Turkoman rugs are famous, tending towards rich reds with geometric patterns. Sometimes they are called Bokhara rugs because Bukhara in neighbouring Uzbekistan was a center for their trade. Turkoman designs are now often copied in India and Pakistan. Some carpet factories are run by the state owned company Turkemhaly. Today, wool is often coloured with synthetic and not with natural dyes.

The classic book on Turkoman rugs is "Tappiseries de l'Asie Centrale", in Russian and French by AA Bogolyubov, Tsarist governor of Turkmenistan, 1905. It was a limited edition with hand-painted illustrations, now rare and extremely expensive. A translation the original French plus English, "Carpets of Central Asia", was published in Britain in the 60s. Even it is now hard to find and expensive. However, if you intend spending a lot on these carpets, it is definitely worth reading. Look for it in libraries.

You need an export permission for carpets purchased in a bazaar or private shop. The Expert Commission on the back of the Carpet Museum in Ashgabat phone 398879 and 398887, opening hours Mon to Fri 2.30PM to 5.30PM, Sat 10 to 12AM has to certify that the carpet is not more than 50 years old and may be exported. This costs 115.000M per square meter and can take a few days. In addition carpets exceeding 1,5 square meters are subject to an export duty of 2000000M per square meter. payable in US$ at the official rate of exchange at customs on departure. If you buy a carpet in a state shop, these fees normally are included in the price, although customs will charge a commission fee of 0,2 percent of the price of the carpet.


Why not add to your own despotic library by adding Turkmenbashi's self-penned Ruhnama book, exploring his views on what it means to be a Turkmen. Surprisingly, this is a fairly sensible read.

The official currency in Turkmenistan is Manat TMM = 100 Tenge, the rate of exchange being 1 US$ = 2,85 TMM, 1 EUR = 3,58 TMM, 1 UK£ = 4.53 2012.

The US Dollar is widely accepted, although it should only be accepted in internationals hotels or at the airport.

Credit cards are only accepted in big international hotels in Ashgabad, but unknown outside the capital.

The bazaars are the heart of every town in Turkmenistan. Bazaars are usually open from 8AM to 8PM every day including Sundays. Large markets, like the Tolkuchka Bazaar in the outskirts of Ashgabat are open two or three mornings per week only. Bazaars outside Ashgabat will be closed at daylight hours during the cotton harvest season in autumn.

Government shops are closed on Sundays and at lunch time.