Many HMong musicians say the raj hliav ncauj and the raj ntsaws are the hardest Hmong instruments to play—even moreso than the qeej! The difference between the two lies in how they produce sound: the raj hliav ncauj has a bamboo strip (called the "pluab ncau" in HMoob) inserted into the mouthpiece to separate the musician's airstream—it is also called the raj ntsia (pluab ncau) for this reason, the raj ntsaws has a wooden stopper (called the "ntsaws" in HMoob, thus the name) which directs the air into the window/ramp to create sound. The ability to control one's breath when playing the raj ntsaws is extremely crucial—just a small change in how hard one blows can change the musical octave of any note. Coupled with the typically faster music of the raj ntsaws, only extremely talented musicians are able to speak/play the "six-finger" or rau-ntiv styles of the raj hliav ncauj musical languages well. Compared to the raj ntsaws, their sound can be described as more "hollow"—this sound is a timbre that some musicians feel is more kho siab than the raj ntsaws.
These are expertly crafted in Luang Prabang, Laos by Xov Yeeb Vaaj.
Raj Hliav Ncauj / Raj Ntsia | HMong Beveled Recorder
These raj hliav ncauj measure between 19 inches (48 cm) and 21 inches (53 cm) long and approximately 1 inches (2.5 cm) in diameter/thickness. Entirely constructed from bamboo.