The history of Turkmen crafts is rich and interesting. Traditions of artisans have always reflected the era: the manufacture of dishes, household items from clay, wood, and even from animal skins. Manufactured articles of Turkmen masters were distinguished by durability, virtu and simplicity. My grandmother told me that almost in every village there were craftsmen who could produce the right item by order.
Turkmen crafts are of great ethnographic interest. Products made of leather, leather dishes were and are one of the main elements of culture. Turkmens used skin of animals to make not only clothes, but also household utensils, bags for storing liquids (oil, chal, water). To manufacture such products, lamb, goat, and cow (bull) skins were used. Such bags are called “yanlyk”, “serkech”, “meshik”, “sanach”. For example, to store liquids, “meshik” was used.
I remember how my grandmother told me that in old times, when there were no iron buckets, Turkmens used milking utensils – shirts when milking cows, which called “gap-koyneik”. This shirt was a cylinder-shaped and was made of camel, lamb or goat skin. Milkmaids put it on their neck and tied it to the waist with a rope. Similar shirts made of leather were used on the farm by Kazakhs and Bashkirs.
As to wooden utensils, it should be recalled that wood was one of the most favorite materials for artisans. To make a such wooden dish, the apricot, walnut, willow and mulberry trees were often used. The latter was the most popular due to its hardness and easy-for-processing.
Various wooden utensils (“kersen” – a bowl, “kyla kyase” – a cup for soup and chal, “yag tunni” – a can for oil, “kepgir” – a straining spoon, “ladle” – a susak, a wooden mortar, etc.) folded and stored in carpet sacks and bags that were hung on the walls of the yurt and were considered a symbol of wealth.
Pottery is also one of the ancient types of crafts among the Turkmen. Potters made original vases and pots of clay, which, like other utensils, were in great demand in everyday life. Pots were used to store liquids and bulk products; sometimes they served as a refrigerator, and even storage box for jewelry.
For example, as my grandmother told, in ancient times, clay pots were used as “refrigerators” and even to store a raw meat for some time. It was necessary to get two pots of different sizes, put one inside of another and fill the gaps between them with sand. Then, the sand was regularly watered so that the water evaporated and cooled the surface of the inner, smaller pot.
Original craft products are in claiming nowadays. Modern housekeepers use wooden and ceramic dishes to decorate festive tables, as it adds colors to the feast and sense of a kind of national feature. In addition, handicrafts are in great demand as souvenirs. The craftsmen pass on the traditions of their craftsmanship from generation to generation, bringing to the descendants the culture and spirit of ancient times.