Tonkori: Musical Conversations with Oki

Friday 3 December, 12.30 - 13.30 

Watch online here

Tonkori: Musical Conversations flyer

Join this online event ‘Tonkori: Musical Conversations with Oki’ with Ainu musician Oki who will be invited to perform his tonkori music, introduced by Eiko Soga, an artist and a DPhil student at The Ruskin School of Art in Oxford, and Marenka Thompson-Odlum, a research associate and a curator at the Pitt Rivers Museum. In this event, they focus on the Ainu oral culture to learn from and explore the Ainu’s world view through music. 

Developed on the northern island of Karafuto (Sakhalin), the tonkuri is the only stringed instrument in the Ainu musical tradition. Each tonkori is made from a single piece of wood from one tree, such as spruce, yew or magnolia. The instrument has been used by the Ainu to perform songs inspired by nature and the behaviour of animals and humans, as well as love songs and to accompany dance. 

One tradition associated with the tonkori in the culture is that Ainu would play the tonkori at the bedside of a sick person throughout the night because the kamuy (Ainu god or spirit) of sickness is said not to like the sound. Another legend tells of a story that that during an enemy invasion, an Ainu woman (the most talented tonkori player in the village) played the tonkori, disorienting the enemy and leading to their defeat.

Watch online here