The Tobshuur is a two stringed lute of western Mongolia. There are three types, a necked bowled lute which is used by the

Altai‑Uriangkhai, Biat and Torgut Yatsan. A spiked boxed lute, used by the Bait, Dorbot, Altia‑Uriangkhai and Dzakhchin

Yastan and a spiked bowl lute used by the Dorbot, Dzakhchin and Torgut Yastan. All three can be made of larch, pine or other wood and usually have a skin covering of baby camels hair.


Traditional the strings are made from twisted horse hair. The thinner string should be twisted clockwise, the thicker anti‑clockwise. The strings are tuned a fourth apart and plucked with the thumb and fore finger or strummed


The Tobshuur is traditionally used by epic singer to accompany their recitation with a regular repeated pattern.


Like the Morin Khuur the Tobshuur also has a repertoire of tunes known as the Tsokhilt (striking). Tsokhilt can be descriptive pieces imitating nature and animals or biylegee dance tunes.


The topshuur is one of the original nomadic instruments due to its lightness and transportability. It has been used from time immemorial in accompanying the transmission of Mongolian aural history through epics and legends told across the central Asian Steppes.


Return to Overview of Mongolian music main page