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About Turkmen

The Turkmen are a tribal people who have lived in the harsh steppes of present-day Turkmenistan and neighboring Central Asian countries for thousands of years. Historically, they were nomadic herdsmen and traders, living in easily-transportable yurts that allowed them to relocate whenever better grazing land was needed. 

1907-1915 Metropolitan Museum of Art
Turkmen family in front of their yurt.

The five major tribes of the Turkmen are the Teke, Esari, Yomut, Choudur, and Saryk represented by the 5 stars and carpet designs on the Turkmenistan National Flag. Until its independence in 1991, Turkmenistan was controlled by the Russian Empire and subsequent Soviet regime.
 National Flag of Turkmenistan (Wikipedia)

The Turkmen are renowned for their athletic Ahkal-Teke horse – a desert horse of exceptional beauty, endurance and intelligence. Its coat has a distinctive metallic sheen that serves as camouflage in the extreme desert environment. Turkmen are exceptionally fond of their horses, treating them virtually as family members.
                                                           Akhal-Teke Horse (Wikipedia)

Another distinctive characteristic of Turkmen culture is their jewelry – it is remarkably large, with pieces worn on both the front and back of the body, as well as the head, arms, and fingers. Some say that the large size of Turkmen jewelry is a vestigial form the armor worn by Turkmen women who fought alongside their men in battle.

Although Turkmen are patrilineal, the role of women varies from tribe to tribe. Historically, Turkmen women have been highly respected and free from certain customs ordinarily expected in other nearby regions. For example, Turkmen women do not wear the veil. Today, with increasing urbanization, Turkmen women make up 18% of Parliament and almost half (46%) the workforce.