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2021  N7-8(196-197)
Inhabitants of planet Earth have witnessed an unprecedented technological leap over the past few decades alone. We are increasingly surrounded by things made in huge quantities using high-tech equipment, following a certain standard. However, it is now widely felt that mass production leads to the spiritual decay in people’s lives. In the age of digitalization, the primordial warmth is so lacking. And people again turned to folk arts that have always harmoniously combined benefits with aesthetics.
There are probably certain venues in every city where people of art gather together. Talented craftsmen, skilled needlewomen, painters, designers present their original products at such exhibitions – the fruits of their work that always attract a huge number of visitors. Such art bazaars feature the diversity of products, beginning from the eye pleasing pretty knick-knacks and original souvenirs to full-fledged works of art.
In Ashgabat, the artistic movement of original talents from among the people is growing. In the few years of its existence, many more people joined the movement. Products created by craftsmen are very popular among the townspeople and guests of the capital. The first exhibition of works by masters of modern decorative and applied art was held at the prestigious exhibition space of the Museum of Fine Arts in Ashgabat, confirming the government’s caring attitude towards the folk culture in its various manifestations.
The exhibition was held under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan. It was dedicated to the 30th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s independence, which is to be solemnly celebrated in September this year. The exhibits perfectly demonstrated the development of modern folk crafts over the past years. After all, craftsmen from among the people and their exclusive works have always constituted an integral part of the cultural paradigm of any country, and their role in the evolution of culture and art is no less important than that of professionals.
Each product is unique, keeping a piece of the craftsman’s soul, warmth of his hands, bringing a person closer to nature. They include picturesque paintings by Klavdia Durdyeva, watercolors by Aya Serkhenova and velvet abstractions by Dmitry Filipchenko, amusing wooden figurines-puzzles by Maya Serkhenova, souvenir pumpkins, chests, mirrors painted in ethnic style by Almagul Garlyeva, delightful beaded necklaces with national motives by Irina Dorofeeva, unusual, romantic night lamps with a multi-layered, delicate landscape cut out of paper with the effect of volume created by the skillful hands of Bahar Muhammadova and so on.
Most of the craftsmen that took part in this exhibition began their art career not so long ago at the behest of their souls and hearts. At the same time, all their products were made at a high artistic level. Trying their hand at various crafts, they were surprised to discover the talents dormant in the depths of their souls. The realization of this great discovery filled them with inspiration, paved the way for improving their talents.
Look for example at Khaldurdy Dovodov, the son of eminent Turkmen artist Niyazmurad Dovodov, who worked in the middle of the twentieth century. Khaldurdy did not follow in his father’s footsteps. He got into the world of art only at the retirement age. Unaccustomed to doing nothing, the former administrative worker first took a jigsaw in his hands, trying to carve a simple drawing out of wood, and it worked out. Then, he did more complex drawings using various tools, and his works became more and more elegant. The artistic genes eventually got their way! Over time, his lacy wooden boxes became very popular among lovers of original gifts. “I have virtually no spare time, and I am happy that I found myself in the art of wood carving,” the master said.
Pensioner Klavdia Durdyeva also discovered her passion for art by accident. When cleaning drawers of the table, she found paints and canvas left over from her daughter’s drawing classes, and she decided to try to paint something. It turned out very well. She continued practicing and painted everything she liked: flowers, still life, landscapes. And soon, painting took hold of her thoughts and soul, and realistic paintings by an amateur painter can now challenge even the works by a professional painter.
Anna Saparova first took a needle and thread in her childhood. Like many girls, she made clothes for dolls first, and then she began to decorate her own clothes. She grew up, graduated from two universities, got married and became a housewife, looked after a child. However, Anna’s energetic nature demanded a burst of creativity. And then she again remembered her childhood hobby. Now, the designer works using modern technology. Who could do without it? The sewing machine embroiders national patterns programmed by the master, turning it into a spectacular decoration on the now fashionable textile tote bags sewn by Anna, which are the best alternative to plastic bags.
“My products are not only beautiful and original. They are environmentally friendly, which is also important. So, this can be considered my contribution to environmental protection, which is also pleasing,” Anna said.
For some, handicraft is a hobby. For others, this is the best way to spend their leisure time, and for some, it is the meaning of life. And all the craftsmen and craftswomen get great pleasure from their art works, because there is nothing more beautiful in life than creating, and they create new images that turn into festively sparkling bouquets of flowers from beads, like those made by Yelena Stolonogova, into fashionable “jewelry” of the elements of national embroidery, like those made by Luiza Sabitova and Tadzhigul Kurbanova, into beautifully carved wooden boxes, like those made by Khaldurdy Dovodov, like Lev Shapovalov’s tableware, like cute dolls in folk costumes by Annabagt Tachmuradova, and unique textiles in “folk” style by Ajap Bayrieva and Anna Saparova.
“For all original masters, exhibiting at such vernissage on one of the main exhibition grounds of the country is a huge incentive to move on. Talented people bring beauty and joy to the world, and they have always been the face of their people. Almost any craftwork is imbued with respect for the cultural traditions of the Turkmen people. Patterns, ornaments, scenes from the life of the Turkmen – all this is reflected in their beautiful, amazing, extraordinary works. Exhibition of our works at such a high level testifies to the wide recognition of the importance of modern decorative and applied art. The flame of creativity burns for as long as mankind lives, and we are happy that with our work we maintain the warmth of this magical flame,” Tadzhigul Kurbanova noted.
Turkmen master craftsmen continue to create. Developing their unique crafts, they inspire everyone who wants to try their hand at arts. They give everyone joy of creation and share the warmth of their hands and extraordinary beauty of their works.


©Turkmenistan Analytic magazine, 2005