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Turkmenistan unveils one of the world's tallest statues

By AFP

May 17, 2024 11:54 PM


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The isolated Central Asian state of Turkmenistan on Friday unveiled an 80-metre (262 feet) high bronze statue, one of the tallest in the world, in honour of its most famous national poet.

The oil and gas rich country has in recent years erected several monuments, buildings and statues in honour of national heroes and the ruling family. Critics say they are to advance an intense cult of personality.

President Serdar Berdymukhamedov presided over the lavish opening ceremony of the statue of Magtymguly Pyragy, south of the capital, Ashgabat.

Born 300 years ago, he is seen as one of the most important figures in Turkmen literature. His name is being used by authorities to promote a Turkmen identity, rooted in history.

"I wanted to embody the greatness of a humanist and poet whose name figures among the eminent writers of the east", sculptor Saragt Babayev told AFP.

Originally populated by nomadic local tribes, Central Asia historically lacked fixed borders along national or ethnic lines.

It was conquered and subsumed into the Russian empire, staying part of the Soviet Union until its collapse three decades ago.

Under Serdar Berdymukhamedov and his father, ex-president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, the government has created a fervent cult of personality and closed the country off to outside influence.

Standing 80 metres tall, including the base, the statue of the poet is twice the height of Brazil's Christ the Reedemer and 13 metres shy of the Statue of Liberty and its pedestal in New York harbour.

The statue of Pyragy is surrounded by 24 smaller bronze statues depicting foreign authors, including William Shakespeare, Honore de Balzac and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

The tallest statue in the world is India's Statue of Unity at 182 metres.


AFP


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