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23:54 | Jan 22 | 2013

From Space to Yakutia

On the Day of Khomus the cosmonaut brought back the instrument that he took with him to the flight.

November 30 became a significant date for the Yakuts. Last year, this day was declared a Day of Khomus, a small musical instrument that received worldwide recognition, in the Republic. The holiday celebrated for the second time was twice more significant due to the return of khomus which was taken to space.

Personal luggage of the cosmonaut
On December 21, 2011 Oleg Kononenko, commander of the thirty-first expedition to the International Space Station, took a Yakut khomus on a flight to space with him. A year later, having arrived to Yakutia with the “Varganaut” (that is how the khomus, which had been to space, is now called) the cosmonaut met with journalists. “Today I heard the sound of khomus played by children for the first time and was delighted and amazed,” said Oleg. “Now I have a great desire to learn to play this instrument, as Yakut maestros do. At the space station there also was a guitar, and my colleague from the United States and I tried to improvise a duet.”
The guest told that there was a whole story before the khomus appeared to the station. It started a few years ago, when the Sakha Republic began to collaborate with the Cosmonaut Training Center. “I heard about khomuses a long time ago, but first tried to play it just before the flight,” said Oleg Kononenko. Oleg has two space flights under his belt, during which he walked in space for three times, and has another big expedition ahead.
Khomus arrived at the ISS among the personal luggage of the Russian cosmonaut. By the way cosmonauts can take less than 1 kg and not more than 1 liter in volume of personal items. The light weight of the khomus was an advantage: the instrument weighs only 60 grams, and together with its case – 85. The instrument already has a history: it was made in 1991 by a famous master Revory Chemchoev especially for the II International Khomus Congress held in Yakutsk.

A Khomus ambassador
Giving a speech at the festival, Oleg Kononenko said that if he had his own khomus, he would have left it at the station, so that it could have become part of the spacecraft. Now such an opportunity would be given to him during the third expedition to the stars: during the gala evening dedicated to the Day of Khomus, the creator of the “space” khomus presented Oleg with an instrument made especially for him. Moreover, the cosmonaut was awarded with a status “Khomus Ambassador”.
The “Varganaut” became the centerpiece of a specially organized separate exhibition at the People of the World Khomus Museum and Center in Yakutsk. Khomus Museum Director Nickolay Shishigin made a proposal to recognize the holiday in honor of the musical instrument internationally: “There are 162 varieties of khomus in the world, each nation has mouth harp instruments,” noted Nickolay Shishigin. “If they are combined by one khomus, a lot can be achieved both in culture and in politics and business.”

Honoring mouth harp music

The Day of Khomus in the Republic was declared by Sakha (Yakutia) President Egor Borisov’s Decree on June 27 during the VII International Congress of Mouth Harp Music. This year, a whole decade was devoted to it. Many regions of the Republic held celebrations where khomusists and khomus makers were honored, the concerts of ensembles and individual musicians took place. A series of events to celebrate this wonderful instrument were held in the capital as well.