Traditions and Culture – the Spiritual Roots of the Turkmen People
Traditions and Culture – the Spiritual Roots of the Turkmen People
Published 30.03.2022

In the era of the Revival of a new epoch of a powerful state, the national sphere of culture enters with great achievements, a solid material foundation and a huge potential for comprehensive development.

It should be noted that during the years of independence, Turkmenistan has adopted a number of laws regulating issues in such areas as library, museum and archival affairs, folk art and applied creativity, export and import of movable cultural values, protection of historical and cultural monuments. Thus, the Law “On the Protection of Objects of National Historical and Cultural Heritage” ensures the right of the people to preserve and develop their identity, traditions and customs, reliable protection of sources of information about the origin and development of culture.

The Law of Turkmenistan “On Culture” has generalizable and fundamental character, confirming the strategic importance of the sphere, regulating public relations in the field of creation of cultural values, revival, preservation, development and popularization of the culture of the Turkmen people in the world.

The process of improving the activities of institutions in this area is facilitated by the established solid material and technical base. Today, not only in the capital, but also in all regions of the country, there are magnificent theaters, libraries, museums, cinemas, as well as concert and exhibition halls, open stage venues. Among them are such original constructions as Türkmeniń ak öýi. Modern Houses of Culture and cultural and entertainment centers have been erected in Ashgabat, in the cities of the velayats and even in the most remote settlements.

A unified electronic network based on advanced technologies and the best world experience has been created in central libraries. Consistent work is being carried out to expand the range and improve the quality of cultural services, to reach the population with them, to update the repertoire of creative collectives, museum and library collections, to coordinate the activities of specialized institutions using digital know-how. One example of this is the creation of virtual museum expositions over the past year.

Creative competitions promote the identification of talented young people. A real school that opens the way to the world of art for young artists is the “Ýaňlan, Diýarym!” television amateur performers competition, the “Aylyń parlak ayldyzy” vocalist competition, the “Garaşsyzlygyń merjen däneleri” song and music competition of young talents, the “Iñ eýjejik gyzjaga” children’s creative review and others. Competitions are also held in the country among representatives of fine arts, poets and novelists, journalists, directors.

The expansion of the topics of the conducted creative competitions, the involvement of as many young people as possible in them, the identification of talents, as well as the strengthening of the tradition of mentoring are designed to preserve and develop the musical traditions of their ancestors, to bring back to life all the variety of ancient musical instruments.

At the beginning of 2022, it was decided to hold “Çalsana, bagşy!” – a new creative competition among Bakhshi musicians within the framework of the “Türkmeniń Altyn asyry” annual competition of the President of Turkmenistan among literary, cultural and artistic figures, young performers and gifted children, promoting the professional growth of creative workers, introducing young people to the treasury of national culture. 

Culture Week, which is traditionally held in June, is also aimed at identifying young talents. The annual forum is dedicated to the Day of Workers of Culture and Art, as well as poetry of Makhtumkuli Fragi – a professional holiday of creative workshop workers. It should be noted that every year the premiere of opera performances takes place within the framework of the Week. The revival of opera art is one of the landmark achievements of the culture of modern times.

At the same time, work is being intensified to strengthen Turkmenistan’s ties with various states, identify talents and educate masters of art, present national culture to the world community, strengthen friendly relations with foreign cultural figures.

And a huge positive experience has been accumulated in this direction, as evidenced by the large-scale projects being implemented. Thus, in recent years, numerous international events have been held in Ashgabat, confirming the immutability of the truth that culture and art help to overcome borders and distances, uniting different peoples in their aspirations for peace, goodness and progress.

Among them are folklore festivals in honor of Novruz Bayram, scientific conferences dedicated to the life and work of outstanding Turkmen thinkers and poets – Muhammet Gaymaz Turkmen, Bayram Khan, Mollanepes, Makhtumkuli Fragi, the epic “Gerogly”, the study of historical monuments, literature and culture of the Seljuk era, Ancient Jeytun, Turkmen horse-breeding art, Turkmen Alabai, the heritage of Eastern Turkmenistan in the system of medieval cultures, the study of the monuments of the Silk Road and many others.

The 7th and 14th Forums of Creative and Scientific Intelligentsia of the CIS member states were held in Ashgabat in October 2012 and May 2019 with great success. Mary city successfully coped with the honorary mission of the cultural capital of the Commonwealth of Independent States in 2012, and Dashoguz in 2016. A landmark event in realizing the potential of international cooperation is the announcement of Mary in 2015 as the cultural capital of the Turkic world.

Unique festivals and cultural events have become a kind of bridges of friendship and mutual understanding. Among them is the International Theater Festival, organized three times in our capital in recent years, the Days of Culture of different countries of the world, opening up the opportunity for interaction of cultures and peoples. The annual platform for the development of contacts in the humanitarian sphere is the Ashgabat International Exhibition-Fair “Book – the Way to Cooperation and Progress”.

Viennese Balls are among the highlights of cultural events. This spectacular event is one of the evidences of the expanding cultural dialogue of Turkmenistan with the countries of the European Union.

Today, cultural potential is effectively used in many areas, including science and education, tourism and recreational activities, interregional and international contacts.

It should be noted that the theme of art occupies a significant place in the works of Arkadag Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, which have become not only for Turkmen citizens, but also, thanks to their translations into foreign languages, for many people guides in the world of the rich and multifaceted culture of our people. Among them is such a publication as “The Inextinguishable Torch in the Crown of the Soul”, which combined wise sayings about the life, work and philosophical views of the classic poet Makhtumkuli, his role in the spiritual life of the people. This series also includes a unique book about the unsurpassed art of Turkmen carpet-making “Living Legend”, “Bakhshies – Harbingers of National Happiness”, “Music of Peace, Music of Friendship and Brotherhood” works, telling about outstanding representatives of Turkmen musical culture through the prism of the peacemaking policy of the neutral Motherland, as well as works dedicated to the magnificent Akhal-Teke, Alabai and others.

A special role is assigned to the sphere of culture in the embodiment of a new philosophy of international relations – “Dialogue is a Guarantee of Peace”, based on clearly verified political criteria, healthy, positive pragmatism, universally recognized and understandable human values.

The dialogue in the sphere of culture is a kind of tuning fork of modern interstate relations. The presence of Turkmenistan’s strong voice, its original part in the general chorus of cultures, its unique face in the diverse family of the peoples of the world is largely due to loyalty to national roots, careful preservation of spiritual heritage, centuries-old, original traditions and rituals created by the wisdom of ancestors.

According to folk wisdom, “Whoever does not have the old cannot have the new”. Perhaps it is the historical memory that explains the “tenacity” and continuity of the cultural traditions of the Turkmens, their tolerance towards the cultures of other peoples of the world.

In the context of our state’s establishment in the international arena as an initiator of global progressive transformations, cultural diplomacy and its conductor – the language of art, the language of genuine people’s diplomacy, in which Turkmenistan easily and freely communicates with the world community today, advocating, like all progressive countries, for a common humanitarian space, for a dialogue that promotes the establishment of peaceful, good-neighborly relations, the strengthening of mutual understanding between peoples, universal progress.

One of the priorities of our national policy in the field of cultural and humanitarian cooperation is the development of effective interaction with the UN and other reputable international organizations and foundations. A special place in this context is occupied by the partnership with UNESCO as a kind of intellectual forum in the UN system, which makes it possible to search for solutions to global problems in culture, science and education in a depoliticized manner.

It should be noted that in 2011 our country joined the UNESCO Convention “On the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage” and since then has been one of its most active parties. In this context, the fact that the Memorandum of Cooperation between the Government of Turkmenistan and UNESCO for 2021-2023, signed on April 15 of the past year, is also indicative.

Within the framework of the partnership, a number of joint projects have been successfully implemented over the years of independence, including the preservation of unique historical and cultural monuments. This is clearly evidenced by such facts as the inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List of Ancient Merv, the legendary city of Kunyaurgench and the capital of the Parthian Kingdom – Nisa as monuments of outstanding significance and universal value. Currently, several more unique structures of the past epochs of Turkmen history and natural objects, including the Karakum desert and large mountain ranges, have been prepared for nomination to the prestigious register of universal human values.

The UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mankind includes: the destan art Gerogly (2015), the Turkmen national art of singing and dancing kushtdepdi (2017), traditional carpet weaving of Turkmenistan (2019).

And at the beginning of this year, the receipt of a certificate on the inclusion of the dutar as a bright brand of Turkmen culture, which unites the art of making this musical instrument, performance and the art of bakhshi in the Representative UNESCO World Heritage List of Humanity, was greeted in the country as a real holiday. And this is quite understandable, since the dutar is a symbol of peace and friendship, the musical culture of the people, and its recognition as a value of world significance testifies to the enduring role of folk music.

The activities of the relevant structures of our country to expand this List at the expense of folk traditions continue, including those related to Akhal-Teke horse-breeding, growing of dogs of the Alabai breed, as well as felt art and blacksmithing, Turkmen tazy and hunting falcon, national embroidery, etc.

Looking back that the three-year Joint Action Plan also stipulates the preparation for inclusion of Ashgabat in the Global Network of UNESCO Creative Cities in the creative field of Design and Turkmenabat in the Crafts and Folk Art, and hereafter Mary city – in the field of Literature. 

The work of archaeologists is aimed at solving the tasks set for the study and popularization of cultural heritage. This is evidenced by numerous bright discoveries made in different years on the historical and architectural monuments of the country.

In this regard, the findings revealed by archaeological expeditions organized by the National Directorate for the Protection, Study and Restoration of Historical and Cultural Monuments of the Ministry of Culture are indicative, testifying to the antiquity of the breed of the Turkmen Alabai, the development of industry in medieval cities of our country, etc.

The solution of the tasks facing representatives of the cultural sphere in the era of the Revival of a new epoch of a powerful state is intended to gain an additional momentum to the truly large-scale work being carried out in the country to increase the spiritual and creative potential of the Turkmen society.

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