CHADANA July 4 – 10

The UNCOOL contribution consisted in two concert by musicians of The Sun Ra Arkestra: MARSHALL ALLEN, alto sax, flute, clarinet, EVI, KASH KILLION, cello, sarod and ELSON NASCIMENTO, percussion.

The USTUU-HUREE Festival took place next to the ruins of the Ustuu-Huree Temple. A small brook hidden in idyllic woodland was running nearby serving for any water need. The open landscape softly vanished in the distant mountains. The stage was newly erected from raw cut poles and a generator on an old truck provided the electricity for the sound amplification and the stage lights. Some simple stands offered shashlik, homemade rice and noodle soups, coffee, tea and sweets. In short distance to the stage some yurts and many tents hosted the musicians and the public.

It is no doubt a highly spiritual place. Although the presence of several armed solders was not really reassuring, the general atmosphere was serene and joyful, the concerts were beautiful and the public of all ages full of interest and praise.

The ground was dry and dusty and the vegetation soon disappeared under the many feet, the days were long and hot and everybody was seeking shelter from the stinging sun. There were plenty of mosquitoes especially in the inviting shadow of the wild woods. Food and tea was cooked on open fires and many languages were spoken: Tuvan, Russian, English, French, Portuguese, even Swiss German and of cause the universal language - MUSIC.

We left on the last night of the Festival, even before everyone else was moving to another spiritual place with a gorgeous cascade (I was told) to relax and play. Marshall Allen, Kash Killion and Elson Nascimento had to fly off to Austria after a long night’s ride on uneven roads to Krasnoijarsk airport and I traveled from there to the SAYAN RING FESTIVAL in Shushenskoye to meet with Ai-Tchourek and the shamans and to get a glimpse of a festival that offers a platform for young musicians.

After my return to Kyzyl I met Igor Dulush at TOS DEER, the shamans’ center on the bank of the river Yenisei. In a long talk and with the help of Zhanna, the interpreter, he explained the present situation of the Ustuu-Huree Festival and the difficulties with the reconstruction of the Temple. I would like to give here the résumé of this reveling conversation.

Organizer of the Ustuu-Huree Festival in Chadana, Republic of Tuva, Siberia

Summery of the Conversation

with Igor Dulush, Initiator and The Buddhist Temple Ustuu-Huree that gave the name to the world music Festival in Chadana, Republic of Tuva, Siberia, was built between 1905 and 1907 and was the largest monastery in the territory of Tuva.

The most cruel repression of Soviet Communism occurred in this part of the USSR: In 1937 the Tuvan population counted about 70’000 inhabitants and 5’000 Lamas, in 2005 about 310’000 inhabitants and 36 Lamas including those 16 who are presently in India for their Buddhist education.

During 1937/38 all Buddhist monasteries were destroyed and all Lamas were killed. The consequence of the profound lack of spiritual education, combined with the loss of the traditional way of life, the absence of major industries, the spreading poorness and the rising alcoholism turned the country into the most violent republic of the Russian Federation. Today more homicides occur in Tuva than in the war zone of Chechnya. On top, Tuva has also severe health problems – tuberculosis, syphilis and child death – because of lacking hygiene.

In this short period of time – from 1937 to the present – the communist ideology, the soviet influence and the European way of life meant a culture shock to the Tuvan culture that was based on a nomadic tradition.

Igor Dulush, his comrades and his crew are determined to save some of the culture for the local people and the young generations and to build up what has been so disastrously destroyed.

The Ustuu-Huree Festival shows traditional culture like horse racing, wrestling, KHOOMEI, throat and overtone singing, traditional music played on traditional instruments like the horse violin, and it is dedicated to the reconstruction of the Buddhist Temple Ustuu-Huree.

Tuvan pastoral music is intimately connected to an ancient tradition of animism, the belief that natural objects and phenomena have souls or are inhabited by spirits. According to Tuvan animism, the spirituality of mountains and rivers is manifested not only through their physical shape and location but also through the sounds they produce or can be made to produce by human agency. The echo off a cliff, for example, may be imbued with spiritual significance. Animals, too, are said to express spiritual power sonically. Humans can assimilate this power by imitating their sounds.

The Throat Singers of Tuva
By Theodore C. Levin and Michael E. Edgerton

A Jury accompanies the festival in order to enhance competition between all genres of music, to give an incentive and to help to find one’s own place in the world of music.

As a consequence of the soviet impact, cultural education was strictly limited to European classics and Russian culture. In 1988 the students of the College of Arts in Kyzyl demonstrated for receiving also training in Tuvan music using traditional instruments and throat singing. The National Department of the College of Arts was founded and Igor Dulush, as well as Andrej Mongush (Huun Hurtu), Igor Kostskendei (Chirgilchim), Aldar Damdyn (Chirgilchim), Choduraa Tumat (Tuva Kyzy), Ajana Mongush (Director of the National Orchestra) belonged to the first generation that graduated in Tuvan traditional culture.

In 1999 the first Ustuu-Huree Festival brought these musicians together, who share the idea of rebuilding the destroyed Ustuu-Huree Temple and to revive Buddhism in order to build a better world – against the constant propaganda of the American, European and Russian way of life, e.g. vodka, beer and crime as problem solvers...

The dependence of the Tuvan Government on Moscow remained basically unchanged up to the present times – about 90% of the national budget are still covered by subsidies from Moscow. According to Igor Dulush the clan structure of the Tuvan Government facilitated corruption and considerable amounts of money disappeared in the bureaucratic channels.

In contrast, the neighbor country Khakasia developed economic infrastructures that allow people to earn their own money. For instance the aluminum mine alone makes a profit of 5 times the Tuvan national budget. Mr. Oleg Deripaska, head of the aluminum mines, belongs to the richest men of the world.

Or the northeastern Republic of Yakutia disposes of mineral resources (diamonds, gold, tin, wolfram, mercury, complex and iron ores, bituminous and brown coals, natural gas and oil) and the Russian stock of diamonds.

Tuva is separated by the SAYANI Mountains from the other republics. Not even a railroad is linking the country to the world beyond. Tuvan people say that the spirits of these mountains do not allow other people to come to Tuva. But Tuva is rich of mineral resources and natural treasures. Any kind of minerals can be found: Gold, uranium, cobalt, asbestos... but they are hardly exploited. There is no export, only a limited exploitation for the national use.

The Russian Government has recently decided to build a railway and open the rivers for transportation. This enterprise is thought of as a colonization project with Chinese investors and cheap Chinese workers ruled and controlled by white collars from Russia. The planed industrialization will be a shock for the untouched Tuvan nature.

At the Fifth International Ubsu-Nur Symposium, which focused on strategies of sustainable development in Inner Asia, V.N. Lebedev, the director for the Tuvan Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, asserted that "Tuva can only live independent of Russia if it can develop industries such as gold and asbestos mining."

Others, however, question the wisdom of this approach both from the economic and ecological perspectives. In response to Lebedev's suggestion, Viktor Bugrovsky, the scientific supervisor of the International Ubsu-Nur Experiment, noted that extraction of mineral resources is very destructive, and said that Tuva's mineral resources are in fact very limited and will be quickly depleted with intensive mining.

Likewise, Sergei Oktyayevich Ondar, Tuva's minister of environmental protection, noted that the south Siberian ecosystems are too fragile to withstand industrial-scale mining. "Most of the money from mining wouldn't stay in Tuva anyway," he added.

Tuva's pride and joy of industrial development, featured on postcards and in photo books, is the behemoth Ak-Dovurak asbestos mine in west-central Tuva. Ak-Dovurak is one of the largest open-pit asbestos mines in the world. Mining activity shrouds the adjacent town of Ak-Dovurak in a cloud of white dust (in fact, the name itself means "white dust"). This has led to elevated levels of emphysema, lung cancer and other lung diseases.

The damage from gold mining operations is also evident. From the top of Mount Dogee, one has a commanding view of the town of Kyzyl, and of the khem belderi, the confluence of the Bii-Khem and Kaa-Khem rivers, which come together to form the Yenisei. From this vantage point, the contrast between the murky yellow-brown water of the Bii-Khem, which carries tailings down from a number of gold mining operations in Tuva's northeast, contrasts dramatically with the clear, deep blue waters of the Kaa-Khem, where there is no gold mining.

"The miners are using a very old technology called amalgamation [to extract the gold]," Ondar explained. In the process, waste water containing mercury is produced. This mercury is poisonous to humans and to wildlife.

Tuva Sets Sights On Sustainable Development by Brian Donahoe, Indiana University

The Ustuu-Huree Festival is an approach to solve problems among different nationalities and religions. As organizers of this festival we share a peaceful vision of a SOFT WAY of sharing the earth between different nationalities, societies and religions. The Ustuu-Huree Festival represents only one event each year for the western part of Tuva.

This year (2005) the Tuvan Government decided not to support the Ustuu-Huree Festival, but instead contemporarily organized a concert evening to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s birthday on 6th July in Kyzyl for the very first time in history. As a consequence the Ustuu-Huree Festival lacked not only financial support, but also the acoustic equipment was not available, nor the transportation, nor the board and lodging for the musicians as offered the year before. On top the official permission for the Festival was only issued the evening before the first day of the Festival. So it started one day late...

According to Igor Dulush, the Ministry of Culture even asked him to pay back the subsidies that were given in 2004 – that are 2’000’000 rubles (about $ 71’400)!

Consequently the Ustuu-Huree Festival now became an independent organization with all the legal rights of a non-profit as well as a profit organization and is now completely independent of the Government.

According to Igor Dulush, the Tuvan Government received since 1994 subsidies from Moscow on a year’s basis to rebuild the Ustuu-Huree Temple. This money was not yet used for the reconstruction of the Temple. On 31st December 2005 the financial help from Moscow for the reconstruction of the Temple will expire, set the fact that the reconstruction did not start until then.

The question is unanswered what happened to the money that was subsidized for the reconstruction of the Temple. As a matter of fact the reconstruction did not start until this year – exclusively with the help from the local people: An electricity line of 380 V was drawn in, but none of the electricity companies were prepared to provide the electricity.

The festival was run on donations of 73’000 rubles (about $ 2’600). The musicians all paid for their travel expenses, for board and lodging and also presented their music for the benefit of the reconstruction. Several wealthy people were afraid to support the Festival because they expected the Government to stop it altogether. So it was not the money but the people who made the Festival happen.

The Ustuu-Huree Festival has become an official organization, is now independent of the governmental support and has an informative web site It also dedicates considerable work to link with other festivals in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Krasnoijarsk and Novosibirsk.

In occasion of The Dalai Lama’s visit of the Temple in 1992, he said that the Temple’s Eternal Light is still alive and thus the Temple must be rebuild. The Bogdo Gegen Lama visited the Temple some years later and asked the Chairman of the Chadana Government: When will you have rebuilt the Temple? Latter answered: In 2007! In April 2005 the Rinpoche Lama from the Gyudmed Tantric Monastery in India visited the Temple and stated that the Temple in his destroyed condition carries a negative energy for the people and that the soul of the people reflected the condition of the Temple – that is a destructive state. Therefore the Temple needs to be rebuilt.

Vilja Khaslavskaya, architect for reconstruction from Moscow, presented her reconstruction schedule at the festival. She is determined to convince the Government and the respective chairmen to support the reconstruction of the Temple. A line of electricity has already been built, until next spring storage houses for construction material should be erected and the reconstruction of the Temple should start in spring 2006. The people will rebuild the Temple without any payment. Actually the circumstances for the Tuvan Government to hand out the money for the reconstruction are quite good...






Cornelia C. Mueller

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