One Easter in the mid-1960s, I travelled south with a friend to the Camargue and the great festival of nomads at Saintes Maries de la Mer. Thousands of Gypsies had gathered from every corner of Europe for the annual celebration of the miraculous landing on the shore near the little town of the three Saint Marys on their storm-tossed voyage from the Holy Land.
– You’re playing on one of the most ancient music instruments. What should we know about its history and use?
– My teacher told me that in ancient times the jaw harp was played by wizards and shamans and that the Jew’s harp can heal people, make a person better and stronger. For me it was like a fairy tale. I really wanted to touch this magical world and I worked very hard at playing the jaw harp. After I read a lot of books about this ancient instrument and learned that almost all nations on Earth have an instrument like this. Then I realized that khomus is the key to all hearts, it is a symbol of friendship and the unity of people, it’s the music that carries the memory of ancestors. The harp holds a lot of mysteries that we cannot understand but can feel on a subconscious level when we play or listen to these sounds. People react differently, someone cries, someone laughs, but all of them are so grateful for the vivid memories and new deep sensations. Everyone has their secrets.
– Please tell Ozorians something about the Sakha Republic you are from and the Yakuts traditions. Do you carry the Shamanic roots of your motherland?
– Playing the khomus is an ancient tradition of the people of Sakha (Yakutia). They always played the jaw harp — on holidays, at rituals, alone and together. With the sounds of jaw harp they restored the balance within ourselves and with nature, communicating with the spirits of nature – fire, wind, water and others. My mother told me that in our family there were women-healers. Now maybe the jaw harp helps me open up my gift and create a connection with the ancestors, their wisdom and knowledge.
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