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Group keeps melody of ancient flutes alive


08:18, December 10, 2012

A GROUP of Chinese who consider themselves to be descendants of Genghis Khan have dedicated themselves to preserving the chuer, an ancient flute that comes from the mountains they call home.

The group of Chinese Tunivians, an ethnic group originating from Mongolia, live near Kanas Lake, a body of water located near the Altay Mountains in northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

The area's picturesque mountains and rivers have long served to inspire chuer players, with many describing the flute as mimicking sounds in nature.

"The way my dad played sounded like the mountains and water here, especially the song 'Altay Mountains.' It was so beautiful that you could almost see the outline of the mountains," said Mengkeyi, a budding chuer player who was inspired to take up the instrument after the death of his father Erdeshi.

The chuer is a lightweight wind instrument made out of lovage, a perennial plant that is plentiful in the area. It has only three holes, but produces a variety of sounds, depending on a player's skills.

The flutes are created in accordance with sizes of a player's hands. No two chuers or chuer players sound or play alike, said Mengkeyi's younger brother Daxi.

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