The Legend of Jetigen

Jetigen is a Kazakh ancient seven-stringed musical instrument. The name of the instrument is combined from 2 Kazakh words: Jeti - Seven and An - Song.

The instrument was used widely until the middle of the 19th century. Then it was getting lost.

The musical instrument was mentioned in several ethnographic works of such famous explorers as Ivan Lepyokhin, Peter Simon Pallas, Johann Georgi and Peter Rychkov.

Thanks to the description of the instrument kept in Siberian Herald Magazine issued in 1817 Kazakh master Orazkazy Beisenbekuly reproduced the instrument in 1966. And nowadays, Jetigen started to be used as a solo and accompaniment instrument in folk orchestras and ensembles.

The instrument is also popular among the Turkic-speaking peoples: among the Tatars - ietigan, Tuvinians - Dzhatygan, Khakassians - stepfoot and so on.

The most ancient type of Jetigen was an oblong box, hollowed out of a piece of wood. On this instrument there was no top deck, but there were picks from asyks. The strings made of horsehair were stretched out by hand from the outside of the instrument. Later, the upper part of the Jetigen was covered with a wooden deck. Under each string was substituted from both sides asyks, performing the role of pins. Moving them, a musician could adjust the string. If the asyks were brought together, the system was raised, moved apart - lowered.

[caption id=”attachment_3706” align=”aligncenter” width=”300”] The legend of Seven Kyu[/caption]

In ancient times in an old village lived an old man. He had seven sons, and he had a gracious living. But one cold winter there was a jute - a thick blanket of snow which causes a massive loss of livestock. The people were left without food, and the grief settled in the old man’s family. The death of one after another took away all his sons.

After the death of the eldest son Kania, the old man hollowed out a tool from the log of a dry tree, pulled on it one string of sheep’s veins, and placing a stand under it, performed kyu “Qaragym” (“My own”).


After the death of the second son Torealym, the grieving father pulls the second string and improves the kyu “Qanat synar” (“Broken wing”).

To the third son Zhaykeldi he composes the kyu “Qumarym” (“My Beloved”).

For the fourth son, Beken - kuy “Ot soner” (Extinguished flame).

For the fifth son Hauas he composed “Baiyt koshti” (“Lost Happiness”).

For the sixth son Zhulzar - “Kun tutildi” (“The sun is eclipsed.”)

When died the youngest son Kiyas, a grief-stricken old man pulls the seventh string and performs the kyu “Zheti balamnan aiyrylyp qusa boldym” (“Grief from the loss of seven sons.”).

Extracting from the instrument sounds full of sadness, the exhausted father in different in nature melodies shows the images of his sons. improvised melodies have been further developed and have come down to us in the form of instrumental pieces-kyues under the common title “Jetigennyn jeteui” (“Sevens of Jetigen”). Sources: youtube, wikipedia,, tengrinews