The Legend of Dombra

Music always has played a significant role in Kazakh culture. They have a lot of traditional musical instruments. Dombra is one of the oldest string instruments in the world. It is also known to be the favourite instrument of Kazakhs. This national instrument is also a great source for exploring the nomadic culture. You can see dombra almost in every yurt.

One of the famous Kazakh composers-Akhmet Zhubanov suggested that dombra might be a combination of two Arabic words- “dunbah” and “burra”, which together is translated as “lamb’s tail”. In reality, somehow it can be resembled with “lamb’s tail”.  The legends, however, are not connected with lambs or lamb’s tail. Here is one of them.

Once upon a time, two brothers lived in the Altai mountains. One of the brothers had a really good musical ear and loved playing dombra. When he got the instrument in his hands everything in the world stopped. It seemed the boy was born to play dombra. His elder brother was somehow jealous, he also wanted to be worth something. He decided to build a bridge to make it easy to cross the big cold river. He started to collect stones, carry them near the bridge. While the young brother was spending his time playing dombra. He was obsessed with his instrument and didn’t care to help the older one. He continued playing and playing. The elder brother couldn’t resist this anymore. He was very angry at him. He rushed to his brother, took the dombra out of his hands and broke it against the rock. The unique instrument was broken but it left mark on the rock. It was the shape of the dombra. Many years later Kazakhs found this mark and began making new dombras. And the beautiful melodies again were spread all around the region.

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