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The magazine is registered by the Federal Service for Supervision of Compliance with Legislation Governing Mass Communications and Protection of Cultural Heritage, certificate of registration Ō» Ļ ‘—77-21265 of 08.06.2005
2020 †N7-8(184-185)
TRADITIONS
CITY OF CRAFTSMEN
Our century is the century of tourism. Millions of people travel annually around the world in search of new experiences. All of them want to bring back home not only interesting stories about their travels but also original souvenirs as a striking illustration of their excitement of seeing new places.
Turkmens are one of the ancient and talented nations in the world. Their traditions are deeply rooted in antiquity. All types of decorative applied art, such as wood and metal processing, ceramics, carpet weaving, embroidery and knitting were popular in Turkmenistan in the past. Turkmen craftsmen achieved notable successes in all spheres of art, and their works were famous for the meaningfulness, subtle way of execution and sophisticated art taste. An ornament was traditionally the primary means of decoration, whose motives were borrowed by authors from life. The ornamental technique has developed over centuries, passing down the generations. Each work was extremely beautiful both in form and dcor, as craftsmen put all their skills and imagination in their products.
Modern applied arts craftsmen carefully preserve ancient traditions of folk art. In their works, they apply not only traditional shapes and patterns but also change them according to the modern requirements of aesthetics and successfully use new artistic techniques and forms.
Many visitors come to Turkmenistan every year to learn of its life and culture. Other than vivid impressions, they take with them Turkmen souvenirs - different works of decorative-applied art, a great variety of which can be found at specialized shops of Ashgabat.
Turkmen carpets made by Turkmen craftswomen are popular at all times. The richest century-old carpet weaving traditions are being carefully preserved and developed. Woven souvenirs, such as small rugs, women handbags, wallets, pillows, phone cases present the best carpet-waving traditions, equaling famous carpets by their decorative qualities.
Artistic knitting is extremely popular in Turkmenistan along with carpet-weaving. Using colorful wool, women knit socks called "jorab", beautiful scarves, tiny trinkets shaped like Turkmen socks with ornaments and many others. These products are famous for their rich color and traditional patterns, some of which feature ancient tribal elements. There is a great variety of knitted products, and buyers with any color preference will find a souvenir to their taste.
Artistic embroidery also belongs to one of the ancient types of Turkmen craftwork. It is mainly used in decoration of household items, national clothes and hats. Turkmen embroidery is distinguished by their austere style and expressiveness. The most favorite colors for embroideries are red, blue, white, green, yellow with brighter and sunny shades, comparing with carpet colors.
The works by Turkmen embroiderers are incredibly harmonious by their color pallet, which is evidence of the natural sense of harmony inherent in embroiderers. A national hat called "Tahya", a shirt's collar or dresses are traditionally decorated with geometric patterns that are often produced from memory and meant to protect their owners from the evil eye. These products are also sold as original souvenirs.
The art of jewelry continues playing a major role in the life of the Turkmen people. This is due to their natural talent and original artistic taste and perception of beauty that are most vividly and fully expressed in jewelry items. That is why silver jewelries have always been in great demand and produced in quantity. There are several dozens of them, the majority of which are women's jewelry.
It is hard to imagine a Turkmen woman not wearing silver accessories. Silver jewelries have always been richly decorated with cornelian, turquoise and complex floral ornaments. Despite scarcity of local materials used in the jewelry art, such as silver, red carnelian, blue turquoise, one can hardly find absolutely similar items. This is owing to the consummate skills of Turkmen jewelry craftsmen and variety of types and shapes of accessories.
Modern jewelry items normally repeat the traditional forms of women's jewelry. At the same time, it does not mean that modern craftsmen bluntly follow the eternal canons. They have perfectly mastered the compositional technique. Numerous variations of shapes and ornaments, the original vision of traditional forms enrich their works with national features and originality. That is why Turkmen jewelries go with national clothes and modern dresses.
Turkmen jewelries are increasingly popular beyond the country. Various medallions, bracelets, brooches, rings, earrings are in great demand abroad. They are very beautiful, sophisticated and original. They smell of the Oriental fairy tale exotics. In a word, Turkmen jewelries are not simply an original souvenir but also an elegant gift that can be passed down the generations, whose artistic value will only increase over time.
Turkmen people have preserved the secrets of wood processing since ancient times. Nature has endowed richly the local craftsmen with wood materials such aspen, walnut, elm, mulberry, acacia. Many architectural buildings were decorated with wooden columns and panels, whose surface was entirely covered with complex carvings connecting geometric and floral elements.
The works by Turkmen carvers were noted not only for their beauty but also for their exceptional durability. The wood art in Turkmenistan is inextricably connected with the art of production of musical instruments, which requires special talent and skills. In this sphere, Turkmen craftsmen have got virtuoso skills. That is why the famous Turkmen Dutar is well-known for its wonderful sound and elegant form.
At present, the wood art gains more popularity among its followers. Craftsmen increasingly turn to this "warm" and remarkably beautiful material. Souvenir shops offer a variety of thematically different but very eye-pleasing wooden items, such as statuettes, trinkets, toys that convey the essence of the national identity, catching the attention of lovers of exotic and original stuff.
Soft toys skillfully made by Turkmen craftswomen have also become popular as souvenirs among tourists. Figures of horses and camels, various in shape and size, are decorated with embroidery, spruce harness. In short, they appear before visitors at their best, as if standing ready to join a celebration. Elegant dolls dressed in traditional clothes are also popular. Craftsmen pick up all the details of their attire, from dresses to jewelry. This is clearly seen in the children's and women's doll clothes. One can admire the painstaking work of craftsmen who produce such precise miniature copies of jewelry items or embroidery. As a rule, dolls in traditional clothes occupy a well-deserved place among other souvenirs from different countries, bearing eloquent testimony to the unique phenomenon of culture and life of the people as well as fine skills of Turkmen craftsmen.
Turkmen souvenirs are well-known far beyond Turkmenistan's borders. Living in different parts of the globe, they can tell about the diversity and wealth of the country which has so many talented people and warm hearts.

Alexandrina YEVSTIGNEEVA


©Turkmenistan Analytic magazine, 2005