2017 Chronicle: Cultural sphere

The events of 2017 reflected huge creative potential of national culture. Topical conferences, arts and book exhibitions, concerts, theatre performances, opening ceremonies of new social and cultural facilities marked important dates and national holidays.

The year was filled with big events of international significance, which is obvious taking into account V Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games held for the first time in Turkmenistan.

Symbols of the Games made by the motifs of traditional decoration elements of national applied art but creatively re-worked in modern design have been introduced in January. The Anthem of V Asian Games was approved during special session in the Mukams Palace of the State Cultural Centre in the first decade of April. It was the song of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov “Go! Go, My lovely Turkmenistan!” Bright events were timed to symbolical dates before the start of the Games. In this regard, the opening ceremony of 2017 Asian Games was very indicative. Grandiose theatre show with the participation of thousands of performers was its main component.

Going back to the beginning of the year, it is worth mentioning that the subject of international partnership in cultural and humanitarian field received its development during the event dedicated to the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Turkmenistan and number of foreign countries. Thus, Magtumguly Turkmen National Music and Drama Theatre hosted joint art activities like the concert of Turkmen and Chinese art masters, the State Symphonic Orchestra of our country and musicians of “American Voices” organization, bakhshys, Miras band from Turkmen State Institute of Culture and Korean dance band of Gugaka Nationa Centre as well as the performance of famous French duet “Arar”. The State Museum of Visual Arts presented the works of Mexican photographer in the last decade of March.

Iran Cultural Week held in Ashgabat in February was aimed at the expansion of humanitarian cooperation. The Days of Turkmenistan Culture in Qatar timed to the state visit of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to this country were another evidence of important role of cultural diplomacy in improvement of interstate relations. Concerts of national stage masters, exhibition of decorative and applied arts and museum values and printing media were held in Doha on March 10 – 14.

Restoration works of the tiling of the dome of Il-Arslan Masouleum – medieval architectural construction, which is included to the list of historical and cultural monuments of Turkmenistan and the UNESCO World Heritage List, started in March 2017 are worth to be mentioned under the subject of protection of the heritage.

National printing production was presented at XXIV Minsk International Book Fair that was held on February 8 – 12 and brought together the publishers from more than 30 countries.

Concert of Turkmen popular singers was organized in the PRC on occasion of the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Turkmenistan and the China in May by the Embassy of our country with the support of the Ministries of Culture of both states as well as Peking Oil University.

The Day of Turkmen Horse was observed traditionally extensively in the capital and the regions. Award ceremonies of the prize winners of international competition “The Best Horse of the Year” and artistic contest among the painters and sculptors, carpet makers and jewellers, photographers and videographers, designers for the best imaging of ahalteke horse were held under the events. Actualization of the subjects of protection of the phenomenon of this breed as an occurrence of national and world heritage is remarkable especially the initiative of the Head of the State on application to the UNESCO for inclusion of ahalteke horses to the World Heritage List.

Concerning multidimensional work for study, protection and popularization of national heritage in Turkmenistan, the foundation of expert group for folk art under the Ministry of Culture is indicative in this sphere. In this context, the adoption of new Law of Turkmenistan on Libraries and Library Work defining legal, organizational, economic and social basis of library work in our country is very important.

Spring archaeological season brought plenty of interesting findings discovered by archaeological group of National Department on Protection, Study and Restoration of historical and cultural monuments during the excavation of medieval settlement Dandanakan located in Mary Velayat. Small faience statue of dog realistically reflecting pedigree features of Turkmen alabay was one of the most wonderful and unexpected findings.

The Days of Culture of the State of Palestine were held for the first time in the capital in May. It considerably expanded out knowledge of the art of friendly country and supported the development of bilateral cooperation in humanitarian sphere.

The performance of Turkmen and American artists were held under the dome of the State Circus on Jun 5. The programme of the visit of the guests to Ashgabat included several directions like introduction to circus art of our country, artists’ experience and their programmes, cooperation in methodological sphere, practical lessons and master classes for the student of Circus Department of Turkmen State Institute of Culture.

The Days of Tajikistan Culture held with great success in Ashgabat on June 14 – 16 brought new colours to traditional humanitarian relations of Turkmen and Tajik nations. There was the photo exhibition from the Country of the Rising held in the Museum of Visual Arts and dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Turkmen – Japanese diplomatic relations in rich palette of cultural events in May.

The same museum hosted the exhibition “World of Indian Textile” on occasion of the 25 year of Turkmen – Indian diplomatic relations in the second decade of May. Besides the garments, the textile was represented by the tapestries, carpets and tablecloths embroidered with decorative stones and made in different states of friendly country.

Play with the participation of leading Russian artists held in Alp Arslan National Drama Theatre in May as well as the concert of the musicians of Sankt Petersburg Music House in Turkmenistan cinema hall in June among international events on occasion of the 25th anniversary of Turkmen – Russian diplomatic relations.

Performance of Turkmen and Italian opera singers in Magtumguly Turkmen Music and Drama Theatre in the first decade of June marked 25 years of diplomatic relations between two countries.

Honouring of foreign representatives of cultural sphere is vivid confirmation of the openness of our state and national culture as well as actively developing international dialog in this sphere. Thus, in 2017, Honorary title of People’s Artist of Turkmenistan was conferred to Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Azerbaijan Republic to the Russian Federation Polad Bulbul Ogly for special merits in consolidation of brotherhood, friendship and cooperation between people of our country and Azerbaijan, for improvement of the relation in humanitarian sphere, for talent and success in the development of song and music art.

Cultural Week, an annual event timed to professional holiday of culture and art personnel of Turkmenistan held in Ashgabat on June 22 – 27 last year, was one of the brightest event in social life of the country. Concerts and performances with the participation of leading artists and groups, the State Symphonic Orchestra and bakhshys were held under the forum in different parts of the capital, in cultural centres, State Circus and open stages. The exhibition in the Museum of Visual Arts broadly representing valuable exhibits and samples of decorative and applied art introduced artistic searches of modern masters of painting.

National printing production, particularly the books, brochure, booklets, photos dedicated to modern Turkmenistan, national art and recreation capabilities, preparation to Asian Games were demonstrated on exposition grounds of the Art Academy, museums and cultural centres of the capital. Modern Turkmen cinematography was represented by several movies, which leitmotif was the cultural heritage and eternal human values. Stage masters demonstrated their works including new ones during the forum.

Presentation of illustrated publication “Treasury of National Heritage” was organized in the State Museum of the State Cultural Centre during Cultural Week. The book presents the tour around the funds of this large storage of unique evidences of the ancient history of the country. Concert of the art masters in Mukams Palace was the final event of creative action.

Presentation of book “Beautiful Epoch of Arkadag” in Turkmen, Russian and English language dedicated to the 60-year anniversary of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov was held in Magtumguly Turkmen State University in the last decade of June. The Book covering historical period of 2007 – 2017 presents journalistic narration of the most important events and significant facts in the country’s life.

Works of the Head of the State “Music of Peace, Music of Friendship and Brotherhood” and “Source of Wisdom” were published in Turkish language on occasion of his anniversary. Importance of historical expedition organized by the Ministry of Culture with the Academy of Sciences in July is very indicative in the context of work for study and popularization of historical and cultural heritage. Under its framework, the personnel of National Institute of Manuscripts and leading specialist of libraries, archives and museums of the country visited the settlements of Balkan Velayat where they collected unique materials from the treasury of folk narratives. The work in this direction is still continued.

With regards to protection of old monuments on the territory of the country, we would like to mention the event held in the State Museum of Visual Arts, which is the completion ceremony of another project of Turkmen restorers supported by the Fund of USA Ambassador on Protection of Cultural Heritage. Restoration works and classification of unique mosaic panels discovered several years ago during the excavation of Bronze Age monument Gonur-depe were completed last year. Painstaking work for conservation of fragile items and restoration of their initial shape were held for three years. These ornamental and topical mosaic compositions have no analogues in the art of Ancient East, therefore, their discovery is a scientific sensation. The exhibits from Gonur-depe were presented to the public at the exhibition in the Museum.

Subject of international cooperation in cultural and humanitarian sphere was reflected in concert programmes dedicated to Ashgabat 2017 Games and organized by the Ministry of Culture with diplomatic missions of number of states accredited in our country. It included the concert of the musicians from Israel in the Mukams Palace of the State Cultural Centre on July 30. Indian dance band Achutamanasa demonstrated their skills to the citizens of the capital and Turkmenbashy in the last decade of August.

National printing production traditionally took part in international contest of the CIS countries “Art of Book” where all four issues presented by Turkmenistan had won the highest awards. The award ceremony took place in September during the 30th Moscow International Book Exhibition Fair. Book of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov “Turkmenistan” presented in nomination “My Country” won the first place. He is also the author of “Music of Peace, Music of Friendship and Brotherhood”, which received special diploma of the jury. Joint work of Turkmen linguists – the Dictionary of Turkmen language, won in the Grand Prix nomination. Book “Swift Pace of Horse” by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov received the prize of honour.

Subject of the Silk Road in the context of the history of Turkmen nation, today and future of our country defined the tone of the event of the last quarter of 2017.

The Head of the State was the initiator of modern look at the importance of ancient route, having described in his book “Turkmenistan – the Heart of the Great Silk Road” his vision of the phenomenon of this caravan route that connected dozens of states with trade, information and cultural contacts. The presentation of the book took place in the Centre of Non-governmental Organizations and the Mukams Palace on October 11. Taking into consideration numerous requests and wishes of the citizens, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov signed the Resolution, according to which 2018 would be held in our country under the slogan “Turkmenistan – the Heart of the Great Silk Road”.

Opening ceremony of the building “White Yurta of Novruz Valley” in Ahal Velayat is among event palette of the first decade of October. Its opening was timed to the session of the Council of the Elders and nation-wide forum held in this facility highlighted the importance of spiritual basis of the development of modern Turkmen state and society as white yurts symbolizes the allegiance to one’s origin, sources and spiritual values of the nation.

Subject of the Silk Route restoration in the context of versatile dialog with various states of the world was developed in the event of international importance. In this regard, high-level Turkmen – Russian talks on October 2 are very indicative.

The package of the documents signed by the outcomes of the talks includes the Programme of cooperation in 2018 – 2020 between the Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan and the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. The Agreements of Continuing of cooperation between the Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan and the Historical Institute of Material Culture of the Russian Federation (Sankt Petersburg), between the Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan and N. N. Miklukho – Maclay Ethnology and Anthropology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences were signed on the same day in Magtumguly Turkmen State University.

Days of Culture of the Russian Federation held in the capital on October 2 – 3 were timed to the official visit of Russian leader to Ashgabat. Russian culture was represented by Igor Moiseev State Academic Folk Dance Ensemble. Photo exhibition “Nature of Russian North”, master class of I. Moiseev Ensemble for the student of choreographic school and dance bands of Ashgabat were organized during cultural event. Russian movies were demonstrated in Ashgabat Cinema Hall.

Familiarization with Russian cinematography was continued in the first decade of November. Thematic and genre variety of modern cinema art of friendly country was presented to the audience in the capital, Mary and Dashoguz and the meetings with the representatives of Russian culture were held under the Week of Russian Cinema.

The last months of autumn was also rich with international artistic events. Day of Turkmenistan Culture in Japan were held on November 10 – 12. Exhibition of decorative and applied art items and museum values of our country, performance of famous singers, bakhshys, folk and dance bands were organized in the Country of the Rising Sun. Shukur Bakhshy movie translated to Japanese language was demonstrated in Tokyo University. The Days of Culture was accomplished in city Tendo by the concert of the artists of two countries.

Days of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan were held in Ashgabat and Dashoguz and were another important input to the development of Turkmen – Uzbek dialog, which is based on the principles of understanding, respect and trust. Performance of Uzbek artists, photo exhibition on the richest historical and cultural heritage, nature and talented people of friendly country took place under the Week. Poets and writers had a meeting in the State Library of the State Cultural Centre. Modern Uzbek movies were demonstrated to the lovers of cinema art. Joint gala concert in Dashoguz under the dome of the N. Andalyb State Music and Drama Theatre was the final accord of the forum.

Days of Romanian Culture dedicated to the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between two countries were held in Turkmen capital on November 29 – 30. Its programme included the concert with the participation of soloist of Bucharest National Opera Irina Iordesku and the State Symphonic Orchestra of Turkmenistan, photo exhibition presenting the exhibits of National History Museum of Romania, demonstration of Romanian movies. Exhibition in the Museum of Visual Arts presenting the exhibits of the collection of Dmitry Gusti National Museum introduced decorative and applied arts of friendly country. The issues of activation of the contacts in protection and popularization of national heritage of both nations were also discussed.

Cultural palette of November included the concert of French pianists Maxim Zekini and David Bismuth as well as the performance of Indian ensemble “Nepangar Jagruti Kala Kendra” presenting popular folk dances of Central India.

Important news from the Republic of Korea on inclusion of Turkmen national art of singing and kushtdepdy dance to the UNESCO Representative List of Non-material Cultural Heritage came in December. This decision was unanimously adopted during the 12th session of Interstate Committee on protection of non-material cultural heritage held in Jeju (the Republic of Korea) on December 7, 2017.

Days of Culture of Turkish Republic were held in Ashgabat in the first decade of December. Soloists of the State Opera and Ballet of Turkey, singers and musicians representing folk genres, popular dance band “Turk Dunyasy” and the world famous ensemble “Mehter”, which started its history in XIV century and considered to be one of the first military orchestra in the world have demonstrated their skills. Exhibition demonstrating different directions of Turkish decorative and applied and photo arts was held in the Museum of Visual Arts.

Subject of study of historical and cultural monuments was highlighted in the context of the state policy on revival of the Silk Route. The State programme of archaeological excavations at the monuments along this ancient route in our country developed by the Academy of Science with National Department of Protection, Study and Restoration of historical and cultural monuments is to support this work. The Programme is designated for 2018 – 2021.

The President of Turkmenistan directed national science and cultural sphere to further expansion of international cooperation as humanitarian channel of diplomacy. In this aspect, the participation of the delegation of our country in XII Forum of Artistic and Scientific personnel of the CIS members held in Russian capital in the second half of December is very indicative. The main subject of the meeting is the Role of humanitarian cooperation in consolidation and support of family values and traditions in the CIS.

Number of actions held in foreign countries in December with the participation of artistic intelligentsia of Turkmenistan was aimed at the popularization of national culture. In this regard, we would like to note the exhibition of national painters organized by the Museum of Visual Arts under cultural programme of III International Book Vernissage in Jeddah (the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) in December 12 – 22. Turkmen folk and modern music was presented in the Republic of Korea in December. Concerts with the participation of singers and folk bands of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and the Republic of Korea were held under creative cycle “History of national music of Korea and Central Asia”.

The days before the New Year were traditionally filed with various celebration events. The final of music contest “Star of the Year”, Christmas concert with the participation of the piano player from Germany and Violin ensemble “Mukam”, performance of the trio from Vienna “Cobario”, joint concert of American and Turkmen musicians, the tour of Russian circus artists were in the row of new year celebration events.

Hence, the events of cultural life of 2017 reproduce wide panorama of the achievements of our country. Important role in steadfast process was given to further innovative development of mentioned sphere. It was highlighted by the President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov during extended session of the Government on January 26 of this year. The Head of the State highlighted the role of mass media in wide coverage and artistic approach to progressive changes in the country and their support.

Recently, big and efficient experience was gained in this sphere in Turkmenistan and it has to be implemented for study and popularization of the richest spiritual heritage of our national around the world, the President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov stated.