Dental Gold: Arkadag's Very Own Monument

By Maryna Polataiko for

Golden Eagle Silk Road

If you are at all familiar with Turkmenistan’s recent history, then you have likely been acquainted with its grandiose (and often golden) monuments. Their origin can be traced back to the late Saparmurat Atayevich Niyazov—or Turkmenbashi—President of Turkmenistan between 1985 and 2006, when he passed away. Gargantuan in size, these monuments served to reinforce Niyazov’s infamous cult of personality. Sculptures of him dominate the nation’s landscape to this day.

However, Niyazov’s successor (and former dentist) President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov—also known as Arkadag—seems ready to take over some of Turkmenistan’s public space. In July 2014 it was announced that—in response to alleged public demand—a new monument to Berdymukhammedov is in the cards. Arrangements for a 5-meter likeness of the President riding his horse had been made by sculptor Saragt Babaev,


“The First Monument to Turkmenistan’s Second President.” Chronicles of Turkmenistan, July 30, 2014. Accessed September 15, 2015.

Qishloq Ovozi. “Here We Go Again: Turkmen Statue Proposal Suggests History May Be Repeating Itself.” Radio Free Europe, July 28, 2014. Accesses August 21, 2014.

Ella Morton. “Golden Statue and Mother Bread: The Bizarre Legacy of Turkmenistan’s Former Dictator.” Atlas Obscura, February 6, 2014. Accessed February 20, 2014.