By Vikash Kumar
Tacheng is a beautiful city known for its ethnic diversity and a museum for accordions. The city is in Yili Prefecture of Xinjiang. Dauran Dusanqan is a short-statured person, who is known in his friend circle for his accordions and smiling face. He was born and raised in Tacheng city. In his own words, “Accordion was his first love”. In the year 1982, when he was twelve years old, he went to participate in a marriage ceremony. In that marriage ceremony, he for the very first time saw a person playing accordion. He got lost in the music. When he came back to his house, he already had a plan for himself. After coming back to his house, he directly went to his father and begged him to buy him an accordion. His family was completely dependent on his father’s income and his father couldn’t buy such a luxurious item for him. Dauran says, “My father was not willing to buy me an accordion, but I was determined to have an accordion at any cost”. After two years of constant begging, his father finally gave a nod and bought him an accordion. Dauran says, “My father exchanged an accordion with a calf, at present one calf is about Eight thousand Yuan”. Dauran was so excited to get his first love that he did not want the accordion to disappear from his sight not for a single moment. This is how Dao fell in love with accordions.
From 1984 to 1988, Dauran used to learn accordion from listening to radio programs. At the age of 17, he got a chance to attend the Tacheng Normal College, his subject was music and accordion was his first choice. In 1991, he graduated from college and sent to work at a middle school in Tacheng city as a music teacher. His salary was around 180 yuan a month. Apart from teaching in school, he used to take part in music programs as well. He bought his second accordion for 300 Yuan in 1991, it was a Russian accordion. While teaching accordion to students, he started repairing accordions in his leisure time. Sometimes, people used to leave their old and broken accordions at Dauran’s place, and that’s how he started collecting accordions. “At the beginning, I used to ask people to leave their old and broken accordion at my place, after some time I started buying accordions from those people who were not willing to leave their accordions”, he added. He started by collecting accordions in his hometown. During his search for old and valuable accordions, he started moving between China and overseas. He traveled to many countries including Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, etc. Once, in search of a rare accordion, he visited Kazakhstan four times. Now he has more than 1,200 accordions from different countries.
Because of his passion for Accordion, he had to face many problems; one was with his wife who wasn’t very accepting of his passion. According to Dauran, “My wife used to fight with me quite often because the largest part of my income was spent on collecting accordions.” But after some years, his wife got used to his passion for accordions and started supporting him. His two children also started supporting him. His children are learning music and want to keep Dauran’s tradition alive.
Dauran also wants to make the accordion a common musical instrument for every child in Tacheng city. He used to teach accordion in schools as an extra subject. He says, “Minorities are musically gifted, by nature, most probably inherited from their ancestors, we should inspire them to learn music or accordion”. In Tacheng city, every school has more than fifty accordions. Whenever a person or a student comes to meet Dauran and ask about music or accordion, he feels proud and tries to answer each question. In his leisure time, he used to go to the park with his friends and perform songs and play the accordion. “In this way, I can attract more people and I could inspire the younger generation to take music as their major,” he added.
The local government is also putting a lot of effort to protect the tradition of playing the accordion. In 2015, the government spent three million Yuan to establish a museum for accordions where one can find accordions from different countries. This museum has a collection of more than 1,000 accordions from different countries including China, Russia, Germany, Italy, Ukraine, etc. It is one of the best places in China to study the history and development of accordions. This museum has one of the oldest accordions in the world, from Germany, which was produced in 1827. Whenever an exhibition is held in Tacheng or any other city, the local government invites Dauran to represent Tacheng city. In 2016, the largest accordion ensemble was achieved by the Publicity Department of Tacheng Prefectural Party Committee of CPC. This was also recorded in the Guinness World Record, where 1,517 people participated in the ensemble together.
Dauran feels proud of his achievements. He feels proud to say, “My father used to say that he had done only one right thing in his life that he bought me an accordion.” He hopes that he can donate his personal collection of accordions to the Tacheng museum in the future. Tacheng is known as “the city of accordions” among locals. For Tacheng, the accordion is also a symbol of unity among different minorities.