Yatag

 

The Yatag is the Mongolian half tube zither with movable bridges. It is constructed as a box with a convex surface and used to have 10 to 12 silk strings. The Yatag was first documented in the 14th century where it was used in the Mongol court the strings are plucked with one hand while the other hand creates a tone change or tremolo by pressing the non vibrating part of the string behind the bridge. there are many other techniques such as flicking the string with the right hand. the Yatag is important in Mongolian folklore, the epics containing several references to Yatags with a large number of strings. In the western Mongolian epic the Jangar, the 16 year old queen Agai Shabdal plays a Yatag with 82 bridges and 8,000 strings!. Perhaps this was too much for her to manage as in the  epic she plays only on the "seven lower bridges".

 

Yatag playing became quite rare at the turn of the century but was strongly revived in the 1950's with a Korean style instrument. The 13 string Yatag is now used to accompany singing and in ensembles.

 

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