A LEGEND OF THE IGIL
A long time ago there was Ösküs-ool, who lived with his aged father and whose entire wealth consisted of three goats. Early in the spring, one of the noyon old mares foaled and died of exhaustion. The noyon ordered the foal to be taken to the steppe and thrown to the wolves, saying that losing one foal wasn’t going to make him poor. Ösküs-ool took pity on the foal, taking him as his own and feeding him on the milk of his own goats. The foal grew up to be a wonderful grey racer with a white star on his head. In the races Ösküs-ool’s horse began to beat all the noyon’s horses and won fame throughout Tuva. Out of hatred and spite the noyon ordered his men to kill Ösküs-ool’s horse, and they drove her over a high cliff.
Ösküs-ool, not finding his beloved horse anywhere, passed out from fatigue, dreaming of his horse who spoke to him with human voice. ” You will find my remains at the bottom of great cliff. Hang my skull on an old larch tree, the wood of which you will use to make musical instrument, and its face ill be the skin of my muzzle, and its strings will be of the hair of my tail. When you begin to play on this instrument, my double will come to you from the upper( heavenly ) kingdom.” Ösküs-ool did all this as his horse had said in the dream and began to play. He remembered his horse, how was a small little foal and how they played together, he remembered how they won the races, and he played and wept, and it was as if the instrument wept together with him. Ösküs-ool become angry thinking of the evil noyon, and all of his longing and anger found reflection in his playing, and that’s why it is said that the igil is such a complex instrument, with such great expressive possibilities.
Öksüs-ool played for a long time, and the people listened for a long time and laughed and cried together with him as they listened. Suddenly on top of a high mountain the clouds parted and there came down from the heavens a beautiful grey foal – an exact copy of his horse, and he wasn’t alone but with him was an entire herd of black and white horses.
From them on, so they say, Tuvans do not throw the skull of a horse on the ground, but always hang it on a tree. This tradition was strongly preserved in Tuva until the 40s.