humorous one-liners. On a deeper level, however, he was also touching souls with his
unmistakable warmth and kindness of spirit.
In speaking about the cultural and spiritual gifts which Tibet has shared with the
world, the Dalai Lama managed to also educate this worldly audience about "the three
Buddhist Republics of the Russian Federation: Kalmykia, Buryatia, and Tuva."
When His Holiness mentioned the word "Tuva," I immediately flashed back to my
good friends whom I had just seen there: how pleased they would be to know that the Dalai
Lama was honoring them and remembering them from half a world away.
Just one year earlier, in September, 1992, the Dalai Lama had made the first visit of
any Dalai Lama in history. On that occasion, before many tens of thousands of Tuvans in
the central square of Kyzyl, the President of the Republic of Tuva, Mr. S. D. Oorzhak,
welcomes His Holiness by saying, "No greater honor has ever been paid our ancient
The speech continued with similar superlatives. It was also evident on the countenances
of those thousands of people who came from the farthest-flung parts of Tuva that this was
indeed the holiest day in the history of their spiritual nation.
Children raced up to the Dalai Lama to shower him with flowers. The elderly were in
tears of joy as they prayed their lamaist rosaries, which they had to bury during the
Stalinist repressions. Last year my wife Molly and I met Tuvans who showed us old Tibetan tangkas
and other works of religious art, which their grandparents had hidden in caves during the
decades of communist persecution.
One middle-aged man told us a story about his grandfather. One day during the Brezhnev
era the old man took his grandson high into the mountains to a remote cave, wherein he led
him to the family's buried religious treasures. He swore his grandson to secrecy, and then
said, "Someday within your lifetime, freedom will again come to our holy land of
Tuva. And when it does, you must come to retrieve these treasures and return them to a
Today in Kyzyl-Dag, a small town at the end of the road in the far west of Tuva, these
relics once again rest on an altar in the beautiful, newly built lamasery there.
The Gelugpa sect, also known as the Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism--the new Tuvan
flag, which the Dalai Lama blessed contains the color yellow to honor this tradition--came
to Tuva from Tibet in the 1700s. The earlier shamanist practices sometimes merged with
Buddhist teachings, and many temples and monasteries graced many regions of Tuva until
they were all destroyed in the Stalinist purges of 1936 and '37. Seven years later, in
1944, Tuva's tenuous political independence was extinguished altogether. [For more
information, see Alan Leighton's translation of Otto Mänchen-Helfen's 1929 eye-witness
account, Journey to Tuva, available from The Tuva Trader.]
Today a tremendous Buddhist revival is sweeping Tuva. Many temples are being rebuilt on
their historical sites, while others are being built where none had existed before. Just
north of Kyzyl, on a new site near the confluence of the two main branches of the Yenisei,
a Buddhist group has just completed building a small complex of temple shrines and halls,
whose foundations the Dalai Lama blessed last year.
This year I interviewed a number of Tuvans about the impact of the Dalai Lama's visit
on religious developments in their country. Without exception their response was strongly
Marina Kenin-Lopsang, a journalist, said, "The authorities were afraid there would
be a big increase in crime during the Dalai Lama's visit, with so many people leaving
their homes in the countryside and coming to the capital, Kyzyl. But remarkably, the
police reported there was not one incident of crime during all the days His Holiness was
"In the past year there has been tremendous growth in Buddhist organizations. The
Tibetan government-in-exile has provided scholarships for young student monks to go to
Dharamsala, in India, to further their studies at lamaseries there. In July and in August
of this year, His Holiness sent his personal representative, Lama Tinley, to visit us. It
was very good for us, and it was very good for him, too. All of this I have seen with my
own eyes," Marina said proudly.
She continued, "We have been receiving many Buddhist books published in Moscow and
in St. Petersburg [where there is a lamasery]. All of this has produced a revival in
Buddhism in our republic."
There is a wonderful old museum in downtown Kyzyl. When I visited it this year, I saw
the interesting new exhibit on shamanism that was organized in conjunction with the
conference on shamanism held in Tuva's capital two months before. To my surprise there was
an even larger exhibit, occupying a whole room of the museum, commemorating the historical
visit of His Holiness to Tuva last year. Besides photographs with white ceremonial scarves
(Tuv. khatas) gracing the frames, there stands also the large throne upon which the
Dalai Lama presided during the ceremonies in the central square.
It is clear that the people of Tuva are not going to easily forget the Dalai Lama's
visit to their beloved country.
And from what His Holiness said at that Beverly Hills fundraiser, the Dalai Lama is not
about to forget his visit to Tuva, either.
--Gary Wintz is a lecturer on Tibetan Buddhist affairs. Along with his wife, Molly
McGinn, who is finishing her PhD in anthropology at UCLA, he has a particular fascination
with the historical spread of Tibetan Buddhism into the Buddhist areas of present-day
Russia: Kalmykia, Buryatia, and Tuva.
He will be presenting lectures at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena on October 24,
and at Yale on November 16. He will be in the Midwest during the third week of October,
and in New England in the third week of November.
Correspondence and lecture invitations are welcome. Please contact Gary Wintz at
InterNet / Tibet, 1341 Ocean Ave. # 232, Santa Monica CA 90401-1066.
[A 2 1/2 hour video of the Dalai Lama's historic visit to Tuva is available from The
Tuva Trader, to be published next in November.]
Scouting in Tuva?
FoT Chris Fitch is writing a Master's thesis on the rebirth of Scouting in the former
Soviet Union, and is working on helping Tuva organize a Scout Association. Contact has
been established with the Baikalskii Soyuz Skautov in Irkutsk, and the Mongolyn Skautyn
Kholboo in Ulan Bataar. If you would be interested in helping to bring the Scouting
movement to Tuva, please send a SASE to Chris at 1430 Columbine Rd, Colorado Springs CO
80907-4708 or on e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Men and women are welcome to inquire,
as Russia and Mongolia have co-ed Scouts, unlike the United States.
Loren Chan passed along the following report from the Free China Journal, published by
the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan (which still officially claims Tuva, last I heard):
"Chang Chun-yi, Chairman of the Mongolian and Tibet Affairs Commission, left August 1
for a visit to Tuba [sic], Buryat, and Kalmyk, at the invitation of
the Elista [capital of Kalmyk] Chapter of the World Mongolian Association. Chang is the
first ROC official to visit the Russian republics." Mr. Chan reports that the ROC has
been on friendly terms with the post-communist governments of Russia and Mongolia.
Gary Wintz passes along further news about the new flag from its author, Oyun-ool Sat.
The stripes on the flag represent the confluence of the Bii-Khem and the Kaa-Khem at
Kyzyl, forming the Ulug Khem (Yenisei). White suggests silver, cleanness of thoughts;
white is the color of the silk streamers draped over the arms of a hostess when receiving
guests and serving them süttüg shai--tea with milk--which is also white. Yellow suggests
gold, symbol of riches; also Buddhism, the religion of Tuva. Light-blue represents the
firmness and courage of the herdsmen who take care of their animals, raising them in
weather which can be severely hot or cold, so they can grow "healthy and
satisfied." [What about the sky, which is so big and blue in Tuva?]
The national emblem, designed by Ivan Salchak (pictured on page 158 of Tuva or Bust!)
and Oleg Lazeev, is depicted on page 8.
Report from Canada-July 28
Along with newsletters (seventh issue) sent out before July 14, an announcement was
included inviting FoTs to send a birthday card to my wife, Phoebe Kwan, to await her at
the Chateau Lake Louise. Here is a report, excerpted from a possible article I am
preparing for the Tuva Trader, which will appear in November.
The next day was July 28th--Phoebe's birthday. Originally I had planned to spend this
day with the family, finishing up the day at the Chateau Lake Louise, where I had reserved
a room in her name. But as fate would have it, I had to drive Kongar-ool to the airport in
Calgary--there was an opportunity that had just come up for him to be photographed for an
ad by AT&T in New York (see the full-page, pull-out spread in the October issue of Mix
magazine at the largest newsstand you can find)--and now, because the studio I had chosen
sight unseen was so poor, I had to try to find another place to record.
On the way to the airport Kongar-ool described his problems with Sasha. It was already
clear that Sasha disdained Kongar-ool, but from the latter's descriptions, Sasha was
someone with friends who could make life difficult for you back in Tuva. I could see how
affected Kongar-ool was: the normally ebullient man said, with tears welling up in his
eyes, that he would not be able to take part in a future tour if Sasha was part of it.
Trying to converse in Tuvan and find the Calgary Airport proved too difficult for me to
do simultaneously, so we stopped talking long enough for me to drop Kongar-ool off in the
nick of time to catch his flight--we had to act like con men to avoid the long lines to
the metal detectors.
I then proceeded to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation studio, reputed to be the
best in Calgary, but soon found out that it, too, would not do--it was used mainly for
recording dramas and other radio "programmes." A kind man there told me to check
out a new studio that had just been built by a Canadian who had worked in Los Angeles for
several years in the recording industry.
When I stepped into the control room, I thought I had found it at last: the equipment
was just like I had seen at Skywalker Ranch, the high-tech studio north of San Francisco
where the Tuvans recorded with the Kronos Quartet in February. It was true that the room
itself was nowhere near as large as at Skywalker; in fact, despite a 16-foot-high ceiling,
it didn't reverberate at all. And then it hit me: a woman was sitting on a tall stool,
reading from a script. What was being recorded at this newest and best studio in Calgary?
Ry's admonishment rang in my head: "The studios up there are probably made for
nothin' but radio jingles." This was not the first time that Ry's observations about
the music scene would be proven right.
By now it was four in the afternoon, and the day I had hoped to spend with Phoebe and
the children was slipping away. I had a tight feeling in my chest all the way back to
Canmore, thinking, "When people have heart attacks, they deny it. Maybe I should
think this is a heart attack so it won't be."
Phoebe was forgiving, and before we all packed up to go to Lake Louise, I collapsed
into a chair to rest a bit. The Tuvans were outdoors somewhere, but Ry was inside, playing
some soulful, bluesy notes on his guitar. I looked over at Phoebe, who was appreciating
the music, and quietly said to her, "Happy Birthday, darling."
Ry's meditative strains made the frustrations of the day fade away, and I gathered the
resolve to make the best of what was left. Soon we were all driving north, past Banff to
Lake Louise. We arrived in the evening, around eight, with two more hours of soft northern
daylight left. The Tuvans shared a room for six in the Lake Louise International Hostel,
but Ry couldn't stand the "jail house beds" there--"it's that Germanic,
Aryan mentality," he said--and went to a nearby hotel populated by European tourists.
(He did, however, find that the food there was clearly superior to that at the hotel; the
setting among the trees and the low-budget, younger clientele reminded him of the brief
time he had spent at Reed College in the sixties.)
By the time I got the family to Chateau Lake Louise, it was eight-thirty. Valets parked
the car as I approached the registration desk. I announced to the receptionist that Phoebe
Kwan had arrived.
"Oh! Phoebe Kwan! Just a moment!" she said. A minute later the young lady
returned with an armful of mail, and said, "The people in the back have been
wondering for the past two weeks who Phoebe Kwan is," as the newly discovered
celebrity looked at me skeptically.
You see, I am always poor at presenting cards on various holidays (the most recent
disaster being Valentine's Day), so I thought I'd try to make up for it by having friends
of Tuva send in birthday cards to her at the Chateau. Thanks to all of you who came
The mountain of mail (perhaps combined with our tardiness) had an additional effect:
when I explained that the cards were in honor of my wife's birthday, the receptionist
upgraded us to an executive suite--which at the Chateau consisted of three rooms, all with
a stunning view of the lake, plus a bathroom with jacuzzi (great fun for the kids, it
turned out) and complementary champagne (which I was unable to consume entirely by myself,
much as I wanted to, so I sprayed the rest on the kids in the tub).
After dinner, Phoebe began going through the 156 cards she had received. Among them was
a laminated, custom-made bookmark (Chinese New Year stamp at the top, and Feynman stamp at
the bottom); a very cool "kaleido-card" with Moiré patterns; a card from
Swaziland (another remote country of cattle breeders); a bright red card, its front with
the visage in marbled silver of a Canadian Mountie (Rockies and the Chateau in the
background), and inside a brilliant Tuvan transcription:
; a special 15-kopeck rhomboid stamp with Phoebe's picture (from page 174 of Tuva
or Bust!) replacing the airplane startling the two camels below; a giant triangular
"Posta Phoebe" stamp (complete with perforations and in a giant triangular
envelope); a card whose paper is home-made; a bright pink triangular Posta Touva stamp
that unfolds into a rhomboid (talk about two for the price of one!); an invitation from
Italy to vacation there; a five-scene episode of TUVA-T REK, with Captain Feynman,
Commander Leighton, and Lieutenant Captain Phoebe (exploring S-T-R-A-N-G-E new worlds); a
bright silk print (also triangular) with Phoebe's name; a pair of intricate Chinese
papercuts and a hand painting of the One Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi; a large Chinese scroll
painting of a horse identical to one Phoebe had once owned but had lost; a card from a
lady whose birthday (and from a man whose mother's birthday) is also on July 28; and a
card signed by the six touring Tuvans while in Winnipeg with the Kyzyl Khem Chapter of
Friends of Tuva.
And then there was the "Happy Yurt-day" card, complete with a pop-up yurt
from Yurts--Us of Kyzyl. Great! Thanks to all who
helped make this a most pleasant and memorable birthday for my beloved wife.
Eventually I persuaded Phoebe to spread the enjoyment of opening the cards over the
next several days, and to retire to bed.
Our daughter Nicole awakened us with her crying at around five in the morning. We
looked out of the giant bay windows of our executive suite. Lake Louise and Victoria
Glacier behind it were bathed by the eerie, ice-blue light of the northern dawn.
Tuva's National Emblem
Here is the national emblem of Tuva. This representation was traced from a woodblock
print in three colors: light blue (b), mustard yellow (y), and white (left blank). It's
time to take out those felt pens again, and get to work. Have fun!
The Friends of Tuva newsletter. Addendum (pages 7 & 8) to Eighth issue: Fall, 1993
Published by Friends of Tuva
Box 70021, Pasadena CA 91117 USA.
Fax: (213) 221-8882
Welcome, Sainkho Fans!
Sainkho Namchylak, a unique voice in the world of new music who hails from Tuva, has
just finished a successful tour of the US with saxophonist Ned Rothenberg. Several present
and future members of Friends of Tuva greeted her in various cities and towns, and were
impressed by her courage: she has made her way on her own from Tuva to Moscow to Vienna, a
city with a great Western musical heritage where Asians from more populated countries are
rare, and has built a musical career on her own terms.
This separation from her homeland has engendered a new artistic project, called Letters,
which should be available on CD through the Tuva Trader in January. In the meantime, you
can order Out of Tuva (see Tuva Trader item M), a collection of traditional
songs--some arranged in a new context. While not as adventuresome as the avant-guard
explorations she did with Rothenberg, Sainkho's voice is nevertheless haunting and
captivating on this CD produced by Hector Zazou & Vincent Kenis.
(I will try to get a complete list of Sainkho's CDs, with addresses, so that interested
persons can write for them directly if I do not have the capacity to carry them myself.)
Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? She's in Tuva!
Rob "The Tuvan Hillbilly" reports over Internet's Alt.Culture.Tuva that Tuva
was featured on the November 7 (re?)broadcast of the PBS childrens' geography show, Where
in the World is Carmen Sandiego?. The question was something like, "In what
Central Asian country do people sing two notes at the same time, like this?"--as a
clip was shown from the documentary Lost Land of Tannu Tuva (item G in the Tuva
Trader). Best of all, all three contestants got the answer right! This segment, along with
similar unique moments of Tuva on American TV, may appear in Jeff Cook's informal
documentary The Tuvans Invade America! (Tuva Trader item B).
Huu in the World is Huun-Huur-Tu?
Here is the final itinerary, with contact telephone numbers, for the tour by Kaigal-ool
Khovalyg, Anatoly Kuular, and the Bappa brothers--Sayan and Sasha. They will be travelling
under the name of Huun-Huur-Tu, the same as on their album just released by
Shanachie Records. (Both CD & cassette are available from the Tuva Trader--see item
J.) Kongar-ool Ondar, who by some accounts is the most charismatic of the trio who toured
last January, will not be able to participate.
- San Diego CA: Thurs, Jan 6. Contact (619) 534-4119.
- San Luis Obispo CA: Friday, Jan 7. (805) 756-7111.
- Stanford CA: Saturday, January 8. (415) 723-2551.
- Ashland OR Sunday, January 9. (503) 552-6461.
- Seattle WA Wednesday, Jan 12. (206) 789-9491.
- Minneapolis MN: Friday, Jan 14. (612) 338-2674.
- Chicago IL: Saturday, January 15. (312) 525-7793.
- Springfield OH: Thursday, Jan 20. (513) 327-7815.
- Columbus OH: Friday, January 21. (614) 292-5785.
- Philadelphia PA: Saturday, Jan 22. (215) 387-5125.
- Washington DC: Sunday, Jan 23. (202) 357-4157.
- Durham NC: Monday, January 24. (919) 684-6654.
- Somerville MA: Friday, January 28. (617) 876-4275.
- New York NY: Saturday, Jan 29. (212) 545-7536.
Smelling Like a (Burnt?) Rose
The Los Angeles suburb of Altadena (where yours truly grew up) was in the news
prominently in October because of the fires that caused more damage than the Los Angeles
civil unrest of 1992 (which erupted when four police officers were acquitted in the
beating of Rodney King, an Altadena resident).
Another famous Altadenan, Jirayr Zorthian, whose ranch was the site of last summer's
Tuvan Independence Day celebrations, has come out of the fires "smelling like a
rose": the fires burnt down the brush all over his ranch, but--due to a last-minute
shift in the winds--left all his structures intact. Despite the lower fire danger now,
Zorthian is building a concrete bunker for his artwork.
Wanted: Hosts for Tuvan Students
Where: Boston area--near Wellesley
When: Two weeks in late July and early August
Why: Two students from the Lyceum of Tuva have been invited to the Exploration
Camp in Wellesley. The camp has offered day participation free of charge. If someone who
lives in the area can offer accommodation and perhaps transportation, it would be greatly
appreciated! Please contact me if you can help.
Other possible exchanges may take place in California, Minnesota, and in South
Tuvan Flag Update
The Tuvan flag, as portrayed on page 4 of Issue 8, follows the orientation of the flag
pin sold in Tuva: the triangle is on the right so the confluence of the Yesnisey will be
depicted with north at the top. However, when flags are drawn, the flagpole is assumed to
be at the left, unless explicitly shown. The triangle on the Tuvan flag borders the
flagpole, so please draw in the flagpole on the right on page 4.
Dr. Whitney Smith, who alerted me to the conventions of portraying flags, informed me
also that Flag Bulletin #100 (published in 1983) contains a nine-page article on the flags
of Tuva, with four pages devoted to line drawings--with the flagpoles explicitly drawn.
The issue, which contains twelve other articles on assorted topics, can be obtained for
$12 from: The Flag Research Center, Box 580, Winchester MA 01890.
I have finally received a copy (in Russian) of the official law defining Tuva's flag,
and plan to have it translated for the Shagaa issue (#9) of the Friends of Tuva
newsletter. A special article, with color plates, about the flags of Tuva (based on Flag
Bulletin # 100) will be available sometime next year from the Tuva Trader.
New Constitution Adopted in Tuva
October 22 is now Constitution Day in Tuva. The legislative assembly is again called by
its Tuvan name--Khural--and has been reduced in size from Soviet days, when
legislative membership was a reward for Communist Party hacks. Eventually I hope to obtain
a copy of the new Tuvan Constitution and have it translated into English. In the meantime,
one provision of interest that may be a result of the recent conflict between President
Yeltsin and the Russian Parliament--which resulted in bloodshed in early October in
Moscow--states that in the event of a political crisis in the Russian Federation (i.e.
Moscow), Tuva will adopt a stance of positive neutrality, with power devolving to the Tuva
Republic. In other words, if Moscow can't get its act together, Tuva will take over its
You Say Tuva; I say Tyvá?
Another report about the Constitution says the country is now officially called the
"Republic of Tyva." I do not know whether this transliteration was done by the
Republic or the reporter--I'll check into the matter further. However, I recently received
a letter from Tuva, written in Tuvan, but in the Latin alphabet--not the Soviet-imposed
Cyrillic. The author transliterated the three specifically Tuvan letters--, , and --as ö,
ü, and ng, respectively. B was transliterated as p rather than b, and h as j rather than
ch. As there were several inconsistencies in transliteration, writing in the Latin
alphabet is probably a grass-roots phenomenon. But given that the Republic of Turkey is
expanding contacts with all the Turkic-speaking republics of the former Soviet Union,
including Tuva, it is reasonable to assume that Tuvan will once again officially be
written in a Latin alphabet, as it was briefly in the 1930s. (For more information on the
Latin alphabet in Tuva, see Journey to Tuva--item O in the Tuva Trader.) Al-ready
several students from the Lyceum of Tuva have travelled to Turkey and briefly studied
there, and Turkish is one of the languages taught at the Lyceum.
Interested readers are welcome to send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to FoT HQ
(Box 70021, Pasadena CA 91117) for a copy of the letter.
October is Ondar Month
October is the tenth month of the year, a number quite appropriate for Kongar-ool Ondar
(whose last name means "tens" in Tuvan) to visit the US and Canada. Officially
appearing in New York to represent AT&T and its new DISQ recording system at the Audio
Engineering Society convention, Ondar and his 9-year-old student from the Lyceum of Tuva,
Bady-Dorzhu Ondar (no relation), also found time to appear on the Chevy Chase Show (no,
they were not the reason for the show's demise!), and to sing in a benefit concert for
Tibet that featured Tibetan monks and Kitaro. (That program was broadcast in Japan, and
the Ondars' appearance may form another segment in The Tuvans Invade America--see
item B in the Tuva Trader--if logistics can be overcome.)
The Ondars also appeared at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto for a CBC Radio
documentary, to be aired on "Ideas" next year. The Toronto Globe & Mail
wrote, "[The Ondars' performance] lifted the enthusiastic audience our of western
notions of what constitutes `beautiful singing.' It gave an intriguing glimpse into a rich
central Asian culture that has managed to survive industrialization, Stalinism, and so
When the Ondars returned to Tuva, they took with them two shortwave radios donated by a
ham radio club headed by Patrick Barthelow. Don't worry: MTV is already in Tuva, so the
shortwave radios will do little damage by comparison!