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Artist Uses Ancient Scandinavian Herding Call to Summon Cattle Home from Pastures

Jonna Jinton is a young blogger and photographer known for making an ancient and haunting Scandinavian herding call called “kulning” viral a couple of years ago by using it to call a herd of cattle home from the pasture.

Kulning is an ancient singing technique used by women on the Scandinavian Peninsula since ancient times primarily to call herds of cattle down from mountain pastures, but also as a form of communication, as its high-pitch sounds could be heard over long distances. Today, kulning is still used in isolated villages in Sweden and Norway, but to most of the world it only became known in 2016, after Swedish artist Jonna Jinton posted a YouTube video of herself using the haunting call to summon a herd of cows. It went viral, and she’s been posting kulning videos on her YouTube channel ever since.

Photo: Jonna Jinton/YouTube

According to Wikipedia, “When a call is made in a valley, it rings and echoes against the mountains. The animals, a number of whom wear bells tuned so that the livestock’s location can be heard, begin to respond to the call, answering back and the sound of the bells indicates that they are moving down the mountain towards their home farm. The kulokks can belong to an individual, but are sometimes family-based and are handed down so that a family’s cows know they are being called and thus respond. A number of calls contain names of individual (sometimes the “lead”) animals, as herds are not very large.”

 

Like yodeling, to which it is very similar, kulning is meant to be a loud, strong sound that, from an intensity point of view, falls off way less than other sounds over long distances.

 

Kulning consists of half-tones and quarter-tones characteristic of Scandinavian music, and has a haunting tone that conveys a feeling of sadness.

 

But words really don’t do this ancient herding call justice. You just have to hear kulning for yourself.

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