Turkmenistan Sovet Sotsialistik Respublikasy

Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic: (Turkmenistan Sovet Sotsialistik Respublikasy), Turkmenistan


The Turkmen SSR was initially formed as the Turkmen Oblast of the Turkestan ASSR on Aug. 7, 1921. The Turkmen Oblast was reorganized as the Turkmen SSR on Oct. 27,1924. Located in southwestern Middle Asia, the Turkmen SSR is bounded by the Kazakh SSR on the north, by the Uzbek SSR on the northeast, by Afghanistan on the southeast, and by Iran on the south. It faces the Caspian Sea on the west. Area, 488,100 sq km. Population, 2,581,000 (Jan. 1,1976, estimate). The capital is Ashkhabad.

The republic is divided into five oblasts and 40 raions (see Table 1). There are 15 cities and 73 urban-type settlements.

A socialist state of the whole people, expressing the will and interests of the workers, peasants, and intelligentsia of all the nationalities of the republic, the Turkmen SSR is a Union soviet socialist republic. Its present constitution was adopted on Apr. 13, 1972, by the Extraordinary Ninth Session of the Ninth Convocation of the Supreme Soviet of the Turkmen SSR. The highest state body is the unicameral Supreme Soviet of the Turkmen SSR, which is composed of 330 deputies elected every five years by constituencies with equal populations. Between sessions of the Supreme Soviet, the highest state body is the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. The Supreme Soviet forms the government of the republic—the Council of Ministers—and enacts the laws of the Turkmen SSR. The local governing bodies in the oblasts, raions, cities, settlements, and villages are the respective soviets of people’s deputies, elected by the population for 2½ year terms. Turkmenistan is represented by 32 deputies in the Soviet of Nationalities of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.

The highest judicial body of Turkmenistan is the Supreme Court of the republic, elected by the republic’s Supreme Soviet for a five-year term. The court is divided into a civil and a criminal section, but it also functions as a plenum. A court presidium is also formed. The procurator of the Turkmen SSR is appointed for a five-year term by the procurator-general of the USSR.

Turkmenistan has the highest percentage of plains among the Middle Asian republics. Almost four-fifths of the republic lies in the Turan Lowland, which is occupied chiefly by the Karakum Desert. A strip of uplands and medium-elevation mountains is found extending only in the south. The southernmost point of the USSR is located in Turkmenistan near the city of Kushka.

Coasts. The Caspian coast of Turkmenistan is weakly indented in the south. In the north it is strongly indented, forming the Kara-Bogaz-Gol, Krasnovodsk, and Turkmen gulfs, the Krasnovodsk, Dardzha, and Cheleken peninsulas, and numerous spits, of which the largest is the Krasnovodsk. The shores are low and sandy. Coastal islands include Ogurchinskii and Kamyshlyada.

Topography. The Kopetdag mountain system extends through the southern part of the republic, rising to 2,942 m at Mount Rize; northwest of the Kopetdag are the two separate ranges of the Malyi Balkhan (elevations to 777 m) and Bol’shoi Balkhan (elevations to 1,881 m). North of the Kopetdag lies a submontane plain that merges into the plain of the Caspian Lowland to the west. The northern foothills of the Paropamisus extend into Turkmenistan in the southeast, represented by the highlands of Badkhyz (maximum elevation 1,267 m) and Karabil’ (maximum elevation 984 m) and separated by the Murgab River. In the extreme southeast the Kugitangtau Mountains, a spur of the Gissar Mountains, rise to an elevation of 3,139 m, the highest point in the republic.

The Krasnovodsk Plateau, with a maximum elevation of 308 m, is located in the west, and the southern edge of the Ustiurt Plateau is located in the northwest. To the south of the Ustiurt Plateau is the Zauzboi, a folded region consisting of a system of cuesta tablelands, including Kaplankyr and Cheliunkry, and separated by depressions. The uplands of Nebitdag (39 m), Boiadag (134 m), Kumdag, and Mondzhukly (27 m) rise from the plain of the Caspian Lowland. Extending north and northeast from the submontane plain of the Kopetdag is the Karakum Desert, which divides into the central, or Lowland, Karakum and the Transun-guz Karakum. The southeastern Karakum is located in the interfluvial region of the Amu Darya and Tedzhen rivers. These deserts are characterized by honeycombed sand ridges and semi-overgrown sand hummocks; there are areas of barchan sands and, in the depressions, takyrs and sory. The Sundukli sands—a narrow strip of the right bank of the Amu Darya—lie within Turkmenistan.

Geological structure and minerals. Turkmenistan lies within the Mediterranean geosynclinal belt and occupies part of two large tectonic components—the epi-Paleozoic Turan Platform and an Alpine folded region. The Turan Platform includes a pre-Upper Paleozoic metamorphic basement, an Upper Paleozoic-Triassic effusive-sedimentary complex, and a Mesozoic-Cenozoic cratonic mantle.

The Alpine folded region is made up of the West Turkmen Basin in the west, which forms the eastern edge of the isometric South Caspian Intermontane Basin, and the sublatitudinal folded upwarping of the Kopetdag in the east. The two are bounded on the north by the South Turkmen marginal line, which extends in a northwesterly direction.

The Cis-Kopetdag Depression is located between the Kopetdag mountain system and the Turan Platform. The pre-Alpine basement is composed of pre-Upper Paleozoic metamorphic formations and effusive-sedimentary formations of the Upper Paleozoic (?) to Triassic. The complex above is up to 8 km thick and is composed of sedimentary geosynclinal, geoanticlinal, and sub-platform formations of the Mesozoic to the Paleogene; in the north these pass into platform and orogenic formations of the Upper Oligocene to Anthropogene (several km thick), which fill the West Turkmen Basin and the Cis-Kopetdag Depression.

Eastern Turkmenistan, including the mountainous block-fold uplift of the southwestern spurs of the Gissar Mountains, belongs to an epiplatform region composed of a Paleozoic basement and a Mesozoic-Cenozoic sedimentary mantle. The lower layers of the mantle consist of platform formations of the Jurassic to the Paleogene, and the upper layers consist of orogenic formations of the Neogene to the Anthropogene. The southern regions of Turkmenistan are characterized by high seismic activity.

The most important mineral resources are petroleum and natural gas. The principal oilfields, such as the Leninskoe at Kotur-depe and the Barsa-Gel’mes, are associated with the Pliocene deposits of the West Turkmen Basin. The most important gas deposits, such as Shatlyk, Achak, and Naip, are associated with the Mesozoic sediments of the eastern platform region. Turkmenistan occupies second place in the USSR (after the RSFSR) in known gas reserves. A number of small coal deposits have been discovered in Jurassic sediments.

Turkmenistan is rich in deposits of mineral salts, including calcium chloride and other chlorides, and sulfates, such as anhydrite, gypsum, and mirabilite. The principal salt deposits are associated with the Jurassic saliferous formation of eastern Turkmenistan, where the largest deposits are the Gaurdak and Karliuk, and with the newer deposits of the Kara-Bogaz-Gol. There are also mercury deposits in the Kopetdag. Nonmetallic mineral resources include sulfur, bentonite, ozocerite, and building materials (raw materials for glass and cement).

Underground waters are also precious resources. They include drinking water, water for industrial use, waters bearing iodine and bromine, and medicinal mineral waters. New sources of fresh water have been discovered at depths of 50–250 m in the Karakum. In the takyrs methods are being developed to collect rainwater in artificial reservoirs called khaki.

Climate. The climate is distinctly continental and dry, with wide annual and diurnal temperature ranges, low humidity, high evaporation, and scant precipitation. Summers are hot and dry, the winters mild and sometimes cold with little snow; short humid springs and dry autumns are typical. The average January temperature ranges from -5°C in the northeast to 4°C near the Atrek River; the absolute minimum is –32°C in Tashauz Oblast, -29°C in the submontane zone of the Kopetdag, and –10.3°C along the southern coast of the Caspian. Average July temperatures range from 28°C in the northeast to 32°C in the south; the absolute maximum is 49.9°C at the Repetek station.

Precipitation ranges from 80 mm per year in the lower reaches of the Amu Darya to 150 mm in the Karakum Desert, 200–300 mm in the foothills and mountain valleys, and 400 mm and more in the mountains, with a maximum in the spring and winter. The snow cover is variable and usually lasts only a few days in the northern and mountain regions. Winds are constant, with northeasterly, northerly, and northwesterly winds predominating. A hot dry wind known as the garmsil’ blows through the foothills of the Kopetdag in summer, and dust storms occur during changes of season. The growing season lasts 200 to 270 days.

Rivers and lakes. Up to 80 percent of Turkmenistan lacks any permanent surface waters. The rivers lie only in the peripheral southern and eastern regions. The only large river is the Amu Darya, which flows through the eastern border region. The Amu Darya has two high-water periods: the lesser one occurs in spring and is caused by rains and the melting of snow in low mountain regions; the chief high water occurs in summer and is due to the melting of glaciers and snow in high mountain regions. The river carries a great quantity of suspended matter, which increases the fertility of the lands it irrigates. The V. I. Lenin Karakum Canal has brought the waters of the Amu Darya as far as Bakharden —900 km (1975).

The largest southern rivers are the Murgab, the Tedzhen, and the Atrek, whose lower course dries up in summer; all have spring freshets. The Murgab and Tedzhen have regulated flows as

Table 1. Administrative-territorial division of the Turkmen SSR (as of Jan. 1,1976)
 Area (sq km)PopulationNumber of raionsNumber of citiesNumber of urban-type settlementsAdministrative center
Ashkhabad Oblast. . . . . . . . . .95,400657,0007312Ashkhabad
Chardzhou Oblast. . . . . . . . . .93,800553,00011222Chardzhou
Krasnovodsk Oblast. . . . . . . . . .138,500295,0006516Krasnovodsk
MaryOblast. . . . . . . . . .86,800588,0008416Mary
Tashauz Oblast. . . . . . . . . .73,600488,000817Tashauz

a result of the building of reservoirs on the rivers and the construction of the Karakum Canal.

Numerous short streams flow down the northern slopes of the Kopetdag; their waters are almost entirely used for irrigation. Groundwater—often saline—is important for livestock herding and grazing. Surface rainwater found in winter and spring is important for water supply in the desert. Oases are found along the river valleys and the Karakum Canal.

Most of the lakes are saline and are located along the Caspian and the bed of the Uzboi; the largest is Lake Kuuli. Important freshwater lakes are the Iaskhan, used to supply water to the city of Nebit-Dag, and the Topiatan in the Uzboi valley. Kou-Ata in the Bakharden cavern and Khordzhunli in Kugitangtau are mountain lakes of karst origin.

Soil. Gray-brown soils with a humus content of less than 1 percent, high salinity, and gypsum accumulation are found in the Ustiurt, Krasnovodsk, and Transunguz plateaus. Gray earths with a humus content from 1 to 3–4 percent and high concentrations of carbonates are found chiefly at the bases and on the lower slopes of mountains. Light gray earths are common in the submontane plain; typical gray earths are found in the lower mountain zone, and dark gray earths in the higher zone. Brown mountain soils are found in the highest parts of the plateaus and ridges of the Kopetdag and Kugitangtau.

Fixed sands are found over a considerable area of the Karakum Desert. Solonchaks, takyrs, and takyr-like soils occur in the depressions. Gray-earth meadow soils and alluvial meadow soils are found in the river valleys. Approximately 2 percent of Turkmenistan is irrigated soil, representing the chief agricultural resource of the republic.

Flora. Vegetation is primarily of the desert variety. Shrubs growing in the desert sands include the saxaul plants Haloxylon persicum and Haloxylon aphyllum, Salsola richteri, and the genera Ammodendron, Calligonum, and Astragalus, with Carex physodes predominating in the grass cover. Tamarisks and the genera Halocnemum and Kalidium grow in the solonchaks and sory. Shrublike saltworts, such as S. arbúsculo and S. rígida (Anabasis salsa), tetir (S. gemmascens), and the wormwood Artemicia glauca are found on the Ustiurt Plateau. Islands of tugai forest, with topol’-petta, Euphrates poplar, and the genus Elaeagnus, occur in the river valleys. Undershrub vegetation of wormwoods and various ephemeral grasses are most characteristic of low mountain deserts and foothills of the Kopetdag. Ephemeroid grasses, such as Poa bulbosa var. vivípara and férulas, and ephemeral vegetation are found in the submontane plain, the foothills of the Kopetdag, and the Karabil’ and Bad-khyz. Steppes of the genera Stipa and Agropyron are found in the middle to upper mountain zones, beginning at elevations of 1,000 m, and on mountain plateaus and gentle slopes; juniper stands appear at elevations of 1,500 m and higher.

The canyons of the western Kopetdag are rich in plants bearing wild fruits, including species of grape and apple, the genus Crataegus, the cherry plum Prunus divaricata, almonds, pomegranate, English walnut, fig tree, and pistacias. Occasional forests of pistacias occur in the Badkhyz. Most of the desert is used as year-round grazing land.

Fauna. The desert areas are inhabited by many rodents, such as susliks, gerbils, and jerboas. Other native mammals include the goitered gazelle, corsac, wolf, Felis margarita, African wildcat (F. libyca), and golden jackal. Birds are represented by Pander’s ground jay, larks, the brown-necked raven, and sparrows. Reptiles include lizards and several snakes—the genus Echis, the Asiatic sand snake (Psammophis lineolatum), the sand snake Eryx tataricus, and the Asiatic cobra—as well as the tortoise Agrionemys horsfieldi. Invertebrates include beetles, scorpions, the karakurt, and solpugids.

Along with a wealth of reptile and rodent fauna, the submontane zone is rich in bird life—the common crested lark, hoopoe, sandgrouse, the little bustard, the genus Milvus (kites), the black vulture (Aegypius monachus), and the griffon vulture.

Mountain mammals include the wolf, foxes, leopards, argali, bezoar goat, markhor, and European wildcat (F. silvestris). Mountain birds include the pheasant, chukar partridge, and Caspian snow cock. The Asiatic wild ass, argali, goitered gazelle, and hyenas are found in the Badkhyz; the wild boar, Bukhara deer, and many birds, including pheasant, inhabit the Amu Darya valley.

The Amu Darya River has ship sturgeon (Acipenser nudi-ventris), barbel, Aspius aspius, carp, shovelnose sturgeon, and other species of fish. The grasscarp and the carp species Hypophthalmichthys molitrix and Aristichthys nobilis, which feed on freshwater vegetation, have been introduced into the Karakum Canal, reservoirs, and the Amu Darya. There are numerous waterfowl along the shores of reservoirs and ponds.

Preserves. The Krasnovodsk, Badkhyz, and Repetek preserves are located in the Turkmen SSR and are under the supervision of the Desert Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR.

Natural regions. Turkmenistan may be divided into ten natural regions within three groups.

There are five montane and submontane regions: (1) the Bol’shoi Balkhan and Malyi Balkhan; (2) the Kopetdag; (3) the Paro-pamisus, consisting of the Badkhyz and Karabil’ rises; (4) the Kugitangtau; and (5) the Krasnovodsk and Zauzboi, which have strongly dissected erosional-tectonic topography. The mountains, including the Kopetdag and Kugitangtau, are characterized by high seismic activity. Vegetation is varied and consists mainly of grasses, such as the genera Agropyron and Stipa, fescue grass, wormwoods, Poa bulbosa var. vivípara, and ephemerals; in addition, shrubs and trees, such as junipers, maples, and pistacias, are found in the higher zones.

There are two structural elevated plains: the Ustiurt Plateau and the Transunguz Karakum. The Ustiurt is characterized by desert tablelands with gray-brown desert soils. Semishrub saltworts, such as tetir (S. gemmascens), and biiurgun (Anabasis salsa) and wormwoods predominate. The surface of the uplifted alluvial plain of the Transunguz region is dissected by ridges 30 to 60 m high; sandy desert soils and occasional takyrs are developed in the depressions between ridges. Denuded sinks, such as the Akchakaia, are common. The Transunguz region supports psam-mophytes, ephemeroid grasses (chiefly Carex physodes), and ephemerals, as well as saxauls, Calligonum, and Salsola richteri.

Turkmenistan has three lowland plains: (1) the Caspian, or West Turkmen, Lowland; (2) the Karakum Lowland; and (3) the valleys and deltas of the Amu Darya, Murgab, and Tedzhen rivers, including their oases. Because of the desert climate, a large part of this territory has been subjected to intense wind erosion, which has created various eolian landforms—sand dunes, honeycombed dunes, and sand hummocks, with significant areas of barchan sands in the east and far west. The vegetative cover of the sandy desert consists of large shrubs, undershrubs, and grasses—saxauls, Calligonum, Salsola richteri, Ammodendron, Aristida pennata, and sand sedge (Carex physodes). Alluvial meadow and meadow-takyr soils are common in the river valleys and deltas, and oasis sands are widely developed. The landscape of the river valleys and deltas has been transformed by man and presents a typical picture of cultivated land. This is the republic’s chief region for the raising of cotton, melons and gourds, other vegetables, and fruits.


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M. P. PETROV and S. P. VAL’BE (geological structure and minerals)

According to a census taken in 1970, the population of Turkmenistan included 1.4 million Turkmens (the majority of the population), 313,100 Russians, 179,500 Uzbeks, 68,500 Kazakhs, 36,500 Tatars, 35,400 Ukrainians, 23,100 Armenians, 16,800 Az-erbaijanis, and 12,400 Baluchi.

During the years of Soviet power, the population of Turkmenistan has grown at a rate faster than the average for the USSR (see Table 2). This has been the result of a higher natural increase—26.6 persons per thousand in 1975, compared to an average of 8.8 persons per thousand throughout the USSR. Turkmenistan has the third highest rate of natural increase among the Union republics (after the Tadzhik SSR and the Uzbek SSR).

Turkmenistan ranks lowest among the Union republics in average population density (5.3 persons per sq km as of Jan. 1,1976). The population distribution is extremely uneven. Most densely populated are the oases of the lower Murgab and the middle and lower Amu Darya and the southern submontane strip (100–200 persons per sq km). Vast expanses of the desert are very sparsely populated, with less than one person per sq km. Women constitute 50 percent of the population (1975, estimate for January 1).

Between 1929 and 1974, the number of blue-collar and white-collar workers grew more than ninefold. In 1974 there were 553,000 workers, of whom 99,000 were employed in industry, 92,000 in construction, 34,000 in agriculture, 78,000 in transportation and communications, 78,000 in education and culture, 41,000 in health care, physical culture, and social services, and 58,000 in trade, public catering, supply and sales of materials and equipment, and agricultural procurements. Women account for 40 percent of the republic’s blue-collar and white-collar workers (compared to 13 percent in 1924), including 45 percent of the industrial workers, 57 percent of those engaged in education, and 72 percent of the workers employed in health care, physical culture, and social services.

The creation of modern socialist industry has caused a rapid growth in urban population. The largest cities are Ashkhabad (297,000 inhabitants on Jan. 1, 1976), Chardzhou (110,000), Tashauz (81,000), Mary (70,000), Krasnovodsk (54,000), Bairam-Ali (38,000), and Tedzhen (31,000). Industrial centers created during the years of Soviet power include Nebit-Dag, Bezmein, and Cheleken.


Primitive communal society in Turkmenistan (up to the eighth and seventh centuries B.C.). That Turkmenistan was first settled as early as the Lower Paleolithic period is attested by the stone implements found near Krasnovodsk (Dzhebel) and certain other regions. Turkmenistan was also the home of the Dzheitun culture, one of the oldest (sixth millennium B.C.) Neolithic farming cultures discovered in the USSR. Aipong the remains of the ancient settlements of Turkmenistan are Dzheitun, Chopan-Tepe, Bami, Chagylly, and Mondzhukly, all located in the submontane plain of the Kopetdag. The clan was the basic economic and social unit, and the chief occupations were land cultivation (using a system of irrigation wherein the waters of mountain streams were collected and distributed), animal husbandry, and hunting.

The Aeneolithic period in Turkmenistan is represented by the Anau culture; remains of Anau settlements have been discovered along the northern spurs of the Kopetdag (Anau, Namazga-Tepe, Kara-Tepe) and the lower course of the Tedzhen River (Geoksiur mound). The Anau culture was typified by land cultivation (the first irrigation canals at Geoksiur dating from the middle of the third millennium B.C.) and livestock raising. Such crafts as pottery and metalworking were practiced in the second millennium B.C., which was also the time when settlements of an urban type appeared. Grapes, rye, and oats now supplemented wheat and barley as cultivated crops. The extended family was the basic economic and social unit.

The period from the late second millennium to the early first millennium B.C. witnessed the disintegration of the primitive communal system and the emergence among the tribes of Turkmenistan of a class society. Radical changes occurred in land cultivation, which was the most important economic activity, with the development of artificial irrigation. (The remains of ancient irrigation systems have been preserved in the submontane regions of southwestern Turkmenistan, in the Misrian plain, along the lower course of the Amu Darya, and in Margiana.) The establishment of a class society and the formation of states were accompanied by further developments in irrigated agriculture, handicrafts, and trade and by the appearance of cities.

Slaveholding states in Turkmenistan (eighth and seventh centuries B.C. to the sixth century A.D.). The history of the Turkmen people is interwoven with that of the peoples who inhabited Central Asia from earliest times. Margiana and Parthia were the most economically developed regions in Turkmenistan in the middle of the first millennium B.C. The region known as Hyrcania was located on the southeastern coast of the Caspian Sea; the steppes to the north were inhabited by nomadic tribes of the Massagetae and Dahae. In the seventh and sixth centuries B.C., Margiana formed part of Bactria, while Parthia and Hyrcania formed part of the Median state. Between the sixth and fourth centuries B.C., these regions were ruled by the Achaemenid state. In 522–521 B.C., during the reign of Darius I, the inhabitants of Margiana rebelled against Persian rule. The revolt was ruthlessly suppressed. The Achaemenids succeeded in extending their influence over a significant number of the nomadic tribes of Central Asia, including the Dahae tribes. In the centuries immediately preceding the Common Era, the region of southwestern Turkmenistan (Da-khistan) was a center of Dahae settlement.

At the end of the fourth century B.C., Turkmenistan was conquered by Alexander the Great. In the mid-third century B.C., the Parthian Empire arose in the submontane area southeast of the Caspian Sea. The fortress of Nisa was the residence of the Parthian kings. The chief occupations of the people at this time were land cultivation, which included viticulture, and livestock raising.

In A.D. 224, Persian kings of the Sassanid dynasty destroyed the Parthian Empire and seized the territory of southern Turkmenistan. A lengthy process of assimilation of the local livestock-raising tribes by the Hsiung-Nu people began in the mid-first century A.D. after the penetration of the latter into the Aral region. The tribes of the Alani also figured in the evolution of races in northern Turkmenistan in the first century A.D. In the mid-fifth century, the greater part of the territory of Turkmenistan was conquered by the tribes of the Ephthalite Huns.

Rise and development of feudal relations in Turkmenistan (sixth to 19th centuries). Elements of feudalism arose in the agricultural regions of Turkmenistan even before the sixth century, and they soon developed among the nomadic and seminomadic steppe tribes as well. The crops raised in the agricultural regions of southern and eastern Turkmenistan at this time included cotton, sesame, barley, wheat, millet, rice, legumes, melons, gourds, onions, and grapes. Sericulture developed in Merv, Nisa, and Abi-verd. Primitive grain mortars were replaced by hand-operated

Table 2. Population of the Turkmen SSR
 TotalUrbanRuralPercentage of total
1926 (census of December 17)998,000137,000861,0001486
1939 (census of January 17)1,252,000416,000836,0003367
1959 (census of January 15)1,516,000700,000816,0004654
1970 (census of January 15)2,159,0001,034,0001,125,0004852
1976 (estimate for January 1)2,581,0001,254,0001,327,0004951

millstones, and the hoe gave way to the wooden plow. Water mills appeared in the seventh century. The city of Merv had a millers’ quarter and a potters’ quarter. Merv became an important center of international trade in the early feudal period; a caravan route from Baghdad to China passed through the city. Zoroastrianism and Buddhism were among the religions that spread through Turkmenistan.

In the mid-sixth century, the Ephthalite kingdom was conquered by the empire of the T’u-chüeh (T’u Kiie). The nomadic local population was subjugated by Turkic-speaking tribes and subjected to a process of turkicization. After the fall of the empire, the Turkic tribes formed independent petty states in the Caspian coastal steppes and Dakhistan headed by tribal leaders.

The Arab conquest of Turkmenistan began in the mid-seventh century. Most of the population was forcibly converted to Islam. In 716 the Caliphate completed its conquest of southern Turkmenistan from the Caspian Sea to the banks of Amu Darya. The Arab conquest temporarily slowed the development of feudal relations. There were repeated popular uprisings against the conquerors, among them an insurrection in Merv in 655 and the Mu-kanna Uprising (770’s and 780’s).

Having become part of the Caliphate, the peoples of Turkmenistan overcame the consequences of the Arab conquest and established a broad range of economic and cultural contacts with the peoples of Southwest Asia, thereby helping to create a remarkable cultural synthesis. In the ninth and tenth centuries, Turkmenistan formed part of the feudal Tahirid and Samanid states. Feudal forms of land ownership underwent further development during this period. Among the trade and craft centers to experience growth were Urgench, Nisa, Abiverd, Serakhs, and Dakhistan (today the Misrian ruins).

In the period between the ninth and 11th centuries, the territories along the lower and middle course of the Syr Darya and the northern and eastern coasts of the Caspian Sea were settled by tribes of the Oghuz, some of whom had adopted Islam in the eighth century. In 1040, headed by leaders from the Seljuk clan, these tribes conquered Turkmenistan. The Oghuz became one of the chief elements in the formation of the Turkmen nationality. After mixing with the settled population, they came to be called Turkmens (Turkomans, Turcomans). A distinctive spoken language developed. The inclusion of the territory of Turkmenistan in the Seljuk state fostered a significant economic upsurge and a further development of feudal relations. Merv and other cities experienced intensive development, and there was construction of multiroom dwellings and of caravansaries (Daiakhatyn), mosques (Talkhatan Baba in Merv [old town]; mosques in Dandankhan [Dandanqan] and Dakhistan), and mausoleums (Serakhs, Urgench, Merv). The development of feudal relations served to strengthen the important feudal emirs, who began to challenge the Seljukids. The revolt of the Oghuz nomads and the masses of Khorasan in 1153 led to the fall of the Seljuk state in 1157.

In the late 12th and early 13th centuries, the territory of Turkmenistan was ruled by the Khwarazm-Shahs, and in the years 1219–21 it was conquered by the Mongol-Tatar hordes of Genghis Khan, which ravaged the land and destroyed the cities and irrigation works; the people were either killed or enslaved. Trade, handicrafts, and agriculture suffered a decline. Most of the Turkmen tribes fled to the eastern coast of the Caspian, the steppes of the Balkhash region, and the Uzboi valley. The territory of Turkmenistan was divided among the Golden Horde, the Jagatai (Chaghatai) Khanate, and the Hulaguid state (having its center in Iran). There were repeated Turkmen revolts against the khans of the Golden Horde and other Mongol rulers.

The process of formation of the Turkmen nationality continued in the 13th and 14th centuries, its basis being the Turkmen tribes (Salors, Yazyrs, Ali-eli) that had long ago settled and intermingled in northern Turkmenistan, the Ustiurt Plateau, and the Mangyshlak Peninsula. Members of various other tribes joined these ethnic groups and gradually became assimilated. During the period of feudal fragmentation, the Turkmens differed markedly from their neighbors (Uzbeks, Tadzhiks) in their semi-nomadic economy, physical appearance, culture, and way of life.

With the fall of the Hulaguid state (mid-14th century) and weakening of the Golden Horde (1360’s), several semi-independent feudal states arose in Turkmenistan, states that in the 1370’s and 1380’s were annexed by Tamerlane to his empire. In 1391, the Turkmens of Khorasan rebelled against Tamerlane’s rule. The uprising was ruthlessly suppressed. Under the Timurids, feudal ownership of land became further developed in the form of soyurghal, a hereditary type of estate. The holder of a soyurghal possessed judicial and administrative immunity and was able to collect taxes from the population for his own use. The formation of the Turkmen nationality was essentially completed in the 15th century. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the territory of Turkmenistan was partly under the rule of the Khiva Khanate and Bukhara Khanate and partly under the sway of Iran.

In the 16th century, the flow of water from the Amu Darya into the Sarykamysh Basin gradually ceased, putting an end to agriculture in Dar’ialyk and Sarykamysh. The population of these regions migrated south, taking possession of the arable regions near Akhal, Atek, Merv, Atrek, and Gorgan.

Because of continuing tribal fragmentation, the Turkmens were unable to form their own state. In the 1550’s, under the leadership of Aba Serdar, the population of southwestern Turkmenistan rebelled against Iranian control and, with the aid of Khiva troops, defeated the shah’s troops on three occasions.

In the first half of the 17th century, a bitter struggle developed between Turkmen and Uzbek feudal lords in Khwarazm. In the 1620’s, the Turkmen lords succeeded in placing their own man, ibn Arab Muhammad Isfendiar, on the Khwarazm throne. Subsequently, however, the Uzbek feudal lords gained the upper hand, forcing many Turkmen tribes to migrate south.

Russo-Turkmen relations took shape in the 16th century. Astrakhan and certain locations on the Mangyshlak Peninsula were centers of Russo-Turkmen trade. In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, some Turkmens migrated to Russian territory and subsequently settled in the Northern Caucasus (Stavropol’ Turkmens). A steady process of development of political, economic, and, to some extent, cultural relations between Turkmens and Russians began with the reign of Peter I. The merchant Khodzha-nepes, representing the Caspian Turkmens, journeyed to St. Petersburg and petitioned Peter I to accept the Turkmens as Russian subjects. The Russian state attributed particular importance to the opening of shorter trade routes through Central Asia to the Middle East and India. The Turkmens of Mangyshlak established close commercial ties with Russia, with trade carried on by way of Astrakhan and Orenburg.

Russia aided the Turkmens when, in 1740, after suffering the depredations of the Iranian troops of Nader Shah, they petitioned Russia for grain. Representatives of the Turkmen tribes repeatedly journeyed to St. Petersburg and petitioned the empresses Elizaveta Petrovna and Catherine II the Great to accept their tribes as Russian subjects. They requested that fortified merchant settlements be built on the Turkmen shores of the Caspian Sea to attract caravans from Urgench, Bukhara, Samarkand, and Tashkent. By the late 18th century, trade between the Caspian Turkmens and Astrakhan had so developed that merchants began to conclude long-term contracts.

In the early 18th century, Turkmen tribes inhabited almost the entire territory of modern Turkmenistan, Ustiurt, and Mangyshlak. The largest tribes were the Tekke (Teke, Teppe), Yomud, Ersari, Goklan, Salor, Saryk, and Chaudor. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the social order was patriarchal and feudal, and slave labor was still employed. The basis of Turkmen economic life was an economy consisting of land cultivation and livestock raising supplemented by handicraft production, hunting, and fishing. There existed three forms of ownership of land and water: mulk (the lands of feudal overlords), sanashik (communal land and water), and waqf (lands belonging to religious institutions). A great many taxes of various kinds were levied on the population. Society continued to be organized on the basis of tribes and clans. The people repeatedly rebelled against the rule of the Iranian shahs and representatives of the shahs in Khorasan and Astrabad and against the khans of Khiva and Bukhara. Confederations of Turkmen tribes routed the troops of Khiva and Iran near Serakhs and in Khiva in 1855, near Kara-Kala in 1858, and near Merv in 1861.

Over the centuries, the Turkmen people have produced vivid, original works of art and literature.

Entrance of Turkmenistan into the Russian state; social and economic development in the 19th century. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, almost all the trade routes connecting Eastern Europe with Central Asia passed through Turkmen lands. The Turkmens themselves benefited from trade with Russia and so took steps to ensure that the caravan routes crossing their lands were safe. In the early 19th century, the Abdal, Chaudar, Igdyr, Burunchuk, and Buzach Turkmen tribes officially became Russian subjects (May 9,1802).

The focus of Russo-Turkmen relations gradually shifted from Mangyshlak to the southwest. From May to September 1805, at the time of the Russo-Iranian War of 1804–13, a diplomatic correspondence was carried on between Russia and the Yomud, Goklan, and Tekke tribes on the possibility of a military alliance in a war against Iran. The Turkmens themselves expressed their readiness to take part in the war; they revolted against Iranian rule in 1812–13, first in northern Khorasan and then in Astrabad. In the 1820’s, Russia strove to strengthen political and economic ties with the Turkmens.

Russian capitalism as it was then developing demanded new markets and the seizure of new sources of raw materials. Russian industry’s need for cotton was growing. Anglo-Russian competition spurred tsarist actions in Central Asia. In 1869, Russian troops commanded by N. G. Stoletov landed on the east coast of the Caspian Sea and founded the city of Krasnovodsk.

The annexation of Turkmenistan to Russia in the years 1869–85 did not proceed peacefully everywhere. While western Turkmenistan became part of Russia voluntarily, the Tekke inhabitants of the Akhal oasis (Akhal-Tekke) offered stubborn resistance to the troops of General M. D. Skobelev, defending for approximately three weeks their main fortress, Geok-Tepe, which finally fell on Jan. 12,1881. On Jan. 18,1881, tsarist troops took the aul (village) of Askhabad (now Ashkhabad). By 1885, Atrek, Tedzhen, Merv, and the Pendi oasis had joined Russia voluntarily. Transcaspian Oblast, with its administrative center in Askhabad, was formed in 1882 in Turkmenistan as part of the namestnichestvo (vicegerency) of the Caucasus. In the years 1890–97, Transcaspian Oblast was first under the direct jurisdiction of the Ministry of War and then made part of Turkestan Krai. The government was both military and civilian in its makeup; military men were appointed as heads of the oblast and districts, while representatives of the local elite were appointed as aul headmen.

Turkmenistan’s entrance into the Russian state was a progressive step that delivered the Turkmen people from the endless cycle of internecine wars and from the raids carried out by neighboring feudal states. Trafficking in slaves and alamanstvo (raiding) were prohibited. Turkmenistan was drawn into the economic system of Russian capitalism. The Transcaspian Railroad, built in the years 1880–88, “began to Open up’ Central Asia for the capitalists” (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 5, p. 82). But, at the same time, the colonial policy of tsarism led to the preservation of feudal relations and vestiges of a patriarchal social order based on clans. The people of the territory experienced the dual oppression of the feudal bais (wealthy stock raisers, merchants, or landowners) and the Russian colonial administration. Meanwhile, the Russian and Turkmen peoples continued to draw closer together. Their joint struggle against tsarism and their increasingly strong economic, political, and cultural ties fostered solidarity between the Turkmen people and the Russian and other peoples of the Russian state.

Turkmenistan in the period of imperialism and the bourgeois-democratic revolutions in Russia (1900–17). In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Turkmenistan became an area of investment for Russian and, to some extent, foreign capital. The Nobel Brothers Company organized the exploitation of petroleum deposits on the Cheleken peninsula. The production of oil rose from 30,000 poods (1 pood = 16.38 kg) in 1895 to 760,000 poods in 1905. Along with traditional cottage industries, processing and extractive industries developed (mining of ozokerite, salt, sulfur). Semi-industrial enterprises appeared in the form of cotton-ginning plants, vegetable-oil mills, soapmaking factories, and flour mills. Russian settlements sprang up along the Transcaspian Railroad.

The most important result of this early industrial development was the creation of the first cadres of a national proletariat. The formation of a local national bourgeoisie proceeded simultaneously. Tsarism strove to convert Turkmenistan into an agrarian raw-material supply base for Russian industry. Particular attention was given to the development of cotton production. Owing to the construction of new and the restoration of old irrigation systems (dams, canals, karei), the area under cultivation was expanded, and new, high-yield varieties of cotton were introduced. In Transcaspian Oblast, the sown area of cotton increased from 900 desiatinas (1 desiatina = 1.09 hectares) in 1890 to 57,000 desiatinas in 1915. Developments in cotton production made cotton more attractive as a cash crop. In the period between 1893 and 1910, the yield of cotton in Transcaspian Oblast grew from 176,000 poods to 2,307,000 poods. The cotton was bought by Russian textile firms, with local moneylenders acting as intermediaries. This arrangement intensified the social differentiation in the Turkmen aul. The livestock population increased, as did the quality of the breeds. All sectors of the economy were drawn into the stream of commodity-money relations.

In 1903 and 1904, exiled Social Democrats organized the first political circles and groups in Kizyl-Arvat and Askhabad. In 1905, Social Democratic organizations sprang up in Chardzhui (now Chardzhou), Merv, and Krasnovodsk. During the Revolution of 1905–07, Russian and Turkmen workers and soldiers of the battalion of the Transcaspian Railroad took an active part in the October political strike and the November railroad workers’ strike. In 1906, the Askhabad Social Democratic organization published the illegal newspaper Soldat, and the Kizyl-Arvat organization published the newspaper Molot.

The soldiers’ actions in the fortress of Kushka in November 1905 were led by the exiled Putilov worker and Bolshevik N. F. Simonov. In June 1906, a major Central Asian soldiers’ revolt took place in Askhabad involving approximately 4,000 soldiers.

With the defeat of the Revolution of 1905–07, social oppression and the oppression of nationalities increased in the border regions of Russia. The situation of the working people in Turkmenistan deteriorated rapidly with the onset of World War I, a decline that brought a renewed outbreak of the class struggle. Turkmens took an active part in the Middle Asian Uprising of 1916, resisting mobilization for rear support in Russia, attacking tsarist troops, and freeing mobilized daikhans (Turkmen peasants). In March 1917, after the victory of the February Revolution, soviets of workers’ deputies and soldiers’ committees sprang up in many cities, among them Askhabad, Merv, Krasnovodsk, and Chardzhui. Social Democratic organizations that had been suppressed during the years of reaction were revived, and Bolshevik groups formed within these organizations (Askhabad, Chardzhui, Merv, Krasnovodsk).

Turkmenistan during the period of the Great October Socialist Revolution, Civil War, and military intervention (1917–20). After the victory of the October Revolution in Petrograd, there was an armed rebellion in Tashkent, on Nov. 1 (14), 1917, that was supported by the workers of Turkmenistan. The fourth congress of soviets of Transcaspian Oblast was held in Askhabad from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 (Dec. 13–16), 1917. On December 2 (15), the congress proclaimed the transfer of all power to the soviets and elected a council of people’s commissars having seven members, five of them Bolsheviks. During the winter of 1917–18, Soviet power was established throughout Transcaspian Oblast. Representatives of the Turkmen people were elected to the soviets, and soviets were set up in the auls. The counterrevolutionary Oblast Muslim Committee, organized in Askhabad in August 1917 by the local feudal elite and reactionary religious leaders, was dissolved in February 1918. The Resettlement Administration, founded in 1906 and used by the autocracy to create support for itself in Turkmenistan by settling Russian kulaks there, was also dissolved. The tsar’s property in Bairam-Ali was nationalized. Red Guard detachments were formed; among the first Soviet Turkmen activists to distinguish themselves were Ovezberdy Kuliev and Karagoz Ishan.

The Fifth Congress of Soviets of Turkestan Krai, held in Tashkent, proclaimed the formation of the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic within the RSFSR on Apr. 30, 1918, and elected a central executive committee and a council of people’s commissars for the republic. The nationalization of banks, industrial enterprises, and transport in the first half of 1918 laid the foundation for a socialist economy, but the confiscation of land from the bais and transfer of the land to the poor was impossible because social stratification in the Turkmen countryside was not yet pronounced.

Most of the territory of Turkmenistan (Transcaspian Oblast, becoming Turkmen Oblast in August 1921) formed part of the Turkestan ASSR. Certain regions of Turkmenistan continued to be ruled by the khan of Khiva and the emir of Bukhara. With the aid of British imperialism, a mutiny of Socialist Revolutionaries (SR’s), Mensheviks, and White Guards occurred in Askhabad on July 11–12,1918, leading to the temporary fall of Soviet power in Transcaspia. On July 22 in Merv, the counterrevolutionary mutineers shot the people’s commissar of labor and the chairman of the Council of the Economy of the Turkestan ASSR, P. G. Polto-ratskii; in the early morning of July 23, near the Annau railroad station, they shot the nine Askhabad (Ashkhabad) Commissars.

To aid in the struggle against the counterrevolution in Transcaspia, the Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars of the Turkestan ASSR formed the Military and Political Headquarters. On July 28 near Chardzhou, Soviet troops inflicted the first major defeat on the White Guards. British occupying forces invaded Turkmen Oblast on Aug. 12, 1918. They were supported by internal counterrevolutionary and nationalistic elements. In the early morning of Sept. 20,1918, British interventionists and SR’s shot the 26 Baku Commissars. The Transcaspian Front was formed by the government of the Turkestan ASSR for the struggle against the interventionists and internal counterrevolutionary forces. A liberation struggle of industrial workers and daikhans gathered force in British-occupied Transcaspia. Some of the daikhans and Russian peasants began a guerrilla struggle against the occupying forces and White Guards. On July 25,1918, soon after the counterrevolutionary mutiny, an underground Bolshevik committee was created in Askhabad that led the struggle for the reestablishment of Soviet power. In the period from April to June 1919, Great Britain was forced to withdraw the main body of its troops from Transcaspia, leaving only a small garrison in Krasnovodsk. The interventionists carried off many things of value from Transcaspian Oblast. Leadership of the counterrevolutionary forces passed to General A. I. Denikin. The British imperialists continued to supply the White Guards with money and weapons.

The Revolutionary Military Council of the Transcaspian Front was created in April 1919, with N. A. Paskutskii as chairman, B. N. Ivanov as commander, and M. A. Mzhel’skii as council member. The front’s political section had a Muslim subsection for work among the local population. Among those participating in the work of the subsection were K. S. Atabaev, Kh. Sakhat-muradov, Ia. R. Nasyrli, and G. Nazarov.

Units of the Red Army began their advance on May 17, 1919. Bairam-Ali was taken on May 21, Merv on May 23, Kushka on May 24, Tedzhen on July 7, and Askhabad (renamed Poltoratsk; known since 1927 as Ashkhabad) on July 9. The liberation of Krasnovodsk on Feb. 6,1920, marked the final defeat of the SR, Menshevik, and White Guard counterrevolution in Transcaspia and the final expulsion of British interventionists from Turkmenistan. Turkmen mounted detachments, whose commanders included Kaushut Ovezov and Kurbanmamed Babaev, fought within the Red Army for the liberation of Transcaspia. The Turkestan Commission of the All-Union Central Executive Committee and Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR played a large role in the reestablishment and consolidation of Soviet power in Turkmenistan. The victories of the popular revolutions in Khiva and Bukhara in 1920 resulted in the formation of the Khorezm People’s Soviet Republic and the Bukhara People’s Soviet Republic. Territories settled by Turkmens remained part of these republics until 1924.

Turkmenistan during the socialist construction of 1921–40. The Civil War and foreign intervention inflicted great losses on the economy of Turkmenistan. Local industry was devastated. In 1920 the industrial output of Turkmen Oblast was one-seventh the figure for 1913. Petroleum production in 1921 fell to 5,000 tons, as against 129,000 tons in 1913. The output of the cotton, fish, and salt industries also declined sharply. The Transcaspian Railroad was in need of major repair. Agriculture also suffered. By 1922 sown acreage had declined by a factor of more than 1.8. The number of head of livestock decreased.

In 1921 and 1922, the first land and water reforms were carried out. As a result, 7,800 landless daikhan households received a total of 37,500 desiatinas of arable land and water. The government of the RSFSR assumed all expenses for work in land management in the years 1921–23. Turkmen Oblast received credits amounting to 3 million rubles for the development of agriculture and 6 million rubles to carry out irrigation projects. The land and water reforms contributed to the solution of the agrarian problem.

By 1924, the working people of Turkmen Oblast had achieved significant success in restoring their economy and in furthering economic and cultural development. The oil industry was revitalized (500,000 poods of petroleum produced in 1923), and the Transcaspian Railroad was able to resume normal operations. The gross output of the oblast’s economy in 1924 was 47 percent of the total for 1913. The output of agriculture in 1924 had reached 70 percent of the prewar level. Preparation and training of Turkmen party and soviet cadres proceeded successfully, and the level of the social and political activity of the workers increased. With the defeat of the last Basmachi bands, Soviet power was consolidated throughout the land.

In 1924 the national-state demarcation of the Soviet republics of Middle Asia was carried out. On Oct. 27, 1924, the Central Executive Committee of the USSR adopted a resolution establishing the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic. The decree was approved and ratified by the third (extraordinary) session of the Central Executive Committee of the Turkestan ASSR, the Fifth All-Khorezm Kurultai (congress) of Soviets, and the Fifth All-Bukhara Kurultai of Soviets. From Feb. 14 to Feb. 24, 1925, the first All-Turkmen Congress of Soviets was held in Poltoratsk. On February 20, the congress adopted a declaration calling for the formation of the Turkmen SSR and a decree announcing the republic’s voluntary inclusion in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. A republic central executive committee was elected, with N. Aitakov as chairman, and a government, that is, a council of people’s commissars, was formed, with K. S. Atabaev as chairman. The First Congress of the Communist Party of Turkmenistan was held at the same time (February 14–19).

Work proceeded in planned fashion in the republic on socialist construction, on an all-inclusive rise in economic activity, and on the cultural development of the Turkmen people. In the years 1925–27, a second land and water reform was carried out in Turkmenistan that destroyed the last vestiges of the patriarchal, feudal relations in land use and undermined the economic and political influence of the bai class. As a result of the reform, 33,500 daikhans who possessed either no land or only a small quantity of land received land and water, along with 1,829,000 rubles in aid from the Soviet government for equipment and workstock. The standard of living of the poorer peasants was raised. Also in the years 1925–27, considerable work was carried out in the auls to develop the simplest forms of agricultural cooperatives. By the end of 1927, Turkmenistan had 199 credit associations covering 96,624 poor peasants and 187 land reclamation associations with a total of 39,709 members. During these years, the Soviet government allotted funds for large hydrotechnical projects in the drainage basins of the Amu Darya and Murgab rivers (Ersary, Pal’-vart, and Bosaga-Kerki canals; Tedzhen dam). Between 1924 and 1928, the amount of irrigated land in the republic increased by more than 78,000 hectares (ha). Altogether, the land under cultivation in 1928 amounted to 332,200 ha, compared with 242,000 ha in 1924.

Collectivization of agriculture in the republic began in 1926, and by the end of 1929, 14.8 percent of the daikhan farms had been collectivized. The number of tractors in use in 1930 exceeded 400. Collectivization proceeded on a large scale in the land-cultivation and cotton-producing regions in 1930 and 1931 and in the livestock-raising regions in the years 1932–35. The kulaks and bais were abolished as a class. By 1937, 95.4 percent of all daikhan farms, accounting for 99.4 percent of all land under cultivation, had been collectivized. Development of the kolkhoz system continued, with improvements in management and organization. By 1940, 99.4 percent of the daikhan farms and 99.99 percent of the cultivated land belonged to kolkhozes; 4,449 tractors were in use at this time.

During the 1930’s, a great deal of work was done on irrigation in Turkmenistan. Projects included the Karabekaul, Kul’-Aryk, Shavat-Gazavat, and Sovet-Iab canals and the Tashkepri, Kol-khozbent, and Tedzhen reservoirs. Acreage under cotton in 1940 was more than 3.5 times greater than the figure for 1924. In the prewar years, Turkmenistan became the second most important cotton producer in the USSR, after Uzbekistan. Livestock raising also grew steadily, particularly the raising of Karakul sheep. Sericulture, viticulture, and other agricultural sectors attained significant successes.

Modern industry in Turkmenistan was essentially created during the years of socialist construction. With the aid of the government of the USSR and the peoples of the fraternal republics, the oil fields on Cheleken were returned to operation, the oil fields of Nebit-Dag were developed, and a metalworking industry was created. In addition, a number of enterprises were built, including textile factories and a filature in Ashkhabad, an iodine and bromine plant in Cheleken, a filature in Chardzhou, a chemical combine in Karabugaz, a glassworks in Ashkhabad, a vegetable oil and fat combine in Bairam-Ali, and the Karakum Sulfur Plant.

The foundations of modern industry in Turkmenistan were laid in the 1930’s. In 1940, gross industrial output was 6.7 times greater than in 1913. In the same period, the generation of electric power rose by a factor of 33 owing to the construction of electric power plants. The amount of freight shipped on the Ashkhabad Railroad increased significantly. The number of industrial and nonindustrial workers in Turkmenistan reached 188,300 in 1940, compared with 33,800 in 1924. These years witnessed the formation and growth of a national working class. A successful cultural revolution was carried out: illiteracy was liquidated, universal compulsory primary education was introduced, and a broad network of secondary schools and technicums and a number of higher educational institutions and scientific research institutes were organized. The cultural revolution also created a national intelligentsia.

Under the leadership of the Communist Party and with the fraternal aid of the Russian and other peoples of the USSR, the Turkmen people in essence constructed socialism while bypassing the stage of capitalist development. Until recently a backward, colonial border region of tsarist Russia, Turkmenistan was transformed into an agroindustrial soviet socialist republic with a developed industrial base, a large, mechanized agricultural sector, and a progressive culture national in form and socialist in content. The Turkmen people have formed themselves into a socialist nation. The achievements of the working people of Turkmenistan were reflected in the republic’s constitution, adopted on Mar. 2, 1937, by the Sixth (Extraordinary) All-Turkmen Congress of Soviets.

Turkmenistan during the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 and the subsequent creation of a developed socialist society. From the first days of the attack of fascist Germany upon the USSR, the workers of Turkmenistan, as all the Soviet people, rose in defense of the motherland. The republic’s economy was restructured to meet the needs of the front. When fascist German troops advanced to the Volga and the foothills of the Caucasus, the importance of the Ashkhabad Railroad and the port of Krasnovodsk, linking the southern fronts and soviet republics in the Caucasus with the central regions of the country, increased dramatically. The well-ordered, uninterrupted operation of the Ashkhabad Railroad and the port of Krasnovodsk, which made it possible to maintain military transport in late 1942 and early 1943, contributed to the resounding defeat of the fascist German troops that had been surrounded by the Red Army in Stalingrad and to the expulsion of the enemy from the Northern Caucasus. More than 19,000 soldiers from Turkmenistan were awarded orders and medals of the USSR for bravery at the front; 78 soldiers received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. The workers, kolkhoz farmers, and intelligentsia of Turkmenistan labored selflessly on the home front. The workers of Turkmenistan collected 243 million rubles and 7,392 kg of silver and gold for the construction of aircraft and tanks, and they sent 202 railroad cars of gifts to Soviet soldiers at the front. The thousands of industrial and nonindustrial workers temporarily evacuated to Turkmenistan from enemy-occupied regions of the country received a warm, fraternal welcome and a place to live and work.

In the postwar years, the workers of Turkmenistan continued to develop their republic’s economy. Under the guidance of the Communist Party and Soviet government and with the fraternal aid of the peoples of the USSR, Turkmenistan, together with the other republics, completed the construction of socialism in the years 1946–60 and on the base of a developed socialist society set about creating the material and technical basis for communism. In the years from the sixth through the ninth five-year plans (1956–75), significant progress was achieved in developing the economy and creating the material and technical basis for a new society. The main sectors of Turkmenistan’s industry, including oil and gas production, petroleum refining, and machine building, experienced rapid development, and the republic’s energy base was strengthened. Major industrial construction was carried on. The number of industrial and nonindustrial workers rose from 188,300 in 1940 to 553,000 in 1974.

Great progress was made in the development of agriculture during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Completion of the first three sections of the V. I. Lenin Karakum Canal, one of the largest in the world, permitted a 62 percent increase in sown acreage in the period between 1960 and 1973. The production of raw cotton increased by a factor of almost three in the years 1961–75. The standard of living of workers rose, and notable progress was made in raising the workers’ cultural level.

As of Apr. 1,1976, 304 citizens of the Turkmen SSR had been awarded the title of Hero of Socialist Labor. In January 1957, the republic was awarded the Order of Lenin for its achievements in the development of agriculture. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the USSR, the Turkmen SSR was awarded the Order of Friendship of Peoples on Dec. 29,1972. In honor of the achievements of the working people of Turkmenistan in developing industry, agriculture, and culture and in connection with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Turkmen SSR and Communist Party of Turkmenistan, the republic was awarded the Order of the October Revolution on Nov. 14,1974.


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Karpov, G. I. Ocherki po istorii Turkmenii i turkmenskogo naroda. Ashkhabad, 1940.
Ocherki iz istorii turkmenskogo naroda i Turkmenistana v VIU-XIX vv. Ashkhabad, 1954.
Narody Srednei Azii i Kazakhstana, vol. 1. Moscow, 1962.
Rosliakov, A. A. Kratkii ocherk istorii Turkmenistana (do prisoedi-neniiak Rossii). Ashkhabad, 1956.
Karryev, A., and A. A. Rosliakov. Kratkii ocherk istorii Turkmenistana (1868–1917gg.) Ashkhabad, 1956.
Markov, G. E. Ocherk istorii formirovaniia severnykh turkmen. Moscow, 1961.
Dzhikiev, A. Turkmeny Iugo-Vostochnogo poberezh’ia Kaspiiskogo moría. Ashkhabad, 1961.
Agadzhanov, S. G. Ocherki istorii oguzov i turkmen Srednei Azii v IX-XIIIvv. Ashkhabad, 1969.
Berdyev, O. K. Drevneishie zemledel’tsy luzhnogo Turkmenistana. Ashkhabad,1969.
Ocherki istorii zemledeliia i agrarnykh otnoshenii v Turkmenistane (s drevneishikh vremen do prisoedineniia k Rossii). Ashkhabad, 1971.
Tikhomirov, M. N. Prisoedinenie Merva k Rossii. Moscow, 1960.
Rosliakov, A. A. Revoliutsionnoe dvizhenie i sotsial-demokratiche-skie organizatsii v Turkmenistane v dooktiabr’skii period (1900-martl917). Ashkhabad, 1957.
Davletov, D., and A. Il’iasov. Prisoedinenie Turkmenii k Rossii. Ashkhabad, 1972.
Annanepesov, M. Khoziaistvo turkmen v XVIII-XIX vv. Ashkhabad, 1972.
Tashliev, Sh. Grazhdanskaia voina i angliiskaia voennaia interventsiia v Turkmenistane, vols. 1–2. Ashkhabad, 1974–75.
Istoriia rabochego klassa Sovetskogo Turkmenistana (1917–1965). Ashkhabad, 1969.
Annaklychev, A. A. Razvitie promyshlennosti Turkmenistana za gody Sovetskoi vlasti (1921–1937gg.). Ashkhabad, 1958.
Pal’vanova, B. Oktiabr’ i zhenshchiny Turkmenistana. Ashkhabad, 1967.
Batyrov, Sh. Formirovanie i razvitie sotsialisticheskikh natsii v SSSR. Moscow, 1962.
Il’iasov, B. Sovetskii Turkmenistan v period Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny. Ashkhabad, 1964.
Durdyev, T. Pod”em kul’turnogo urovnia turkmenskogo daikhanstva v poslevoennyiperiod (1946–1955). Ashkhabad, 1962.
Annaklychev, Sh. Byt i kul’tura rabochikh Turkmenistana. Ashkhabad, 1969.
Viatkin, M. P. Sotsial’no-ekonomicheskoe razvitie Srednei Azii: Isto-riograficheskiiocherk, 1865–1965. Frunze, 1974.

M. ANNANEPESOV (up to 1917) and N. ATAMAMEDOV (after 1917)

The Communist Party of Turkmenistan is an integral part of the CPSU. The first Social Democratic group in Turkmenistan was formed in Kizyl-Arvat in the winter of 1903–04 by 25 railroad workers. In the autumn of 1904, a Social Democratic group was founded in Askhabad (present-day Ashkhabad). Influenced by the Russian Revolution of 1905–07, Social Democratic organizations were established and consolidated in Askhabad and Kizyl-Arvat, as well as in Chardzhui (present-day Chardzhou), Merv (present-day Mary), Krasnovodsk, and Kazandzhik. Groups were also organized in Iolotan’, Kushka, and Kaakhka. Traveling party agents and representatives of the Baku committee of the RSDLP played a significant role in spreading revolutionary ideas among the people, as did the Social Democrats banished to Turkmenistan from central Russia.

The founders and leaders of Social Democratic organizations in Turkmenistan included the Bolsheviks V. D. Dmitriev, V. T. Bakradze, V. P. Vakhnin, and A. V. Zaplatkin. The most active group was the Askhabad organization of the RSDLP, which founded the first illegal Social Democratic printing press in Middle Asia in March 1905. In February 1907 the Transcaspian conference of the RSDLP, held in Askhabad, elected an oblast committee of the RSDLP that existed until the autumn of 1908. Almost all Social Democratic organizations in Turkmenistan were crushed during the years of reaction of 1907–10, and many of their leaders were arrested. The Bolsheviks continued revolutionary work underground.

The Bolsheviks emerged from underground after the February Revolution of 1917. However, they merged with the Mensheviks in combined organizations of the RSDLP, and this hindered the Bolsheviks from liberating the workers from the influence of class collaborators. The position of the Bolsheviks was strengthened by the establishment of links with the Central Committee and Baku and Tashkent committees of the RSDLP(B). The influence of the Bolsheviks among the local population was reinforced by the Gummet groups, organized in Merv, Askhabad, and Krasnovodsk in the summer of 1917.

In October 1917 the first independent Bolshevik organization in Middle Asia was formed in Askhabad under the leadership of Ia. E. Zhitnikov and N. G. Ssorin. A final break with the Mensheviks was accomplished in other party organizations after the October Revolution. Organizations of the RSDLP in Chardzhui, Kazandzhik, Krasnovodsk, Merv, Kizyl-Arvat, and Kushka went over to the Bolshevik platform between November 1917 and July 1918. The First Congress of the Communist Party of Turkestan in June 1918 organized a krai party organization and defined its tasks regarding the consolidation of Soviet power. In the Transcaspian region all power passed into the hands of Bolshevik-controlled soviets during the winter of 1917–18. At the same time, Turkmen members were introduced into all district soviets. The first Turkmen Communists, including O. Kuliev and G. Karliev, began their political activity.

After the Socialist Revolutionary and Menshevik counterrevolutionary coup in the Transcaspian region in 1918, the oblast was occupied by British interventionist troops. Despite terrorism and oppression, however, the Bolsheviks continued their struggle underground, preparing for a decisive battle for Soviet power. Members of the Turkestan Commission of the All-Union Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR, including M. V. Frunze, V. V. Kuibyshev, and Sh. Z. Eliava, played a considerable role in the organization of the struggle for Soviet power in the Transcaspian region. Under Bolshevik leadership, by the spring of 1920 almost the entire oblast had been liberated from interventionist and White Guard forces.

The Bolsheviks of Turkmenistan led the working masses in the struggle to restore the economy and create centers of socialist culture. Party, Soviet, and public organizations developed. The first aul (village) party groups were organized in the summer and autumn of 1919. The first oblast party conference, which elected the oblast committee of the RCP(B), took place in August 1920. The 73 party groups of the oblast consisted of 2,586 Communists,

Table 3a. Membership of the Communist Party of Turkmenistan1
 Members of CPSUCandidate members of CPSUTotal
1 As of January 1 of year cited
1925. . . . . . . . . .2,4842,7565,240
1930. . . . . . . . . .6,3834,06510,448
1940. . . . . . . . . .7,4308,55815,988
1950. . . . . . . . . .28,9074,55633,463
1960. . . . . . . . . .41,3853,76745,152
1970. . . . . . . . . .64,6543,23867,892
1974. . . . . . . . . .71,8982,42974,327
1975. . . . . . . . . .73,3222,68176,003
1976. . . . . . . . . .74,7443,16677,910
1978. . . . . . . . . .78,9184,40283,320

including 319 Turkmens and representatives of other local nationalities. Prominent party and Soviet workers of Turkmen descent included K. Atabaev, N. Aitakov, A. Artykov, Kh. Sa-khatmuradov, A. Il’baev, K. Kuliev, and E. Kulieva. The Lenin enrollment in the party strengthened the ranks of the RCP(B). A total of 953 persons, including 748 industrial workers and 140 farm workers, were accepted into the RCP(B) in Turkmen Oblast between March and July 1924.

In the autumn of 1924 party organizations were reorganized in connection with the national-state demarcation of the Soviet republics of Middle Asia. The Turkmen (Transcaspian) oblast organization of the CP of Turkestan, the Turkmen (Tashauz) oblast organization of the CP of Khorezm, and the Lenin (Chardzhou) oblast organization of the CP of Bukhara all merged as the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Turkmenistan.

The First Congress of the CP(B) of Turkmenistan was convened on Feb. 14,1925, and was attended by M. I. Kalinin. The congress defined the structure of the party organization of Turkmenistan, elected the party’s administrative bodies, and indicated long-range plans of economic and cultural development for the republic. By strengthening its leadership of public organizations, the CP(B) of Turkmenistan further reinforced the ties of the party with the broad strata of the working people and inculcated Turkmen workers with the spirit of the fraternal friendship among the peoples of the USSR. Under the leadership of the Middle Asian Bureau of the Central Committee of the ACP(B), the Communists of Turkmenistan worked to ensure a firm alliance between the industrial working class and the working peasantry and to organize Turkmen workers and promote their ideological growth.

Communists in Turkmenistan struggled against manifestations of local bourgeois nationalism, Trotskyism, and rightist opportunism. The intense struggle against the beys and kulaks during the implementation of the land and water reforms taught the Communists of Turkmenistan valuable lessons in political struggle. Overcoming vestiges of feudalism and the influence of the Muslim clergy, the Communists emancipated women and enlisted them in public life. The industrialization of the republic, the collectivization of agriculture, and a revolution in Turkmen culture were carried out under the leadership of the CP(B) of Turkmenistan. During the years of socialist construction, important party work in Turkmenistan was conducted by K. Atabaev, N. Aitakov, K. A. Mukhamedov, Ch. Vellekov, I. I. Mezhlauk, N. A. Paskutskii, Ia. A. Popok, Kh. Sakhatmuradov, and K. Sakhatov.

During the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), the CP(B) of Turkmenistan worked to mobilize all the economic and human resources of the republic in order to defeat the enemy. More than 10,000 Communists of Turkmenistan (over half the party organization) went to the front. The party grew rapidly: in January 1945 there were 19,284 members in the CP(B) of Turkmenistan, more than before the war. (For information on the growth of the Communist Party of Turkmenistan, see Table 3a.)

During the postwar decades, the party organization of Turkmenistan successfully supervised the further development of all industry in the republic, particularly the extraction and refining of petroleum, cotton-ginning, and textile production. It also took steps to promote advances in agriculture, mainly the development of cotton-growing, improvements in the irrigation system, and increases in the number of head of livestock. The Communist Party of Turkmenistan has devoted and continues to devote much attention to raising the standard of living and improving the level of education and culture of the people. The Program of the CPSU of 1961 and other documents of the congresses and plenums of the Central Committee of the CPSU have provided Communists with a strategic plan for the development of the republic.

At the present stage of communist construction, the Communist Party of Turkmenistan, as the vanguard of the workers, continues to improve the management of the republic’s economic and ideological development. The party has continued to strengthen its role in the leadership of trade unions, Komsomol, and other public organizations and to involve them more actively in the struggle for further economic and cultural development.

The Communist Party of Turkmenistan convened its Twenty-first Congress in 1976 with ideological solidarity and organizational

Table 3b. Dates of Congresses of the Communist Party of Turkmenistan
First. . . . . . . . . .Feb. 14–19,1925
Second. . . . . . . . . .Dec. 3–9,1925
Third. . . . . . . . . .Nov. 15–22,1927
Fourth. . . . . . . . . .Jan. 2–10,1929
Fifth. . . . . . . . . .June8–14,1930
Sixth. . . . . . . . . .Jan. 10–15,1934
Seventh. . . . . . . . . .July 7–16,1938
Eighth. . . . . . . . . .Feb. 20–25,1939
Ninth. . . . . . . . . .Mar. 11–17,1940
Tenth. . . . . . . . . .Aug. 18–22,1950
Eleventh. . . . . . . . . .Sept. 20–23,1952
Twelfth. . . . . . . . . .Feb. 13–15,1954
Thirteenth. . . . . . . . . .Jan. 20–22,1956
Fourteenth. . . . . . . . . .Jan. 18–20,1958
Fifteenth. . . . . . . . . .Jan. 19–20,1959
Sixteenth. . . . . . . . . .Feb. 16–17,1960
Seventeenth. . . . . . . . . .Sept. 12–14,1961
Eighteenth. . . . . . . . . .Dec. 26–27,1963
Nineteenth. . . . . . . . . .Feb. 24–25,1966
Twentieth. . . . . . . . . .Feb. 19–20,1971
Twenty-first. . . . . . . . . .Jan. 23–24,1976

strength. (For a list of party congresses, see Table 3b.) In 1976 the party had approximately 78,000 members (including 15,912 women) united in five oblast, nine city, 40 rural district, three urban district, 3,822 primary, and 2,088 factory shop party organizations and 1,243 party groups. In all, 69.4 percent of the Communists in the republic are employed in the sphere of material production. The composition of the Communist Party of Turkmenistan reflects the friendship and brotherhood of the Soviet peoples, uniting members of approximately 70 nationalities and ethnic groups. The Communists of Turkmenistan, united in their solidarity toward the CPSU, lead the working people in the struggle to carry out the Program of the CPSU and build the material and technical basis for communism.


Ocherki istorii Kommunisticheskoi partii Turkmenistan!, 2nd ed. Ashkhabad, 1965.
Kommunisticheskaia partiia Turkmenistana v tsifrakh (1924–1974): Statisticheskiisb. Ashkhabad, 1975.
Istoriia kommunistichkikh organizatsii Srednei Azii. Tashkent, 1967.
Rosliakov, A. A. Revoliutsionnoe dvizhenie i sotsial-demokraticheskie organizatsii v Turkmenistane v dooktiabr’skii period (1900-Mart 1917). Ashkhabad, 1957.
Rosliakov, A. A. Bol’sheviki Turkmenistana v bor’be za vlast’ Sovetov, vol. 1 (1917–June 1918). Ashkhabad, 1961.
Mel’kumov, V. G. Ocherk istoriipartorganizatsii Turkmenskoi ASSR (1920–1924 gg.). Ashkhabad, 1959.
Kuliev, K. Bor’ba Kommunisticheskoi partii za uprochenie Sovetskoi vlasti i osushchestvlenie natsional’noi politiki v Srednei Azii (1917–1925 gg.). Ashkhabad, 1956.
Mukhammedberdyev, K. Kommunisticheskaia partiia v bor’be za pobedu narodnoisovetskoi revoliutsii v Khorezme. Ashkhabad, 1959.
Khudaiberdyev, la. Marksistsko-leninskii avangard turkmenskogo naroda. Ashkhabad, 1967.


The Komsomol of Turkmenistan is an integral part of the All-Union Komsomol. Underground groups of young people who participated in the struggle against the British interventionists and White Guards were organized in Askhabad, Merv, and Kushka in 1918. In May 1919 the first Komsomol organization was formed in Kushka on the initiative of the Bolsheviks. In November 1920 a small Komsomol group was formed in the aul (village) of Vekil’-Bazar, Merv District, becoming the first Komsomol organization in a Turkmen village. Komsomol organizers included A. Babaev, V. Zheleznov, V. Kapustian, G. Kon-drashov, G. Khoroshev, and V. Cherniaev.

The Transcaspian Komsomol was formally established in April 1920, uniting 12 Komsomol organizations in the oblast. (For information on the growth of the Komsomol of Turkmenistan since 1920, see Table 4a.)

Komsomol members fought against the Basmachi movement and served in detachments of the special units. They aided the families of deceased Red Army soldiers and collected funds for the starving children of Moscow and Petrograd. Beginning in 1923, the Tula provincial committee of the Russian Komsomol played an important role in the organization and ideological growth of the Komsomol of Transcaspian Oblast. Turkmen Komsomol leaders included K. Ataniiazov, A. Amangel’dyev, B. Bairamov, Ch. Vellekov, D. Mamedov, N. Muradov, O. Niiazov, and O. Tachnazarov.

The Organizational Bureau of the Lenin Komsomol of Turkmenistan was created in November 1924 by a decision of the Middle Asian Bureau of the Central Committee of the Russian Lenin Komsomol. The First Congress of the Lenin Komsomol of Turkmenistan, which took place in March 1925, united the Komsomol organizations of the republic and defined their tasks in socialist construction. (For a list of the congresses of the Komsomol of Turkmenistan, see Table 4b.)

In the struggle for socialist industrialization and the collectivization of agriculture, members of the Komsomol of Turkmenistan created Komsomol shock brigades in industry and organized groups of Komsomol members to work on irrigation and other projects. They also helped abolish the kulak and bey classes, do away with illiteracy, create a network of cultural and educational institutions, and emancipate Turkmen women, thus contributing to the establishment of a new socialist culture.

During the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), more than 40,000 members of the Komsomol of Turkmenistan went to the front, and 40 received the high decoration of Hero of the Soviet Union, including Kurban Durdy, A. Ataev, M. Akhmedov, A. Agaliev, K. Azalov, P. P. Morozov, P. Redzhepov, and S. Khodzhaev.

In the postwar years, members of the Komsomol of Turkmenistan struggled for the acceleration of scientific and technological progress and the further economic and cultural development of the republic. Komsomol members took an active part in socialist competition and provided leadership during the construction of the V. I. Lenin Karakum Canal. They contributed more than 1,500 technological proposals and innovations to production, saving a total of 1.3 million rubles.

In 1974, Komsomol members constituted 61.5 percent of Turkmen candidate members of the Communist Party, as compared to 34.4 percent in 1965. United in solidarity toward the Communist Party of Turkmenistan, the Komsomol of the republic observed its 50th anniversary in 1975. The organization had approximately 298,000 members—including 43,759 industrial workers and 64,673 peasants—in five oblast, nine city, 40 rural district, three urban district, and 4,000 primary Komsomol organizations. In all, 53 percent have completed or begun courses of higher education or have received their secondary education. The organization includes 20,000 specialists in various branches of the economy (1974).

Komsomol organizations conduct extensive work encouraging patriotism and internationalism among young people. In 1975 approximately 200,000 young men and women took part in a walking tour of sites of revolutionary, military, and industrial glory. The Lenin Komsomol of Turkmenistan is a faithful assistant and reserve force of the Communist Party of Turkmenistan in communist construction.

Table 4a. Membership of the Komsomol of Turkmenistan
December 1920. . . . . . . . . .1,600
March 1925. . . . . . . . . .5,568
January 1941. . . . . . . . . .67,761
January 1951. . . . . . . . . .77,713
January 1961. . . . . . . . . .115,125
March 1975. . . . . . . . . .297,970
January 1978. . . . . . . . . .336,379
Table 4b. Dates of Congresses of the Komsomol of Turkmenistan
First. . . . . . . . . .Mar. 22–26, 1925
Second. . . . . . . . . .Feb. 20–25, 1926
Third. . . . . . . . . .Mar. 15–19, 1928
Fourth. . . . . . . . . .May 23–28, 1929
Fifth. . . . . . . . . .Nov. 26–29, 1930
Sixth. . . . . . . . . .June 4–6, 1932
Seventh. . . . . . . . . .Feb. 15–20, 1936
Eighth. . . . . . . . . .Feb. 25-Mar. 5, 1938
Ninth. . . . . . . . . .Feb. 7–12, 1939
Tenth. . . . . . . . . .Sept. 30-Oct. 2, 1940
Eleventh. . . . . . . . . .June 3–6, 1947
Twelfth. . . . . . . . . .Feb. 1–3, 1949
Thirteenth. . . . . . . . . .Sept. 16–18, 1950
Fourteenth. . . . . . . . . .Mar. 15–16, 1952
Fifteenth. . . . . . . . . .Jan. 23–25, 1954
Sixteenth. . . . . . . . . .Dec. 15–16, 1955
Seventeenth. . . . . . . . . .Jan. 7–8, 1958
Eighteenth. . . . . . . . . .Jan. 25–26, 1960
Nineteenth. . . . . . . . . .Jan. 15–16, 1962
Twentieth. . . . . . . . . .Jan. 7–8, 1964
Twenty-first. . . . . . . . . .Mar. 10–11, 1966
Twenty-second. . . . . . . . . .Mar. 5–6, 1968
Twenty-third. . . . . . . . . .Mar. 5–6, 1970
Twenty-fourth. . . . . . . . . .Mar. 3–4, 1972
Twenty-fifth. . . . . . . . . .Feb. 22–23, 1974
Twenty-sixth. . . . . . . . . .Feb. 28-Mar. 1,1978

The Komsomol of Turkmenistan was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor in 1975.


Iz istorii komsomola Turkmenistana. Ashkhabad, 1959.
Bazarova, R. Podvig molodezhi Turkmenistana v gody Velikoi Otechestvennoi voiny. Ashkhabad, 1964.
Imi gorditsia Turkmenistan. (Sb. dokumentov i materialov o Geroiakh Sovetskogo Soiuza—turkmenistantsakh.) Ashkhabad, 1973.
Myradov, M. Türkmenistan komsomolïnïng dôreyshi. Ashkhabad, 1966.


The trade unions of Turkmenistan are an integral part of the trade unions of the USSR. The first trade unions in Turkmenistan, organized during the Revolution of 1905–07, included the Railroad Workers’ Union and Craft Workers’ Union in Askhabad (present-day Ashkhabad). After the defeat of the revolution they were liquidated; however, they were reestablished in February 1917. Trade unions were organized on a mass scale after the victory of the October Revolution of 1917.

During the Civil War of 1918–20, the trade unions of Turkmenistan helped mobilize the working people for the struggle against the White Guards and Basmachi forces and helped form Red Army units and volunteer detachments. In October 1920 a congress of trade unions of Transcaspian Oblast elected the Turkmen Oblast Council of Trade Unions. On Mar. 28,1925, the first Constituent Congress of the Trade Unions of Turkmenistan was convened in Poltoratsk (present-day Ashkhabad), and the Turkmen Council of Trade Unions was elected. In 1925 the trade unions of Turkmenistan had 21,300 members.

During the years of socialist construction, the trade unions of Turkmenistan, under the leadership of party organizations, took part in the implementation of socialist transformations, the industrialization of the republic, the collectivization of agriculture, and the realization of the cultural revolution. Trade union organizations conducted significant work in the preparation and training of the Turkmen working class and intelligentsia. They helped emancipate Turkmen women and involve them in social production and state management. Trade unions promoted socialist competition, shock work, and the Stakhanovite movement.

During the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), the trade unions of the republic played an important role in adapting the economy to serve the country’s military needs, for example, by expanding military production and accommodating and operating industrial enterprises evacuated to Turkmenistan. They also provided shelter for Soviet people evacuated to Turkmenistan from regions along the front.

In the postwar years, Turkmenistan’s trade unions took part in the further economic and cultural development of the republic. They promoted socialist competition among the workers of Turkmenistan and those of fraternal socialist republics, organized projects of rationalization and innovation in production, and strove to increase labor productivity. The trade unions provide state and social control over labor protection, supervise industrial safety, and ensure the observance of labor laws. They improve the working and leisure conditions of industrial workers, office employees, and agricultural workers and perform extensive work in the communist education of workers.

As of Jan. 1, 1976, there were more than 600,000 trade union members in Turkmenistan, belonging to 17 unions representing different sectors. The trade unions have a palace of culture, six houses of culture, 81 clubs, 55 libraries, 166 motion picture projection units, 1,540 clubrooms, and three amateur sports societies. The social insurance budget for 1975 exceeded 60 million rubles. The trade unions of Turkmenistan maintain ties with the trade union organizations of foreign countries.


Atamamedov, N. V. Ocherki po istorii profsoiuzov Turkmenistana v vostanovitel’nyiperiod (1921–1925 gg.). Ashkhabad, 1962.
Profsoiuzy Turkmenistana za 50 let (1925–1975). Ashkhabad, 1975.


General description. Modern Turkmenistan is an industrial and agricultural republic; many branches of industry are represented, and the output of agriculture, which is mechanized, is of major proportions. Industrial output in 1975 was 70 times greater than in 1913 and 10.4 times greater than in 1940. In 1974, industry accounted for 50 percent of the gross social product. Capital investment in Turkmenistan’s economy during the years 1924–75 exceeded 13 billion rubles.

Within the economy of the USSR, Turkmenistan is important as a producer of petroleum, natural gas, chemicals, machinery, glass, and decorative rugs. Agriculture specializes in the production of cotton (especially long-staple varieties), karakul, and raw silk. In 1975, Turkmenistan provided the following percentages of the country’s overall output: petroleum, 3.2; natural gas, 17.9; cotton fiber, 13.1; vegetable oil, 1.8; raw silk, 8; and wool, 3. In 1974, Turkmenistan accounted for 0.3 percent of the country’s industrial work force, 1 percent of all capital investment, and 0.9 percent of the country’s gross agricultural output.

Table 5. Rates of growth of various industries (base year: 1940 = 1)
Allindustry. . . . . . . . . .
Electric power industry. . . . . . . . . .2.48.823.547.8
Fuel industry. . . . . . . . . .4.914.039.262.7
Chemical and petrochemical industries. . . . . . . . . .1.33.313.323.7
Machine building and metalworking. . . . . . . . . .1.84.412.519.3
Building materials industry. . . . . . . . . .2.610.423.335.8
Glass and faience industry. . . . . . . . . .
Light industry. . . . . . . . . .
Food processing. . . . . . . . . .

The growth of industry, agriculture, and transport in Turkmenistan has been accompanied by a steady broadening and strengthening of the republic’s economic ties with other republics and by changes in the geography of these ties. The closest ties are with the other republics of Middle Asia. Among the products that Turkmenistan sends to other Union republics are petroleum, petroleum products, natural gas, cotton, silk, karakul, rugs, sodium sulfate, sulfur, iodine, bromine, bentonite, electrical cable, oil pumps, fans for cooling towers, and superphosphates. Semifinished and prefabricated goods are figuring more prominently in exports every year. Products that Turkmenistan imports from other Union republics include mainly ferrous metals, machines, equipment, grain, lumber, and mineral fertilizers. The output of Turkmenistan’s economy is exported to nearly 50 countries.

Industry. The natural-gas, petroleum, and chemical industries figure prominently in Turkmenistan’s economy, as do light industry (chiefly the processing of agricultural products), the vegetable oil and fat industry, wine-making, electric power generation, and the production of building materials. (The growth in output of various industries is shown in Table 5; increases in the major types of industrial output are given in Table 6.)

Turkmenistan occupies fourth place in the USSR, after the RSFSR, Azerbaijan SSR, and Kazakh SSR, in oil production. In 1975, production was 121 times greater than in 1913. The main petroleum deposits and industry installations are located in the coastal lowlands. Offshore drilling is carried on near the coast of Cheleken. Pipelines have been built between Vyshka and Krasnovodsk and between Cheleken and Krasnovodsk.

Turkmenistan occupies third place in the USSR, after the RSFSR and Ukrainian SSR, in the production of natural gas. The opening of the Achak gas field laid the basis for the rapid growth of natural-gas production in the republic. The Middle Asia-Central Zone gas pipeline began to carry Achak gas in 1967. The central regions of the European part of the USSR have been receiving gas from the Naip gas field since 1972 and from the Shat-lyk field since 1974. In 1969, a gas pipeline was built from the Maiskoe field to Ashkhabad and Bezmein. A major gas pipeline from western Turkmenistan to Bekdash and Mangyshlak was opened in 1975.

Electric power generation has developed rapidly. In 1913, Turkmenistan had only the Hindu Kush Hydroelectric Power Plant (on the Murgab River) and a number of smaller installations. The years of Soviet power have witnessed the construction of the Bezmein State Regional Electric Power Plant (capacity, 173 megawatts [MW]), the Krasnovodsk District Heat and Power Plant No. 2 (170 MW), the Chardzhou District Heat and Power Plant (24 MW), and the Nebit-Dag Gas-turbine State Regional Electric Power Plant (48 MW). In 1968, construction began on the gas-powered Mary State Regional Electric Power Plant (1,370 MW), the largest in Turkmenistan; the first two units were put into operation in 1973, with a third unit following in 1975. Electric power generation in the republic in 1975 was 54 times greater than in 1940.

The development of oil refining and the petrochemical industry was spurred by the opening of the Krasnovodsk Oil Refinery, which produces gasoline, diesel fuel, mazut, bitumens, detergents, and the coke used in making electrodes. The Cheleken Carbon Black Plant began production in 1966. As of 1976, an oil refinery was under construction in the settlement of Nefteza-vodsk, in Chardzhou Oblast.

The republic’s chemical industry produces iodine, bromine, sodium sulfate, bischofite, epsomite, Glauber’s salt, superphosphates, sulfur, sulfuric acid, aluminum fluoride, and household chemicals. The Karabogazsul’fat Production Association is developing the resources of Kara-Bogaz-Gol. Work was completed on a sodium sulfate plant in 1973, and in that same year installations were set up for producing magnesium sulfate. The Chardzhou Superphosphate Plant has a department producing polyethylene films and products. Production of sulfur in lump form at the Gaurdak Sulfur Plant has grown rapidly in the postwar period; at the beginning of the ninth five-year plan, a pilot plant went into operation here for the underground melting of sulfur.

Machine building and metalworking are young, expanding industries. The Twentieth Anniversary of the Turkmen SSR Plant in Ashkhabad specializes in the production of dough-kneading and cream-whipping machines, some of which are exported. The Mary Machine-building Plant produces rotary oil pumps, and the Ashneftemash Plant produces large blowers for chemical plants and power-generating installations and equipment for introducing petroleum products into tank cars and oil tankers. Other plants in Ashkhabad produce such items as gas ranges and fluorescent lamps. The output of the machine-building and metalworking industries was 19.3 times greater in 1975 than in 1940.

The largest enterprises of the building-materials industry, which have importance for the entire Soviet Union, are the Bezmein Cement Plant and the Ashkhabad Glass Combine. Production of asbestos-cement slabs and pipes and mineralized wool was

Table 6. Major types of industrial output in the Turkmen SSR
Electric power (million kilowatt-hours). . . . . . . . . .2.583.5185.7751.51,8444,505
Petroleum, including gas condensate (thousand tons). . . . . . . . . .1295872,0215,27814,48715,577
Natural gas (million cu m). . . . . . . . . .9.264.5234.313,10751,776
Mineral fertilizers (inconventional units, thousand tons). . . . . . . . . .368431
Cement (thousand tons). . . . . . . . . .9.6132360564
Cotton fiber (thousand tons). . . . . . . . . .17.771.563.3122.5223350
Raw silk (tons). . . . . . . . . .149157169229275
Cotton fabric (thousand m). . . . . . . . . .9,70610,51523,58019,01423,150
Silk fabric (thousand m). . . . . . . . . .140961014,8506,384
Woolen fabric (thousand m). . . . . . . . . .3394491,035708
Leather footwear (thousand pairs). . . . . . . . . .657125111,3972,0512,954
Meat, including first-category by-products (thousand tons). . . . . . . . . .
Whole milk products (thousand tons of milk). . . . . . . . . .18.546.965.2
Vegetable oil (thousandtons). . . . . . . . . .4.815.214.230.536.853.4
Wine (thousand decaliters). . . . . . . . . .1153682556711,6231,451

organized in Bezmein during the eighth and ninth five-year plans (1966–75). Combines producing reinforced-concrete structural members have been built in Mary and Bezmein, and plants for prefabricated, large-panel housing units have been built in Chardzhou, Mary, Bezmein, Ashkhabad, and Nebit-Dag. Bezmein has a plant producing keramzit (artificial porous filler for lightweight concretes), Giaurs has a pilot plant for keramzit, and Bairam-Ali has a plant producing clay pipe. As of 1976, a keramzit plant was under construction in Mary. The republic’s brickyards are presently being modernized.

Light industry in Turkmenistan is represented mainly by textile production, with textile plants specializing in the preliminary processing of local raw materials, that is, cotton, wool, and silkworm cocoons, and the production of cotton, woolen, and silk fabrics and knitwear. As of Jan. 1, 1976, 21 cotton gins were in operation in the republic’s cotton-growing oases. There are weaving and spinning mills in Ashkhabad and Mary and an enterprise producing quilted goods in Chardzhou. Mary also has a large mill for the preliminary processing of wool, and Chardzhou is the site of a weaving and spinning mill for wool. The silk industry has undergone extensive development; there is a filature in Ashkhabad and a silk-manufacturing combine in Chardzhou. The enterprises producing knitwear are all located in Ashkhabad and Chardzhou. Turkmenistan also produces clothing other than knitwear, and there is a footwear production association in Ashkhabad.

The chief products of the food-processing industry are vegetable fats and oils, wine, baked goods, confectionery, beer, salt, meat, and dairy products. The vegetable oil and fat industry is represented by the Bairam-Ali Vegetable Oil and Fat Combine, the Tashauz Oil-expressing Plant, and an oil-extraction plant in Chardzhou, under construction as of 1976. The development of wine-making dates from 1921, when viticulture was put on an industrial basis. Centers include Ashkhabad, Geok-Tepe, and Karabekaul. Enterprises for processing meat and dairy products are concentrated primarily in the large cities.

Local industry includes enterprises for the production of handmade rugs, silk fabrics, and such traditional Turkmen items as robes, skullcaps, and embroidered articles. Other products for local consumption include furniture, clothing accessories, and zinc-plated and cast-aluminum utensils. The output of the Ministry of Local Industry increased by a factor of 1.6 between 1970 and 1975.

Agriculture. As a result of socialist transformation, agriculture in Turkmenistan has become highly mechanized. As of late 1975, there were 334 kolkhozes and 56 sovkhozes. Agricultural equipment in use included 33,500 tractors, 6,500 mechanical cotton harvesters, and 12,400 trucks (including tank trucks). All farms have been electrified. The consumption of electricity in agriculture increased by a factor of 20 between 1961 to 1974. Deliveries of mineral fertilizers (in conventional units) in 1975 totaled 954,000 tons, compared with 475,000 tons in 1965.

The land used for farming totals 37 million hectares (ha), or 75.7 percent of the republic’s territory; included here are 7 million ha of land suitable for irrigation. As of late 1974, 812,900 ha (2.2 percent) were under cultivation, of which 779,000 ha (2.1 percent) were irrigated; 31,600 ha (0.1 percent) were planted with perennials; and 35.8 million ha (96.9 percent) were used as hayfields and pasture.

Turkmenistan’s agriculture depends on irrigation. More than 2 billion rubles have been invested in irrigation work and land reclamation by the state and by kolkhozes during the years of Soviet power. The largest irrigation systems are located along the middle and lower courses of the Amu Darya and in the Murgab basin. The V. I. Lenin Karakum Canal has played an extremely important role in the development of Turkmenistan’s economy. In 1973, 440,000 ha were irrigated in the zone of the Karakum Canal, compared with 141,500 ha before the canal’s construction. The canal furnishes water to large areas of pasture. The old irrigation network is being reconstructed and a ramified drainage system is being built. The years 1924–74 saw the construction of about 1,400 km of main irrigation canals, more than 2,500 km of branch canals and distributaries, 12,500 km of main drains, four diversion dams built on rivers, eight reservoirs (combined capacity, 1.042 billion cu m), and 1,500 km of check dams. In 1973, the republic’s irrigation system was able to deliver a total of 15.4 billion

Table 7. Area under cultivation
Total cultivated area. . . . . . . . . .318,000410,900445,600635,900817,200
Cotton. . . . . . . . . .69,400150,400222,000397,200487,500
long-staple cotton. . . . . . . . . .32,30080,700112,100139,400
Vegetables, melons, and gourds. . . . . . . . . .11,40016,40022,90033,30039,200
Potatoes. . . . . . . . . .3,6001,3001,7001,700
Grain and leguminous crops. . . . . . . . . .202,200182,80071,00084,300115,700
maize and the plant species Sorghum cernuum. . . . . . . . . .17,9008,5004,20023,100
rice. . . . . . . . . .2,0003,3007,90010,300
Feed crops. . . . . . . . . .25,40048,100124,100116,100172,900
perennial grasses. . . . . . . . . .25,40046,00051,70067,000106,900
maize for silage and green feed. . . . . . . . . .42,90036,00041,400

cu m of water. The area devoted to various crops is shown in Table 7.

Cotton growing is the principal agricultural activity, accounting for 59.7 percent of the total area under cultivation in 1975. Cotton acreage increased by a factor of seven between 1913 and 1975. Turkmenistan is the second leading producer of raw cotton in the USSR, after the Uzbek SSR, accounting for 13.7 percent of the total Soviet crop and 30.1 percent of the total long-staple crop in 1975. Medium-staple Soviet varieties of cotton are cultivated throughout the republic. In the Murgab and Tedzhen oases, the Kopetdag piedmont plain, and the regions south of the middle course of the Amu Darya, one-half of the cotton acreage is devoted to long-staple varieties.

Grain crops occupy 14.2 percent of the area under cultivation. Wheat and barley are sown chiefly in the Kopetdag piedmont plain and in the Murgab and Tedzhen oases; rice is grown all along the Amu Darya. Maize for grain, silage, and green feed, as well as other feed crops, is grown everywhere. Medic, used in crop rotation with cotton, is among the more important feed crops.

Table 8. Area devoted to fruit (in ha)
Berries and other fruits exclusive of grapes. . . . . . . . . .3,00010,00018,00020,000
Grapes. . . . . . . . . .4,0008,0009,00011,000

Other important agricultural activities include viticulture (see Table 8) and the growing of fruits and vegetables. Most of the vegetables, grapes, and fruits are grown in the Kopetdag piedmont plain, including the regions near Ashkhabad and Geok-Tepe. The grapes grown are primarily commercial types. Crops requiring subtropical climatic conditions, namely, pomegranates, olives, almonds, and figs, are raised in the Atrek and Sumbar valleys. Turkmenistan is famous for its high-quality muskmelons, among them the Guliabi varieties. Melon growing is especially developed along the lower and middle courses of the Amu Darya and in the Tedzhen and Murgab oases. Yields of various crops are given in Table 9.

Livestock raising is the chief agricultural activity after cotton growing. Most important is the raising of Karakul sheep (75 percent of the sheep population), which are pastured in the Karakum. Sheep of the Saradzha breed, in addition to Karakul sheep, are raised in the western regions of Ashkhabad and Krasnovodsk oblasts, and fine-wooled sheep and goats are raised in the mountain pastures of Bakharden and Kara-Kala raions.

Almost all the camels of Turkmenistan are pastured in the Karakum. Cattle, swine, and poultry are raised in the oases. The republic’s stud farms specialize in the Akhaltekinskaia breed (chiefly in Ashkhabad and Mary oblasts) and the Iomud breed (Tashauz Oblast). Figures on the livestock population are given in Table 10.

A great deal of work has been done to supply water to and open up desert grazing lands. As of late 1974, water was being supplied to 20.4 million ha of grazing land, or 57 percent of the total.

Livestock raising was first put on an industrial basis in 1971, and today there are complexes in operation for producing milk and fattening swine. State complexes and complexes formed jointly by kolkhozes are being built for the raising and fattening of cattle, sheep, and swine. Measures are being implemented to further centralization and specialization in livestock raising. Great importance is being assigned to pedigree stock breeding. Production figures for livestock raising are given in Table 11.

Sericulture is one of the oldest branches of agriculture in Turkmenistan. Most kolkhozes and many sovkhozes raise silkworms. Sericulture is most developed in the regions along the middle course of the Amu Darya. In 1975, 3,927 tons of silkworm cocoons were produced, compared with 1,631 tons in 1940.

Beekeeping is most developed in Mary and Ashkhabad oblasts. There is a specialized sovkhoz for honey production and the pollination of fruit crops in Bairam-Ali Raion.

Pisciculture has undergone significant development as a result of irrigation and land reclamation projects and, in particular, the construction of the Karakum Canal and the Dar’ialyk and Ozer-nyi main drains. The area covered by bodies of water of importance to pisciculture has reached 140,000 ha, the largest bodies being Lake Sarykamysh (110,000 ha) and the Khauz-Khan Reservoir (13,600 ha). Carp, sheatfish, barbel, and the fish Aspius aspius are caught. Species cultivated in enclosed bodies of water include the grasscarp, bighead carp, and silver carp, fishes that feed on plants and thus prevent vegetative overgrowth in the irrigation and drainage systems. The harvest in 1975 totaled 15,000 metric centners.

Figures for state purchases of agricultural products are provided in Table 12.

Transport. The railroad is Turkmenistan’s most important transport link with other republics. As of late 1975, there were 2,120 km of railroad lines, compared with 1,750 km in 1940. The main line, from Krasnovodsk to Tashkent, crosses the southern part of the republic; from it extend the branch lines Mary-Kushka and Nebit-Dag-Vyshka. The Chardzhou-Kungrad line was opened in 1955 and was later extended through Beineu to Makat, providing the western regions of Middle Asia with the shortest route yet for freight shipments to the European USSR. A segment of the Kagan-Dushanbe line crosses the territory of Turkmenistan in the extreme southeast. Railroad freight increased by a factor of 7.2 between 1941 and 1975; passenger traffic increased 1.6 times between 1941 and 1974.

As of 1975, the republic had 9,500 km of roads, 6,600 km of which were paved; the corresponding figures for 1940 were 11,900 and 500 km. The principal roads are the Krasnovodsk-

Table 9. Yields of the most important agricultural crops (in tons)
Raw cotton. . . . . . . . . .69,400210,600362,800869,0001,077,900
long-staple cotton. . . . . . . . . .40,000119,900166,800206,000
Grain crops. . . . . . . . . .159,300123,80039,90069,300223,500
maize. . . . . . . . . .1,00090087,100
plant species Sorghum cernuum. . . . . . . . . .28,50035,2009,50010,4006,100
rice. . . . . . . . . .2,2003,50010015,30027,400
Vegetables. . . . . . . . . .31,60068,200156,200181,600
Muskmelons and watermelons. . . . . . . . . .75,50077,600123,900163,5001
Potatoes. . . . . . . . . .5,9005,20013,20012,800
Perennial grasses (for conversion to hay). . . . . . . . . .79,600184,600273,500649,800
Maize for silage and green feed. . . . . . . . . .234,800428,1001,036,500
Annual grasses (for conversion to hay). . . . . . . . . .1,70020,40014,50011,300
Grapes. . . . . . . . . .16,10024,40036,40037,700
Berries and other fruits exclusive of grapes. . . . . . . . . .5,2004,30021,20063,300

Ashkhabad-Mary-Chardzhou, Chardzhou-Kerki, and Mary-Kushka routes. Automotive freight turnover increased by a factor of more than 47 between 1941 and 1975; the amount of freight in this period increased 23 times, and the number of passengers, 10.7 times.

Table 10. Livestock population1
1 As of January 1 of given year
Cattle. . . . . . . . . .312,000268,300365,000531,600
cows. . . . . . . . . .103,00096,000143,100208,400
Swine. . . . . . . . . .36,50046,600121,700
Sheep and goats. . . . . . . . . .4,580,0002,596,5004,927,5004,423,300
Horses. . . . . . . . . .70,20045,70013,200
Camels. . . . . . . . . .78,70079,70088,100

Ashkhabad is linked by air with Moscow, Tashkent, Baku, the Northern Caucasus, and the Crimea; within the republic, there are regular flights between Ashkhabad and Tashauz, Mary, Chardzhou, and Krasnovodsk. Maritime and river transport play an important role in the total freight turnover of the republic. There is a maritime link between Krasnovodsk and Baku, and other points within the republic are also linked by water. Most of the freight carried on the Krasnovodsk-Baku ferry line represents goods in transit. There is shipping on the 1,000 km of the Amu Darya within Turkmenistan and on 420 km of the Karakum Canal. The republic has approximately 650 km of oil pipelines and 1,320 km of gas pipelines.

Economic regions. Turkmenistan may be divided into five economic regions, which correspond to the republic’s administrative oblast divisions. The central region (Ashkhabad Oblast, with 19.6 percent of the area and 25.5 percent of the population of the republic) is agricultural and industrial; the western region (Krasnovodsk Oblast, 28.5 percent and 11.5 percent, respectively) is industrial; the southeastern region (Mary Oblast, 17.5 percent and 22.7 percent) is industrial and agricultural; the eastern region (Chardzhou Oblast, 19.3 percent and 21.5 percent) is also industrial and agricultural; and the northern region (Tashauz Oblast, 15.1 percent and 18.8 percent) is agricultural.

Table 11. Output of livestock products
Meat (tons). . . . . . . . . .22,20051,40051,50067,900
Milk (tons). . . . . . . . . .107,200126,200192,300253,000
Eggs (millions). . . . . . . . . .37.155.5122.3198.6
Wool (tons). . . . . . . . . .4,90015,90014,00014,200

Standard of living. The standard of living of the working people of Turkmenistan is rising commensurately with the development and strengthening of the economy. The national income in 1974 was 2.2 times greater than in 1960. Almost two-thirds of this income was used for consumption. Real personal income increased by more than 70 percent in the years 1966–75. The yearly amount paid out in wages to industrial and nonindustrial workers tripled during the period 1961–74, with labor payments to kolkhoz workers increasing by a factor of 3.2. Payments and benefits received by the population from public consumption funds increased by a factor of 3.8 between 1960 and 1974; included here were expenditures for education (factor of 4.4), public health and physical culture (2.4), and social security and social insurance (3.9). At the beginning of 1976, there were 264,000 pensioners, 112,000 of whom were retired kolkhoz workers.

The volume of retail commodity turnover in state and cooperative trade, including the food service industry, increased by a factor of 8.7 in the years 1941–75 (4.5 times on a per capita basis). The number of savings accounts in 1974 was 383,000, compared

Table 12. State purchases of agricultural products (in tons)
Raw cotton. . . . . . . . . .210,600362,800869,0001,077,900
long-staple cotton. . . . . . . . . .40,000119,900166,800206,000
Grain. . . . . . . . . .39,50010026,20048,300
rice. . . . . . . . . .70013,40017,400
Vegetables. . . . . . . . . .12,10035,700108,500153,500
Muskmelons and watermelons. . . . . . . . . .8,60023,00091,800135,000
Berries and other fruits. . . . . . . . . .1001,4006,70013,200
Grapes. . . . . . . . . .8,00011,40023,40052,100
Livestock and poultry (liveweight). . . . . . . . . .9,90040,90036,00052,800
Milk. . . . . . . . . .7,90043,50080,900114,200
Eggs (millions). . . . . . . . . .11.760.8116.8
Wool (standard weight). . . . . . . . . .4,70015,90013,90014,300
Karakul (pieces). . . . . . . . . .436,0001,192,5001,010,5001,108,000

with 107,000 in 1940; the total amount on deposit was 356 million rubles, compared with 5 million rubles in 1940.

Housing construction is being carried out on a large scale in Turkmenistan. During the years 1966–75, 4,876,000 sq m of living space were built by state and cooperative enterprises and housing cooperatives in urban and rural areas, including 2,457,000 sq m during the ninth five-year plan.


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Babaev, A. G., A. P. Lavrov, and K. M. Amanmuradov. Geografiia Turkmenistana, 8th ed. Ashkhabad, 1976.
Bairamov, B. Razvitie energetiki v Turkmenistane. Ashkhabad, 1971.
Ratner, D. N. Vodnoe khoziaistvo Turkmenistana za gody Sovetskoi vlasti. Ashkhabad, 1968.
Ataev, A. A., A. B. Batyrov, and Z. G. Freikin. Osnovnyeputi povysheniia ekonomicheskoi effektivnosti sel’skokhoziaistvennogo osvoeniia pustyn’ Srednei Azii. Ashkhabad, 1973.
Turkmenistan za 50 let: Statistich. sb. Ashkhabad, 1974.
Sredneaziatskii ekonomicheskii raion. Moscow, 1972.


Medicine and public health. In 1975 the birth rate was 34.4 per 1,000 inhabitants, and the mortality rate was 7.8 (as compared to 36.9 and 19.5, respectively, in 1940). Plague, smallpox, relapsing fever, malaria, and trachoma have been eradicated during the years of Soviet power. The incidence of brucellosis, tularemia, tuberculosis, infectious childhood diseases, intestinal infections, and helminthiases has been sharply reduced.

Before the October Revolution, the population of Turkmenistan was virtually without medical care and relied on folk healers and mullahs. In 1913 in the territory of what is now Turkmenistan there were only 13 hospitals with 277 beds, 14 outpatient clinics, and 12 feldsher and midwife stations. There were 70 physicians, or one physician per 14,900 inhabitants, and 139 intermediate medical personnel. There were no women’s and children’s consultation clinics.

In 1975 there were 270 hospitals with 25,800 beds (ten beds per 1,000 inhabitants), as compared to 99 hospitals with 5,600 beds (4.2 beds per 1,000 inhabitants) in 1940. Of the total number of beds in 1975, 3,300 were designated for patients with internal disorders, 2,500 for surgery patients, 400 for oncological patients, 700 for ophthalmological cases, 200 for otolaryngological patients, 2,600 for maternity cases (as compared to 800 in 1940), 800 for gynecological patients, and 4,200 for children with non-infectious diseases.

Outpatient aid in 1975 was provided by 335 polyclinics, more than 1,100 feldsher stations and feldsher and midwife stations, and 62 dispensaries. An airborne medical service provides medical care for mountainous and inaccessible regions. There are 47 first-aid stations. In 1975 there were 212 women’s and children’s consultation clinics, children’s polyclinics, and children’s outpatient clinics, as compared to 106 in 1940. The republic had more than 250 pharmacies and pharmaceutical stations.

In 1975 there were 6,600 physicians (one physician per 388 inhabitants), as compared to 1,000 physicians, or one physician per 1,300 inhabitants, in 1940. There were 19,200 intermediate medical personnel, as compared to 4,700 in 1940. Medical personnel are trained at the Turkmen Medical Institute in Ashkhabad and at four medical secondary schools. There were more than 250 doctors and candidates of medical sciences working at the Turkmen Medical Institute and at seven medical research institutes.

Turkmenistan has 12 sanatoriums and nursing homes with 3,200 beds, including six children’s sanatoriums with 1,600 beds. The most popular health resorts are the Bairam-Ali and Firiuza climatic health resorts, the Archman balneological health resort, and the Mollakara pelotherapeutic health resort. The republic’s budgetary allocations for public health and physical culture have increased from 8.4 million rubles in 1940 to 94.2 million rubles in 1975.

Physical culture, sports, and tourism. In 1975 there were 2,242 physical culture groups with 408,000 members. Sports facilities included 19 stadiums, about 650 soccer fields, more than 450 gymnasiums, nine swimming pools, 14 shooting ranges, and more than 4,000 playing areas. The republic’s 76 sports schools for children and young people and two schools specializing in sports training had more than 21,000 students and about 700 trainers and instructors.

The volunteer sports society Kolkhozchy (an association of rural athletes) was founded in 1952, the trade union sports society Zakhmet (“Labor”) in 1958, and the schoolchildren’s sports society Iunost’ in 1969. Between 1961 and 1975, 12 persons received the title of Master of Sport of the USSR and 23 received the title of Master of Sport of the Turkmen SSR; five persons became Masters of Sport of the International Class. Three persons became Honored Masters of Sport and eight became champions of the USSR and Europe, as well as Olympic champions and medalists. In 1975, 151,900 medalists of the Ready for Labor and Defense of the USSR physical training system were trained.

In 1975, Turkmenistan had 22 health and sports camps, 11 hunting and fishing lodges, and four tourist hostels. The main tourist centers are Firiuza, the Bakharden subterranean lake, Chuli, Avaza, Nissa, and Ashkhabad-Tashauz. In 1975, Turkmenistan was visited by approximately 51,000 tourists.

Veterinary services. As a result of preventive and sanitary measures, equine anemia, rinderpest, and pox and necrobacillosis of sheep have been eradicated. Brucellosis of sheep, tuberculosis of cattle, and a number of other diseases have been almost eradicated. Sporadic cases of malignant anthrax of agricultural animals, blackleg of cattle, and braxy of sheep are reported. Outbreaks of rabies are localized primarily in the Tashauz and Krasnovodsk oblasts; the chief carriers are wild carnivores of the dog family. Moniezia and theileriasis of cattle and piroplasmosis and lung-worm infestation of sheep are reported in Ashkhabad Oblast; blind staggers, echinococcosis, and piroplasmosis of sheep in Krasnovodsk Oblast; cysticercosis in Chardzhou Oblast; and common liver fluke in the floodplains of the Amu Darya, Murgab, and Tedzhen rivers and the Karakum Canal zone. Cattle brucellosis presents a problem.

As of Jan. 1,1976, the veterinary system comprised 437 institutions, including 38 raion-level veterinary stations, 12 urban veterinary stations, and 323 veterinary sections. The republic had one republic-level, five oblast-level, and 35 raion-level veterinary laboratories, 11 stations for inspecting meat, milk, and other food, eight veterinary border stations, and six expedition bases for the control of particularly dangerous animal diseases.

In 1975 the Turkmen SSR had 798 veterinarians and 580 veterinary feldshers; of these, 654 and 469, respectively, were in the state veterinary system. Veterinary specialists are trained at the veterinary department of the M. I. Kalinin Turkmen Agricultural Institute and at the Bairam-Ali zooveterinary technicum. The leading veterinary research center is the Turkmen Research Institute of Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Science in Ashkhabad.


Before Turkmenistan became part of Russia, there existed only religious schools, the makatib and madrasas, which were attended chiefly by the children of the local khans, beys, and mullahs. After the incorporation of Turkmenistan into Russia, local Russian schools were founded. These schools, while they helped introduce the Turkmen people to Russian culture, were not able significantly to raise the educational level of the masses. In the early 20th century, the literacy rate of the indigenous population was 0.7 percent. In the 1914–15 academic year, the former Transcaspian Oblast had 58 schools with 6,800 students, including 27 rural schools with 1,500 students. There were no specialized secondary or higher educational institutions.

After the establishment of Soviet power, measures were taken to create a new national school system with instruction in the native language. In August 1918 the Central Executive Committee of the Turkestan Republic ratified the decree On the Organization of Public Education in the Turkestan Krai. By the 1918–19 academic year there were 39 secular schools, including 13 Turk-menian schools, in the Transcaspian Oblast.

A cultural revolution began in Turkmenistan during the Civil War and the struggle with the Basmachi movement. A shortage of teachers from among the local population presented great difficulties. Fraternal Soviet peoples, including the Russians and Uzbeks, helped train native Turkmen teachers. Teachers were trained in short-term courses at Ashkhabad, Merv (Mary), Krasnovodsk, and Chardzhui (Chardzhou). A pedagogical technicum was founded in Poltoratsk (Ashkhabad) in 1922. In the 1924–25 academic year there were 170 schools with 16,900 students in Turkmenistan.

During the 1920’s, progress was made in eradicating illiteracy among the adult population; this goal was substantially achieved by the late 1930’s. Particular attention was devoted to women’s education. In view of the reactionary influence of the Muslim clergy and of customs associated with the outmoded past, laws were adopted to safeguard women’s rights in the home and in society, and privileges were extended to Turkmens who had their daughters educated in Soviet schools. Segregation by sex was temporarily permitted in the schools.

Universal compulsory primary education was first implemented in 1930 and progressed rapidly. In the 1932–33 school year, more than 103,400 pupils were enrolled, and in the 1937–38 school year, 184,200 pupils. The transition to universal seven-year education began in 1937–38. By 1939, 77.7 percent of the population was literate (83 percent among men and 71.9 percent among women), as compared to 14 percent (18.3 and 8.8 percent, respectively) in 1926.

The conversion of the Turkmenian writing system from the Arabic alphabet to the Latin (1928–29), and later to a modified Cyrillic alphabet (1940), aided greatly in the cultural development of the Turkmen people.

In the 1940–41 academic year, 252,200 students were enrolled in 1,500 general-education schools of all types. In 1959, compulsory eight-year education was introduced. Turkmenistan, formerly a backward outlying territory of tsarist Russia, had become a republic with a fully literate population. According to the 1970 census, 99.7 percent of the population of Turkmenistan was literate (99.8 percent among men and 99.5 percent among women). The transition to universal secondary education was substantially completed by 1976.

An extensive system of children’s preschool institutions was established during the years of Soviet power. In 1975, 101,700 children were cared for in 990 permanent kindergartens and créche-kindergartens.

In the 1975–76 academic year, 671,000 students were enrolled in 1,800 general-education schools of all types. The schools employed 34,800 teachers, as compared to 272 before the October Revolution. The educational and cultural training of schoolchildren was also carried out in extracurricular institutions. In 1975 there were 52 palaces and houses of Pioneers, 13 stations for young technicians, nine stations for young naturalists, 44 music and arts schools, and 76 sports schools for children and young people. Vocational and specialized secondary education have greatly expanded. In the 1975–76 academic year, 17,800 students were enrolled in 44 vocational-technical educational institutions, and 29,400 in 31 specialized secondary educational institutions. There are six higher educational institutions: the Turkmen University in Ashkhabad; agricultural, medical, polytechnic, and pedagogical arts institutes in Ashkhabad; and a pedagogical institute in Chardzhou. In 1975–76, 31,100 students were enrolled in these institutions.

There were no cultural institutions in Turkmenistan before the October Revolution. In late 1975, Turkmenistan’s cultural institutions included the K. Marx State Library of the Turkmen SSR (the largest library in the republic) and 1,271 public libraries with 7,222,000 books and journals. There were 11 museums, including the Museum of the History of the Turkmen SSR and the Museum of Fine Arts of the Turkmen SSR in Ashkhabad, the Memorial Museum of the 26 Baku Commissars and the Museum of History and Local Lore in Krasnovodsk, the Oblast Museum of History and Local Lore in Chardzhou, the Oblast Museum of History and the Revolution in Mary, the Museum of History and Local Lore in Nebit-Dag, and 955 clubs.


Kurbanov, A. A., and O. D. Kuz’min. 40 let po puti Lenina v oblasti narodnogo obrazovaniia v Turkmenistane. Ashkhabad, 1965.
Pal’vanova, B. P. Razvitie narodnogo obrazovaniia Turkmenistana zagody Sovetskoi vlasti. Ashkhabad, 1974.
Amateur arts. Amateur artistic groups were first established in Turkmenistan during the Civil War (1918–20). As Turkmenistan’s territory was liberated from the White Guards and interventionist forces, amateur theatrical companies were formed in the large cities. By September 1920 there were 50 theatrical groups, 12 musical groups, and 24 choral groups performing both in the cities and in raion administrative centers. The development of amateur arts fostered the growth of Turkmenian dramaturgy and professional theater.
In 1975 the clubs affiliated with the Ministry of Culture and trade unions encompassed more than 4,000 amateur arts groups, including 876 choruses, 1,066 musical groups, 542 theatrical groups, 517 dance ensembles, and about 139 groups working in fine and applied arts. There are also propaganda brigades and studios for cinema and photography enthusiasts. The 42 best amateur groups, including 30 theatrical groups, have been designated people’s groups. More than 76,000 persons participate in amateur arts.

Natural and technical sciences. In the first millennium B.C., the inhabitants of the agricultural oases in what is now Turkmenistan possessed knowledge of mining, metallurgy, ceramics production, and hydrotechnics. They had a system of reckoning time and some understanding of the movement of heavenly bodies, and they were also acquainted with certain rules of mathematics. The middle of the first millennium B.C. saw the first large dams and reservoirs on the Murgab River and the beginnings of a complex irrigation system, a system that Arab geographers of the ninth and tenth centuries described as reliable and well organized. Greek and Roman scholars (Herodotus, Strabo, Pliny the Elder) described the irrigated regions of Turkmenistan as highly fertile. Ptolemy fixed the territory of Turkmenistan on a map.

In the period between the ninth and 11th centuries, Central Asia became one of the most important centers of scientific thought in the East. It was during this time that astronomical observatories, “houses of wisdom, ” and libraries appeared in such medieval cities of Turkmenistan as Merv, Gurgan, and Nisa. Central Asian scholars translated and wrote commentaries on the scientific works of Greece and India; they also produced original works on mathematics, astronomy, mineralogy, applied mechanics, physics, chemistry, and medicine. In developing and adding to the scientific thought of earlier periods, the scholars of Central Asia made contributions to Arabic culture and the culture of other peoples.

Among the outstanding scholars of the medieval East were Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi (ninth century), Abu al-Marwazi al-Habash al-Hasib (eighth and ninth centuries), al-Muqaddasi (tenth century), Abu-al-Rayhan Muhammad ibn-Ahmad al-Biruni (tenth to 11th centuries), al-Nasawi (11th century), and al-Khazini (12th century). Scholars associated with Turkmenistan’s medieval cities include Avicenna (tenth and 11th centuries), Mahmud Ka§gari (11th century), Omar Khayyam (11th and 12th centuries), Abu Sad al-Samani and al-Jurjani (12th century), Yaqut (12th and 13th centuries), Muhammad al-Jagmini (13th century), and Kazi Zadeh al-Rumi (14th and 15th centuries). The period between the ninth and 13th centuries was noteworthy for achievements in urban design and the production of ceramics (using glazes, luster decoration, and Kashan material) and for the widespread production of colored glass. The cities of northern Khurasan (Khorasan), among them Merv, Dendenkan (Dandanqan), and Nisa, were renowned for their high-quality silk, flaxen, and cotton fabrics and rugs.

The Mongol onslaughts that began in the early 13th century, combined with intestine feudal wars and struggles between neighboring states for control of Turkmenistan, resulted in the destruction of cities and cultural treasures and the decline of irrigated agriculture and handicrafts.

Russian exploration and study of Turkmenistan began in the 18th and first half of the 19th centuries with the expedition of A. Bekovich-Cherkasskii (1714–15), the hydrographical research of F. I. Soimonov (1719–20,1724–27), and the journeys of N. N. Murav’ev (1819–20), E. I. Eikhval’d (1825), and G. S. Karelin (1836). In the second half of the 19th century, under the aegis of the Russian Geographic Society, Turkmenistan was explored and studied by I. G. Borshchov, N. M. Knipovich, F. G. Koshkul’, A. D. Maloma, G. I. Radde, G. I. Sivers, I. I. Stebnitskii, and P. M. Lessar.

In the 1890’s, after all of Turkmenistan had been incorporated into Russia, railroad construction was begun, a situation that did much to advance knowledge of the land’s natural setting. Expeditions were organized to study the geography, geology, soil, and plant life of Turkmenistan; individual scholars and mining engineers were also active in this work. Notable contributions were made by I. V. Mushketov, V. A. Obruchev, K. I. Bogdanovich, N. I. Andrusov, V. N. Veber, A. P. Ivanov, K. P. Kalitskii, A. D. Natskii, and A. D. Arkhangel’skii.

In the late 19th century, important surveying work was carried out on the passage of the waters of the Amu Darya through the Zapadnyi Uzboi riverbed to the Caspian Sea (A. I. Glukhovskii, 1879–83). In the early 20th century, the increased need of the developing cotton-growing industry for irrigated land gave rise to projects for irrigating southeastern Turkmenistan with water brought through the chain of Kelifskii Uzboi depressions.

Among the scientists to carry out studies on Turkmenistan’s plant life were N. V. Androsov, A. A. Antonov, V. L. Komarov, S. I. Korzhinskii, V. I. Lipskii, D. I. Ljtvinov, G. I. Radde, B. A. Fedchenko, and O. A. Fedchenko. Studies of both plant life and soil were carried out by M. N. Voskresenskii, N. A. Dimo, S. S. Neustruev, V. V. Nikitin, B. B. Polynov, and B. Kh. Shlegel’. Research was also done on improving the land’s vegetative cover and on the possibilities of afforestation (D. A. Morozov, V. A. Paletskii).

The fauna of Transcaspia was studied by, among others, K. O. Anger, L. S. Berg, S. I. Bil’kevich, P. A. Varentsov, D. K. Gla-zunov, N. A. Zarudnyi, G. V. Loudon, and A. M. Nikol’skii. Descriptions were compiled of the Akhaltekinskaia and Iomud breeds of horse and of certain species of sheep and camel (M. S. Karpov, S. K. Poniatovskii).

The first scientific institutions in Turkmenistan appeared in the second half of the 19th century in the form of meteorological and hydrological stations concerned with irrigation. As an aid in landscaping and in protecting the oases and railroads from sand accumulations, forest nurseries were established in Kizyl-Arvat, in Kazandzhik, on the Murgab estate in Bairam-Ali, and in the vicinities of Farab, Bagir, and Kheirabad. Turkmenistan’s first scientific educational institution was a school of horticulture, which opened near Askhabad in 1892 and included a forest nursery. In 1892 and 1893, a biological station specializing in plant acclimatization was organized in Askhabad. The year 1898 saw the opening of a museum for the projects of sand stabilization along the Transcaspian Railroad and the setting up of the Askhabad experimental agricultural field. In 1899, the Transcaspian Oblast Museum was opened; the museum became a center for scientific and educational work and for the organization of expeditions. The Repetek Sand and Desert Station, concerned with the dynamics of desert phenomena, was organized in 1912; a meteorological station followed in 1914.

Development of the natural and technical sciences after the October Revolution (up to 1946). After Soviet power was established in Turkmenistan, a systematic study of the land’s natural wealth began, as did the creation of an industrial base, the development of agriculture, and the training of specialists in science for work on the local and oblast level. The expeditions of A. E. Fersman and D.I. Shcherbakov of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (AN SSSR) in 1925 and 1926 led to the discovery of native sulfur in central Karakum. E. N. Pavlovskii investigated the breeding grounds of disease-causing parasites in 1928, and in 1929, S. P. Kostychev studied the photosynthesis of the cotton plant. In that same year, an expedition of scientists from many different fields organized by the AN SSSR collected material that proved valuable in reorganizing livestock raising in Turkmenistan.

In 1928, the Institute of Turkmen Culture emerged as an important center of learning, and in 1929 the Turkmen Commission of the AN SSSR was organized. The Turkmen Botanical Garden was founded in Ashkhabad in 1929, the scientific resources of which were used in founding the Botanical Institute in 1930 and the Institute of Horticulture in 1932.

Scientific studies were carried out during the 1920’s by F. P. Morgunenkov and others on the possibility of routing water from the Amu Darya through the chain of Kelifskii Uzboi depressions.

The Iolotan’ experimental station for the cultivation of long-staple cotton was set up in the Murgab oasis in 1925. The Ashkhabad experimental agricultural station was organized in the years 1927–29, followed by a Turkmen experimental station of the All-Union Institute of Horticulture in Kara-Kala in 1930 and a research station for fish management in Krasnovodsk. A branch of the All-Union Research Institute of Feed Crops was opened in Turkmenistan in 1929; the branch later became the Turkmen Experimental Station for Animal Husbandry and then the Turkmen Scientific Research Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science under the Ministry of Agriculture of the Turkmen SSR. The years 1927–29 also saw the formation of research institutes of neurology and physical therapy, public health, microbiology, and epidemiology.

In 1933 a scientific conference was held in Leningrad to study the productive capabilities of Turkmenistan; the recommendations of the conference had great significance for the economic, scientific, and cultural development of the republic. During the 1930’s, the Kara-Kalpak expedition of the AN SSSR conducted wide-ranging studies of Turkmenistan. Participants included I. P. Gerasimov (paleogeography and geomorphology), B. A. Fedo-rovich, S. Iu. Geller, and A. S. Kes’ (geomorphology, soil science, and paleogeography), P. I. Kalugin and V. N. Kunin (hydrology and hydrogeology), I. M. Gubkin, A. E. Fersman, and D. I. Shcherbakov (geology and mineralogy), M. P. Petrov, M. G. Popov, and V. V. Nikitin (botany), and M. K. Laptev (zoology). A number of geographical, climatic, pedological, geobo-tanical, geomorphological, and other specialized maps were drawn. Industrial exploitation of the Nebit-Dag oil fields began in 1932; exploitation of the Kara-Bogaz-Gol salts began in 1929, and the iodobromine waters of Cheleken were first worked in 1932.

The 1930’s saw the founding of the M. I. Kalinin Turkmen Agricultural Institute, the Institute of Trachoma, the Institute of Skin and Venereal Diseases, and the Institute of Tropical Diseases, as well as of experimental agricultural fields and a series of experimental stations for horticulture, zoology, animal husbandry, and veterinary science. The Committee on Scientific Affairs was founded in 1937, followed by the Turkmen Geological Administration in 1938. The Turkmen branch of the AN SSSR was organized in 1941 with B. A. Keller as its chairman.

During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45, scientific work was concerned mainly with the search for such resources as petroleum, natural gas, and complex ores. Topics relating to increased mineral extraction were studied, as were problems of hydrogeology, water supply, livestock herding, and the utilization of large areas of newly irrigated land. Scientists from the universities in Moscow and Odessa and from the Sochi Balneological Institute who had been evacuated to Turkmenistan rendered valuable assistance to the republic’s scientific institutions. Specialists temporarily evacuated to Turkmenistan participated in research in physics, chemistry, agricultural chemistry, and biochemistry, among them Ia. I. Gerasimov, A. F. Ioffe, M. Z. Pashinskaia, and A. S. Predvoditelev. In 1941, the Institute of Geology and the Biological Institute were created as part of the Turkmen branch of the AN SSSR. The Biological Institute was reorganized in 1944 as the Zoological and Zootechnical Institute; in 1951, it became the Institute of Animal Husbandry. The Institute of Physics and Engineering was created under the Turkmen branch of the AN SSSR in 1944, and the Badkhyz Preserve was organized in 1941.

Development of natural and technical sciences in the postwar period. The search for minerals continued in the postwar years. Promising oil- and gas-bearing geological structures were discovered in Cheleken, Kizyl-Kum, and Kum-Dag, and major sulfur and lead deposits were discovered, among other places, near Gaurdak and the Kugitangtau Range. Scientists active in this work included G. P. Gorshkov, A. V. Danov, P. I. Kalugin, V. P. Miroshnichenko, and A. V. Sidorenko. Studies were made of the propagation of radio waves in the ionosphere (N. M. Ero-feev), meteor phenomena (I. S. Astapovich), and night sky light. Research began on semiconductors, ultrasonics, solar engineering, seismology, and astrophysics. Certain problems encountered in the development of animal husbandry and land cultivation and in desert reclamation were solved by O. M. Dzhumaev, G. I. Do-lenko, M. K. Laptev, and K. K. Sakovskii. Botanists cataloged the flora of Turkmenistan, put together herbaria, and mapped grazing lands (N. A. Mordvinov, I. A. Mosolov). M. I. Belono-gov, N. A. Veselov, V. A. Trofimovskii, and V. V. Donchenko worked on increasing productivity in animal husbandry. There was research in microbiology (M. F. Tsygankov) and hydrobiol-ogy (Ia. P. Vlasov, I. V. Starostin).

In 1951, the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR was formed from the Turkmen branch of the AN SSSR. Scientific research in the 1950’s was oriented chiefly toward developing the petroleum and natural gas industry, planning and building the first stage of the Karakum Canal, increasing the yield of the chief agricultural crops and the productivity of animal husbandry, and carrying out major industrial and housing construction. In 1951, the State Prize of the USSR was awarded to a group of scientists and production workers for their discovery and exploitation of new petroleum deposits in Turkmenistan during the postwar years. In the late 1950’s, research on the chemistry of petroleum and natural gas was begun by the Turkmen branch (founded in Nebit-Dag in 1951) of the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of the Ministry of the Petroleum Industry and by the Institute of Chemistry (founded 1957) of the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR.

Geographical and geological research on Turkmenistan resulted in the compilation of hydrological, tectonic, and other types of specialized maps, a better understanding of the chief features of the land’s physical and economic geography, and the development of ways for using the natural resources of Turkmenistan. In 1957, the Institute of Zoology and Parasitology and the Institute of Botany were created from the Biological Institute. The Institute of Earthquake-resistant Construction, founded in 1951, conducted research on this type of construction and on the technology of obtaining inexpensive building materials from local raw materials. In 1953, a department of regional pathology and health resort science was organized under the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR.

The 1960’s saw a significant increase in research in geology, hydrology, physics, chemistry, engineering, geography, biology, zoology, and medicine, an increase accompanied by the formation of a number of new scientific institutions under the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR and of branch scientific research institutes. The construction of the Karakum Canal was a great achievement of Soviet science and technology. A Lenin Prize was awarded in 1965 to a group of planners and builders for their work on the canal’s first and second stages.

In the 1960’s, geological surveys, research in hydrogeology and geophysics, and explorations and analyses of the mineral wealth of Turkmenistan were carried out by Iu. N. Godin, P. E. Gra-zhdan, P. I. Kalugin, V. N. Kunin, Kh. M. Mamedov, K. K. Mashrykov, and M. E. Esenov. This work made it possible to evaluate Turkmenistan’s mineral reserves and to discover new deposits of petroleum and natural gas (southwestern Turkmenistan, ancient and present-day delta of the Murgab, eastern part of central Karakum), mirabilite, iodine and bromine salts, coal, and materials useful in construction. A Lenin Prize was awarded in 1962 to a group of geologists and petroleum specialists for discovering and developing the Lenin (Koturdepe) deposit.

Hydrogeological research continued in Turkmenistan. Total resources of subsurface waters were estimated, hydrogeological and groundwater maps were compiled, and underground bodies of fresh water were discovered in desert and piedmont regions. Intensive research was conducted in the regions of major irrigation projects, namely the Karakum Canal and the Sary-Iazi, Khauz-Khan, and Tedzhen reservoirs.

In geophysics, research has for the most part been of the applied type, with emphasis on methods of choosing sites for exploratory drilling for petroleum, natural gas, and minerals. There has also been research on the branch of geophysics comprising planetary sciences. In 1960, a department of geophysics and seismology, which in 1965 became the Institute of Lithosphere and Atmospheric Physics, was set up under the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR, and the Central Thematic Group Expedition was organized under the Board of Geology and Conservation of Mineral Resources of the republic’s Council of Ministers. Geophysicists refined the maps showing the various tectonic regions of Turkmenistan, drew maps of oil- and gas-bearing regions and of regions holding promise for petroleum and gas production in Central Asia, and produced guidelines for prospecting for and estimating the potential of new petroleum deposits.

Scientists at the Institute of Lithosphere and Atmospheric Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR, together with workers from the Board of Geology of the republic’s Council of Ministers, have conducted comprehensive research on the earth’s plutonic zones. Geophysicists have mapped variations in gravitational force and magnetic field, as well as local and regional gravitational variations. A network of permanent seismo-graphic stations was put in place; epicenters were mapped, and local earthquakes, together with their energy characteristics, were cataloged. Mapping of the republic’s seismic regions was refined, and the small seismic variations within the vicinities of Ashkhabad, Nebit-Dag, Krasnovodsk, and Cheleken were mapped. Positive results were attained in uncovering regularities in seismic phenomena and in predicting earthquakes.

Studies were made of the physical characteristics of the upper atmospheric layers (ionosphere) and of the relationship between processes occurring in the upper atmosphere and the wave and corpuscular radiation of the sun and between upper atmospheric processes and the level of solar activity. New paths were followed in research on night sky light, terrestrial currents, and atmospheric radio interference. Systematic tracking of artificial earth satellites was organized, the physics of meteors and meteor trails was studied, and the conditions determining the propagation of radio waves were investigated. A number of observations were made in connection with the programs of the International Years of the Quiet Sun. Scientists making significant contributions to the development of geophysics have included Iu. N. Godin, N. M. Erofeev, O. O. Ovezgel’dyev, and O. A. Odekov.

Research has been carried out by the Institute of Physics and Engineering of the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR on using solar energy in the economy (V. A. Baum, A. Kakabaev, and R. Bairamov). The USSR’s first pilot plant for solar distillation was designed by the institute, where it is currently under construction. The institute has also constructed an experimental model of an adsorption air conditioner with open regeneration for industrial and home use. The physical properties of semiconductors have been studied, and the technology of obtaining new semiconducting materials has been developed. The negative photoconductivity of semiconductor crystals of indium phosphide was discovered, and semiconductor instruments have been designed.

General laws governing acoustic waves and the interaction between acoustic waves and matter have been studied, as have intramolecular processes in liquids (A. A. Berdyev). Research has also been done on viscous liquids. Magnetic phenomena have been studied at the subdepartment of theoretical and experimental physics and in the research laboratory for solid-state physics of the A. M. Gorky University of Turkmenistan (R. G. Annaev).

The Institute of Earthquake-resistant Construction has studied and put into production variations of large-panel structures made up of one-piece units or of units having welded connections. The institute has also determined the earthquake resistance of certain groups of houses and irrigation installations. Work has been done on producing new construction materials and binders incorporating gravel and sand.

Chemical research in Turkmenistan is geared toward the practical problems encountered in the rapidly developing chemical, mining, and petroleum industries. The chief scientific centers are the Turkmen branch, in Nebit-Dag, of the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of the Ministry of the Petroleum Industry and the Institute of Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR, where the technological properties and chemical composition of the oils and condensates of Turkmenistan have been studied. The Institute of Chemistry has also concerned itself with the structure and chemical properties of naphthenic acids. Active substances of interest as plant stimulants have been obtained, as have antiseptics protecting wood from termite damage, and insecticides for agricultural crops. Methods have been developed for purifying naphthenic acids using ion-exchange resins (A. M. Niiazov). The chemical structure of the high-molecular-weight hydrocarbons of the oils of Turkmenistan’s chief industrial oil fields and the chemical structure of the ozokerites of the Cheleken deposits have been studied. The composition of the condensates of all the large industrial deposits of natural gas in Middle Asia has been studied (S. R. Sergienko). Practical recommendations have been made regarding industrial extraction of certain components of the mineralized iodobromine waters in the oil fields of western and eastern Turkmenistan, of the brine of Kara-Bogaz-Gol, and of other salt deposits (G. S. Sedel’nikov).

Geography in Turkmenistan has benefited from comprehensive studies of the republic’s natural setting. In 1962, the Institute of Deserts was set up under the republic’s Academy of Sciences, the only institute of its kind in the USSR. The research carried out by the institute is directed primarily toward the reclamation of desert land for economic use. Research workers at the institute have studied the formation and development of deserts, the dynamics of sand, methods of reclaiming sandy areas around oases, wind erosion of soil, and methods of supplying water to deserts. They have also concerned themselves with the distribution and improvement of soils and with topics in climatology, phytogeog-raphy, and geomorphology. The institute has made recommendations for protecting the Karakum Canal, Cheleken Carbon Black Plant, and other installations from sand accumulations and for selecting the most favorable route for the Middle Asia— Central Zone gas pipeline; it has also formulated the scientific principles figuring in the control of soil salinity and has developed plans for tree plantings along irrigation canals and elsewhere. The dynamics, ecology, and biology of vegetation have been studied, and the scientific principles pertaining to the improvement of desert grazing lands and the introduction of a vegetative cover for reclaiming sand and clay deserts have been formulated.

In 1967, a scientific council was set up under the Institute of Deserts to study the reclamation of the desert areas of Middle Asia and Kazakhstan. The council was charged with coordinating all the scientific research conducted in the USSR on arid territories. In cooperation with scientists of the Uzbek SSR and Kazakh SSR, scientists of the Turkmen SSR put together a composite map of the desert grazing lands of Middle Asia and Kazakhstan. Important contributions to the study and reclamation of desert areas have been made by A. G. Babaev, N. T. Nechaeva, M. P. Petrov, I. S. Rabochev, V. N. Kunin, O. M. Dzhumaev, A. I. Znamenskii, and T. G. Leshchinskii.

The efforts of many botanists and phytogeographers, among them V. N. Minervin, N. T. Nechaeva, V. V. Nikitin, M. P. Petrov, and N. V. Androsov, have resulted, after many decades, in a scientific herbarium of the flora of Turkmenistan and in the fundamental work Flora of Turkmenia (7 vols., 1932–60). Much work was done on mapping the vegetative cover of the country and studying the economically and medicinally useful plants. Work was also done on the biology and ecology of desert plants and on the nutritive value of the plants for livestock.

Scientists at the Botany Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR are investigating the principles for genetically increasing the earliness and productivity of cotton and other agricultural plants and for obtaining new varieties of plants. Research is being done on the physiology and biochemistry of cotton (S. O. Ovezmuradov, D. Agakishiev, I. K. Maksimenko), on the physiology of cotton wilt (Z. E. Bekker), and on measures to control cotton wilt. Turkmen plant breeders (I. K. Maksimenko, K. I. Tsinda) have developed high-yield and wilt-resistant varieties of long-staple cotton. Since 1963, zinc sulfate has been introduced into the soil under cotton in certain areas of Turkmenistan, thereby increasing the yield by an average of two centners per hectare.

The mineral treatment of plants has been studied, and a method for accelerated restoration of commercial reserves of licorice has been developed and tested in production (A. K. No-sov). The valuable medicinal plants Cassia acutifolia and madder have been introduced into cultivation. The composition, reserves, distribution, and seasonal growth dynamics of algae have been studied. Many new varieties of trees, shrubs, and tropical and subtropical flowering plants holding promise for growth in Turkmenistan have been multiplied and distributed by the Central Botanical Garden of the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR.

Zoologists in Turkmenistan have concentrated on zoogeography, on taxonomy, on the bioecological, physiological, and biochemical characteristics of the land’s fauna, and on the principles determining the distribution of animals. Measures have been developed for controlling agricultural pests, for using the natural resources of the land in a rational fashion, and for protecting and improving the environment (O. Nurgel’dyev, A. Rustamov, A. O. Tashliev).

In 1962, the Institute of Zoology of the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR was given the task of coordinating all research in the USSR on termites and all programs for testing the resistance of materials and products to termite damage. In cooperation with other research and production institutions in the country, including the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of the Cable Industry, the Ukrainian Scientific Research Institute of Paper, the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of the Pulp and Paper Industry, and the Institute of Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR, the Institute of Zoology has carried out research on antiseptics and on resistance offered by antiseptics to termite damage. The protective measures developed by Soviet scientists have found application in Soviet industry and abroad. Scientists at the Institute of Zoology have proposed a biological method of controlling nematodes by means of predatory fungi (F. F. Soprunov, S. F. Shagalin).

Fish breeders at the Institute of Zoology became the first in the history of Soviet pisciculture to obtain viable offspring of the phytophagous fishes grasscarp, silver carp, and bighead carp in fishponds. Methods for breeding these fishes have been developed. The grasscarp has proved its effectiveness in preventing vegetative overgrowth in the Karakum Canal, in reservoirs, in drainage networks, and in other bodies of water in the Amu Darya system (D. S. Aliev).

In the field of medicine, studies have been conducted on the influence of climatic factors on the human organism. The balneological resources of the republic have been studied, and the possibility of using these resources in treating those suffering from various diseases has been examined. There has also been research on certain aspects of naturally endemic infectious and parasitic diseases, such as trachoma and tuberculosis, and cardiovascular diseases. Problems in occupational and nutritional hygiene and in work-related health disorders have been solved (S. K. Karanov, N. Tachmuradov, V. G. Bagirov).

In 1962, the Institute of Regional Medicine of the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR, now the Institute of Physiology and Experimental Pathology of Arid Zones, was founded. The basis for a great deal of scientific work in clinical medicine was laid by the theoretical synthesis (including the series Physiological Mechanisms of Human and Animal Adaptation to Arid Conditions) of the scientists F. F. Sultanov, A. Kh. Babaeva, E. P. Serebriakov, N. V. Stefanovskaia, and 1.1. Tordis. The Tuberculosis Research Institute was opened in 1962, followed by the Institute of Roentgenology, Radiology, and Oncology in 1963.


Social sciences, PHILOSOPHY. The philosophical and social thought of Turkmenistan originates in the Avesta, the collection of the sacred books of Zoroastrianism. Owing to Turkmenistan’s geographic, ethnic, and cultural closeness to the Uzbeks, Ta-dzhiks, and other peoples of Middle Asia, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan, its philosophical thought developed in close interrelationship with that of those peoples. Outstanding Middle Asian scholars and philosophers of the period from the sixth to 12th centuries were Barzuai (sixth century), al-Khwarizmi (ninth century), al-Farabi (late ninth and first half of the tenth century), al-Biruni and Avicenna (late tenth and first half of the 11th century), and Omar Khayyam (11th and 12th centuries). The Mongol invasion of the 13th century retarded the cultural development of the Turkmen and other Middle Asian peoples for a long time.

The Turkmen cultural renewal of the 18th and 19th centuries was fostered by such thinkers as Azadi, Makhtumkuli, Andalib, Kemine, Zelili, Seidi, and Mollanepes. Opposing mysticism and the feudal ideology of the clergy, these thinkers promoted pantheism, humanism, and patriotism.

The incorporation of Turkmenistan into Russia in the 1880’s led to the territory’s economic, political, and intellectual progress. M. Atabaev and A. Tekinskaia, representatives of cultural renewal, attacked feudalism and the clergy; they appealed for Turkmenian participation in Russia’s progressive democratic culture and for the emancipation of Turkmen women. In the early 20th century, progressive philosophical, sociopolitical, aesthetic, and ethical views were promoted by the Turkmen poets and thinkers Mollamurt, Kermolla, Bairam Shakhir, and Durdy Klych.

Marxist-Leninist ideas were disseminated in Turkmenistan in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, owing to the work of the Bolsheviks V. P. Vakhnin, I. T. Fioletov, D. V. Poluian, V. D. Dmitriev, Ia. E. Zhitnikov, and N. G. Ssorin. During the period of socialist construction, Marxism-Leninism gained ground in Turkmenistan during an acute struggle against bourgeois ideology, right-wing and left-wing opportunists, the feudal ideology of the Turkmen beys and Muslim clergy, great-power chauvinism, bourgeois nationalism, and pan-Islam and pan-Turkism. Important contributions to the establishment and victory of the ideas of Marxism-Leninism were made by K. S. Atabaev, N. Aitakov, Ch. Vellekov, K. Sakhatov, O. Tashnazarov, G. Kurtmuradov, and many others. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, a number of works by K. Marx, F. Engels, and V. I. Lenin on the revolutionary liberation movement, the national and colonial questions, and other subjects were translated into Turkmen. The publication of the Turkmen-language edition of the works of Lenin in 45 volumes (based on the fourth Russian edition) was completed in 1972.

Philosophical studies in Turkmenistan have dealt with a number of topics, including dialectical materialism, which has been investigated by K. Mulliev, K. Akmuradov, Ch. Ovezberdyev, I. L. Sosonkin, V. M. Mollakov, and T. Khallyev. Studies on historical materialism have been written by V. D. Zotov, K. Kiarizov, D. S. Kiselev, E. Khodzhaev, A. A. Karlieva, and G. O. Muradova. These works have included generalizations of the experience of the noncapitalist development of formerly backward peoples from feudalism to socialism, and studies on the formation and development of socialist nations within the USSR and on fraternal cooperation among these nations.

Studies on the history of philosophical and sociopolitical thought have been made by G. O. Charyev, Sosonkin, T. Khy-dyrov, G. Akiniiazov, and M. Abaeva. The latest achievements in the natural sciences have been analyzed by G. O. Charyev, Mollakov, D. Ataev, K. Annamukhamedov, and N. L. Mal’tse-va. In the field of scientific atheism, critiques of Islam and discussions of ways of overcoming vestiges of religion have been written by N. Kuliev, N. Bairamsakhatov, B. Saparmukhamedova, and O. Annakurbanov. Ethics and aesthetics have been investigated by Khallyev, Ia. Modzhekov, O. Musaev, and L. A. Ry-bak. Zotov and A. A. Bagdasarov have published critiques of contemporary bourgeois philosophy, sociology, reformism, and revisionism, as well as of bourgeois concepts distorting the history of the noncapitalist development of the peoples of Middle Asia.

Philosophical studies are carried out at the Division of Philosophy and Law of the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR; the division, established in 1959, was originally the academy’s philosophy section, which was founded in 1951. Philosophical research is also conducted in the subdepartments of philosophy of the Turkmen State University and at other higher educational institutions of the republic.


HISTORY. The emergence and development of historiography among the ancestors of the Turkmens date from remote antiquity. Historians progressed from the recording of individual events and legends to interpretations of events of world history and discussions of the origins of Middle Asian peoples, including those inhabiting Turkmenistan. Works written on Turkmenian history of the mid-seventh through 16th centuries were in Arabic and Persian; their authors included al-Samani, al-Nasawi, Ibn al-Athir, Rashid ad-Din, Abd al-Razzak, and Mirkhwand. From the 17th to 19th centuries, works were written in Uzbek and Persian about contemporary events. In the 17th century the khan of Khiva, Abulgazi, wrote the historical work Turkmen Genealogy. Extensive chronicles were compiled in the 19th century by the Khiva historians Munis, Agakhi, and Baiani.

The medieval history of Turkmenistan was also reflected in the Turkmen folk epos Ker-ogly, in folk dastans and other folkloric works, and in classics of Turkmenian literature by such writers as Azadi, Makhtumkuli, Sheidai, Kemine, Seidi, Zelili, Zynkhari, Talybi, Mollanepes, and Miatadzhi.

A decisive role in the establishment of Turkmenian historiography was played by the works and theoretical legacy of Marx, Engels, and Lenin and by party documents. Important contributions were also made by the Russian and Soviet Orientalists N. I. Veselovskii, A. N. Samoilovich, I. P. Petrushevskii, A. A. Semenov, P. P. Ivanov, and A. Iu. Iakubovskii. The work of the Russian Orientalist V. V. Bartol’d was of particular importance: in addition to generalizing works on the history of Middle Asia, Bartol’d published a brief survey of the history of the Turkmen people from the eighth through 19th centuries (1929).

The Institute of Turkmen Culture, founded in 1928, united Turkmen historians, archaeologists, and ethnographers. In January 1941 the Institute of History, Language, and Literature of the Turkmen branch of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR was established. The Sh. Batyrov Institute of History, Archaeology, and Ethnography has been an independent institute within the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR since 1951 and is the center of historical studies in the republic.

Turkmenistan’s archaeological remains were studied in the 1950’s and 1960’s by the Southern Turkmenistan Combined Archaeological Expedition and the Khorezm Archaeological and Ethnographic Expeditions of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Archaeological research is also conducted by the archaeology division of the Sh. Batyrov Institute of History, Archaeology, and Ethnography. Soviet archaeologists have made major discoveries in Turkmenistan, particularly with regard to the earliest eras. Outstanding Soviet historical studies of Turkmenistan during the feudal period have been written by G. I. Karpov, A. K. Karryev, A. A. Rosliakov, G. E. Markov, M. Annanepesov, S. G. Agadzhanov, and M. N. Tikhomirov. Other recent publications have included joint works on the history of feudal Turkmenistan (1954) and on the history of agriculture and agrarian relations in Turkmenistan (1971).

Soviet historical studies on Turkmenistan devote much attention to the October Revolution and the Civil War in the Transcaspian region and to the popular Soviet revolution in Khorezm; works on these subjects have been written by O. Kuliev, G. Nepesov, Sh. T. Tashliev, Rosliakov, M. Iazykova, and E. N. Kuprikova. The national and state boundaries of the nationalities of Middle Asia, the formation of the Turkmen SSR, and the history of Soviet construction in Turkmenistan are treated in books and articles written by A. A. Karryev, M. Moshev, and A. Dzhumamuradov.

The history of industrialization, the postwar development of Turkmenistan’s industry, and the formation and development of the republic’s working class have been studied by D. Redzhebov, P. Redzhebov, N. Atamamedov, K. Atemasov, T. Samedov, and Iazykova. The historians A. Saparov, S. Kakabaev, A. Dzhumamuradov, and O. Saparov have published works on kolkhoz construction and the Soviet peasantry. Studies on the development of public education and on the culture and customs of Soviet Turkmenistan have been made by T. Berdyev, T. Durdyev, K. Kerimi, and Sh. Annaklychev.

The history of Turkmenistan during the Great Patriotic War (1941–45) has been dealt with in monographs by R. Bazarova, B. Il’iasov, F. I. Zavarykin, and G. A. Tumanov. The scholars B. Pal’vanova, R. Karryev, and O. Poladova have investigated the role of women in Turkmenistan and women’s participation in socialist and communist construction. The implementation of the Leninist national policy in Turkmenistan has been analyzed by Batyrov and A. Karraev.

A number of important joint works on the history of Turkmenistan have been published in recent years, including the two-volume History of the Turkmen SSR (1957) and the History of the Working Class of Soviet Turkmenistan (1917–1965) (1969). Party historiography became an independent branch of Soviet Turkmen historiography in the 1920’s with the early works of the Istpart (Commission on the History of the October Revolution and the RCP [Bolshevik]) of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Turkmenistan.

The study of party history assumed a larger scale after the founding of the Turkmen branch of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the Central Committee of the CPSU (1949). Works by Tashliev, Rosliakov, V. G. Mel’kumov, Iu. S. Kuznetsov, K. Kuliev, and Ia. Khudaiberdyev have been devoted to the history of the Communist Party of Turkmenistan. A comprehensive analytic study of this subject is the joint work Essays on the History of the Communist Party of Turkmenistan (1st ed., 1960; 2nd ed., 1965). Turkmen historians have collaborated with Tadzhik, Uzbek, Kirghiz, and Kazakh historians in the publication of the joint works The Victory of Soviet Power in Middle Asia and Kazakhstan and the History of the Communist Organizations of Middle Asia.

Turkmen historians also study the history of British expansion in Middle Asia (including Turkmenistan), the national liberation movement in neighboring Eastern countries, and the history of Turkmens living in contiguous foreign countries.

ECONOMICS. There were no institutions for economic research and study in the territory of what is now Turkmenistan before the October Socialist Revolution. The first scholarly institution specializing in economics was the Institute of Economic Research, founded in 1930 under the auspices of the State Planning Committee (Gosplan) of the Turkmen SSR. During the 1930’s, Turkmen economists helped implement scientific planning and made long-term forecasts concerning the development of productive forces in the national economy. A number of higher educational institutions with subdepartments of social sciences were established in the 1930’s and 1940’s.

Studies generalizing the experience of building a socialist economy in Turkmenistan were initiated in 1951, with the founding of the Department of Economics of the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR. In 1957 the department became the Institute of Economics of the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR. From that time on, Turkmen economists have focused on ways to increase the efficiency of production in the republic. Departments of economics were established at the Turkmen State University (1964), the Turkmen Agricultural Institute (1965), and the Polytechnic Institute (1968).

During the 1970’s, scholars at the Institute of Economics have continued to focus on ways to increase the productive efficiency of the Turkmen SSR. Other subjects of study are the development and distribution of productive forces, methods of increasing the effectiveness of capital investments in industry and agriculture, structural shifts in the economy, the efficient utilization of labor resources, analysis of reserves with the aim of increasing the use of the republic’s mineral, raw-material, land, and water resources, and the socioeconomic development of industry and agriculture. The institute’s chief subdivisions are its sections on socialist political economy; the agrarian problems of socialism; labor resources; industrial economics; plans for the exploitation of natural resources; and the formation and development of territorial industrial complexes. The institute has advanced a number of proposals for increasing the efficiency of various branches of the republic’s economy.

The Scientific Research Institute for Economics and a computer center for the Gosplan of the Turkmen SSR were founded in 1971, and the Scientific Research Institute for Agricultural Economics of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Turkmen SSR was founded in 1972. Research at the Scientific Research Institute for Economics and at the computer center focuses on the formulation of technological, scientific, and socioeconomic forecasts for the republic’s economy; the creation of a computerized system of planning estimates for the Gosplan of the Turkmen SSR, including an automated system of assembling, storing, and analyzing plan norms using modern computer technology; and the development of a republic-wide automated control system and a network of computer centers.

Scholars and scientists at the Research Institute for Agricultural Economics study the scientific organization of labor on kolkhozes and in enterprises servicing them. These scholars and scientists also investigate ways of increasing efficiency in agriculture, making rational use of material, technical, land, and labor resources, and improving methods of planning.

Important studies in economics have been written by A. A. Annaklychev (economic history), V. S. Manakov, V. T. Lavri-nenko, and O. A. Khalov (agricultural economics), T. Z. Israfi-lov (agrarian theory of socialism), Dzh. Alladatov and R. Bakasova (political economy of socialism), M. Orazgel’dyev (labor resources), and B. Meredov (industrial economics).


JURISPRUDENCE. There was no independent tradition of jurisprudence in Turkmenistan before the Great October Socialist Revolution. The chief source of law was the sharia, the Muslim legal code, supplemented by adat, or common law. After Turkmenistan was incorporated in Russia in the 1880’s, Russian law was also applied to a certain extent.

The October Revolution inaugurated a new Soviet legal system in Turkmenistan. The first constitution of the Turkmen SSR was written, in addition to codes for various branches of law. The establishment of a state and legal system fostered the development of jurisprudence as a branch of the social sciences.

At all stages of its development, the jurisprudence of Turkmenistan has been supported by the major centers of learning in the USSR. Legal scholars in the Turkmen SSR help prepare the republic’s legal codes. They have written important works on the development of a state system in the Turkmen SSR and on the history of government and law, for example, Essays on the History of the Government and Law of Soviet Turkmenistan (part 1) and works by D. Abaev, K. Bairiev, K. Annadovletov, I. Bekiev, B. Durdyev, and B. Saryev. Other works have dealt with family, civil, and criminal law. Turkmen legal scholars have contributed to studies initiated by scholars of other republics, for example, the comprehensive work Patterns of Development of Government and Law in the USSR and Lenin’s Decree on Land andIts Implementation in the USSR, published by the Institute of Government and Law of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Research in jurisprudence is conducted at the division of philosophy and law of the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR. This division, founded in 1959, has had a section on government and law since 1965. Legal research is also conducted at the department of law of the Turkmen University.


Scientific institutions. An extensive network of scientific institutions was established in Turkmenistan during the years of Soviet power. By early 1976, the republic had 60 scientific institutions, including higher educational institutions, as compared to 38 in 1940. The leading scientific center is the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR, which comprises three divisions and 15 scientific institutions. Scientific research is also conducted at higher educational institutions and at specialized research institutes. As of Jan. 1, 1976, Turkmenistan had 4,600 scientific workers, as compared to 487 in 1940. They included 39 academicians and corresponding members of the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR and more than 1,800 doctors and candidates of science.

The scientific institutions of the Turkmen SSR maintain close ties with research institutions in the fraternal Union republics. Joint theoretical and applied research is conducted with scientists of the RSFSR and the Ukrainian, Byelorussian, Azerbaijan, Kazakh, Uzbek, Tadzhik, and Kirghiz SSR’s. Scientific and scholarly information is exchanged with the academies of sciences and specialized research institutes of Uzbekistan, Kirghizia, Tadzhik-istan, and Kazakhstan on such subjects as desert reclamation, seismology, hydrobiology, ichthyology, history, and economics. Extensive ties with the scientists of such foreign countries as Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic, and Bulgaria are being strengthened. Turkmen scientists participate in such international scientific programs as the International Geophysical Year and the International Years of the Quiet Sun.



Azimov, P. A. “Nauka Sovetskoi Turkmenii.” In Lenin i sovremennaia nauka, book 2. Moscow, 1970.
Azimov, P. A. “Nauka Sovetskogo Turkmenistana i pomoshch’ narodov-brat’ev v ee razvitii.” In Nauka Soiuza SSR. Moscow, 1972.
Istoriia Turkmenskoi SSR, vols. 1–2. Ashkhabad, 1957.
Govorukhina, V. A., B. D. Tairov, and V. N. Filiushina. Akademiia nauk Turkmenskoi SSR (1951–1966). Ashkhabad, 1967.
Turkmenistan za 50 let: Statisticheskiisb. Ashkhabad, 1974.
Istoriia filosofii, vols. 1–3. Moscow, 1957–61.
Istoriia filosofii v SSSR, vols. 1–4. Moscow, 1968–71.
Khydyrov, T., and K. Akmuradov. “Razvitie filosofii v Turkmenistane za gody Sovetskoi vlasti.” Voprosy filosofii, 1968, no. 2.
Ocherki istorii filosofskoi i obshchestvenno-politicheskoi mysli v Turkmenistane. Ashkhabad, 1970.
Ocherki istorii istoricheskoi nauki v SSSR, vol. 2. Moscow, 1960. Pages 798–807.
Ibid., vol. 3. Moscow, 1963. Pages 737–47.
Ocherki istorii istoricheskoi nauki v SSSR (Materialy k obsuzhdeniiu), vol. 7, fasc. 5. (Sovetskaia istoriografiia Turkmenii.) Moscow, 1968.
Razvitie sovetskoi istoricheskoi nauki, 1970–1974. Moscow, 1975. Pages 431–36.

The Turkmen people did not have their own press before the October Revolution of 1917. Three small printing presses in Askhabad (now Ashkhabad) served the needs of the Russian administration. The semiofficial newspaper Zakaspiiskoe obozrenie (1895–1913) and the liberal bourgeois newspaper Askhabad (1899–1918) were published in Russian. In 1913 only four books (400 copies) were published, and they were in Russian. In 1905 and 1906, underground Social Democratic presses were in operation in Askhabad and Kizyl-Arvat, printing leaflets, proclamations, and newspapers. Social Democratic organizations distributed Bolshevik newspapers, including Iskra and Proletarii.

The establishment of national Turkmen publishing began in 1920 with the formation in Poltoratsk (Ashkhabad) of the Transcaspian oblast division of the Turkestan State Publishing House. This publishing house, which was located in Tashkent, published mainly in the languages of the peoples of Middle Asia. Between 1921 and 1924, 40 books (200,000 copies) were published in Turkmen. Several pamphlets about the life and work of V. I. Lenin were published in Turkmen in 1924.

In January 1925, after the formation of the Turkmen SSR in October 1924, the Turkmen State Publishing House was organized in Ashkhabad. In its first year it published 115 titles of books and pamphlets, among which was the first Turkmen-language biography of Lenin. Publishing developed more rapidly after the conversion of the Turkmen language from Arabic script to a latinized alphabet in 1928–29 and then to a modified Cyrillic alphabet in 1940. A large publishing combine went into operation in Ashkhabad in 1937. In the postwar years this combine and presses in Chardzhou, Mary, and Tashauz were outfitted with modern high-production printing equipment. In 1974 the Turkmenistan, Ylym, and other publishing houses put out 482 titles of books and pamphlets (4.4 million copies), including 267 titles in Turkmen (approximately 3.6 million copies). The chief editorial board of the Turkmen Soviet Encyclopedia is in the process of publishing the first national universal ten-volume encyclopedia, the first volume of which appeared in 1974.

Several newspapers were published under Bolshevik supervision during the Civil War: Izvestiia Soveta rabochikh i soldatskikh deputatov goroda Askhabada (founded January 1918), Trudovaia mysl’ (founded January 1918 in Merv), Gornist (1919, the official publication of the political section of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Transcaspian Front), and Nabat revoliutsii (the official publication of the political section of the Revolutionary Military Council of the First Army).

The first Turkmen-language Soviet newspaper, Turkmenistan, appeared in 1920. In 1924, after the formation of the Turkmen SSR, it became a daily newspaper with republic-wide circulation. A republic-wide Russian-language newspaper, Turkmenskaia iskra, has been published since November 1924.

In 1975, Turkmenistan had 26 newspapers, including seven republic-wide, ten oblast-wide, two raion-wide, one city-wide, and six local publications. The combined circulation for one issue of all newspapers is 800,000, and the combined annual circulation exceeds 152 million copies.

The major republic-wide Turkmen-language newspapers are Sovet Túrkmenistaní, Yash Kommunist (since 1925), Midam tayyar (since 1930), édebiyat ve sungat (since 1958), and Mugal-limlar gazeti (since 1952). The major republic-wide newspapers published in Russian are Turkmenskaia iskra and Komsomolets Turkmenistana (since 1938).

Party, sociopolitical, literary, satirical, juvenile, and scientific journals and magazines are published. Turkmen-language publications include Turkmenistan kommunisti (Communist of Turkmenistan, since 1925), Sovet Türkmenistanining ayallari (Women of Soviet Turkmenistan, since 1952), Tokmak (The Wooden Mallet, since 1925), and Pioner (Young Pioneer, since 1926). Journals published in Russian include Ashkhabad (since I960), Zdravookhranenie Turkmenistana (Public Health in Turkmenistan, since 1957), and Bloknot agitatora (Notebook of an Agitator, since 1937). In 1974,30 journals were published, with a combined annual circulation of about 10.5 million copies.

The Turkmen Information Agency (Turkmeninform) operates in Ashkhabad.

Regular radio broadcasting in Turkmenistan began in 1927. In 1975 the Republic Radio Broadcasting System broadcast 15 hours daily in Turkmen and Russian over three stations. Broadcasts of All-Union Radio are relayed 32.3 hours a day.

Television broadcasting began in November 1959, and color programs were introduced in October 1974. Programs of Central Television are relayed by means of the Orbita and 1-A Vostok systems. In 1975 television programs on various channels were broadcast 73 hours daily, 20.8 hours consisting of local broadcasts. In addition to the republic studio in Ashkhabad, there are television studios in operation in Krasnovodsk, Nebit-Dag, and Chardzhou.


Annakurdov, M. D. Ocherki po istorii pechati Sovetskogo Turkmenistana, parts 1–3. Ashkhabad, 1957–65.


The character of Turkmen culture has been determined by the varied ethnogeny of the Turkmen people, who originated from Iranian-speaking tribes as well as from alien Turkic-speaking tribes, chiefly the Oghuz. There are both Turkic and Iranian influences within this culture; consequently, Turkmenian folk-loric and ancient literary works, both in Farsi and Turkic, are also the common heritage of the Tadzhiks, Persians, Uzbeks, Azer-baijanis, and Turks.

Folklore. The rich folkloric heritage of the Turkmens, including tales of animals, fairy tales, and tales of everyday life, retained Indo-Iranian and Turkic elements. The dastan was the most highly developed folk epic genre. Most Turkmen dastans underwent literary reworking. The names of some presumed authors are known, although no reliable information about these authors has survived. Turkmen dastans are divided into the heroic and the romantic. The subject material of the heroic epic is exclusively Turkic (Oghuz) in origin. The oldest such work consists of 12 narratives composed from the ninth through 15th centuries and collected in the 16th century by an unknown compiler in the Kitab-i dede Qorqut. The narratives acquired their definitive form in Azerbaijan, where they were brought by the Oghuz from Central and Middle Asia. The work fancifully interweaves reflections of ancient Turkic customs, traditions, and beliefs (shamanism) with overlays of Islam and the epic traditions of the Caucasus and Asia Minor.

The Kitab-i dede Qorqut influenced other epics common to the Turkmens, Azerbaijanis, and Turks. The romantic dastan Sha-senem and Garib and the heroic dastan Yusup Akhmet are based on the work’s third narrative, and the epic Sayatly-Hemra, on the sixth narrative. The epic work Kerogly, widely known in Asia Minor, the Caucasus, the Balkans, and Middle and Central Asia, is also thematically linked to the Kitab-i dede Qorqut.

Romantic dastans were often literary adaptations of such well-known works of Eastern literatures as Leyla and Mejnun and Yusuf and Zuleyha. These dastans, composed by individual authors, differed little from works of folklore, owing to the close interrelationship between Turkmenian folklore and written literature. Because of specific sociopolitical conditions, both Turkmenian literature and folklore were transmitted mainly in oral form until the 1920’s; this explains the folkloric nature and syncretism of Turkmen literary works. Turkmen dastans recount events taking place in the feudal milieu of the khans. The dastan has a traditional compositional form and a consistent system of imagery. Brief prose passages alternate with passages of verse and song performed by a bard accompanying himself on the dutar, a plucked stringed instrument.

Literature of the 11th century to the first half of the 18th century. The Turkmens fought in the military campaigns of the Seljuks. When the Turkmens settled in western lands, they rapidly became the dominating people. They produced many well-known poets and philosophers of Asia Minor who wrote early Seljuk poetry in Persian, for example, Chelebi Husameddin. Other poets were the Seljukid sultans Malik Shah (died 1092) and his son San-jar (1086–1157), who wrote ghazals and qasidas, genres typical of Persian-language literature. Later, at the courts of the Timurids (1370–1507) and the Great Moguls in India (1526–1858), Turkmen poets wrote in Farsi, among them Hilali Chagata’i (16th century), Bairam Khan Khan-khanan (who also wrote in Turkic), his son Rahim-khan (17th century), and Mirza Barkhudar Turkman (17th century).

The Turkic-language literature that developed in Middle Asia beginning in the 11th century was written at a time before linguistic and national differentiation took place. The common heritage of the Turkic-speaking peoples of Middle Asia includes the works of Mahmud of Kashgar (11th century), Yusuf of Balasagun (11th century), Ahmad Yasawi (died 1166; the first Sufi poet), the dastan Qissai Yusuf {by the 12th-century poet Ali), and the works of the 15th-century Sufi poet Vepaya (Vefaya), who expounded in popular form Islamic principles and rules of conduct.

Didactic poetry, which reflected Sufi dogma, predominated in Turkmenian literature until the mid-18th century. The just and good king was represented as the ideal ruler. Such poetry corresponded to the prevailing level of sociopolitical development and was progressive for its time. The language of this poetry, Middle Asian Turkic (Chagatai), was remote from the spoken Turkmen language. Chagatai was used in particular by the poet Azadi (1700–60), whose works are similar to the didactic poetry of the Iranian medieval period. Didacticism was also typical of later periods. The patriarchal social structure, as well as Muslim religious education, left a deep imprint on the didactic poets’ world view: fatalism and a sense of impending doom permeate much of their poetry.

Literature of the second half of the 18th to the early 20th century. The new social conditions and the increased political activity of the Turkmens, who fought against foreign invaders, led to the emergence of patriotic civic poetry. Polemic poetry appeared, as well as epistolary poetry, which dealt with many subjects, including learned topics and everyday life. However, this poetry had little literary merit. Greater maturity is seen in the polemic between the poets Makhtumkuli (18th century) and Durdy-shakhir; the poetic correspondence between Makhtumkuli’s followers Seidi (1775–1836) and Zelili (1795–1850); and the poetry cycle by Miskinklych (1847–1906), dedicated to a poet friend.

The tradition of poetic correspondence in Turkmenian literature has survived to this day; examples include the correspondence between the poets Ata Salikh (1908–64) and Durdy Klych (1886–1950). The 18th-century poets brought the language of poetry closer to the spoken language of the masses; in making poetry accessible to all strata of society, they used folk verse forms extensively.

The first Turkmen writer to use colloquial language was Makhtumkuli, whose varied works included patriotic and didactic verse, love lyrics, satiric and philosophical poetry, verses on nature and religion, odes, and elegies. Makhtumkuli was the first Turkmen poet to use the goshgy, a syllabic quatrain typical of Turkic folklore. Makhtumkuli also wrote in the aruz meter, thus following the traditions of Eastern literary poetry.

Sociopolitical themes were more prominent in the works of Seidi and Zelili, even in their nature lyrics; the theme of the native land, long a leading theme in Turkmen literature, was particularly marked in their poetry. Other outstanding works were written by the poets Andaliba (1712–80), Shabende (1720–1800), Sheidai (1730–1800), Magrupi (1735–1805), and Gaiibi (1734–1810).

The lyric was the chief genre in 19th-century Turkmen poetry. An outstanding Turkmen lyric poet was Mollanepes (1810–62), author of the lyric dastan Zokhre and Takhir, based on a Middle Asian migratory folktale plot. Other prominent 19th-century Turkmen writers were Abdusatar Kazi (years of birth and death unknown), Gaiibi (1766–1848), Katibi (1803–81), Miatadzhi (1822–84), and Dosmamed (1815–65).

The popular discontent caused by oppression and ruin—the consequences of continuous wars—was reflected in the social satires of the rebel poet Mamedveli Kemine (1770–1840). The incorporation of Turkmenistan in Russia led to a certain degree of stabilization, but it did not improve the living conditions of the Turkmen working people. Poets who expressed the popular protest against social injustice were the followers of Kemine, including Bairam Shakhir (1871–1948), Kermolla (1872–1934), Molla-murt (1879–1930), and Durdy Klych. Their satiric verse, written in the tradition of folk poetry, derided those in power and authority. In the years immediately after the October Revolution of 1917, these poets supported Soviet power, and by means of their works helped to build a new society.

Soviet Turkmen literature. The newspaper Turkmenskaia iskra began publication in 1924 and became the voice of the new literature. It acquainted Turkmen readers with the literature of other peoples of the USSR and, first and foremost, with Russian literature. During the early years of Soviet power, when society was still patriarchal and illiteracy prevailed, Turkmen poets could propagate revolutionary aims and attack reaction only in oral form. At that time, traditional poetic style and genres were more accessible to the public and did not hinder the ideological and thematic reform of literature. Works of this type included Ker-molla’s song “The Bolshevik” (1918), about the victory of the Red Army, Bairam Shakhir’s poem “I Shall Struggle Against You” (1919), and Mollamurt’s satiric poems.

All the important postrevolutionary events in Turkmenistan found reflection in works by Turkmen writers. The land and water reforms and the resulting intensification of the class struggle were reflected in such poems by Mollamurt as “For Your Benefit” and “The Land and Water Are Yours” (both 1926). The national demarcation of Middle Asia, the formation of the Turkmen SSR, and the transfer of the land to those who worked on it were welcomed by Karadzha Burunov (1898–1965) in the poem “I Congratulate” (1925). Burunov also urged the working people to conserve and increase the national wealth, in the poem “One Must Work” (1925).

Young Turkmen writers began publishing at this time. The new generation expanded the boundaries of Turkmenian literature by upholding the building of socialism, defending women’s rights, and attacking the traditions of the epoch when power was held by the beys. Such works included the song-poem “Hero Bolsheviks” (1920) by the republic’s national poet, Ata Salikh; the narrative poem The Enslaved Girl, or the Victim of Adat (1928) by Berdy Kerbabaev (1894–1974); Sona (1932) by Aman-Durdy Alamyshev (1904–43); and the poem “Girls’ Dreams” (1927) by Shaly Kekilov (1906–43). For many years, the emancipation of women was a prominent theme in Turkmenian literature.

Realistic prose, which gradually became free of the conventions of folklore, was published in Turkmenistan beginning in the 1920’s. The translation of classics of Russian Soviet literature into Turkmen proved to be valuable training for Turkmen writers. The novella In Twenty-five Years, by Iakub Nasyrli (1899–1958), was published in 1925. The first Turkmen short stories dealing with contemporary themes were published in the second half of the 1920’s by Kerbabaev, and in the first half of the 1930’s by such writers as Agakhan Durdyev (1904–47); an example was Dur-dyev’s short story “The Beauty in the Claws of the Kite.” Working people became the heroes of literary works.

Dramaturgy as well developed after the Revolution in Turkmenistan. The first play in Turkmen on a contemporary theme was The Transcaspian Front by Ata Kaushutov (1903–53). In 1929, Kaushutov wrote the play Bloody Forest, about women’s emancipation. Kerbabaev depicted the old way of life in the play Tir’iakesh and Tabib (1927).

To a great extent, the realistic method used by Turkmen writers of the 1920’s was still combined with older literary traditions and imitation of the folkloric epic works of the past. However, the artistic limits of some works do not diminish the role played by Turkmenian literature in affirming the ideals of socialism and in furthering the spiritual emancipation of the masses.

Important narrative poems written between 1929 and 1932 included Mollamurt’s In the Dark Life, Durdyev’s Class Struggle, Forward by Aman Kekilov (1912–74), Bloody Resistance by Chary Ashirov (born 1910), and Sh. Kekilov’s Be Prepared.

In the 1930’s, kolkhoz construction was a leading literary theme, as seen in the plays In the Karakum Desert (1932) by Sh. Kekilov, Kh. Charyev, and M. Klychev; Aina (1937) by Alty Karliev (1909–73); Shemshat (1938) by Toushan Esenova (born 1915); and The Source (1940) by Durdyev.

Writers of the 1930’s, sensitive to the prevailing social and cultural level of their readers, presented vital issues in an easily accessible form. Many Turkmen authors of this period were highly versatile, producing journalism, essays, translations, plays, prose, and poetry. This absence of specialization of course had negative aspects. But by the late 1930’s, the new Turkmenian literature had been enriched by major works of prose and poetry, including novels of revolutionary history. Among these works were Out of the Bloody Claws (1937) by Khydyr Der’iaev (born 1905), Aina and Artyk (1936; an excerpt from Kerbabaev’s novel The Decisive Step), and the narrative poem The Last Meeting (1940) by A. Kekilov. These works, with their multiple plots and complex imagery, were notable for their profound psychological analysis.

The genre of the short story was developed by N. Sarykhanov (1906–44). Dramaturgy, which developed together with the national theater, broadened its range of themes. Plays by Kaushutov, Durdyev, Burunov, and Esenova dealt with historical themes, revolutionary history, everyday life, and lyric subjects.

The Writers’ Union of Turkmenistan was founded in 1934. This event reflected the professional and cultural development of Turkmen writers, who studied life closely and supplemented the literary language in order to reflect in their works the new life of the people. Socialist realism became the creative method of Turkmenian literature. The monthly journal Sovet edebiyati (Soviet Literature), now the organ of the Writers’ Union of the Turkmen SSR, began publication in 1928. It publishes news about Turkmenian literature, translations of Soviet and foreign literary works, and critical and scholarly materials and studies.

Early in the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), many Turkmen writers went to the front. The war and the heroism of Soviet soldiers became the leading literary themes. The poems of Ata Salikh were especially popular. Wartime narrative poems included Uncle Ivan (1942) by Sh. Kekilov, The Lieutenant’s Son (1941) and Courage (1942) by Nasyrli, and The Old Patriot (1941) by Pomma Nurberdyev (1909–72). Other wartime works were Kerbabaev’s novella Kurban Durdy (1942) and the poems “A Hero Born in Fire” by Kurbandurdy Kurbansakhatov (born 1919), “They Died for the Homeland” and “The Girl in Shoulder Insignia” by Kara Seitliev (1915–71), and “Stalingrad” by Rukhai Aliev (born 1908). Also published during the war were “Fate, ” a short story by Sarykhanov, and works by Berdy Soltanniiazov (born 1908), Khadzhi Ismailov (1913–48), K. Ishanov (1911–48), and A. Niiazov (1906–43).

Turkmenian literature convincingly and truthfully depicted life on the home front and the heroic labor of those who ensured the success of the frontline forces, as seen in Kaushutov’s short story “The Family of Kandym the Hunter” (1942) and novel Mekhri and Vepa (1946) and in the narrative poem The Girl in the White Coat (1943) by Durdy Khaldurdy (born 1909).

By the early 1950’s, Turkmenian literature was read by thousands of demanding readers. The aims of literature had changed and become more complex. The chief themes of postwar Turkmenian literature are the reestablishment of peacetime life, human interrelationships during socialist construction, friendship among peoples, and international solidarity. New writers have included Ata Atadzhanov (born 1922), Mamed Seidov (born 1925), Kerim Kurbannepesov (born 1929), Allaberdy Khaidov (born 1929), and Shakher Bordzhakov (born 1929).

Dramaturgy as well underwent further development after the war. Gusein Mukhtarov (born 1914) has written effective plays embodying acute dramatic conflicts, including The Family of Allan (The Honor of the Family; Russian translation, 1949), The Silver Cigarette Case, and The Shepherd’s Son (the last two plays in collaboration with Seitliev). Plays dealing with the intelligentsia are a new phenomenon in Turkmenian literature; an example is Seitliev’s Dzhakhan, which depicts the life of an orphan girl who became a physician. Revolutionary history was depicted after the war in Ashirov’s narrative poem End of the Bloody Watershed (1948; Russian translation, 1953) and in Kerbabaev’s novels The Decisive Step (complete edition, 1947) and Miraculously Born (1965).

In the 1960’s, particularly the second half of the decade, and in the early 1970’s, a number of major novels appeared, including The Steppe Dwellers (1970) by Berdynazar Khudainazarov, Black Caravan (1971) by Klych Kuliev (born 1915), and Flintstones (1971) by Atadzhanov. Epic novels included Brothers (books 1–3,1960–70) by Beki Seitakov (born 1914) and Fate (books 1–4, 1960–71) by Der’iaev. The novella and short story underwent further development, partly owing to the work of writers who began publishing in the 1960’s and 1970’s, including Arap Kurbanov (born 1927), Oraz Akmamedov (born 1930), Iazmurad Mame-tiev (born 1930), and Tirkish Dzhumagel’diev (born 1938).

Workers, engineers, and the rural intelligentsia were portrayed in novels, novellas, poems, and epics dealing with contemporary life, for example, A. Kekilov’s novel in verse Love. Topical plots, acute conflicts, well-rounded characters, and well-proportioned composition are typical of many works by contemporary Turkmen writers. In developing along with the literatures of other Soviet nationalities, Turkmenian literature is acquiring increasing maturity, breadth, and depth.

During the years of Soviet power, some 1,000 books by writers of the fraternal republics and more than 200 works by foreign writers have been translated into Turkmen. More than 300 books by Turkmen writers have been published outside the republic.

Children’s literature has developed successfully during the Soviet period and is represented by such writers as Kerbabaev, Khadzhi Ismailov, Meretkuli Garryev (1929–69), Aki Baimura-dov (1929–73), and Kaium Tangrikuliev (born 1930).

Literary criticism and scholarship developed in Turkmenistan during the years of Soviet power. Important scholarly contributions were made by the Russian Orientalists F. A. Bakulin (1846–79) and I. N. Beredin (1818–96) and by Soviet scholars, including Academician V. V. Bartol’d (1869–1930), Academician A. N. Samoilovich (1880–1938), Corresponding Member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR E. E. Bertel’s (1890–1957), and P. G. Skosyrev (1900–60).

The founders of Turkmen literary scholarship have included the poet and critic O. Tachnazarov (1904–41) and Academicians of the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR B. M. Kerbabaev, A. Kekilov, B. A. Karryev (born 1914), R. A. Aliev (born 1908), and N. A. Ashirov (born 1909). General surveys and monographs have dealt with Turkmenian folklore, literary classics, and modern literature, as well as with the writers Azadi, Makhtumkuli, and Kemine. Scholarly publications have included Essays on the History of Turkmenian Literature of the 18th and 19th Centuries (1967), Soviet Turkmenian Literature (1972), and several volumes of a projected six-volume History of Turkmenian Literature (vols. 1–2,1975).

Literary scholars and critics who began publishing in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s have included A. Muradov (1935–75), U. Abdullaev (born 1929), Dzh. Allakov (born 1930), S. A. Karryev (born 1923), and R. Redzhebov (born 1922). These writers have dealt with literary history and theory and with literary interrelationships. Scholarly work is conducted at the Makhtumkuli Institute of Language and Literature of the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR and at Turkmen University.

The Writers’ Union of the Turkmen SSR engages in extensive ideological, theoretical, literary, and organizational work. The first republic-wide congress of writers was held in 1934, the second in 1940, the third in 1954, the fourth in 1959, the fifth in 1966, the sixth in 1971, and the seventh in 1976.


Samoilovich, A. N. Ocherki po istorii turkmenskoi literatury: Sb. “Turkmeniia, ” vol. 1. Leningrad, 1929.
Sosonkin, I. L. Iz istorii esteticheskoi mysli v Turkmenistane. Ashkhabad, 1969.
Kor-Ogly, Kh. Turkmenskaia literatura. Moscow, 1972.
Turkmen sovet ëdebiyatïnïng tarikhï boyuncha ocherk, vols. 1–2. Ashkhabad, 1958–62.
Turkmen khalk döredizhiligi boyuncha ocherk. Ashkhabad, 1967.
IX-XVII asir türkmen ëdebiyatïnïng shakhïrlarï: Spravochnik. Ashkhabad, 1967.
Kekilov, A., R. Rezhebov, and K. Zhumaev. Tùrkmenistanda tankïdïpikiring dôreyshi khem osïishi. Ashkhabad, 1969.
Turkmen fol’klorïnïng khazirki zaman yagdayï, 2 vols. Ashkhabad, 1974.
Turkmen fol’klorïkházirki zamanda, book 1. Ashkhabad, 1976.


Ancient period. The settlements of Pessedzhik-Tepe in Geok-Tepe Raion and Dzheitun, which date from the late Neolithic Age (fifth millennium B.C.), have been discovered in southern Turkmenistan. The settlements include remains of rectangular one-family houses made of bun-shaped lumps of clay. Ancient murals depicting dynamic hunting scenes have been found in Pessedzhik-Tepe. Early forms of sculpture, for example, crudely modeled human and animal figurines found in Dzheitun, were made in Turkmenistan in the fifth millennium B.C. The Neolithic pottery of Turkmenistan, represented by modeled vessels with red and brownish-black wavy lines and bracket-shaped ornamentation found in Dzheitun, belongs to the painted pottery cultures.

The dwellings found in Aeneolithic settlements (fourth to third millennia B.C.), notably Kara-Tepe and Geoksiur, are mainly multifamily mud-brick houses with several rooms. These dwellings, separated by little streets, sometimes had red and black geometrical designs painted on the interior walls, for example, in the settlements of Iassy-Tepe and Annau-I.

The Bronze Age (third to second millennia B.C.) saw the appearance of huge settlements of the proto-urban type in Na-mazga-Tepe, Ulug-Tepe, and Altyn-Tepe. Kurai, similar to ancient Eastern figurines in style, were widespread in southern Turkmenistan during the Aeneolithic and Bronze ages. Aeneolithic pottery displayed a variety of geometrical and schematized zoomorphic motifs. Variations on such motifs are found in the designs painted on Bronze Age vessels, which were made on a potter’s wheel.

Cities appeared in Turkmenistan in the first half of the first millennium B.C., first as citadels, such as Erk-Kala (Erk Kalah) in Merv. Cities later grew around these citadels; the cities of the sixth to fourth centuries B.C. were surrounded by massive fortress walls, for example, Kiuzeli-gyr. Certain artistic remains of the middle of the first millennium B.C. testify to the influence of the art of Achaemenid Persia, as seen in a gold earring from Geok-Tepe.

A local variant of Eastern Hellenistic culture developed in the Parthian Empire and Margiana, in southern Turkmenistan, from the late fourth century B.C. through the first half of the third century B.C. The art of the northern regions developed under the influence of the artistic culture of ancient Khwarizm (present-day Khorezm).

Fifth to early 20th centuries. An early feudal culture developed in Turkmenistan between the fifth and seventh centuries. Structures of mud brick and pakhsa (beaten clay) included numerous fortified feudal country estates, two-storied castles (keshk) on raised platforms with undulating walls, and, in the settlements, dwellings with enclosed interior courtyards. Religious structures include the remains of the Christian church of Kharobakoshuk in Merv Oasis and a monastery in Merv. The numerous ossuaries from the necropolises of Merv and Khwarizm evidently reproduce the forms of early medieval burial architecture. These include domed structures, sometimes with a portal, at Merv, and tent-shaped or vaulted structures at Kalaly-gyr. Pictorial sculptural ornamentation on the ossuaries and thematic paintings on a ceramic vase from Merv give some idea of early medieval representational art.

The High Middle Ages, particularly the 11th and 12th centuries, was marked by the flowering of feudal culture. Well-fortified cities developed without fixed plans, in the manner typical of medieval towns. Within the walls of the city proper were the palace, Muslim religious buildings, and administrative and trade buildings. Beyond the walls were tradesmen’s and artisans’ quarters with caravansaries, religious complexes, and residential blocks. Typical examples were the fortified settlements of Sultan-Kala in Merv, Meshedi-Misrian, and Shakh-Sen in Khwarizm. Baked brick was widely used in addition to mud brick and pakhsa. Various vaulted and domed structures developed. Ornamental brickwork, carved stucco, and frescoes were widely used; glazed decorative bricks and tiles were introduced in the 12th century.

The keshk with undulating walls continued to be built in southern cities in the ninth and tenth centuries. In the 11th and 12th centuries, two-storied houses with several rooms and a cruciform central hall predominated. The fortified rural estate was common in the northern regions. The ruins of a palace in Merv with four iwans and a central courtyard give some idea of palace architecture.

Caravansaries generally had a rectangular layout with inner courtyards bounded by one, two, or even four iwans, galleries, and rooms, for example, in Daiakhatyn. The caravansaries of Khwarizm had a circular plan and a water cistern in the center of their interior courtyard; a typical example is in Talaikhan-ata.

Several building types developed in religious architecture, for example, the Friday mosque; such mosques had a rectangular courtyard framed by awnings on mud-brick pillars or brick columns and with a prayer room (either an iwan, a three-aisled hall, or a domed kiosk with iwan). Another building type that developed was the cylindrical minaret with bands of decorative brick inlays. Namazga mosques were built on the outskirts of cities in the 11th and 12th centuries.

The construction of mausoleums became highly developed. Mausoleums in Khorasan were built with central domes, for example, the mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar, and with domes and portals, for example, that of AbuP-Fazla in Serakhs. In the Caspian region there were round and octagonal mausoleums with pyramidal and conical domes, notably those of Fahr al-Din Razi and Tekesh in ancient Urgench.

In 14th-century architecture, the compositional use of space and mass became more complex, and the front portal (peshtak) was emphasized. Mosaics of inlaid pottery were used for ornamentation, as seen in the mausoleum of the Sufi dynasty, known as the Turabek-khanum, in ancient Urgench.

Fifteenth-century architecture was essentially a provincial version of Timurid architecture, as exemplified by buildings in the ancient fortified town of Abdullah Khan-Kala in Merv. Two unique exceptions are a mosque in Annau and a two-portalled building by the graves of two askhabs (Arab military commanders) in Merv.

Later buildings include the mosque of Hodja-Yusuf in Merv (16th century), the mausoleum of Sultan-ata in ancient Urgench (18th century), and the complex of Ismamut-ata in Tashauz Oblast (18th to early 20th centuries). These structures demonstrate a decline in the quality of engineering and the repetition of traditional building types.

The typical dwelling of the average settled population was built chiefly of pakhsa, with a beamed or sometimes vaulted roof. The predominant type in the Kopetdag region was the two- or three-room dwelling with a courtyard, outbuildings, and a light columned iwan on the facade. Homesteads of the wealthy Tekke and seminomadic Yomud resembled small fortresses. Dwellings in regions bordering on Uzbekistan combined features of both Turkmen and Uzbek national architecture, for example, country estates with two interior courtyards and iwans framed by wooden columns. The dwelling of the nomadic tribes was the yurt, a tent covered with felt and decorated with woven patterned stripes.

Pottery was made throughout Turkmenistan. Popular forms included unglazed vessels with stamped or molded stylized floral motifs (eighth century), glazed vessels (from the eighth century), monochromatic painted vessels (tenth to 12th centuries), and dotted, engraved, and polychromatic painted articles (12th century). In the 12th century, thin-walled kashins (vessels of white ceramic material containing silicates) were decorated with delicate engraved or openwork patterns. Lusterware and other pottery vessels were made in the Persian style. In the 12th and 13th centuries, stamped pottery and metal articles from Dandankan, Shakh-Senem, and Kunia-Uaz were ornamented in the Persian style. The development of the arts of weaving and rug-making is known from written sources. Pottery-making flourished once again in the 14th century, as seen in fretted mosaics of the time, as well as household vessels, which were influenced by Far Eastern porcelain in the 15th century.

In the late Middle Ages the ancient art of rug-making was highly developed among the Turkmen tribes, who harmoniously combined the popular concept of beauty with utility. The patterns on rugs of the 18th to early 20th centuries are traditional compositions that developed over the course of centuries, featuring distinctive traits of the Tekke, Salor, Yomud, Ersari, and other tribes. Many elements of rug patterns go back to very ancient times, for example, tribal guls, which are octagonal or rectangular medallions with mirrored double or quadruple images of geometrical, floral, and zoomorphic designs. These and other tribal distinctions in rug ornamentation reflect the assimilation of Turkic culture by Turkmens during the Middle Ages. The Turkmen rug on the whole is distinguished by severe, graphically precise geometricized patterns on a predominant deep reddish brown background. Large-patterned felt rugs (koshmas) are associated with the nomadic way of life of the Turkmen herdsmen.

Turkmen folk embroidery usually consists of a small-figured, multibanded border with geometricized motifs, some of which are derived from ancient and medieval art. Along with embroidery, jewelry is also an inseparable part of the Turkmen national costume. A characteristic feature in the work of Turkmen jewelers is the combination of silver with softly gleaming seeds of carnelian or fiery eyes of colored glass; these jewels and glass ornaments are set in the centers of large, stylized flowers or pal-mettes, which are stamped or engraved and sometimes gilded and nielloed. Such jewelry is usually ornamented with a “fringe” or cascade of rustling and tinkling pendants, bells, and coins.

After the unification of Turkmenistan with Russia, new cities were built. Krasnovodsk, Askhabad, Chardzhui, Bairam-Ali, and Kizyl-Arvat were built according to regular plans that took into account the given terrain and strategic problems. The predominant building type was the single-storied mud-brick house faced with fired brick. The level of urban amenities was low. The architecture of prerevolutionary Turkmenistan was similar to provincial Russian architecture of the second half of the 19th century.

In the late 1870’s, Russian artists, such as N. N. Karazin and L. E. Dmitriev-Kavkazskii, came to Turkmenistan, where they did travel sketches, studies, drawings, and paintings of the Turkmen landscape, architecture, way of life, and history. The first professional Turkmen artist to be associated with the peredvizhniki (the “wanderers, ” a progressive art movement) was Na-zar Iomudskii, a painter active from 1880 through the 1890’s. Other Russian artists who worked in Turkmenistan in the early 20th century were the Russian landscape painter K. S. Mishin and, from 1915, the artists A. P. Vladychuk, R. M. Mazel’, and M. V. Libakov.

Soviet period. The development of industry became the chief factor in Soviet city planning in Turkmenistan, mainly in Ashkhabad, Mary, and Chardzhou. The best example of the industrial architecture of Turkmenistan in the late 1920’s is the textile factory in Ashkhabad; built between 1925 and 1927 under the supervision of V. M. Keldysh, the building reflects the style of Soviet constructivism and is well adapted to local conditions. In the 1930’s, local architects played a notable role in urban construction by collaborating on the Turkmengosproekt (Turkmen State Project). One innovation in architecture was a type of multi-apartment house adapted to the natural conditions of the republic, the architects intended to link each apartment with a green portion of the courtyard by means of terraces and stairways. Such houses were built in Ashkhabad and Nebit-Dag. Similar principles were introduced into the master plans of Dargan-Ata, Dei-nau, Kerki, and other settlements in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. Cities and settlements were built according to integrated plans, for example, schools, kindergartens, hospitals, clubs, and stores were built along with houses. Elements of Russian neoclas-sicism and Middle Asian architectural forms were widely used in the architecture of the 1930’s and 1940’s. Both industrial and residential buildings were constructed at an accelerated pace during the Great Patriotic War (1941–45).

After the earthquake of 1948, which destroyed Ashkhabad and surrounding settlements, new plans for earthquake-resistant buildings were developed, and changes were made in construction policies. Enterprises were combined to form industrial districts, major urban thoroughfares were widened, and urban complexes consisting of plazas, landscaped esplanades, and administrative and public buildings were laid out. Certain buildings from the first half of the 1950’s, such as the complex of the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR in Ashkhabad, show the architects’ creative use of the heritage of Russian and Turkmen architecture. Later there was a transition to industrial methods of construction, resulting in the building of neighborhood units with blocks of uniform buildings. Blocks of two- and three-storied brick residential buildings were built, for example, series 1–295 S, by the architect E. M. Vysotskii. In the early 1960’s, large-panel prefabricated buildings of three and four stories were erected.

Urban planning in Turkmenistan in the 1960’s was characterized by the modern, aesthetically effective use of space, as seen in the new master plans for the cities of Ashkhabad, Krasnovodsk, Bezmein, Mary, and Chardzhou and the settlement of Annau.

In rural areas, new construction stressed single-storied buildings with two apartments and two-storied residential buildings with numerous apartments. Work is carried out to provide the villages with urban amenities, for example, in the settlements of the Deviati Ashkhabadskikh Komissarov Kolkhoz in Ashkhabad Raion and the Ashkhabad Kolkhoz in Mary Raion. The architecture of Turkmenistan in the 1960’s and 1970’s is marked by simple composition, functional layout and design, and the integration of architecture with monumental decorative art and the landscape. Typical examples are the works of A. R. Akhmedov and F. A. Aliev in Ashkhabad, including the buildings on Karl Marx Square.

The origins of Soviet Turkmen representational art are associated with the work of R. M. Mazel’ and A. P. Vladychuk, who together founded the Shock Movement School of Arts of the East in Ashkhabad in 1920. The school’s main tasks were the training of Turkmen artists and the propagation of the revolution by means of propaganda trains, revolutionary festivities, and agitplakaty (propaganda posters).

During the 1920’s, the main trend in the development of Turkmen art was the quest for a national style. The genres characteristic of Turkmen painting originated in the late 1920’s. Paintings expressing social themes and symbolic portraits reflect the profound changes in the life and consciousness of the Turkmen peasantry during the years of Soviet power. Notable examples include B. Nurali’s The New Way of Life in Turkmenia (1927) and S. N. Begliarov’s Turkmenian Women (1929), both of which are housed in the Museum of Art of the Peoples of the East in Moscow. Graphic art, which included posters, satirical drawings, and caricatures by R. V. Gershanik, V. Ia. Demidenkov, N. I. Kos-tenko, O. F. Ponamarev, M. P. Fedura, and A. N. Shchapov, played an important role in the sociopolitical life of Turkmenistan in the 1920’s. Works of sculpture were not numerous. However, an outstanding example is the monument to V. I. Lenin in Ashkhabad (bronze and majolica, 1927; architect A. A. Karelin, sculptor E. R. Tripol’skaia, ceramicist N. I. Nazarov); this statue is one of the first Soviet monuments in Middle Asia.

The 1930’s was a period of rapid organization in Turkmen art, culminating in the creation of the Artists’ Union of Turkmenistan in 1939. In the mid-1930’s, the chief trend in painting, the most important branch of Turkmen art, was the reflection of real life by means of the principles of socialist realism. Significant painters of the 1930’s were Begliarov, Nurali, 1.1. Cherin’ko, G. F. Babi-kov, and Iu. P. Daneshvar.

During the Great Patriotic War, the artists of Turkmenistan concentrated on agitational art, mainly newspaper graphics and agitplakaty, including Okna TurkmenTAGa (The TurkmenTAG Windows), which comprised works by Iu. P. Daneshvar, E. M. Adamova, and Begliarov. In the postwar years, painting resumed its place as the leading branch of Turkmen art. Further development was noted in the painting of works on social themes, as well as genre scenes, portraits, and landscapes.

The major themes in Turkmen art in the 1950’s and 1960’s were the profound evaluation of contemporary events, the reflection of the unique features of Turkmen social development, and the expression of the mores of the Turkmen people. Artists of the new generation appeared, including I. Klychev, G. Ia. Brusentsov, A. Khadzhiev, A. Kuliev, N. Khodzhamukhame-dov, A. Amangel’dyev, Ch. Amangel’dyev, S. G. Babikov, and A. T. Shchetinin. The older generation, headed by Nurali, G. F. Babikov, Adamova, and M. Daneshvar, also continued to work productively.

The 1960’s was a noteworthy period in the history of Soviet Turkmen art because a national school took shape as a result of the consolidation of the republic’s artists, their mastery of socialist realism, and their creative assimilation of the Turkmen heritage. Painting on social themes remains the chief genre, and artists seek to express profound civic ideas. Compositions are distinguished by precision, rhythmic clarity, sharpness of line, and the expressive rendering of form by means of a bright palette. The 1960’s and the first half of the 1970’s saw the development of the individual styles of such artists as S. G. Babikov, M. Mamedov, and D. Bairamov. New branches and genres of art also developed, for example, stage design, monumental decorative art, and sculpture. Major stage designers include E. L. Kordysh, Kh. Allaberdyev, Sh. Akmukhamedov, and Ia. K. Annankurov. Notable figures in monumental decorative art are N. A. Kamen-skii and A. T. Shchetinin, and leading sculptors are D. Dzhumadurdy and K. Iarmamedov.

During the Soviet period, folk art and decorative and applied art in Turkmenistan have undergone further development. Along with a renaissance of the classical types of ornamental rugs, thematic and portrait rugs are woven in Kazandzhik, Mary, and Cheleken. V. I. Lenin is the most common subject of modern rugs by B. Sharapov, S. Sharapova, K. Ardzhanova, and O. Karegdyeva. The early portrait rugs are naively realistic, symbolic, and suggestive of poster art and feature Soviet emblems and symbols and revolutionary slogans. The later thematic rugs are woven from sketches by professional artists, such as Nurali and Begliarov, and suggest studio and monumental art. Both professional and folk artists work in the ateliers of Turkmenko-versoiuz, where the centuries-old techniques and designs of Turkmen rug-making are preserved.

The traditional forms of folk art continue to develop throughout Turkmenistan, including napless rug-weaving, the making of patterned koshmas and fabrics, leathercraft, knitting, embroidery, and jewelry-making.


Zhuravleva, E. V., and V. N. Chepelev. Iskusstvo Sovetskoi Turkmenii: Ocherk razvitiia. [Moscow-Leningrad] 1934.
Arkhitekturnye pamiatniki Turkmenii, fasc. 1. Moscow-Ashkhabad, 1939. (Compiled by N. M. Bachinskii.)
Pugachenkova, G. A. Iskusstvo turkmenistana: Ocherk s drevneishikh vremen do 1917 g. Moscow, 1967.
Saurova, G. I. Sovremennyi turkmenskii kover i ego troditsii. Ashkhabad, 1968.
Moshkova, V. G. Kovry narodov Srednei Azii kontsa XlX-nachala XX vv. Tashkent, 1970.
[Saurova, G. I.] Iskusstvo Turkmenskoi SSR. (Album.) Leningrad, 1972.
Kantsel’son, Iu. N. (ed.). Arkhitektura Sovetskogo Turkmenistana. Moscow, 1972.
Masson, V. M., and V. I. Sarianidi. Sredneaziatskaia terrakota epokhibronzy. Moscow, 1973.
[Khalaminskaia, M. N.] Zhivopis’ Turkmenii. (Album.) Moscow, 1974.
Pamiatniki arkhitektury Turkmenistana. Leningrad, 1974.


The oldest artifacts attesting to the existence of a musical art in Turkmenistan date from the third and second centuries B.C. In the ruins of Nisa, the capital of the Parthian Empire, rhytons have been found bearing depictions of people playing musical instruments that resemble the Greek aulos, cithara, and lyre. Traditions concerning the origins of some Turkmen folk instruments date from the Hellenistic era. The archaeological artifacts of Ser-akhs and Merv reflect the musical life of the pre-Islamic Middle Ages (fourth to seventh centuries).

Turkmen music began forming in the sixth century, with the arrival of Turkic-speaking tribes in Turkmenistan and the rise of the Turkmen people. According to folk tradition, Baba Hambar was one of the first folk-professional musicians. The flowering of the arts in the 12th and early 13th centuries was followed by a sharp decline—a result of the invasions of the Tatar Mongols (13th and 14th centuries). Turkmen music became isolated from neighboring musical cultures, and the gradual crystallization of a national folklore, culminating at the turn of the 19th century, proceeded under extremely difficult conditions.

Turkmen folklore distinguishes between folk and folk-professional art. Turkmen folk songs are monodic. They include numerous ritual songs, including yar-yar (wedding songs), khuvdi (lullabyes), láyale (maidens’ songs), and calendar and work songs. A unique genre is the zikr—a ritual incantation of apparently pre-Islamic origin.

Instruments used in Turkmen folk music include the dutar (plucked stringed instrument), gidzhak (bowed stringed instrument), and dilli-tiuiduk, tiuiduk, and gopuz (wind instruments); there are no percussion instruments. Folk-professional music attained a high level in the work of the bakhshi, who, accompanied by the dutar (in modern practice, the dutar and gidzhak), rendered dastans (epics) on classical themes from Eastern and national poetry, such as Ker-ogly, Leyla and Mejnun, Shasenem and Garib, and Zokhre and Takhir, and aidyms (songs) to the works of Turkmen poets (the 18th-century poet Makhtumkuli was especially popular). Famous bakhshi of the 19th and early 20th centuries included Shukur, Sary, Kel’, and Garly.

Minor modes predominate in both folk and folk-professional music, and diatonic scales with flatted notes, such as the kyrklar and novayi, are widely used. Instrumental music (for two dutars) characteristically relies on fourths and fifths; thirds and sixths are used mainly as transitional intervals. Melodic ornamentation is an important factor in the intonational development of both vocal and instrumental music. Popular devices of ornamentation include the sekdirmek, juk-juk, chaikamak, pityklemek, and yanlanmak, which are concentrated in the culminations of musical works. A three-part or extended two-part form is typical of both songs and instrumental pieces. The shirvan, a climactic segment coming at the point of the “golden section, ” is an obligatory part of each piece. The characteristics of the Turkmen language and the rhythm of labor processes are often reflected in Turkmen musical metrics. Complex and composite measures, such as 5/8, 7/8, and 11/8, predominate, with many different combinations of rhythmic transitions.

The professional musical art of Turkmenistan has developed since the October Revolution of 1917, aided to a large degree by musical cultural figures from fraternal republics. In the years 1925–29 the composer and ethnographer V. A. Uspenskii undertook an ethnographical expedition to Turkmenistan, gathering material for his Turkmen Music (vol. 1,1928), on which Uspenskii collaborated with V. M. Beliaev. Uspenskii’s transcriptions were used in symphonic and chamber works on Turkmen themes by such composers as A. V. Mosolov, B. S. Shekhter, M. M. Ip-politov-Ivanov, G. I. Litinskii, and S. N. Vasilenko. In 1929 a technicum of the arts, with a music division that later became the School of Music, was opened in Ashkhabad, and in 1935 a Turkmen branch of the Moscow Conservatory was opened. D. Ovezov was one of the founders of the national school of musical composition.

The Turkmen Theater of Opera and Ballet was opened in 1941, and the first Turkmen operas were staged during the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45. Important examples were A. G. Sha-poshnikov’s Zokhre and Takhir (1941; second version in collaboration with V. Mukhatov, 1953), G. Kakhiani’s The Fate of a “Bakhshi” (1941), Shekhter and A. Kuliev’s Iusup and Akhmet (1942), Shaposhnikov and Ovezov’s Shasenem and Garib (1944), Iu. S. Meitus and Ovezov’s Leili and Medzhnun (1946), and Shaposhnikov and V. Mukhatov’s Kemine and Kazy (1947).

Major ballets composed during this period included K. A. Kor-chmarev’s Aldar-Kose (The Gay Deceiver, 1942) and A. F. Znosko-Borovskii and V. Mukhatov’s White Cotton (1945). Musical works on contemporary themes included Meitus and A. Kuliev’s heroic-patriotic opera Abadan (1943), A. Kuliev’s cantata-poem Kurban Durdy (1942), and V. Mukhatov’s cantata Victory, as well as many choral works and songs. V. Mukhatov’s Turkmen Suite (1950) and his symphonic poem My Native Land (1951) laid the foundations for Turkmen symphonic writing.

The 1950’s saw the extensive development of the cantata-oratorio genre, exemplified by A. Kuliev’s cantata Turkmenistan (second version, 1958), V. Mukhatov’s Cantata of the Communist Party (1953) and Cantata of Happiness (1954), and G. S. Drzhevskii’s cycle for voice and chorus to texts by R. Seidov (1957). During the same period, productions were mounted of Shaposhnikov and Ovezov’s opera Aina (1957) and M. B. Ravich and N. Mukhatov’s ballet The Miraculous Doctor (1960). A. Kuliev, K. Kuliev, and G. M. Arakelian composed works for folk-instrument orchestra. V. Mukhatov, V. Akhmedov, Ch. Artykov, N. Mukhatov, and D. Nuryev were noted for their many chamber works.

In the 1960’s a new generation of composers appeared, whose work combined national characteristics with the achievements of modern musical art. A process of mutual influence and enrichment among different cultures can be seen in such works as Ch. Nurymov’s orchestral composition Tekke Frescoes (1969) and his ballets The Death of Sukhovei (1967) and Immortality (1972), N. Khalmamedov’s vocal-symphonic triptych In Memory of the Heroes of the Great Patriotic War (1971) and his vocal cycles to verses by S. A. Esenin (1971) and H. Heine (1974), A. Agadzhikov’s cello concerto (1968) and his ballet Firiuza (1974), and R. Allaiarov’s violin concerto (1969) and oratorio to a text by R. Tagore (1972).

The search for new means of musical expression is also characteristic of the composers of the older generation, as can be seen in A. Kuliev’s violin concerto (1962) and his cantatas The Karakum River (1967) and Lenin Is Always With Us (1970), Ovezov’s oratorio Lenin and his cantata The Communist (1966), V. Mukhatov’s symphonic poem Legend of the Communist (1970), and V. Akhmedov’s cantata Brotherhood (1972).

The 1967 staging of V. Mukhatov’s heroic opera The Bloody Watershed, which tells of the Turkmen people’s difficult road to a new life, was a major cultural event. The same theme was treated in Agadzhikov’s operas Sona (1964) and Night of Danger (1969). Historical events served as the basis for Meitus’ opera Makhtumkuli (1962) and N. Mukhatov’s Keimirker (1976). D. Nuryev’s opera Flaming Hearts (1974) tells of Turkmen village life during the period of collectivization.

The professional and artistic growth of Turkmen music is vividly attested by such works as V. Mukhatov’s Symphony No. 1 (1974, dedicated to the memory of Makhtumkuli); Agadzhikov’s symphony (1969); Ch. Nurymov’s concerti for trumpet and orchestra (1969), voice (1971), and piano (1973); Nuryev’s orchestral work Poem in Memory of General Kuliev (1973); and A. Kuliev’s ballet The Heart Found in the Sands (1975). Nuryev, Agadzhikov, and Nurymov have also written operettas, and Khalmamedov, R. Redzhepov, and Artykov are among those who compose for films.

Major Turkmen performing artists include director Kh. Allan-urov (People’s Artist of the Turkmen SSR) and singers A. Annakulieva, M. Kulieva, and M. Shakhberdyeva (People’s Artists of the USSR) and Kh. Annadurdyev, Kh. Annaev, M. Faradzhe-va, and E. Khummaev (People’s Artists of the Turkmen SSR). Well-known bakhshi include T. Sukhankuliev, P. Saryev, M. Tachmuradov, G. Ugurliev, D. Sapar, S. Dzhepbarov, and Kh. Annamuradov. Among the republic’s virtuoso instrumentalists are A. Gunibekov, Ch. Tachmamedov, and Ia. Nurgel’dyev (dutar), A. Avliev and A. Dzhul’gaev (gidzhak), S. Mamiev (electric dutar), and B. Mashakov (tiuiduk).

The Turkmen SSR supports many artistic enterprises. The most important examples (as of 1975) are the Makhtumkuli Theater of Opera and Ballet; the Musical Drama Theater (founded in Tashauz in 1938); the M. Tachmuradov Philharmonia (1938), which includes a symphony orchestra, the Saryev Folk Instrument Orchestra, and estrada (variety) stage troupes; philharmonic orchestras in the oblast centers Mary and Chardzhou; and the chorus and estrada orchestra of the State Committee for Television and Radio. Training in music is given at the Institute of Teacher Education in the Arts (Ashkhabad, founded 1972), the D. Ovezov Republic School of Music (Ashkhabad, 1929), the Chardzhou School of Music (1975), and 38 other music schools.

The Composers’ Union of the Turkmen SSR was founded in 1939.


Uspenskii, V. A., and V. Beliaev. Turkmenskaia muzyka. Moscow, 1928.
Siniaver, L. Turkmenskaia SSR, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1957.
“Turkmenskaia SSR.” In Istoriia muzyki narodov SSSR, vols. 1–5. Moscow, 1970–74.
Gurevich, V. “Rasshiriaia khudozhestvennye gorizonty.” Sovetskaia muzyka, 1975, no. 3.


Turkmen national and religious prejudices forbade dancing, and, as a result, Turkmen culture completely lacked folk traditions in the art of the dance. The first Turkmen folk dances, the Khyml’ (girls’ game), Ai-terek, Gun-terek, and Kusht-denti (Kurdish dance), were created only after the October Revolution of 1917; they were based on a study of the everyday life, national character, and applied arts of the Turkmen people. In 1939 the choreographer L. V. Iakobson staged the children’s dance Ak-eshekli and the Dance of the Bareback Riders in the ballet division of the Ashkhabad Opera Studio (founded 1937). The choreographers N. S. Kholfin and I. V. Boiko continued to work on the development of movements to define the character of Turkmen dance. Kholfin created the girls’ dance Gyzlar Ershi, Dance of the Bareback Riders, Old Folks’ Dance, and the Piala, which are distinguished for their unity of style and character. The men’s dances stressed impulsiveness, boldness, and agility, while the girls’ dances were characterized by gentleness, modesty, and flowing movements. In 1941 the Folk Dance Ensemble of the Turkmen SSR was organized; its repertoire included new stage dances created by Turkmen choreographers.

The development of ballet as a professional art began when young men and girls active in amateur dance were trained at the ballet division of the Ashkhabad Opera Studio. D. I. Benenson and L. V. Oshurko, instructors at the studio, were faced with numerous difficulties; for example, it was necessary for them to encourage Turkmen girls to take dance classes and to replace the cumbersome national dress with leotards. In the mid-1930’s a group of Turkmen children was sent to study at the Leningrad Choreographic School. By late 1941, a ballet company had been formed at the Ashkhabad Theater of Opera and Ballet. The company consisted mainly of graduates of the Leningrad school, including K. Dzhaparov, R. Annakurbanov, Kh. Ismailov, N. Mu-radov, M. Akhundov, O. Niiazov, B. Mashedova, T. Satlykly-cheva, and R. Samgina. Many of these dancers became leading artists of the Turkmen ballet, and Dzhaparov became the first Turkmen choreographer.

Turkmen, Russian, and Ukrainian writers and composers were called upon to create a repertoire of Turkmen ballets. An Evening of Ballet, which included both classical ballet and folk dance, was presented in 1941. By 1942, the development of Turkmen dance forms, strengthened by training in classical ballet, allowed the choreographer Kholfin to stage the first national Turkmen ballet, Aldar-Kose (The Gay Deceiver), to a score by K. A. Korchmarev. The dancers were still not technically proficient, which limited the choreographer’s use of many classical movements. Because of these technical shortcomings, many scenes were performed on half-pointe, and the ballet included numerous folk dances suitable to its theme—the adventures of a merry national hero who defends the poor. This staging of Aldar-Kose was an important step in the development of professional choreography in Turkmenia, and the ballet has remained in the theater’s repertoire.

In 1943, Kholfin staged another work by Korchmarev, The Girl of the Sea, which dealt with the Great Patriotic War. In 1945, Dzhaparov staged the ballet-fairy tale White Cotton, to music by A. F. Znosko-Borovskii and V. Mukhatov. Both Soviet and classical ballets entered the theater’s repertoire in the following years. The company learned much from its work on B. V. Asaf ev’s The Fountain of Bakhchisarai in 1946 and developed professionally by overcoming technical difficulties and being coached in psychological characterization. The production of A. A. Krein’s Laurencia in 1948 demonstrated the company’s progress. By 1952, an especially challenging ballet, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, was included in the repertoire.

The mastery of classical Russian dance furthered the professional growth of Turkmen dancers. Ballets staged between 1950 and 1960 included A. Adam’s Giselle (1956), P. Hertel’s La Fille mal gardée (1958), L. Minkus’ Don Quixote (1959), and A. K. Glazunov’s Raymonda (1960). A national ballet, The Miraculous Doctor, with a score by N. Mukhatov and M. V. Ravich, was staged in 1960. The ballet’s danceable melodies and precise musical characterizations allowed the choreographer, Dzhaparov, to create interesting scenes combining elements of classical ballet and folk dance.

New works by Turkmen composers have expanded the national repertoire of the ballet company. New stagings have included Students by Kh. Allandurov and I. Iakushenko (1965), The Death of Sukhovei by Ch. Nurymov (1967), and The Heart Found in the Sands by A. Kuliev (1975).

Young graduates of the Moscow, Leningrad, and Tashkent choreographic schools who joined the Turkmen company in the early 1960’s included M. Gel’dyeva, I. Kozhemiakina, N. Pekha-tsieva, Iu. Pursiianov, E. Sarvazian, G. Khummaeva, and M. Shchukina. The choreographers L. N. Voskresenskaia, N. S. Kholfin, L. N. Flegmatov, and M. D. Tseitlin have made significant contributions to the establishment and development of Turkmen ballet. As of 1975, leading ballet figures included the Honored Artists of the Turkmen SSR K. Ismailov, L. I. Kon-diukova, B. Mamedova, Kh. Muradov, G. Musaeva, and A. Pursiianov, as well as G. Korableva, O. Niiazov, N. P. Radki-na, and A. Sonin.

Until the Great October Socialist Revolution, the Turkmen people had no professional theater. Elements of theatrical entertainment were found in folk songs, oral literature, popular holiday festivities, athletic competitions, games, and rituals. Amateur theater groups were first organized in 1918. Although most of these groups performed in Russian, Ukrainian, Armenian, Azerbaijani, and Tatar, they helped popularize the theater among the Turkmen people. Of particular importance were the topical plays presented by theater groups of the Political Section of the Turkestan Front. In 1919 a Turkmen drama circle in Ki-zyl-Arvat produced the play The Taking of Kizyl-Arvat by Red Troops, written by the worker Kh. Atashev. A theater group in Poltoratsk (now Ashkhabad) staged A. Kaushutov’s The Transcaspian Front (also known as Oraz Serdar, 1922) and Sh. Keri-mi’s Aid Zhamal (1925).

In 1926 the People’s Commissariat for Education organized the first national drama studio, whose administrative directors and teachers included the playwrights K. Burunov and A. Kaushu-tov, the stage director Iu. Alim-zade, and the prominent Tatar theater figure Kamal I. Students at the studio included A. KuP-mamedov, K. Berdyev, A. Karliev, O. Durdyeva, Surai Murado-va, K. Kherraev, K. Kul’muradov, and Kh. Shakhberdyev. Early productions included B. Kerbabaev’s The Opium Smoker and the Sorcerer, A. Kaushutov’s Bloody Forest, and A. Khaldurdyev’s Ato Money for the Bride. In 1929 the studio was made into a Turkmen theater, now the Mollanepes Turkmen Theater of Drama. During its first years the company consisted of graduates of the Arts Technicum and amateur performers, including A. Durdyev, M. Cherkezov, Sona Muradova, M. Seiitniiazov, B. Annanurov, and Kh. Annadurdyev. The theater staged plays by contemporary Soviet authors, works of the developing national school of dramaturgy, and Russian and world classics, including The Mutiny (based on a novel by D. A. Furmanov, 1932), C. Goldoni’s A Servant of Two Masters (1933), A. E. Kornei-chuk’s The Destruction of the Squadron (1934) and Platón Krechet (1934), N. V. Gogol’s The Inspector-General (1934), Dzh. Dzhabarly’s The Year 1905 (1935), K. A. Trenev’s Liubov’ Iarovaia (1937), Kerbabaev’s Upsurge (1937), A. Karliev’s Aina (1937), and Burunov and Amanov’s Keimir-Ker (1940).

The prewar years were marked by a trend toward musical dramas, such as Amanov’s Zokhre and Takhir (1939), a work based on a dastan (epic) by Mollanepes and with music by A. G. Shaposhnikov. During the 1930’s and 1940’s the Turkmen theater developed from the experience of the multinational Soviet theater, becoming familiar with the basic principles of the K. S. Stanislavsky system and asserting the tenets of socialist realism. In 1941 a group of young actors who had graduated from the Moscow State Institute of Theatrical Arts (GITIS) began to work in Turkmenistan, where they developed their artistic skills. Turkmen stage directors were trained, and theaters were opened in Mary, Kerki, Kizyl-Arvat, and other cities.

During the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), plays about the struggle against the fascist invaders by such authors as B. Kerbabaev, A. Kekilov, and K. M. Simonov were presented in Turkmen theaters. The staging of Korneichuk’s The Front in 1943 was especially significant.

Among the best productions of the postwar years were G. Mukhtarov’s The Family of Allan (1949), K. Seitliev and Mu-khtarov’s The Shepherd’s Son (1949), A. N. Ostrovskii’s A Profitable Post (1950) and Guilty Though Guiltless (1951), and Shakespeare’s Othello (1954). In 1954 the repertoire of the Mollanepes Theater was expanded to include productions by the GITIS graduates in works for which they had prepared during their years of training. These included M. Gorky’s Smug Citizens, Ostrovskii’s Poverty Is No Crime, and Mukhtarov’s The Merry Guest.

In 1955 the Mollanepes Theater took part in the Ten-day Turkmen Literature and Art Festival in Moscow. Among the significant productions in the years that followed were the second version of Kaushutov’s Dzhuma (1956), Kerbabaev’s The Decisive Step (1957), Nazim Hikmet Ran’s Legend of Love (1957), and Mukhtarov’s The Thirties (1958). A notable event was the premiere in 1964 of Atadzhanov’s The Kushka Fortress, in which K. Durdyev portrayed V. I. Lenin for the first time in Turkmen dramaturgy.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s the following plays were presented in the theaters of Turkmenistan: Kh. Der’iaev’s Fate (1962), B. Amanov’s Mollanepes (1963), Mukhtarov’s Who Is the Criminal? (1963), A. Kekilov and T. Taganov’s Love (1967), A. Mamiliev and B. Sukhanov’s At the Crossroads (1967), B. Seitakov and M. Seiitniiazov’s A Maiden’s Tribute (1969), Amanov’s Treasure Island (1969), K. Kuliev’s The Emir’s Ambassador (1970), and Seitakov’s Brothers (1974). The Turkmen stagings of Vs. Ivanov’s Armored Train 14–69 (1967) and Pogodin’s The Kremlin Chimes (1959) and Man With a Gun (1970) were of great interest.

The repertoire of Turkmen theaters now includes plays by Shakespeare, Moliere, Lope de Vega, C. Gozzi, A. N. Ostrov-skii, A. P. Chekhov, M. Gorky, L. Kruczkowski, and Nazim Hikmet Ran, and by playwrights of the fraternal Soviet republics, for example, A. E. Korneichuk, M. A. Svetlov, V. S. Rozov, A. N. Arbuzov, O. Ioseliani, A. Papaian, M. Karim, A. Kakhkhar, M. Ibragimov, R. Ibragimbekov, and I. Iumagulov.

Since 1926 the A. S. Pushkin Russian Drama Theater in Ashkhabad has played an important role in the establishment and development of the theater of Turkmenistan. Other theaters include the Kemine Drama Theater in Mary (founded 1938) and the Theater of Music and Drama in Tashauz (founded 1938). The Theater for Young Audiences, with a company consisting of graduates of the two Turkmen studios of GITIS, opened in Ashkhabad in 1964.

A. Karliev and M. A. Kirillov, both People’s Artists of the USSR, made significant contributions to the development of the theater in Turkmenistan. Other leading theater figures of the republic include People’s Artists of the USSR A. Kul’mamedov, B. Amanov, A. Durdyev, and Sona Muradova. Major contributions to the theater were made by People’s Artists of the Turkmen SSR Surai Muradova, K. Berdyev, M. Cherkezov, T. Gafurova, S. Amangel’dyev, K. Durdyev, N. Soiunova, S. Ataeva, G. F. Bobrovskii, I. G. Gromov, L. N. Kotovshchiko-va, and S. Annaklycheva. Notable contributions were also made by Honored Artists of the Turkmen SSR Kh. Annamamedov, A. Kurbandurdyev, O. Khadzhimuradov, O. V. Avetisov, M. Aimedova, A. Dzhallyev, and A. Khummedov and Honored Art Workers of the Turkmen SSR Kh. Allaberdyev and E. M. Belov.


Ben’iash, R. Turkmenskiigosudarstvennyi teatr. Ashkhabad, 1939.
Kerimi, K. Turkmenskii akademicheskii teatr dramy im. Mollanepesa. Ashkhabad, 1969. Istoriia sovetskogo dramaticheskogo teatra, vols. 2, 6. Moscow, 1966–71.
Circus. The Turkmen equestrian circus, which is based on national equestrian games and pantomimes, has won wide renown in the USSR and abroad. The art of the two major ensembles of Turkmen horsemen is based on the original native traditions of bareback riding. The first ensemble (founded 1945; designated Honored Collective of the Turkmen SSR, 1964) grew under the direction of People’s Artist of the Turkmen SSR D. G. Khodzha-baev; it has toured Yugoslavia, Italy, France, the USA, and other countries. The second ensemble (organized 1968) developed under the supervision of People’s Artist of the Turkmen SSR A. Annaev. The ensemble of Turkmen djigits (bareback riders) that existed from 1945 to 1955 under the direction of Honored Artist of the Turkmen SSR A. S. Kalganov also made a significant contribution to the history of the Turkmen circus.


The first film about the Turkmen republic, The Proclamation of the Turkmen SSR (1925), was created by B. Bash and A. Tseitlin, cameramen from the Sevzapkino Studio. In 1926, upon a decision by the Council of People’s Commissars of the Turkmen SSR, a film-making establishment, later renamed the Turkmenfil’m Studio, was organized in Poltoratsk (present-day Ashkhabad). At first it produced documentary films, such as On the Reelections of the Soviets and Celebration of the Tenth Anniversary of the October Revolution in Ashkhabad. The dramatized documentary White Gold, which dealt with the struggle for effective cotton production during the years of collectivization, appeared in 1929. A special agitation group showed this film at lectures in various auly (villages).

Directors and cameramen who furthered the development of the Turkmen documentary film beginning in the 1930’s included V. A. Lavrov, D. Mamedov, A. I. Frolov, B. M. Muratovskii, N. M. Kopysov, M. V. Mei, D. Nepesov, Sh. Annaev, and N. F. Bondarenko. They helped make the films The Karabekaul Canal (1930), First in the Desert (1932), Unprecedented (1936), and Turkmenistan (1939). The first Turkmen feature film, It Cannot Be Forgotten (directed by D. Poznanskii), was presented in 1931, and the newsreel series Soviet Turkmenistan first appeared in 1936.

The film I Shall Return (1935, directed by A. K. Ledashchev), which was based on O. Tachnazarov’s epic poem The Hired Hand, was a landmark in the history of Turkmen film-making in the 1930’s. Other feature films of the period were Seven Hearts (1935, directed by N. I. Tikhonov), Umbar (1937, directed by A. A. Makovskii), People of the Sumbar Valley (1938, directed by Tikhonov), Soviet Patriots (1939, directed by G. Lomidze), The Price of Life (1940, directed by Tikhonov), and Dursun (1940, directed by E. I. Ivanov-Barkov). The films of this period featured such leading actors of the Turkmen theater as A. Kul’mamedov, A. Karliev, and A. Durdyev.

Ukrainian cinematographers worked at the Ashkhabad Film Studio during the Great Patriotic War (1941–45) and worked together with workers of the studio on the films How the Steel Was Tempered (1942, directed by M. S. Donskoi), Partisans in the Steppes of the Ukraine (1943, directed by I. A. Savchenko), and The Magic Crystal (1945, directed by M. S. Atakhanov and A. A. Naroditskii).

A musical comedy, The Distant Bride (1948, directed by Iva-nov-Barkov), gained wide popularity. In 1948 the Ashkhabad Film Studio was destroyed in an earthquake, but newsreels and documentary films continued to be produced. In the 1950’s the rebuilt studio produced many new feature films, including The Shepherd’s Son (1955, directed by R. Ia. Perel’shtein), The Cunning of Old Ashir (1956, directed by Perel’shtein), A Family’s Honor (1957, directed by I. Mutanov), Extraordinary Mission (1958, directed by Ivanov-Barkov and Karliev), and The First Examination (1959, directed by Kh. Agakhanov and P. Syrov).

In the 1960’s and 1970’s diverse themes were treated in films made in the republic by Turkmen directors, actors, and cameramen. Important ethical problems of contemporary life were dealt with in The Rooster (1965, directed by Agakhanov and G. Zele-ranskii), Quenching One’s Thirst (1966, directed by Mansurov), The Desert (1966, directed by E. Khachaturov), The Secret of the Mukam (1973, directed by Karliev), Mischievous Brothers (1973, directed by K. Orazsakhatov and Kh. Iakubov), The Color of Gold (1974, directed by Kh. Kakabaev), and Black Caravan (1975, directed by Iu. Boretskii). Prizes were awarded at international and all-Union film festivals to The Contest (1964, directed by Mansurov), The Decisive Step (1965, directed by Karliev), and The Daughter-in-law (1971, directed by Kh. Narliev).

The first Turkmen animated cartoon, Bevendzhik (The Bubble, directed by M. Charyev), was made in 1975. The newsreel series Soviet Turkmenistan and the satirical newsreel series Naiza (The Bayonet) appear regularly. More than 50 foreign-language feature films are dubbed in Turkmen each year.

The actor and director A. Karliev played a significant role in the development of Turkmen film-making, and the Turkmenfil’m Studio has been named in his honor. Leading actors of Turkmenistan include G. Khodzhaev, S. Karryev, O. Durdyeva, B. Anna-nov, Zh. Smelianskaia, and M. Aimedova. Leading cameramen include A. Karpukhin, G. Iazkhanov, M. Kurban-Klychev, and O. Saparov. The Cinematographers’ Union of the Turkmen SSR was founded in 1963. Film festivals and film weeks devoted to foreign and Soviet films are held regularly.

There were more than 915 motion-picture projectors in the republic as of Jan. 1,1976.


Repin, I., and Ia. Aizenberg. Tiirkmenistaning kino sungati. Ashkhabad, 1962.
Repin, I., and Ia. Aizenberg. Molodost’ iskusstva: Ocherki istorii turkmenskogo kino. Ashkhabad, 1965.
Abdillaev, B. Sungata singen Omur. Ashkhabad, 1973.
Repin, I., and B. Abdullaev. Turkmenskoekino. Ashkhabad, 1974.