The time when poetry and history come to life
Not far from legendary Dehistan, among verdure-covered flanks of the Western Kopetdagh Mountains, there stretches a region named after Magtymguly, the great Turkmen poet and thinker. Here, in this wonderful corner of Turkmen nature praised by Fraghi, both the poetry of the legendary author and his splendid old epoch seem to come to life. It is not surprising that every year many connoisseurs of the poet's creative work from all over Turkmenistan, Europe, Russia, Iran and Afghanistan come to Gerkez, the native village of Magtymguly Fraghi, situated in the picturesque valley of the Sumbar River. A lot of guests come here particularly in spring, when the region traditionally celebrates Revival and Magtymguly Poetry Day, one of the most remarkable holidays in Turkmenistan's calendar.
The Magtymguly museum that has been collecting its exhibits for many decades now becomes the customary center of attraction for everyone who comes to Gerkez. The great poet and thinker's creative heritage occupies the central place in the museum. The lovely decorated exposition features many books by the poet published in different languages in the 19th and 20th centuries, the great lines created by Fraghi on the pages of books yellowed in the course of time. Among them are the books published in the intricate Arabic characters, strict Latin and Slavic Cyrillic scripts. These are books that people from all over the world read familiarizing themselves with the Turkmen poet's and thinker's creative work who preached universal values, kindness and humanism, clear and close to every reader regardless of the nationality and religion. The oldest volumes make one feel excited: they were hand-rewritten by penmen in those old times when books were not printed yet. Next to them are editions of other classical Turkmen writers who considered themselves disciples of the poet, and books narrating about the Fraghi himself, in which, at least, an attempt to try to comprehend the depth of Magtymguly's talent is made, let alone figuring it out.
"Exhibits directly related to the life of Magtymguly are a special pride of our museum, says Orazklych Masharikov, the director of the museum. For instance, this silver ring, as they say, was made by the poet himself and was meant for Mengli, his beloved girl who Magtymguly devoted many wonderful poems to. As is known, Magtymguly perfectly knew the jeweler's art. This exquisite tea-pot was brought by him from the journey to India for his sister, Zubeida. The geography of the poet's travels is extensive. He looked for truth while studying in the best madrasahs (religious Muslim school) of Khiva and Bukhara, visited Caucasus, Afghanistan, Iran and many other lands, learned their culture, traditions and state structure."
To increase the feeling of complicity with that epoch when Magtymguly lived and worked, the museum attracts visitors by various household objects of those times. Today, hundreds of years later, these are not only things, but living witnesses and brilliant narrators of the life of forefathers. For instance, one can get acquainted with arms of a Turkmen warrior as a sharp saber used in many battles of that time, or ancient household utensils as a skillfully made wooden kitchenware, large clay pitchers or hums, lamps, instruments, as well as enjoy national clothes and wonderful decorations made by Turkmen jewelers or zergers. Exhibits are being permanently replenished thanks to donations of common people; they enrich the museum with articles of daily life that have been preserved since the times of their forefathers. About eight hundred exhibits of the museum make each visitor plunge into the past centuries and recall stories of gray-haired old men, aksakals.
"What is Magtymguly for us, what does his creation mean for people?" reflects Ady Komekov, a yashuli (an elder) from Gerkez village. "This question is simple and at the same time insolubly deep. I remember, when I was a child I read his poems with rapture, listened to the songs about love, faith, justice and native land heartily performed by bakhshi (folk singer) on the poems by Magtymguly. At those moments, I caught every word with eagerness, took in every grain of wisdom laid in them and felt by heart how close these words were to me and, I think, to all others who were with me then. The words are close to everyone who is familiar with Fraghi's poems. It is not by chance that people from all over the country send to the museum, as a sign of tribute to the creative work of the poet, articles devoted to Magtymguly, such as carpet portraits, home-crafts made by skilful masters, undoubtedly not on order but on the will of their soul.
In the outskirts of Gerkez village one can find many interesting places. For instance, architectural monuments erected by Turkmen architects as early as in the 14-15th centuries. They are striking mausoleums to Ovezberdi Shikh and Makhtum-kala devoted to prominent people of those times. Since times immemorial, scientists, educated people enjoyed special respect in the Turkmen land, therefore such masterpieces of architecture can be seen all over the country.
Like in other parts of Turkmenistan, in the Sumbar valley there are many memorials and legends connected with them telling us about bloody wars with invaders that had been unleashed here some time before, reminding about the courage of the native land defenders. Ancient walls of once menacing fortresses rise up here and there. At the edge of the road that runs from Magtymguly's village to the strikingly beautiful Yoldere gorge two vertical stones stand still. According to a legend, during one of the enemy raids two girls, escaping from the ruthless enemies, turned into these stones. Old men can tell many similar miraculous and at the same time sad stories, in which the truth and figments interlace. According to them, only owing to the unity, Turkmens were able to preserve their unique culture passing the rich spiritual heritage of the Turkmen people from generation to generation. Magtymguly was not lucky to see his nation united, but, apparently, the history itself filled the poet's soul with hope that there would come the time when troubles would not fall on his glorious native land.
It is symbolic that during the celebration of Magtymguly's poetry Turkmenistan also marks Day of Constitution. According to the main law of the country, the people of Turkmenistan build their future and that of their children today. This coincidence is not accidental. In their writings, Magtymguly himself as well as famous Dovletmamed Azadi, his father and thinker, always dreamt about the Turkmen state, in which the life would be built on the principles of justice and humanism, and citizens would enjoy well being and prosperity.
Probably, if the poet looked at the present-day life of his motherland that he loved so much, he would have been happy: his dreams that people cherished in their hearts for centuries have come true in independent Turkmenistan. Day after day, in cities and towns the grateful descendants and his devoted worshippers lay fresh flowers to the monuments with sincere love to great Magtymguly who was able to look into the future.