There one item among unique artefacts kept in the Museum of Visual Arts that brings special interest. This is a tabernacle, the name given by Academic Victor Sarianidi, a wooden box skilfully decorated with gypsum and lime inlaid plates.
The chest with plant ornament was extracted from noble tomb in Gonur Depe. Normally, it used to be placed the corpse of the deceased. It used to hold valuable itesm, which according to the beliefs have to serve to their owner in the afterlife. Often, the tabernacles were robbed long time ago. Academic V. Sarianidi thought that they were place intentionally on visible place to distract the attention from the treasury, which was hidden in secret places.
The existence of tabernacle indicates high level of development of art crafts and subtle aesthetic taste of Gonur residents. The masters made the work in several stages. First, they did wooden carcass one meter long and half meter wide and high, which was lately inlaid with decorative plates imitating an incrustation, having forming the elements of ornament of them with high accuracy and finally painted them. This much probably is about narrow speciality of craft production. The interesting fact is that similar tabernacles were not discovered at other archaeological monuments.
Genius masters for Murgab's banks have created a unique technique of decorative mosaic. According the Academic Sarianidi, composite mosaic of Gonur opened new, previously undiscovered page in the history of visual art of the Ancient East. Heart-shaped leaves of fig tree served as a sample for making of decorative plates of the chest.
Planting ornament was adopted as the result of cultural interchange of our ancestors with the Ancient India where fig tree was worshipped as a Holly ficus from the old time. According to the legend, this was a tree under which Buddha has revived. This explains the use of the image of exotic plant for mosaic decor of ritual item. In the culture of many countries, floristic used to bear not only an aesthetic but also semantic meaning when certain flower or plant served as a sign of elitism. Let's take for example the flower of lily � the symbol of king power in France or white chrysanthemum of Japanese Emperors.
The statue of the priest found in the same place, which cloak was decorated with the same patterns of heart-shaped fig leaves proves that this plant had spiritual power according to the Margush people.
Unfortunately, after 4000 thousand years when the chest was made, the time did not preserved beautiful artefact in its primordial shape. However, owing to painstaking and laborious work of restorers, we can enjoy recreated image of priceless item of decorative and applied art of the masters of the great and beautiful Margush.
The chests were decorated not only with plant ornament but also with so-called carpet pattern what proves the hypothesis about ancient origin of hand-made art of Turkmen women � the felting and carpet-making.
Source: Turkmenistan: the Golden Age Online Newspaper