CHARM, or the image of Akhalteke racer in fine arts
Horse was depicted and sculptured in different countries and in different epochs by great masters of art who had put themselves on record and by unnamed artists engaged in the folk art handicrafts. Perhaps, the image of horse in the Turkmen art is most often used. Already in remote antiquity, the horse in the folk art was attached a protective sense; it took a significant place in the magic of land fertility, embodied time, light, force. In the modern Turkmen art, the horse becomes a kind of national symbol of sources, roots, spiritual determination, capable to overcome space and time.
The fragment of the bronze sculpture from Margush (Bronze Epoch) found in the territory of Turkmenistan may be considered as the most ancient depiction of the Akhalteke racer. The find is a fragment of the head of horse. Even the conditional decorative methods of depicting present a chance to distinguish the characteristic features of the Akhalteke breed.
The depictions of riders have been found in the residence of Parthian kings – this unique wall painting, which reconstructs the many-figure battle piece with participation of riders, decorated one of the interiors of the Old Nisa buildings (III century B.C.). In the Nisei fresco, the ancient artist had demonstrate his wonderful mastership: riding full speed, the horses, like the figures of riders, are full of tense and force... At present, the fragment of fresco from Nisa is in the permanent exposition of the Fine Arts Museum of Turkmenistan. Among the finds of the Turkmen-Polish expedition that conducts excavations at the Mele-Heiran monument (III-VII A.D.), the most exciting find is a bonecarved image of the slender hawk-nosed horse, without doubt, of the Akhlateke horse. The small bone-carved image of hose is produced by a true artists: the thoughtful face of the warrior, who returned from the difficult campaign, expresses anticipation of peaceful rest after hard war work he and his beloved horse earned. In 1920-1930, a group of Russian painters had come to Turkmenistan attracted by the bright colors of eastern landscape, originality of the national culture and unique traditions. All this they skillfully depicted in their numerous works. One of them – the picture by S. Beglyarov is a beautiful depiction of Akhalteke runners calm outwardly but inwardly simmer with energy. Rich with expressive plastic, the genre scene testifies to the author’s fineness of life observation and great mastership. In one of the canvases (1954) by I.I. Poid, the artist described a breath-taking atmosphere of the traditional holiday races with Turkmen jigits astride the fast Akhalteke horses rushing towards the finish. Since the time these canvases were produced much time had passed by, but the horse remains to be a favorite personage in the Turkmen fine art. In the new historic epoch, a new stimulus was given for the creative aspiration of our country’s artists. Today, the sculptures of Akhalteke racers decorate not only the equestrian sport complexes and hippodromes, but also the streets, squares, facades of buildings in the towns and villages of the country, splendid museums. It is difficult to remain indifferent to the monumental composition, which decorates one of the central squares of Ashgabat, authored by the sculptor, Honored Worker of Culture and Art N. Ataev. The muscular, perfect, harmonious figures of Akhalteke horses shining in the sunrays and their young riders – is a splendid embodiment of the happy epoch of Turkmenistan. This theme takes considerable place in the creative work of the famous artist, Honored Worker of Culture S. Meredov. His picturesque work «Turkmen runners» (2011) evokes in the viewers the joyful and bright, lofty feelings and aspirations. Showing preference to the restrained pastel shades, the artist managed to skillfully depict the graceful movements of Akhalteke horses. The People’s Artist O. Mammetnurov applies to the theme of horses very often. Special attention is to be given to his canvas «Horses» produced by wide transparent touches, where the figures of horses incarnate their natural grace and beauty. In the canvas, by the means of art, the artist praises the eternal, inextricable link of the Akhalteke horse with the nature of the Turkmen land. «The pride of Turkmen – Yanardag» (2002) is one of the artists I. Ishankuliev’s best works, the artist has donated to the Fine Arts Museum of Turkmenistan on the day of the Museum opening. The renowned Akhalteke horse is depicted at the background of endless sands with obliterate half moon above it. The author skillfully featured the image of the magnificent Yanardag, which symbolizes the nation’s greatness and pride. It is no mere chance that exactly this Akhalteke runner was depicted on the National Emblem of Turkmenistan. Through its millennium-old history, the Turkmen people retained the science of rearing and training the runners. At one time, the Turkmen had developed their own battle tactics with participation of mounted troops. The Turkmen riders’ appearance alone put into the heartquake the numerous armies of enemies, which dreamed to conquer the land of our ancestors. The cavalry of the great eljuk state’s last ruler, Sultan Sanjar, had participated in many military campaigns bringing him, victories and the glory of a hero. The canvas of the People’s Artist of Turkmenistan, a talented painter, A. Amangeldyev, - «Coming of Sultan Sanjar in Merv» (1990), is devoted to the return home of Sultan Sanjar after one of such campaigns. In honor of the annually celebrated Turkmen Horse Holiday, a creative contest announced by the President of Turkmenistan is conducted in the country for the best embodying of the Akhalteke horse image in fine and decorative-applied arts. Thousands of beautiful compositions, pictures and other works participate in the contest. And only few of them are awarded the high trophy instituted by the head of Turkmen state. One of the contest winners is the People’s Artist of Turkmenistan Saragt Babaev, a large master of the modern national school of sculpture. His works are well known in our country and beyond. The pride of Ashgabat residents is the horse monument – the ensemble of 10 Akhalteke horses, devoted to the 10th anniversary of Turkmenistan’s independence. Recognized as the best work in the creative contest of art masters of the country, the filigree performed sculptural composition brought victory to the artists in the above-mentioned contest. The lovers of art know well the devoted-to-the-horse works of V. Gyllyeva and V. Bagdasaryan, whose canvases were a great success at the abroad expositions. In their canvases, the artists place accent not so much on the physical strength of the unrivaled Akhalteke horses, as on the poetical depiction of their extraordinary expressive eyes, elegant shapes of their body. The smooth bend of neck, sensitive ears, nervous nostrils, and proud posture – all this creates an inimitable image of the wonderful creature of nature, of the Akhalteke horse. Ada Gutly is one more winner of the creative contest. He displayed the skillfully made carpet with the image of splendid argamak. Noteworthy, depicted on the carpet canvas the horse Gyrat is a direct ascendant of the legendary racer Arab, astride of which Marshall G. Zhukov in 1945 had opened the historical Victory Parade at the Red Square in Moscow. The work is performed in the tender, as if luminous silvery-pearly range of colors: the snow-white horse Gyrat stands proudly at the background of snow-covered Kopetdag mountains embodying stability and prosperity of the country. It is difficult to name an artist, who would not have addressed in his creative works to the image of Akhalteke horse. And it is not a tribute of admiration for its beauty, but the expression of the all-nation’s true love handed down from generation to generation during many centuries and millenniums. Exactly with the majestic step of the racer we associate our people’s entering into the new epoch, the nation’s aspirations toward unexplored horizons of endeavors and creativity