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2022  N1-2(202-203)
The International Scientific and Practical Conference and Exhibition “Turkmen land – center of world-famous cultural values” were held in Turkmenistan early this year. The forum was organized by the Ministry of Culture and the International Association “Turkmen Alabay” in celebration of the Turkmen Alabay dog as an integral part of the national cultural heritage.
The name of the forum “Turkmen land – center of world-famous cultural values” was fully justified by the content of the exhibition that brought together exhibitors from ministries and departments, public associations, entrepreneurs and military personnel, scientists and cultural figures, masters of art.
The exhibition was arranged at the Expocentre of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Turkmenistan. It demonstrated the centuries-old close connection of Alabay with the way of life of the Turkmens, and therefore with the traditions and customs of the people that are preserved to this day. It is quite natural that they have been transformed but preserved in their essence in relation to man and nature.
The connection of history and modernity was the characteristic feature of the exposition. It was emphasized by the five white yurts installed there that embodied the five regions of the country. In each of these yurts, one could learn about the activities of the regional Turkmen Alabay centers relating to the preservation and promotion of the glory of the ancient breed of dogs. Bakhshi musicians performed national melodies and songs – a symbolic layer of national culture that has become the heritage of mankind thanks to its inclusion in the UNESCO Representative World Heritage List.
The continuous process of preserving cultural values was accentuated by the interactivity of the exhibition, where visitors could see with their own eyes the process of making beautiful Turkmen carpets, felt mats, the skillful work of craftsmen on jewelry and musical instruments, as well as painters. The national flavor was also emphasized by numerous details and household items, describing expressively the culture of life of the Turkmens – the fruit of the high spirituality of the people.
The true friends and assistants of the Turkmens – Alabay dog – were naturally the main “live” exhibits of the thematic forum. Obeying the command of their military mentors, the service dogs of this unique breed demonstrated skills that are used in the search and security operations, like it was many centuries ago. It is noteworthy that the energetic Alabay dog, whose devotion, fearlessness and courage raise the morale of the defenders of the Fatherland, is the symbol of the special forces unit of the military and law enforcement agencies.
The book section of the exposition presented thematic literature, including the works by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov on cultural and historical topics and, above all, “Turkmen Alabay”.
The museum exhibits were the vivid evidence of the antiquity of the unique breed of dogs, reflecting the evolution of relationship between man and Alabay. They included the amazing finds discovered by archaeologists at historical monuments in different regions of the country. As is known, the ancient images of Alabay dogs were very often found by archaeologists.
The exhibits – terracotta figurines of dogs with cropped ears and tail – were found in different years at such famous monuments as Altyn-depe and Gonur-depe (second millennium BC). The museum collections of Ashgabat boast Parthian rhytons, the relief of one of which features a huge dog. There are also sculptural images of dogs of the local breed created in different centuries and in different craft centers. A small faience figurine depicting an Alabay puppy lying calmly with its paws tucked up has been recently found in the famous medieval settlement of Dandanakan located in Mary province. The exhibition also displayed ancient carpet products whose ornaments reflected the Alabay dog topic.
A significant part of the exhibition was occupied by artistic works depicting the image of Alabay. These are the works by well-known painters, graphic artists, sculptors, carpet and tapestry artists, as well as ceramics artists who are at the beginning of their career in art and working in the animalistic genre.
The remarkable qualities of the Alabay dog such as strength and endurance, reliability and fearlessness, courage and a big kind heart, loyalty and devotion to the master, readiness to share with him hardships and joys were presented in the art form. The exposition also displayed modern souvenirs. Turkmenistan’s textile enterprises presented collections of sportswear and accessories with the image of Alabay.
Carrying the identity of the national culture through the millennia to the present day, the Turkmen people not simply retained their spiritual face but put in the basis of their modern creative and intellectual development their historical heritage, their roots, mentality, foundations of society and state that have proven their viability over the centuries.
This was the topic of discussions of the plenary session of the scientific and practical conference at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Turkmenistan. International dog experts, journalists, veterinary scientists from Russia, Georgia, and Turkey joined the discussions online.
The plenary session of the scientific and practical conference also discussed the development and popularization of the experience of national dog breeding, specifics of breeding the Turkmen Alabay dog, archaeological finds, ornaments and patterns of carpets and rugs, the image of a true friend of Turkmens in the fine arts, preservation and popularization of the historical and cultural heritage. It was noted that such international platforms not only bring together specialists in the field of cynology but also contribute to the expansion of the mutually enriching dialogue between countries and peoples in the cultural and humanitarian sphere.
Separate reports were devoted to the book “Turkmen Alabay” by the head of state, presenting a generalized anthology of historical, archival information and many years of research on the origin and development of the Alabay breed.
The work of five sessions was held at the headquarters of the International Association “Turkmen Alabay”, the National Museum of the Turkmen Carpet, the Center for Public Associations, as well as the Magtymguly Turkmen State University and the Turkmen State Institute of Culture.
The conference participants praised the unique national schools that over the centuries have accumulated the richest experience associated with Akhal-Teke horse breeding, Alabay dog breeding, as well as with Dutar, a colorful brand of national culture. In their substantive reports, speakers especially emphasized that today the well-known organizations created in Turkmenistan are doing tremendous work to further promote the world fame of Alabay dogs, uniting many professional cynologists and connoisseurs of these unique national breeds.
The importance of Alabay dogs for the Turkmen people was especially noted in the context of preserving the national identity and material value of the ancestors, who over the course of millennia managed to breed them on Turkmen soil as a result of folk selection.
In conclusion, the participants emphasized the forum importance in promoting the worldwide fame of the Turkmen Alabay dog, studying the historical traces of this breed of dogs and enriching knowledge in the field of national heritage, as well as the work on the nomination of the national characteristics of breeding of the Turkmen Alabay dog to the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.


©Turkmenistan Analytic magazine, 2005