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2022  N11-12(212-213)
For three October days, the administrative center of Lebap province was an art space that hosted the magical performances of the international festival “Workmanship and decorative and applied arts in the heritage of the peoples of the world” which was organized by the Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan.
Cultural figures, artists and craftsmen from all regions of the country, as well as from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, the Republic of Korea, Iran, Latvia gathered in the city of Turmenabad to demonstrate the continuity of national traditions of folk art coming from the depths of centuries and their living principles. Despite all its diversity, the colorful and varied palette of the festival events emphasized the common source of the full-flowing river of culture of the peoples of the world, encapsulating the memory of centuries, invaluable experience, knowledge and skills that got new meaning thanks to the modern generation of masters and artists.
The chain of events in the program of the international festival was meant to show the national heritage in development, present the areas of decorative and applied art as broadly and deeply as possible. The iconic cultural sites of Turkmenabad were chosen as the venue for the forum. The opening of the international festival took place under the arches of the magnificent concert hall of the Turkmen White Yurt building, where the guests were welcomed with a wonderful composition to the glory of national culture by the combined art teams of the eastern region of the country.
An exhibition of museum exhibits was set up in the concert foyer, fully representing the types of national decorative and applied arts, folk crafts as clear evidence of the multifaceted creative talent of the Turkmen people.
The guests viewed with great interest the permanent exposition telling about the modern development of the national fine and decorative arts.
That evening, folk melodies, pieces of music from the treasury of national musical classics, modern pop songs were performed on the stage. Separate folklore performances were devoted to the original traditions and customs of the Turkmen people. Dance compositions, as well as popular melodies and songs of the countries participating in the festival, performed in original languages by Turkmen soloists and the combined ensemble of musicians from Lebap province, became a real treat for the audience and foreign guests.
An exhibition of works by the by the festival participants at the Local History Museum of Lebap province was one of the central events of the international festival. They presented the diversity of works of arts and crafts, ceramics and sculpture, paintings, folk crafts, including carpets, felt mats, rugs, tapestries, leather and fur products, national clothes, embroidery, fine jewelry, musical instruments, pottery, dolls and other items of the traditional way life of Turkmens.
The exhibits brought by foreign participants of the festival, including filigree crafts made of wood and metal, incrusted boxes, board games, decoupage from fabrics attracted the attention of numerous lovers and connoisseurs of arts and crafts. The guests brought with them samples of national clothes, calligraphy inherent in the countries of the East, art miniatures and various souvenirs. Exhibits from different regions of Turkmenistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and the Republic of Korea were noted for their special color and ornamental tonality, which with good reason can be attributed to both craft and art.
Masters generously shared the secrets and subtleties of their crafts. Everyone could try on costumes of different nations, try to discover the talent of an artisan under the guidance of an experienced craftsman – work on a potter’s wheel, sit at a loom, paint a wooden spoon, make a doll, take part in the process of making musical instruments...
Craftsmen from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Iran demonstrated the specifics of processing of wood, leather and metal, making elements of national clothes and various types of needlework. Of great interest was the master class on creating paintings from fabrics, artistic burning on a pumpkin, painting leather products. The musicians shared their experience in making national musical instruments.
Foreign guests viewed with great interest the exposition of the Regional Museum of History and Local Lore that boasts over 35 thousand exhibits, the significant part of which is a priceless heritage. In recent years, the museum funds have been replenished with numerous ethnographic finds, as well as more than a hundred archaeological rarities discovered during seasonal excavations at the ancient settlement of Amul.
The program of the international festival “Workmanship and decorative and applied arts in the heritage of the peoples of the world” included a scientific and practical conference at the Regional Library of Lebap province that prepared a number of cultural and educational events for the guests. The participants of the conference were greeted by musicians, playing melodies on the ancient instrument, Tuyduk, and by young residents of Turkmenabad, reciting poems in different languages of the world. The guests viewed the exhibition at the library foyer that presented books and illustrative publications dedicated to the national culture and art of the Turkmens.
The conference participants discussed aspects of international cooperation in studying and popularizing the national heritage, of which decorative and applied arts are an integral part. The speakers included representatives of the cultural sphere from Iran, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, as well as specialists from the Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan, its subordinate institutions, teachers of industry-wise educational institutions. They shared experiences in the development of folk crafts and organizing international exhibition events.
A separate report was devoted to cooperation between Turkmenistan and UNESCO in the preservation and popularization of the national cultural values of the Turkmen people at the international level. It was noted that the Turkmen applied arts such as traditional carpet making and dutar making craftsmanship, traditional music performing art and the art of Bakhshi were inscribed in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The show of ethnic clothes and modern outfit made in national traditions by the designers of the House of Models of the Ministry of the Textile Industry of Turkmenistan, private fashion houses, as well as fashion designers from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan was one of the striking festival events. Luxurious outfits made of velvet, traditional Turkmen silk fabric Keteni and brocade richly decorated with national embroidery were demonstrated during the fashion show. Some models presented national dresses in combination with traditional robes (don), vests, capes, colorful headdresses embroidered with traditional ornaments. The variety of shapes, the feast of the color palette, the richness of decoration and ornaments made by the hands of craftswomen emphasized the originality of the national dresses of the peoples of the fraternal countries and reflected the inexhaustibility of the source of their talents.
The festival participants took home unforgettable impressions of creative and friendly contacts, the atmosphere of glorification of people’s labor and culture that encapsulate the memory of centuries and modernity.


©Turkmenistan Analytic magazine, 2005