Since independence, the nation-building programme of the Turkmen government has placed great emphasis on the promotion of the traditional culture of the Turkmen people, although this is often presented in a stylised version. Turkmen-style dress, for example, is required to be worn by most school and university students and teachers, and increasingly in government offices more widely. Television channels show frequent concerts of Turkmen music, based around the two-stringed dutar and a guttural singing style. The Turkmen carpet, Ahal Tekke horse and the poetry of Magtymguly are all commemorated in national holidays. Traditional dances such as the energetic gush depdi from the western Balkan Region have been adapted to suit large state concerts.
Some Turkmen traditions have not been strongly emphasised by the post-independence government. One example, perhaps because of its associations with nomadism, rather than an urban, state-building tradition, is the yurt. This circular, wooden-framed, felt-covered dwelling could be packed up and carried by camel between nomadic encampments. Vambery notes that the yurts of the Turkmens were categorised into one of two types. Thegara oy ('black house') was a standard yurt, blackened with the smoke of countless fires, and the ak oy ('white house') was a pristine dwelling, reserved for newly-weds and honoured guests. Yurts are still found today in Turkmen desert communities, in the courtyards of some Turkmen families nostalgic for the old ways, and in a few urban restaurants wishing to offer a traditional Turkmen dining environment.
The dresses worn by Turkmen women add colour and style to the streets of Turkmen towns. They are long dresses of silk or velvet, descending to the ankle, most frequently a burgundy colour, though deep blue and green are also favoured. The necks are enlivened with intricately embroidered trims, which descend in a bar down the front of the dress. Married women wear a colourful headscarf. An embroidered Turkmen skull-cap, takhya, is a standard part of the uniform at school and university tor both girls and boys. Younger schoolgirls have their hair tied with two fluffy white pom-poms.
Male office-wear combines a dark three-buttoned suit with a white shirt. Government employees and students arc encouraged to wear a lapel pin bearing President Niyazov's head in silhouette. Older men, the respected aksakals ('white beards'), still frequently sport the shaggy sheepskin hats known as telpeks, worn on top of the takhya. Baggy black trousers, tucked into black boots, white shirts with a modest embroidered trim, and a long coat complete the traditional male dress, though it is rarely worn by young men, except during concert performances.