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Naw or Hulusheng

Found in southern China and in the mountains of northern South-east Asia, the naw or hulusheng (which literally means gourd sheng) is perhaps the one of the oldest members of the sheng family. There are two types of hulusheng found in the region: the raft type where the pipes are arranged in two rows, like the Vietnamese mbuat, and the bundle type where the pipes are arranged in a circle like the naw.

The naw is played by a number of the "Hill tribes" or minority peoples of the region, including the Yi, Lahu and Lisu peoples. It has five pipes grouped in a circular cluster, whose open ends appear flush with the bottom of the gourd wind chamber, which allows the player to "bend" the notes by slowly covering the ends of the pipes with the right thumb while playing. The technique for this instrument is difficult, and the resulting music is very lively and quite loud, in spite of the bamboo reeds. Traditionally this instrument also played a coded language, which was used for unmarried people to converse with.

Country: Thailand / China
Region: South East Asia
Type: Free-reed

Naw or Hulusheng - Asian mouth organ
©  R. Raine-Reusch, May 2002