Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Horses of Ashgabat

I had originally planned on including a paragraph or two in each of the other posts from my TDY to Turkmenistan, but that seemed to make all of the posts a little too long. So I've compiled them here, with the exception of my day riding an Akhal-Teke horse. Before you even land in the country, your letter of invitation bears the national emblem of Turkmenistan and that lets you know in no uncertain terms that the horse is literally a central theme here.
The Emblem of Turkmenistan is centered around an Akhal-Teke horse.
What I noticed while I was wandering around Ashgabat was that there are lots of horse-themed motifs to be found. From prominent signs like the one for the Ministry of Horses to more subtle motifs in the shopping bags, signposts, and streetlights, it seems that the horse is everywhere:



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Horse Motif
In Russian, the word for horse is "лошадь", and in Turkmen it is "Atlary." The motifs are everywhere if you keep your eyes open.
See the horse heads on the streetlamps?
How about now?
The Ministry of Horses building
Isn't an upside down horseshoe considered unlucky?
See that yellow part of the street sign post?
Here's a detail of the sign post.

And on sky-walks over major roads
Random billboard on the way into the Hippodrome.

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Horse Statues and Monuments
Sure, there are lots of monuments all around the world with men on horseback. Ashgabat seems to be trying to upstage all of them. And there are way too many for me to take a picture of all of them (also, some are in traffic circles with policemen who make you delete your photos). Check out these monuments, both old and new:
The current President on his favorite horse.

From Google, those horses in the background were moved from a nearby park...
...to right next to the presidential palace.
Plenty has been written on the importance and significance of the Turkmen Akhal-Teke horse, so rather than spend the time re-posting it, I'll just link to this post about the land of the Akhal-Teke.

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