Epic poetry and Shamanism

Raushan Orozbaeva & Ulzhan Baibussynova

Raushan Orozbaeva is one of the most famous Kobyz players in Kazakhstan. She comes from a family of instrument makers and story-tellers. Because of its supposed magical powers the Kobyz, a bowed short-necked lute with a hollow resonating body, was often used in Shaman rituals. During the Soviet era the Kobyz developed into one of the most important instruments in folklore ensembles, which generally played traditional folk-songs as well as classical music with a mainly western influence. Raushan Orozbaeva has appeared all over the world with various ensembles and other solo artists.

The Kazakh singer Ulzhan Baibussynova is a representative of the country’s tradition of epos singers, the so-called Zhyrau. Accompanying themselves on the Dombra, a two-stringed lute, they pass on the history of their people. They are not only culturally important as preservationists of tradition, but also as fortune-tellers and counsellors. Female epos singers are a rarity and it was to some extent due to Ulzhan Baibussynova that this area of Kazakh music was opened up to a generation of young women.