Turkmenistan - UNESCO: protection of the cultural heritage
Carpet carried through the ages
Published 31.12.2022

As is known, traditional carpet weaving is an integral part of the socio-cultural life of Turkmenistan and is considered a sign of the general cultural identity of the country’s population. The Turkmen carpet has been carried through the ages, reflecting the history and spiritual and moral values of the people in its ornaments.

Even in ancient times, woolen Parthian carpets were highly valued, which were delivered to the world markets along the Great Silk Road that crossed the territory of modern Turkmenistan. Carpet weaving is one of the oldest traditions of the country and the pride of the Turkmen people. It is proved that Turkmenistan was one of the centers in the world civilization where the carpet weaving art emerged. It was here that the world’s first carpet was invented, brought to perfection, and the secrets of craftsmanship are carefully preserved and passed on from generation to generation. And modern craftswomen continue to create world masterpieces.

In modern Turkmenistan, the carpet symbolizes harmony, home, beauty and peace. Since ancient times, the local carpets have been an item of trade and were very expensive. They were valued all over the world for the craftsmanship, brightness and saturation of colors, as well as the quality of the wool used.

The oldest surviving carpet dates back to the 5th century BC and is attributed to the Pazyryk culture. The numerical parameters of the Pazyryk carpet show striking genealogical parallels with the Oghuz-Turkmen legends.

There are many suggestions of scientists testifying to the ancient origin of the Turkmen carpet.

In the 13th century, famous Venetian merchant and traveler Marco Polo, whose notes became one of the first sources of European knowledge about the East, spoke with admiration of Turkmen carpets. Italian artists of Renaissance, captivated by the craftsmanship of Turkmen carpets, depicted their fragments in their paintings.

These notes and assessments clearly show how deeply the Turkmen culture and history are intertwined with the national carpet industry.

Turkmen carpets got their names based on the main pattern - göl. Folk wisdom says: “Water is the life, a horse is the wings, and a carpet is the soul of the Turkmens”. And this is true. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of products in life of the Turkmens. There are more than eighty types of carpet products used not just as decoration, but for a certain utilitarian purpose.

At the end of the 20th century, carpet weaving in Turkmenistan becomes one of the important sectors of the economy. Standing out among modern Turkmen carpets is the largest handmade carpet in the world with a total area of 301 square meters, which was woven in 2001, and was registered in the Guinness Book of Records in 2003.

Carpet patterns are also displayed on the State Flag of Turkmenistan. The vertical stripe of the flag represents the five main patterns of Turkmen carpets. These motifs reflect the national unity of the Turkmens. These five traditional carpet patterns represent the five main tribes and symbolize the traditional values of the country.

The National Carpet Museum preserves the most valuable types of ancient carpets. Ancient samples of Turkmen carpets are also stored in museums, exhibition halls and galleries in Great Britain and Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, USA, Iran, Turkey, Egypt and other countries around the world.

In December 2019, the traditional carpet weaving of Turkmenistan was included in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. This decision was taken at the 14th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, held in December in Bogotá, the capital of the Republic of Colombia,.

The inclusion of the national carpet weaving art in the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity is a striking illustration of the recognition among the world community as a wonderful monument of art of amazing Turkmen carpets woven by our wonderful craftswomen.

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