Библиотека нематериального культурного наследия Республики Башкортостан
Мы используем файлы cookie. Продолжив работу с сайтом, вы соглашаетесь с Политикой использования cookie и Пользовательским соглашением.

What does a dumbyra

sing about?

The sesens (singers-storytellers) during their performances often resorted to an instrument that in many ways resembled

a balalaika, but unlike the Russian analogue a dumbyra

was not used for entertainment.

The performance of epics, the glorification of the exploits of the batyrs (heroes, brave warriors), singing about the beauty of native land and calls to fight against oppression were always accompanied by playing the dumbyra.


What is the dumbyra
and how does it differ
from a dombra?

The Bashkir dumbyra is a three-stringed plucked musical instrument. Closely related instruments are also common among Kazakhs, Uzbeks and other Turkic peoples. In comparison with the Kazakh dombra the dumbyra
is noticeably different with a shorter neck length.

It has an oval-shaped body with a long neck and machine heads mounted on angled headstock. The fret wires are glued along the entire length of the fretboard.
The strings in the upper part are attached to the pegbox, and in the lower part to the tailpiece. During the playing the performer holds the instrument in front of him with a tilt, lifting the neck up, hitting all the strings simultaneously. Sound extraction is performed by strumming or plucking, also by extended techniques. At the same
time the lower strings emit a drone sound effect, the upper string is melodic.
A modern instrument, like an old one, has a pear-shaped or oval-flat wooden body. The lower soundboard of the instrument is glued together from separate bent rivets, the upper soundboard is flat, equipped with a sound hole in the form of a crescent and a bridge for strings. The length of the dumbyra is about 800 mm. The strings are nylon or metal. The musical tuning is perfect fourths and fifths – E, A, E.

The history of dumbyra

The ancient dumbyra is mentioned in the epic «Korgut-ata»,

which is common to all Turkic peoples.

According to some studies,
this instrument penetrated into
the territory of Bashkortostan
from ancient Assyria through Transcaucasia, Central Asia,
Persia and Russia.
In some places among the southeastern Bashkirs one
could also find a three-stringed musical instrument called dumbyra, which is not common for them and, apparently, borrowed from the Kazakhs. In the legend
there is a mention of the body of the dumbyra made by the method of hollowing: «In desperation Korkut hollowed out a musical instrument from a tree and began to play, pouring out his painful thoughts and feelings».

In other legends it is noted that the Bashkir dumbyra was made of a flat piece of wood.
There are other quite numerous references to the dumbyra, which give reason to believe that there was no traditional, purely national form of the dumbyra. Apparently, each master made an instrument in his own way.

By the end of the XIX – beginning of the XX century the dumbyra had gone out of use. This was due to the fact that during the XVII–XVIII centuries the sesens, being active participants and inspirers of the national liberation struggle, were persecuted by the authorities. The tradition of performing epic tales gradually faded away, by the beginning of the XX century a factory-made mandolin, which began to be used partially instead of the dumbyra, became popular among Bashkirs, and a little later they used to play the three-stringed domra alto.
The master of making Bashkir dumbyra –
Baibuldin Ilgam Khannanovich
Video source: "Sarvar Surina" channel
In the 1980s on the base of written sources and memories of the older generation master Vakil' Shugayupov started the reconstruction of the Bashkir dumbyra. In 1992 an experimental workshop for the production of Bashkir dumbyra and kyl-kubyz was organized at the Ufa State Institute of Arts. The modern instrument has undergone some modifications, in particular the neck began to be made with 19 mortise frets, the body is often not made of hollowed wood, but glued together. The dumbyra is used as a solo and ensemble instrument. Orchestral varieties of the dumbyra have also been created: soprano, alto, bass.

A few words about

the name

There are many versions, among which the most precise can be noted.

Almost all similar names, including the Russian «domra», come from the Arabic word «tanbur», which since the time of Dervish Ali Astrakhani is loosely translated as «...tan – heart, burato torment». It all depends on the different interpretation of Arabic signs, where consonants are freely replaced («M» by «N», «T» by «D»), and vowels (except «A», «U» and «I») exist in the form of vocalizations. Hence the derived words: tanburdomburdunburadumbradombradomrdomra and so on.

The Bashkir version has the Russian spelling «dumbyra», where
«-y-» is often omitted («dumb(y)ra»), and «-u-» is replaced by «-o-» («domb(y)ra»), which is dictated by national grammar and regional dialects.

1. Akhmetzhanova N. V. (1996). Bashkirskaya instrumental'naya muzyka. Nasledie [Bashkir instrumental music. Heritage]. Ufa: [s. n.], 104 p. (in Russian).
2. Akimova T. M., Barag L. G. (eds.) (1982). Folklor narodov RSFSR [Folklore of the peoples of the RSFSR]. Ufa: [s. n.], iss. 9, 156 p. (in Russian).
3. Atanova L. P. (1976). Rol' narodnykh muzykantov v sokhranenii i razvitii traditsionnykh chert bashkirskogo muzykal'nogo folklora [The role of folk musicians in the preservation and development of traditional features of Bashkir musical folklore]. In: R. G. Kuzeyev, N. V. Bikbulatov (eds.). Narodnoe tvorchestvo bashkir [Folk art of the Bashkirs]. Ufa: BFAN SSSR, pp. 5–25 (in Russian).
4. Kubagushev A. M. (2013). Bashkirskie muzykalnye instrumenty [Bashkir musical instruments]. Ufa: RTsNT, 136 p. (in Russian).
5. Kubagushev A. M. (1997). Traditsionnye bashkirskie narodnye instrumenty [Traditional Bashkir folk instruments]. Ufa: RUMTs, 24 p. (in Russian).
6. Lebedinsky L. N. (1965). Bashkirskie narodnye pesni i naigryshi [Bashkir folk songs and tunes]. 2nd rev. ed. Moscow: Muzyka, 248 p. (in Russian).
7. Nadrshina F. A. (ed.) (1985). Bashkirskie predaniya i legendy [Bashkir stories and legends]. Ufa: Bashkirskoe knizhnoe izdatel'stvo, 288 p. (in Russian).
8. Rakhimov R. G. (1998). Bashkirskaya dumbyra. Fol'klornyi sbornik [Bashkir dumbyra. Folklore collection]. Ufa: Uzoritsa, 24 p. (in Russian).
9. Rakhimov R. G. (2003). Bashkirskaya dumbyra. Proshloe, nastoyashchee, budushchee [Bashkir dumbyra. Past, present, future]. Ufa: Uzoritsa, 42 p. (in Russian).

10. Rakhimov R. G. (2010). Bashkirskaya narodnaya instrumental'naya kul'tura: etnoorganologicheskoe issledovanie [Bashkir folk instrumental culture: an ethno-organological study]. 2nd rev. ed. Ufa: Izdatel'stvo BGPU, 188 p. (in Russian).
11. Rakhimov R. G. (2004). Bashkirskie narodnye muzykal'nye instrumenty [Bashkir folk musical instruments]. Ufa: Vagant, pt. 1, 36 p. (in Russian).
12. Rakhimov R. G. (2004). Bashkirskie narodnye muzykal'nye instrumenty [Bashkir folk musical instruments]. Ufa: Vagant, pt. 2, 36 p. (in Russian).
13. Rakhimov R. G. (2005). Bashkirskie narodnye muzykal'nye instrumenty [Bashkir folk musical instruments]. Ufa: UPK № 2, pt. 3, 36 p. (in Russian).
14. Rakhimov R. G. (2001). Faktura bashkirskoi instrumental'noi monodii. Fol'klornoe issledovanie [Texture of Bashkir instrumental monody. Folklore study]. Ufa: Uzoritsa, 128 p. (in Russian).
15. Rudenko S. I. (2006). Bashkiry. Istoriko-etnograficheskie ocherki [The Bashkirs. Historical and ethnographic essays]. Ufa: Kitap, 376 p. (in Russian).
16. Rybakov S. G. (1897). Muzyka i pesni ural'skikh musul'man s ocherkom ikh byta [Music and songs of the Ural Muslims with an essay of their life]. Saint Petersburg: Tipografiya Imperatorskoi Akademii nauk, 330 p. (in Russian).
17. Suleimanov R. S. (1993). Bashkort dumbyrakhy [Bashkir dumbyra]. Ufa: Kitap, 62 p. (in Bashkir).
18. Vertkov K. A., Blagodatov G. I., Yazovitskaya E. E. (eds.) (1975). Atlas muzykalnykh instrumentov narodov SSSR [Atlas of musical instruments of the peoples of the USSR]. 2nd rev. ed. Moscow: Muzyka, 400 p. (in Russian).