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Preservation of Nowruz and its role in expanding cultural exchanges


“The national culture, customs and moral principles of the Turkmen make today a basis of life of our happy people”, - these words of the leader of the nation as well as possible define a role of culture and its value in life of a modern society.

The history of Turkmen culture dates back to thousand years. The information about traditions of the ancient inhabitants of Turkmenistan nearly have been lost, however the archeological data are indicative of existence of person habitation on the territory long before B.C. The bronze and stone products, ceramic vessels decorated with geometric figures, images of animals and plants present itself the most interesting samples of the activity of the people lived here more than 4-5 millenniums ago.

The earliest information about existence of music in lives of Turkmen ancestors is given in the monuments of the material culture of Margush – the cradle of fire worship. The present period of history may be considered as the stage of origin of the first experience of music performance. In expressed compositions it is often appeared the music instruments. Therefore, on the cylindrical seal found at the excavation in the temple Togolok-1, there is a clear image of the several music instruments. On the seal is engraved the complex composition expressing group of the people with monkey heads. One personage is beating in enormous drum; other is keeping the longitudinal flute in hand. One more deity is keeping the castanets in hand. Here are also presented acrobats and "conductor". The earliest mentioning about ape-musicians are connected with the culture of ancient Sumerian. Later, this image has got spreading in art of India and East Turkestan.

The Silk Road represents an early phenomenon of political and cultural integration due to inter-regional trade. In its heyday, the Silk Road sustained an international culture that strung together groups as diverse as the MagyarsArmenians, and Chinese. Many artistic influences transited along the Silk Road, especially througt the General Asia, where Hellenistic, Iranian, Indian and Chinese influence were able to intermix.  

Specific life rhythm of Turkmen people in the past connected with cyclic roaming from place to place has determined the peculiarity of its material culture. The motto of nomads – take things only you need – has influenced on the type of house-building. Yurta (tent) served as dwelling or apartment for owners where they received guests, celebrated family ceremonies and song-singers musicians performed their art skill. Mobile architecture of yurta harmonically included ornamental felt and art carpet goods, embroideries of utilitarian purposes.

Carpet ornament is a special chronicle of Turkmen people. “Roll out your carpet and I’ll read what is written in your heart” – is a Turkmen saying. The ornament can be found in expressive embroideries decorating women’s clothing and headdresses. The style of traditional male and female national costumes successfully found in the past adapted to the mode of life and climatic conditions was not changes for centuries. Traditional female costumes cannot be imagined without decorations and adornments.

Silver decorations served some kind of conditional language. They showed the age, family and property position. They were attached magic power. Cornelian stones are considered to bring happiness and wealth. Silver ringing keeps of the ghosts. Turkmenian decorations are very massive have no analogues and greatly differ from the other Central Asian people decorations. Turkmen women’s ornaments bear a resemblance to the armour of Amazons. According to ancient authors, the legendary female warriors were once natives in what is now Turkmenistan. Girl’s headdress ornaments are shaped as a helmet. The breast medallion (gulyaka) is like a shield. Sewn-on silver plaques (apbasy) are somewhat of the reminders of an armour. Masrers-zerghers joke: “No one of the jewelers will stay without his work if there is a single one woman”. Silver jewelries inset with cornelian stones are widely spread in Turkmenistan women’s costumes still today.      

In Turkmenistan, there are a lot of holidays. One of them is of religious origin. It is “Remezan month” – that is days (one month) on which people keep fasting during one month. There are some other public holidays, for example “Gadyr Gije”, “Kurban bayram” (offering holiday), “Harvest festivity” an others. All of them are public holidays, but there are many family holidays too: the birth of son, purchasing of a new yurta (tent). The most popular among them is the wedding day. Horseracing is the most ancient tradition on the wedding day. Famous Ahal-Teke racing horses with good bearing, purity of line and fine gait are the very proud of Turkmen people. Good tradition to arrange horseracing on holidays is kept up today. However, music was indispensable condition of every holiday. Folk music of Turkmen people was not only folklore phenomenon. During multi century development professional art has appeared.

Today Turkmenistan is blossoming country with rich centuries-old history in which the happiness and well-being, friendship and goodwill, the country supporting good-neighborhood with all states of a planet reign. Scale cooperation with other states on preservation and protection of valuable achievements of civilization, solicitous attitudes to objects of a historical and cultural heritage in which Turkmenistan take part, testifies to its peace-loving policy too. Turkmen art has developed thanks to the talent of its people, as well as through the preservations of professional traditions of craftsmen. Thus, it is a synthesis of Turkmen people’s inspiration and imagination rooted in its history and featuring beautiful characteristics of its traditions and holidays.

Nowruz is a spring and New Year holiday. This festival represents not only the awakening of nature and beginning of the New Year, but also the values of peace, solidarity and neighborhood. Nowruz is based on the harmony with nature, and has been transmitted from generation to generation. Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, India, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan inscribed Nowruz in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2016. The gathering of communities of specific areas to celebrate Nowruz is one of the main elements characteristic of this ritual.

Nowruz draws together people from every segment of society, and involves communal cooking and dining around large tables. All these features illustrate Nowruz’s effective role as an instrument of social cohesion and solidarity. Like the deep roots of a big, old tree, national traditions pave the way to new perspectives for the future of Turkmen culture. As many people from different regions and of different nations celebrate Nowruz, it has become an important element of intercultural dialogue and peace.


1.      Basilow W. Kult svyatyh v islame. – M., 1970.


2.      Beliaev V. The bases for the development of Turkmen music culture. // The Music Culture of Turkmenia. – M., 1928, p. 130.

3.      Gullyev Sh. Turkmenskaya muzyka (Naslediye). – Almaty, 2003.

4.      Dzjeranska-Kominek S. Turkmenskiy bagshy: shaman i/ ili artist. // Izvestiya AN, Gumanitarnye nauki. – 1992, № 4.

5.      Albert Bates Lord. Skazitel.М., 1994.

6.      Karl Reichl. Turkic Oral Epic Poetry: Traditions, Forms, Poetic Structure. – М., 2008.

7.      Sarianidi W. Marguş. Murgap derýasynyň köne hanasynyň aýagyndaky gadymy gündogar şalygy. – A.: Türkmendöwlethabarlary, 2002.


Jamilya Gurbanova

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