Tuva Gallery 2


Johnna and I spent September of 2001 in Tuva. Here are some images from that trip. Click on the pictures to see a large version.


In Moscow we stayed with our friend HHT manager Sasha Cheparukhin, and his wife Tanja and son Sasha

Dinner time for kitty.

In charge of security in their Moscow apartment is 100+ kg mastiff Malish. That's One Big Dog!

Walking in a Moscow park, we found many wood sculptures. This one looks happy!

A Kremlin cathedral. Once replaced by the communist government with a public pool, it was rebuilt since my first visit in 1995.

Kyzyl Area, Central Tuva

Looking North from Kyzyl to the confluence of the Be' Xem and Kaa-Xem rivers forming the mighty Yenisei.

2 new Buddhist temples (Xurey) were built in Kyzyl since my last visit, for a total of 3.

Inside the Xurey.

Another shot of this lovely little temple.

Temple's carved front doors.

The National Theater in Kyzyl. It was undergoing repairs, a good sign...

Views of the fountains outside the theater, being repaired after many years of disuse.

Decorative brickwork outside the Theater.

A mural on a cinema in downtown Kyzyl, featuring the Dalai Lama and Maxim Monzuk in his role of Dersu Uzala, from the Kurosawa movie of the same name.

Can you find the khoomigchi? Kaigal-ool Khovalyg was recently added to this mural of Great Tuvans.

We stayed with Sayan Bapa and his wife Sveta and daughter Ajanna. This view from their window shows the sandlot soccer field, and the mountain whose name translates to "First to See the Sun."

Another view from Casa Bapa.

An Arzhan, or sacred/healing spring, just south of Kyzyl. This one, with a mild sulphur taste, is said to be medicinal to the stomach.

Anatoli Kulaar (L) and Sayan Bapa on the steppe south of Kyzyl.

Steve and Johnna with Sayan.

A view of Kyzyl from the south across the steppe.

Also just south of Kyzyl, a new Monument to the Shepherds.

In Kyzyl, I got to meet with khoomei teacher Vladimir Mongush. He gave me some tips, and we discussed teaching techniques. Lessons are available via the Khoomei Center located downtown.

We spent an evening at this property, formerly the "getaway" of the Communist Party elite, with HHT and Shulban (below). We enjoyed live music, banyas (sauna), food and drink, and discussed some capitalist ventures.

Luthier and musician Shulban Saltchak. He builds very fine traditional Tuvan instruments, several of which are used by Huun-Huur-Tu. He built us a very nice doshpuluur similar to this one.

Shulban working his magic on an igil and a doshpuluur.

As part of an ongoing project, we took extensive photos of HHT's instruments. This is one of my favorites, a section of a painting on the rear skin of Sayan's old doshpuluur.

A lovely shot of Alexei Saryglar's drum and beater (torba). This drum has 2 heads, so is not technically a tungur, or shaman's drum.

This is where we spent Sept. 11th, on the Mala Yenisei (Kaa-Xem) river. The song Kyzyl Taiga on the Smithsonian CD, Tuva, Among the Spirit, was recorded here, with Kaigal-ool singing against the cliff to produce an echo.

Another view of the cliffs.

Partying on the river, blissfully unaware of the tragedies taking place back home in America

Western Tuva

On our first journey into western Tuva, we stopped at Dag Hirakan, the sacred Bear Mountain. The signs commemorate a visit by the Dalai Lama.

The Yenisei valley just west of Hirakan, and just a bit east of Shaggonar.

The Yenisei valley.

An arzhan.


Carved doors of the theater in Chaadan.


Our trusty War Pony, giver of "Russian Massages" parked outside the first temple rebuilt in Chaadan. Chaadan was once the home of the largest temple and monastery in Tuva, destroyed decades ago.

The museum at Ak-Dovurak. The museum director joined us for a morning as guide to nearby sites.

An eagle petroglyph near Ak-Dovurak.

An absolutely exquisite painted Buddha image on an alcove carved into a cliff. Surrounded by water, clouds...

Ancient Buddhist texts on the cliff

Our trip translator Eres Saltchak with bird in flight near an Ovaa. These cairns mark the high points on the mountain roads. It is traditional to get out and share araka first with the 4 directions, then with each other, in sequence from oldest to youngest.

Another view from the same area.

We stopped at this aal, or settlement of yurts, after a "wild yak-chase." The owners gave us khoit-pak (a kefir-like beverage produced early in the process of distilling fermented milk) and araka (the alcoholic final product). Mmmm....araka!

Kids on the street in Ak-Dovurak. Check out the tot with the steering wheel and the big bump on his head. Might be time for some driver's training? Unfortunately , the residents of Ak-Dovurak (place with white stuff in the ground) live in the shadow of a huge, open asbestos mine :-(

A famous "stone man of the steppes." A memorial of a great warrior, dating to the 7-8 centuries.

Stone Man with Real Woman!

During the previously mentioned "wild yak-chase," Johnna poses on a high mountain ridge, just after flushing 2 eagles.

We went with HHT on a several-day campaign through west and central Tuva tour for candidate Viktor Norbu, running for the Federal Duma in Moscow. We were joined by Tuvan pop-star Oleg Saryglar. This was our little hotel in Mongun-Taiga.

Scene in the same town.

These next pics are of the lovely, velvet-like mountains found in this area of southwest Tuva.

On a high plateau in Mongun Taiga, with the mountain of the same name in the background. It's the highest point in Tuva, at over 15,000 feet. L-R: Alexei, Kaigal-ool, Sayan, moi, Saltchak, Johnna, and driver (and symphony conductor/percussion teacher Valyera.

Same, except with Tolya but not Johnna, taking the picture. Not visible: the many little blonde "prairie-dogs."



and more yaks... lovely beasties, well-suited to the climate

. A tiny spec in the distance becomes... a man. He came from nowhere, and asked for a ride to the next town... miles away, it would have been a long walk.

These are 2 pictures from near the Mongolian border in southern Mongun-Taiga.

Same area, going up an INCREDIBLE road, with master driver Tolya at the helm. The large lake is across the border in Mongolia.

Great mountain scenery on the way to another campaign stop at Bora Taiga. We got clean delicious (and, happily, safe) drinking water from the spring.

Another magnificent mountain vista

A lovely example of the murals decorating local theaters and community centers, this one in Chaadan.

The finest such example of these murals that we saw was this depiction of xuresh, or Tuvan wrestling, in Mugur-Aks'yi.

Oleg Saryglar relaxes on a mountain.

An ovaa

After an extremely long day of travelling, we arrived at 3:30 a.m. in Chadaan to find our reserved room given away. After hassling with a drunken hotel staff, we managed to get this lovely room. No lock, and we had to argue to get a mattress. We were thrilled, but you take the good with the bad...

Heading Home :-(

On the flight from Kyzyl back to Moscow, we passed over incredible mountain scenery.

I believe these are in the Altai range in western Tuva, extending into Mongolia and China

A special gift from our shaman friend Nikolai, a miniature tungur with bear-claw.

Some reminders of our journey to Tuva

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