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 ÏÈ ¹ ÔÑ77-21265 of 08.06.2005  
2024  N1-2(227-228)
In the south of the Turkmen capital, in the picturesque foothills of the Kopet Dag, there is the majestic monument to Magtymguly Fraghi, the opening of which is timed to coincide with the 300th anniversary of birth of the great master of words. The project on establishment of a cultural-park complex dedicated to the classics of national and world literature was initiated by the National Leader of the Turkmen people, Chairman of the Khalk Maslakhaty of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, who oversaw all stages of the construction of this unique facility.
A 60-meter-high sculpture looks majestic, symbolizing that the poet, his soul, his thoughts will always be honoured as something beautiful and sublime. There are 216 steps and platforms leading to the monument, opening a magnificent view of the Turkmen capital. Such a grandiose project was intended to become a symbol of people’s love for the humanist poet, whose life and work are associated with the nation’s consciousness, its literary language, the ideal of the future, everything that the Turkmen people holds dear, that constitutes the meaning of their spiritual, moral and aesthetic aspirations.
The overall appearance of the monument is the image of a creative, inspired person. The poet’s right hand is a bit tucked behind his back with a relaxed gesture, in the manner accompanying the reading of poetry. Magtymguly holds a book in his left hand. The poet’s figure looks forward. The illusion of movement is emphasized by his slightly extended leg. When looking at this full-of-motion monument, it looks like Magtymguly is contemplating his native land from above and in just a moment the bronze statue will come to life and the poet will speak to his descendants.
The creation of the majestic sculptural image of Magtymguly Fraghi was entrusted to the People’s Artist of Turkmenistan, twice laureate of the international Magtymguly Prize, honorary elder of the people Saragt Babayev. A huge responsibility fell on the shoulders of the author of the sculpture, as it was clear from the very beginning that his creation will be there for centuries, and many generations will see the sculptor’s work.
The completion of the majestic monument was an occasion for our new meeting with Saragt Babayev, who gives a special place to the theme of Magtymguly in his work. Sculptures depicting the great Turkmen poet created by the national artist were installed not only in Turkmenistan but also in many foreign countries.
In fact, the author’s art biography was for many years associated with the image of the great Turkmen poet. Working on sculptural portraits of Magtymguly, Saragt Babayev increasingly plunged into the world of the poet’s deeply philosophical poetry. In the sculptor’s workshop, one can see many incarnations of the image of the great poet in small and large forms and from various materials.
While creating sculptural images of Magtymguly in Balkan province, Saragt Babayev got acquainted with the cultural and intellectual environment that nurtured the genius of Turkmen literature and took into account the historical, biographical and ethnographic context of his works.
The master was entrusted with creating a number of sculptural images of the great Turkmen poet that were donated by Turkmenistan to friendly countries. In May 2008, a bust of Magtymguly was unveiled in the village of Edelbay, Blagodarnensky district, Stavropol territory of the Russian Federation, where a large Turkmen diaspora lives. This is the first monument to the Turkmen genius installed on the Russian soil. The bronze monument was placed in the center of the village, in the territory of the local school.
A year later, the grand opening of the monument to the great Turkmen poet-thinker took place in the administrative center of the Astrakhan region of Russia. The monument was donated to the city in celebration of the 450th anniversary of Astrakhan. A cozy picturesque square near the Astrakhan State University was chosen for the monument. The sculpture reproduces the poet’s appearance in adulthood. He is emphatically contemplative and depicted in a philosophical reflection.
In May 2018, Saragt Babayev’s another work appeared in the Astrakhan region, in the village of Funtovo, Privolzhsky district, where the region’s largest Turkmen diaspora lives. A bust of the poet decorates a school building built by Turkmen construction workers, which was donated to Russia.
A monument to Magtymguly Fraghi by Saragt Babayev was donated by Turkmenistan to the Turkish people. Its opening took place in “Turkmenistan” Park in Ankara in 2012. The sculptor managed to show the scale of Magtymguly’s personality, his high human dignity, high spirit and deep concentration. The complexity of the poet’s inner world, his mood and versatility are revealed not only through the psychologism of the image in stone, a noble face radiating wisdom and inspiration, but also through a pose that harmoniously combines movement and peace, stability and lightness that give impulse to a new movement.
This year, monuments to the poet will be inaugurated abroad to mark the 300th anniversary of Magtymguly’s birth. Saragt Babaev did not stand aside. He made a sculptural image of the classical poet for St. Petersburg, the cultural capital of Russia. A monument to the great Turkmen poet by Saragt Babayev will be also erected in the capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Astana, in the anniversary year. All these monuments are the result of collective work in which his students and their students took active part, the master noted.
When creating sculptural portraits of Magtymguly Fraghi, Saragt Babayev is always guided by the canonical image of the poet created by People’s Artist of Turkmenistan Aykhan Khadzhiev. Yet, there are not two identical ones among them, no matter how many monuments and compositions dedicated to the humanist poet the sculptor created. The author expresses his understanding of the essence of Magtymguly’s poetry. This means that to some extent he refracts this image through his inner world. The attraction to strict harmony of plastic forms and the philosophical subtext, allowing Saragt Babaev to create multi-layered images of the great master of words, make people not only understand the artist’s thoughts embedded in them but also reflect on eternal themes.
Returning to the upcoming event - the opening of the large-scale Magtymguly monument in Ashgabat, the sculptor noted a big team of associates, including not only students but also a lot of specialists – smelters, moulders, builders, welders, crane operators, transport workers – who went with him through the entire thorny path of implementing the grandiose project. Some 400 people took part in the creation of the 60-meter-high monument, the internal diameter of which is 24 meters. “The work started on 1 January 2021, and I started sculpting with help of 40 students on February 17. We worked from 8 a.m. in the morning to 2 a.m. in the night.”
The monument was built in five stages, each with its own nuances. It took 860 tons of bronze and even more ferrous metal to perpetuate the image of the great poet-thinker. The strength of the grandiose sculpture is ensured by steel supports and rods that hold it together from the inside.
The monument was assembled of large and heavy bronze fragments, the tallest of which reached 15 meters. A workshop of a concrete factory was set aside especially for large-scale work. The installation process was comparable to mountain climbers. Realizing the historical significance of our work, we tried to record all stages on video and photos, the sculptor said. The last fragment of the monument – a block weighing 43 tons – was installed at its highest point. “I was very nervous, and when the installation was completed, I didn’t believe that we had done it!” the author of the monument noted.
When we visited the sculptor’s workshop, work was in full swing from early morning until late at night. Together with his team, Saragt Babayev worked on fulfilling an order to create more than twenty sculptures of outstanding representatives of literature from different countries that will be installed in the alley of the Magtymguly Fraghi cultural-park complex, symbolizing friendship, brotherhood and good neighbourliness of the peoples that the great poet-thinker called for in his immortal works.
This is not an easy task, as one needs to make specific historical figures in artistic plastic images imbued with the spirit of the era and national identity. Sculptural images of Rabindranath Tagore, Goethe, Petofi, Dante, Alisher Navoi, Yanka Kupala, Nizami Ganjavi, Kurbangazy, Adam Mickiewicz, Mikhail Eminescu, James Langston, Shirazi, Du Fu, Yasunari Kawabata, William Shakespeare, Honore de Balzac, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Chingiz Aitmatov will take their place in the alley of outstanding representatives of world culture.
The bronze sculptures will be 3.5 meters high plus a pedestal of 2.5 meters. Their future look can be imagined by small sculptures in the artist’s studio. When creating images of outstanding representatives of world literature and culture, the artist was guided by existing portraits or photographs, the traditions of their plastic images, and studied the features of national clothing.
It is impossible to imagine a monument to the great Turkmen humanist poet without the surrounding architectural and natural landscape. In the cultural-park complex occupying more than forty hectares of land, there are elegant lanterns, benches, gazebos and recreation areas. A special world, a special atmosphere of a place where poetry reigns is ensured by green spaces, trees and shrubs.
However majestic and grandiose the bronze statue, the main monument to the humanist Magtymguly remains his poetry that excites, lives in hearts and inspires people, which is passed on from generation to generation as a precious gift.


©Turkmenistan Analytic magazine, 2005