What are Turkmen traditional clothes?

Eilidh Crowley
June 15, 2024

Turkmenistan is many things, but it’s never boring, and this applies to clothes as well. Full of colour, amazing patterns and precise details, Turkmen clothing is amongst some of the most beautiful in the world. Not only are Turkmen clothes stylish, mesmerising and intricate, they are also hardy, made for the rough conditions of the traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle and harsh climates than the Turkmen tribes are accustomed to.

The traditional clothing of Turkmenistan reflects the unique culture, long history and distinctive lifestyle of the traditional tribes of what is the modern day Central Asian republic. A country full of rich traditions and heritage, here is a list of some, but of course not all, of the most unique Turkmen clothing items.

1. Chyrpy

The chyrpy is a traditional Turkmen robe worn by both men and women. It is typically made of wool and features intricate embroidery and colourful patterns. Chyrpies are often used to protect against the harsh desert climate, providing warmth in winter and serving as shade in the scorching sun.

Chyrpy, Turkmen traditional clothing

2. Chapan

Chapan is a traditional Turkmen coat that is commonly worn by men. It is usually made of sheepskin or camel wool and is designed to keep the wearer warm during cold desert nights. Chapans often feature decorative stitching and embroidery.

Chapan, Turkmen traditional clothing

3. Koynek

A traditional long, loose-fitting dress worn by Turkmen women. The Koynek is usually made of silk or cotton and is adorned with an intricate pattern around the neck and chest. This is very common, and something that you will definitely see on any visit to Turkmenistan.

Koynek, Turkmen traditional clothing

4. Kalpak

A Kalpak is a traditional scull cap worn by men and women alike but with different patterns for boys and girls. The Kalpak is a mandatory part of school and university uniforms, so it’s an item of clothing you will see almost everywhere in Turkmenistan.

Kalpak, Turkmen traditional clothing

5. Telpek

The telpek is a distinctive Turkmen hat, often made from the wool of a Karakul sheep. It has a conical shape and is known for its warmth and durability. Telpeks are commonly worn by men, especially in rural areas.

Telpek, Turkmen traditional clothing

6. Yomud Boots

Yomud boots are traditional Turkmen leather boots that are intricately decorated with colourful stitching and patterns. These boots are an essential part of Turkmen traditional dress and are worn by both men and women. The yomud are innately connected to the Turkmen raising and utilisation of horses.

Yomud boots, Turkmen traditional clothing

7. Jooluk

The jooluk is a head dress worn by married and older women. It is typically made from silk or cotton and is adorned with beautiful embroidery and decorative elements. Jooluks vary in style and design depending on the region of Turkmenistan. And also worn as part of every-day clothing by the majority of Turkmen women, so very hard to miss when you’re in Turkmenistan.

Jooluk, Turkmen traditional clothing

8. Jewellery

Turkmen jewellery is known for its intricate and bold designs. Silver jewellery, including necklaces, bracelets, and rings, is commonly worn by both men and women. Jewellery often incorporates traditional motifs and symbols.

9. Chyrka

The chyrka is a traditional Turkmen belt that is intricately woven and decorated. It serves both a functional and decorative purpose, holding clothing in place while adding a touch of traditional flair.

Chyrka, Turkmen traditional clothing

​​​​​​ Turkmen traditional clothing is not only functional but also a reflection of the country's rich cultural heritage. While modern clothing has become more prevalent in urban areas, many Turkmen people still wear traditional attire, especially during festivals, weddings, and other special occasions, preserving the unique and vibrant aspects of their culture. It’s one of the increasingly fewer places in the world where if you visit the country, even if you just stay in Ashgabat, you will see people wearing some of these clothes for real.

Eilidh Crowley

Eilidh Crowley

Co-founder of SAIGAtours, Eilidh has been running tours since she was 23. When not on the road, Eilidh’s a pianist, drummer and percussionist, and loves playing jazz especially. She’s also been known to collect the worst postcards she can find from some of the most interesting places that exist.

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