Trans Eurasia travel

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Monuments to Niyazov's family

The building to the west of the Arch of Neutrality is the optimistically titled World Trade Complex. Behind this, in a pleasant, tree-shaded concrete park is the monument known as Ene Mahri ('Maternal Love'), based around the love of Gurbansoltan Eje for her son, Saparmurat Niyazov. Gurbansoltan Eje holds her baby boy tenderly in her arms, while standing on what may be a small, fluffy cloud. This in turn rests on a cylindrical column of red marble, which emerges from an open flower in the middle of a pond. Turkmen officials lay bouquets of flowers at this monument during major state holidays.

A long strip of well-manicured parkland running westwards takes you from this monument to President Niyazov's mother towards one honouring his father. On the way, you pass a small Monument to Niyazov's Brothers, Niyazmurat and Mukhammetmurat, killed in childhood in the 1948 earthquake. The war memorial at the western end of the park commemorates those Turkmens killed during World War II through the person of Niyazov's father, Atamurat, here depicted in uniform, his cloak billowing in an imaginary breeze, resolutely grasping his rifle, which he holds like a staff. An eternal flame burns in front of him, while reliefs behind the statue of Atamurat portray soldiers anxiously watching to his left and right. The composition rests in a pool, framed inside a curving rear wall. Two slender obelisks flank the monument, which is another favoured venue for the laying of wreaths, especially during the 8 May day of remembrance for those killed in the war.