CULTURE & SOCIETY
"Horses is a soul of Turkmenistan, carpets is his heart and hospitability is his second name"
Heavenly horses akhalteke
“On the edge of the Karakums, in the place where from midday side rises the mountain ridge of the Kopetdag and at its foothills, the Akhal oasis stretches. It is the motherland of akhalteke horses, the most wonderful and ancient breed among cultural horse breeds. Its pedigree goes up hoary antiquity of oases of middle Asia, to former greatness of Nisa and Merv, to legendary “heavenly” horses. Great tsars and heroes sank into oblivion; merciless time turned formidable fortresses and rich towns into ruins, but time did not have power over wonderful live monument of glorious past – akhalteke stallion”, people wrote about Turkmen akhalteke horses.
Exterior of akhalteke horse is so exotic that it seems to contradict common notion how horses should look and at the same time strikes by its unusual unearthly beauty: these exquisite noble shapes were perfected during thousand years.
In long runs, fragile in its appearance, akhalteke horse shows unusual tolerance and easily tolerates thirst. During legendary run of 1935, Turkmen horsemen covered distance between Ashgabat and Moscow for 84 days; they passed waterless Karakums in three days.
Akhalteke horse has proper pride and is very sensible to not being understood, to man`s heartlessness. It will return a hundredfold to a person, who managed to become its friend.
The history of akhalteke horse carries us away to almost mythical times. As Arabian poet said: - “The West was still in ice when in the East music was already being written”. It is in the East where a man created first specialized types of horses. One can see light-limbed and slender horses on ancient Egyptian papyrus and Assyrianbas-reliefs.
Akhalteke horse got its name from Akhal oasis and Turkmen teke tribe, which has bred it from time immemorial. Already at the beginning of the XX century teke horses from Akhal were called akhalteke.
For decorating a horse Turkmen people did not grudge silver and semiprecious stones.
Turkmen harness is an echo of legendary past; now breastplate and collar are only decorations, but formerly they protected neck and breast of a horse during fights.
Silver and cornelian are only for holidays, but ajala, motley lace from carnel wool is always on the neck of akhalteke horse – this is a peculiar talisman; sometimes amulet with dictum from Koran was tied to it.
Love of Turkmen to gorgeous akhalteke horses is dimensionless, like to everything which constitutes spiritual treasury of the nation filled in for centuries. So picture of a horse occupies central part on the State emblem of Turkmenistan. It corresponds to the image of Yanardag stallion (Fire Mountain); it became the world champion of breed in 1999.
After gaining independence, first of all, in the country people took care of reviving former glory of the best horses in the world – akhalteke horses; in the southern part of Ashghabat in picturesque valley at the foothills of the Kopetdag akhalteke horse complex of the President of Turkmenistan was elected. It is the biggest horse-breeding center in Central Asian region. Its area is about 56 hectares where there is a hippodrome with three running tracks with grass and sand cover (2000, 1800 and 1600 meters distances) and tribunals for 5 thousand seats, arena for exhibition and exercising of best representatives of the breed, special walking court. Photo-finish cameras accurately record results of the race.
Special housing is given to Jockey Club combining well-equipped training classes and a gym under its roof.
Special conditions were created for pets of the complex. A huge pool was built for Akhalteke horses with automatic water outlet and pouring in six spacious stables where more than 300 horses can be kept at the same time there is special ventilation system and protection from harmful insects.
The pride of the complex is the only one in the region immune-genetic laboratory having super modern equipment.
It is possible to make DNA analysis by method of genomic dactyloscopy, which excludes every chance to falsify the origin of a fast horse. In special veterinary laboratory there are all conditions for treating horses, there is also operation and observation halls and unique x-ray equipment and ultrasonics.
Turkmen carpets is an art emerged from inspired source of Turkmen spirit, from bottom of a heart and light of Turkmen women. The art, which takes in such miracle-working strength of a man`s spirit becomes immoral.
Carpet is one of the most ancient types of folk art in Turkmenistan and its cautious safeguarding has great significance not only for economy, but for passing main component of national culture from generation to generation.
The art of carpet is widely spread among people. Prevailing part of Turkmen girls and women learn carpet weaving since early years. Thus, Turkmen carpets passed from generation to generation decorating every Turkmen family`s home. There are several types of Turkmen carpets: Akhal Teke, Beshir, Arsary, Kerki, Teke, Yomud and others.
Turkmen carpets have centuries-old history. In XVII century Italian traveler Marco Polo wrote in his “Book” that on Turkmen land the most beautiful carpets on earth were manufactured. Later they were depicted on paintings of Italian artists of Renaissance epoch.
Turkmen carpets are mentioned in “Avesta”, in works of great Gomer, ancient Greek chroniclers Alkmen, Gerodot, Chinese historians Sim Tsyan and Ba Gyun, in ancient Indian epic poems “Ramayana”, “Mahabharata”, “Shahname” by Firdausi and in middle age Arabic literature monument “One thousand and one more night”, in works of middle age authors Maksidi and Khududalalyam.
Works of Turkmen carpet weavers are famous far beyond the country; one can see them not only in the world museums, but in private collections as well.
But only in Ashgabat, there exists the only Museum of carpet in the world.
One of its most precious relics was created in 1941-1942 giant-carpet “Soul of Turkmen” with the area of 193,5 square meters.
In 1986 Turkmen carpet weavers created the second giant-carpet with the area of 266 square meters weighing 500 kg; it is in National museum of Turkmenistan. In 1998 the third giant-carpet was weaved, its area is 294 square meters and weight is 1 ton and 105 kg. Today the carpet decorates magnificent Ruhiyet Palace.
And the forth giant-carpet was weaved in 2001 with the area of 301 square meters, its weight is 1 ton and 200 kg; it is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest handmade carpet in the world.
Refined Turkmen carpets are in great demand on world markets, thanks to their unique ornament and high quality. Particular type of carpet weaving art is making carpet portraits done by Turkmen women carpet weavers. Turkmen carpets more than once got numerous prestigious prizes at international exhibitions of Paris, Montreal, Leipzig and Brussels.
The suggestion of the President of Turkmenistan to start the production of silk carpets will take weavers of the country to achieve new heights. Recently, carpet weaving with silk national ornament has been organized in Ashgabat art-experimental carpet enterprise, at carpet factories in Bereket, Balkanabat, Geokdepe, Khalach, Kerkichi and Mary.
The national breed of Turkemn dogs – alabai is one of the most ancient breeds of dogs on the earth. Huns under the command of Atilla already took them to their marches. Bones of these dogs and even terracotta statuette depicting alabai were found during excavations of Bronze age Atyndepe settlement (2 000 B.C.) in Akhal velayat. These well-grown with mighty jaws and shortened muzzles came to present times practically without changes.
During centuries the breed was perfected by natural and artificial selection; shepherds left only part of animal yield selecting as a rule the most large-headed and active puppies. Natural selection plays particular role in forming of alabai; their life cycle passes in the open nature. The best head of livestock formed in the place where prevail dogs of coarse strong type of built with short hair. At the beginning of 90-s Turkmen alabai was announced national property.
Hospitality of the Turkmen nation
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Turkmen wise sayings
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