Kushtdepti is a Vivid Paradigm of Folk Dance


Folk dance is original, distinctive and life-affirming art, due to vivid choreographic language, filigree technique and poetry of incredible plasticity reflecting symbiosis of historic and cultural traditions, spiritual experience of nation, in-depth and truthfulness of sense and aspirations. Turkmen dance Kushtdepti is a vivid example of folk dance, combining both traditions of the past and creation energy of thorough achievements enriching modern art with meaningful content. 

In the framework of the 2016 as the Year of Honoring the Heritage and Transformation of the Fatherland, considering the important role of Kushtdepti in the spiritual life of Turkmen people, under auspices of the Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan was organized national festival of this dance with the symbolical name” Inspired spirit by centuries”. 

It is a large scale cultural educative project which took part in all professionals and folk teams. There were vivid, original, entertainment occasions on festival ground giving opportunity to learn different variations of Kushtdepti, and grasping its meaning diversity and uniqueness of handicrafts of decorative and applied arts’ masters. 

Kushtdepti is one of the national dances which contain beautiful folk melodies and songs sharpened by centuries a choreographic language began to perform amazing throat singing consonant turning into rhythmic dancing, which tell the story on eternal cycle, asking God to get rid of illnesses and hardship, to send happy life and mystery of a born new life. The dancing story changes one after another and gradually increasing the speed accompanied sharpened leaps, dizzying turns attracting the audience to the breathtaking cheerful emotions. 

Moreover, Kushtdepti, as much rituals Turkmen nation contains elements of Zoroastrian culture. As Turkmenistan is the ancestral home Zoroastrians, the sacred symbol of followers Zarathustra’s study was the Fire. 

Initially, Kushtdepti was ritual dance devoted to the Fire. Both old and young people and priests used to dance around the Fire asking the spirit of the Fire for support, strength, protection and cleanliness. One of the forms of Kushtdepti reproduces a ritual dance around the fire embodied the strength of spiritual purification. Rite treatment accompanied by circular ritual movements asking God for protection from illness linked to the secrets of the mystery of healing. Heard and accepted the pray, God sent sprays of saint water helping ill to get rid of illnesses by inspiring the spirit. Then, all are getting excited and feel happy and joy, here it is the celebration starts. 

Another diffused variety of dance is choreography, which remind rhythmical movement of a fisherman, pulling net from the sea depth. There is young man crushed and crave to see the loved one’s face. He is letting her know about his inner sense and how much he loves her, says”gazal”. 

It is worth mentioning about the meaning of cultural singing and dancing movement, this choreography called “divana”, which means God’s people, wanderers. Their meanings of life for them are to search the Truth and serve Lord in the Highest. When a wonderer enters the house, says “gazal”, do not be grudge to quench the thirst. Dimensional movement in a circle of people with raised hands resembles an ordered movement of the planets of the solar system, committing eternal circles under the laws of the universe. The name is associated with the obligatory ritual “at the last moment” of the dance where performers under the final chords of throat singing “gazal” stamp down their foot, loudly repeating: “Kusht, Kusht, Kusht–Depti” then the dancers stop to greet new life cycle. The dance ends with cleric chanted to the beat of “Huv –Hak” all dancers stop and move their hands toward faces. 

Folk dance is an original part of the culture. “Kushtdepdi” is one of the brightest, figurative evidence that the view of the world of Turkmen nation has been evolved enriching its spiritual component. Energizing and attracting the world with distinctive choreographic harmony, which is a part of aesthetics of national dance with customary elements. It is giving people the sense of unity with the surrounding world with its fine diversity carrying out strong impulse of life uniting history and modernity. Thus, to preserve Kushtdepti as national heritage is a duty of current and future generations.


04.04.2016.                                                                                                                                                       Irina Imamkuliyeva, 
                                                                                                                                                                        Photos by Yuriyi Shkurin