The Broader Picture: Fiddler on the hoof

Photograph,Words,Nick Danziger
Saturday 24 July 1999 23:02

THIS IS DAGIRANZ, a retired Mongolian superstar, playing his horse- headed fiddle to a gathering of camels. Dagiranz was discovered in a local talent competition in his early forties, and duly became the country's most celebrated singer - their homegrown Bing Crosby. His career was long and distinguished: he starred in many films and had a large, faithful following, but when he reached the age of 70 he decided to retire. After living for 26 years in Ulan Bataar, the capital of Mongolia, he made the journey back to the region on the edge of the Gobi Desert where his family had lived for generations, and where he had grown up.

Half of the population of Mongolia is nomadic, and animals are treated as an extension of the family. When Dagiranz feels like company, he travels the 11 miles to where his nearest neighbours live, and performs to their livestock. In this photograph, the camels appear a vaguely unreceptive audience, but Dagiranz says this is not the case. Sometimes he will play a tune to remind himself of his childhood, which makes him cry. Then, he says, the camels join in and weep with him.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments