Portraits of Turkmen Villagers

Each of Durdy Bayramov’s portraits tells a compelling story of the person behind the image. They reveal the inner worlds of his subjects and also provide insight on this period of history. Since these portraits were taken after the Second World War, many of the subjects proudly pinned to their clothing the medals they received for serving in the war or assisting with the war effort. Being photographed would have been a rare and important event for many villagers, and they would have carefully selected their attire. Women wore the white scarf they saved for special occasions, while some men wore European-style shirts or even suits.

It is evident that Bayramov especially liked to photograph older people. This desire stemmed from his continued search for the parents he lost in his youth. When photographing older people, in every face he searched for a glimpse of his mother or father, hoping to realize his dream to be reunited with his parents. Through these poignant images, Bayramov transforms everyday villagers into iconic representations of Turkmenistan’s culture and history, never predicting that they would be displayed and appreciated in other countries by people unfamiliar with Turkmen culture.

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