Culture of Turkmenistan

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A Yomut Turkmen in a traditional attire, early 20th century.

The Turkmen people have traditionally been nomads and equestrians, and even today after the fall of the USSR attempts to urbanize the Turkmens have not been very successful. They never really formed a coherent nation or ethnic group until they were forged into one by Joseph Stalin in the 1930s. Rather they are divided into clans, and each clan has its own dialect and style of dress. Turkmens are famous for making Turkmen rugs, often mistakenly called Bukhara rugs in the West. These are elaborate and colorful rugs, and these too help indicate the distinction between the various Turkmen clans.

The Turkmens are Sunni Muslims but they, like most of the region's nomads, adhere to Islam rather loosely and combine Islam with pre-Islamic animist spirituality. The Turkmens do indeed tend to be spiritual but are by no means militantly religious.

A Turkmen can be identified anywhere by the traditional "telpek" hats, which are large black sheepskin hats that resemble afros. The national dress: men wear high, shaggy sheepskin hats and red robes over white shirts. Women wear long sack-dresses over narrow trousers (the pants are trimmed with a band of embroidery at the ankle). Female headdresses usually consist of silver jewellery. Bracelets and brooches are set with semi-precious stones...

Language: Outside the capital, the national language of Turkmen is the most widely encountered. In Ashgabat, it would be hard to find a person who did not speak Russian, however with recent efforts to revive the ancient culture of Turkmenistan, Turkmen is quickly regaining its place as the chief language of the state.

Two significant figures in Turkmen literature are the poets Magtymguly Pyragy and Mämmetweli Kemine.

Turkmen music is very similar to Khorasani music.

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