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The Evolution of Huobusi: Tracing its Journey Through Asian Cultures

Last Updated on 2023/11/23

The Huobusi (火不思), a traditional instrument from Central Asia, is notable for its historical and cultural significance across several Asian countries. This stringed instrument, resembling the Chinese pipa but slimmer and longer, is covered partially with lizard skin and is typically about 2 feet and 7 inches in length.

Variants and Names in Different Cultures

The Huobusi is known by various names among different ethnic groups and regions, reflecting its widespread use:

  • Kubuz (库布孜) in Kazakh.
  • Komuz (комуз) in Kyrgyz, also known as Kowuz or Kowuz.
  • Hobusi (忽必丝) in Mongolian.
  • Other variations include Hebisi (和必斯) and Hunbushi (渾不似).

This instrument is utilized from China to Turkey, with each culture adopting its unique name and slight variations in design. In Kazakhstan, it is referred to as Qobız (قوبىز‎). The Khakas people call it Komuz or qomus (комуз; qoˈmuz). In Azerbaijan, it’s known as Qopuz, and in Turkey, it goes by the name Kopuz.

Historical Context

Historical records of the Huobusi date back to the Yuan Dynasty, as mentioned in the Yuan History (元史), where it was referred to as Hebisi, a phonetic derivation of Kopuz. Archaeological findings suggest its presence in ancient Azerbaijan.

The Huobusi played a significant role in ensemble music during the Qing Dynasty, indicating its integration and importance in Chinese musical culture. Its appearance among various Turkic peoples underscores its historical and cultural journey across Central Asia, evolving in form and name across different languages and regions.

This instrument, with its multi-ethnic heritage and historical presence, showcases the rich tapestry of cultural exchange and adaptation in the realm of music, extending from China to the far reaches of Turkey.

Featured image: source

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