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Huge Folk Instruments Apply for World Record Status

“The world’s two largest handmade folk stringed instruments, the rewap and duttar produced in Kashgar, applied for recognition by Guinness World Records last year and we are raising funds for the application process at the moment,” Dang Deyu, Party secretary of Xinjiang Folk Music Instrument Village, told China.org.cn last Thursday.


The southern Xinjiang settlement is No.7 Village of Uksak Township in Shufu County, Kashgar Prefecture. It has over 150 years’ history of hand-making Uygur instruments, mainly the rewap, duttar, and satar.


The rewap has a small bowl-shaped body covered with skin and five metal strings, the duttar has an oval barrel and a long neck, and the satar is a unique bowed lute.


The largest rewap from here was made by Omar Ahmad and is 3.74 m long and 0.44 m across its lower body; the village’s largest duttar was made by Rahman Abdulla and is 4.97 m long and 0.75 m at its widest. They are so big that each needs four or five people to work together in order to play them.


According to Dang, the local government invested 420,000 yuan (US$51,800) in 1999 to establish a vocational school for instrument making, which helped villagers improve productivity under the guidance of five college-trained teachers, seven skilled folk artists and nine carpenters.


The vocational school, completed in April 2000, offers free education and limits student numbers to 150 each year. So far, 650 students have graduated from it after two years of study.


“The school helps more people understand the workmanship and my wallet bulges from selling the instruments,” said Abdulla, a local farmer in his 40s and a third-generation instrument maker.


At present, 487 people from 270 of the village’s 570 households are engaged in instrument making, producing 50 varieties of folk instruments, almost all kinds of traditional Uygur folk instruments.


The annual per household income of the village is 10,000-30,000 yuan (US$1,200-3,700), and the average household comprises five people.


In 2004, the village made over 1 million yuan (US$123,000) from the instrument making industry. It receives orders collectively and dispatches them to individual families who produce the basic bodies before highly-skilled artists finish them.


The big instruments from the village are usually sold to other parts of Xinjiang and central and western Asia, while relatively small ones are sold to other parts of China as collectors’ items and souvenirs, according to Dang.


Dang added that one area that needs to be improved is packaging, since the current wooden containers make transportation more difficult than it needs to be.



(China.org.cn by staff reporter Guo Xiaohong July 29, 2005)

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