Erected in 1980, the Singing Tubes monument stands today at the centre of the Korkyt Ata complex. It consists of four kobyz looking out to the four corners of the world, and, between them, sets of tubes, designed in such a way that when the steppe winds blow, as they do most of the time, they will play music that resembles the sound of this ancient Kazakh musical instrument.
The legend of Korkyt is at the heart of Kazakh culture, and kobyz players never tire of repeating it.
As a young man, Korkyt had a dream when he learned that he would die at age 40. Wishing to escape death, he mounted his camel, Zhelmaya, and set off in search of the land where there is no death. On his journey he met people digging the earth and he asked them what they were digging for. They answered him that they were digging a grave for Korkyt. So he continued his journey until he had visited all the four cormers of the world. His search having been unsuccessful, he returned to his native banks of Syr-Darya river in the centre of the world. Here an angel appeared to him one day and told him how to make a kobyz. He made the instrument, covered it with camel skin, attaching two horsehair strings to the neck and using the horns of a mountain goat as its stand. When he played it, every living being stopped and death could not approach him. So he carried on playing, and lived for a great many years. Eventually though he fell asleep and death came to him in the form of a snake.
The kobyz became a sacred instrument, famed for its healing powers.
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