Jew’s harp, jaw harp, mouth harp, Ozark harp, trump harp, juice harp, maultrommel, vargan, khomus (komuz) – is thought to be one of the oldest musical instruments in the world; a musician apparently playing it can be seen in a Chinese drawing from the 4th century BC. Despite its common English name, and the sometimes used Jew’s trump, it has no particular connection with the Jewish people or Judaism. This instrument is native to Asia and used in all tribes of Turkish people in Asia.
Nogon Shumarov, Altai singer and musician from the Katun river in the Altai Republic (Russia) talks about the khomus
Siberian shamans traditionally used khomus during their rituals. This instrument can be called by right the classic shaman’s instrument. They say that the sounds of khomus are heard not only by people and can lead to world of spirits. All this means that the traditions of Yakutian khomus making are very ancient, many thousand years. And these traditions were carefully saved by Yakut people till the present time.
Another reason is that all Yakutian khomuses are made from steel, whereas all other kinds of jew’s harp are made from soft alloys. That is why the sound of Yakutian khomus is the most powerful and clear among all other jew’s harps. From the other hand dealing with the steel demands from the master very high-class workmanship. Every Yakutian khomus is made with great accuracy, all of them are hand-made and hand-tuned. Every Yakutian master has his own secrets. That is why khomuses made by different masters have their own features.
Jew’s harp music of Turkic peoples in the Urals, Siberia, and Central Asia (1995)