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The Day of Dombyra – July 1, 2023

The Day of Dombyra is celebrated on the first Sunday of July every year. This year, it takes place on July 1. A dombyra is a pear-shaped, long-necked, two-stringed, plucked musical instrument. It has frets and is played by strumming with the hand or plucking each string individually, with an occasional tap on the main surface of the instrument. It is also referred to as dombira or dombra.

The dombyra was an integral part of nomad life, accompanying nomadic tribes as they traversed the steppes. There are 60 types of dombyra on display at the Atyrau Local History Museum. Kurmangazy Sagyrbayuly, the Kazakh folk musician and composer, was known as one of the great dombyra players and was a major influence on the development of Kazakh musical culture. His musical composition ‘Adai’ was a hit locally and internationally.

History of The Day of Dombyra

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a decree making the Day of Dombyra an annual celebration in 2018. He introduced this day to instill appreciation, respect, and knowledge of national culture and tradition.

The dombyra is included in the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Intangible Cultural Heritage List. It is a cultural tool to connect people to their historical roots and traditions.

The dombyra first appeared in the Middle Ages and an instrument similar to the dombyra has existed in almost every Central Asian country. In 1989, researchers discovered rock drawings dating back at least 4,000 years depicting dancing figures and a musical instrument shaped like a dombyra. The dombyra is small and portable, making it the ideal tool for entertainment for mobile Kazakhs. It can be easily packed and takes up little space.

The art of building a dombrya was passed down from generation to generation. Dombyras were traditionally constructed from wood and sinew strings. Types of wood such as spruce, pine, and elm were widely used, and the strings were fashioned from animal hide, tendons, or intestines. Nylon strings are now used in modern dombryas. The sound produced will vary depending on the type of wood and strings used.

The sound of the dombrya mimics nature and the sounds found in traditional Kazakh life. The ‘kui’ is the most sacred performance involving the dombyra; it is an instrumental epic piece that is also spiritual in nature and plays an important role at family events and social gatherings.

The Day of Dombyra timeline

1989
Rock Paintings are Discovered

Kazkh researchers discover 4,000-year-old petroglyphs depicting a dombyra and people dancing.

2012
Elektrodombyra is Created

The electric dombyra is invented, and the first owners are the musicians from the "Aldaspan" band.

2014
Inclusion in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage

The Kazakh traditional art of Dombra Kuy is inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

2018
The First Day of Dombyra

Kazakhstan celebrates the first-ever Day of Dombyra with 2,000 musicians performing famous Kazakh ‘kuis’ in Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan.

The Day of Dombyra FAQs

Where did the dombrya come from?

The dombra or dombrya can be found in almost every country in Central Asia.

When was the dombrya invented?

Research believes that the dombrya or dombra existed over 4,000 years ago.

How do you play the dombyra?

You strum the instrument using your pointer finger and thumb.

The Day of Dombyra Activities

  1. Learn how to play the dombyra

    Take musical classes to learn how to play this traditional instrument. It’s never too late to start.

  2. Create a playlist

    Create a playlist of songs that feature the dombrya and play it throughout the day. You’ll be surprised by how many there are.

  3. Host a party

    Invite your friends to join you in celebrating Kazakhstan traditions with authentic cuisine and music. There’s no better way to fully embrace the day.

Why We Love

  1. It’s home to many nationalities and cultures

    Kazakhstan is home to approximately 120 ethnic groups and nationalities.

  2. The longest border in the world

    The border between Russia and Kazakhstan is 4,750 miles long, making it the longest continuous land border in the world.

  3. It has the world’s first spaceport

    Baikonur Cosmodrome was the world's first spaceport for orbital and human launches, and it was from there that Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, was launched into space in April 1961.

  4. Their biggest export is uranium

    Kazakhstan has the second-largest uranium reserves in the world and the highest export value of 1.7 billion U.S. dollars.

  5. It is the largest landlocked country

    Kazakhstan is the biggest country with no access to the sea, with an area of 1,052,100 square miles.

Why We Love The Day of Dombyra

  1. It celebrates music

    We love music. Music inspires us to dance and celebrate!

  2. It creates awareness about culture and traditions

    The day was created to remind the people of Kazakhstan about their heritage and culture. It also promotes awareness among those who may not know much about their rich cultural heritage.

  3. It provides a sense of identity and belonging

    Traditional and modern songs are performed for the public during the festivities. This shapes their sense of national identity.

The Day of Dombyra dates

YearDateDay
2022July 3Sunday
2023July 1Saturday
2024July 6Saturday
2025July 5Saturday
2026July 4Saturday
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