Dechig-pondar – Chechen national instrument

Dechig-pondar – Chechen national instrument

In the past few years, Chechen people have been trying to revive their musical culture, to teach young people to cherish their national musical traditions. For now, there are very few of those who can play the dechig-pondar – Chechnya's most ancient three-stringed instrument, not unlike the Russian balalaika. The Ossetian, Kabardinian, Avar and Georgian people adopted this instrument from the Chechens, each giving it their own names, but all originating from the Chechen word ‘dechig-pondar’, literally meaning ‘wooden instrument with tendon strings’.

In the past, each family had their own dechig-pondar and the Nakh people were known for their skill in playing it. The sound of this instrument is most inspiring, and sometimes is even described as ‘magic’. The songs, meditative, joyful or sad, can tell us the whole history of the Chechen people.

There is a legend that Tamerlane, the greatest conqueror of the Asian Middle Ages, asked his soldiers after a battle with the Nakh people if they managed to take the dechig-pondar away from them. When the soldiers gave a negative response, Tamerlane said: “Than we failed to conquer them”.

Right now, however, there are very few people who know how to play or manufacture pondars. Despite its seeming simplicity, only true musicians can play the dechig-pondar properly. Today, mass producers of this instrument use both traditional and modern techniques. Each instrument costs from 5 to 10 thousand rubles.

Timur Utsaev, Grozny, exclusively to VK