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Turkmen Carpet Museum

The World's Largest Carpet (per the Guiness Book of World Records), on display in the Carpet Museum, Ashgabat, TurkmenistanThe Turkmen Carpet Museum is at 5 Georogly Kochesi (open Mon-Fri 10.00-18.00, with a lunchbreak 13.00-14.00, closed Sun). The museum displays a good range of carpets from across Turkmenistan in its two floors of galleries, which splay out cither side of the entrance hall. To the left on the ground floor are Yomud carpets from western Turkmenistan. On the first floor are many Tekke and Sarik carpets and carpet bags. The displays feature both antique pieces of the 18th and 19th centuries and modern designs, the latter sometimes making a political statement. A carpet trom 1968, incorporating designs characteristic of different regions of Turkmenistan, is labelled 'the carpet of brotherhood of all Turkmen tribes'. Nearby is a carpet portraying the family of President Niyazov. The space between these galleries is occupied by a hall, whose back wall is covered by a huge Tekke carpet, covering an area of 193m2. This was the work of 40 carpet-makers, who toiled during 1941-42 to produce a carpet apparently intended for use as a curtain at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. It proved too heavy for that purpose, and so was returned to Turkmenistan. A small carpet at its base lists the names of the carpet-makers who worked on this great project.

This huge carpet is a minnow in comparison with the one lurking in an extension building at the end of the western gallery of the museum. This is a Tekke carpet, covering 301m2, a prodigious 21.2m in length and 14m in width. It was woven in 2001 by 40 carpet-makers of the Baharly state carpet enterprise, who completed the task in time for the tenth anniversary of Turkmenistan's independence. The carpet is dedicated to the 'golden age of Saparmurat Turkmenbashy the Great', and includes President Niyazov's signature, in yellow lettering three fingers wide. Proudly attached to the carpet is a certificate trom 'Guinness World Records', supporting the claim that this is indeed the largest hand-woven carpet in the world. The extension building was constructed specifically to house it.