Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov

Most often, the reason to erect an equestrian statue is to glorify the sitter, a process not infrequently initiated by the sitter him or herself. Leaders still love to be seen on a horse, even today. I refer to the statues of dictators in countries such as North Korea (Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang, unveiled in 2012) and Turkmenistan, where a golden equestrian statue portraying President Berdimuhamedow was erected in Ashgabat in 2015.

According to the official version, the edifice in a central square in the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat was built only after public clamouring for a permanent monument to the president became impossible to ignore. Mr Berdimuhamedow remained modest in the face of his people’s apparent adoration. When presented with the proposal for a statue last year, he said, ‘My main goal is to serve the people and the Motherland. And so, I will listen to the opinion of the people and do as they choose’. He did not attend the unveiling ceremony.

Cast in bronze and covered in 24-carat gold leaf, the president atop a golden horse soars 20 metres from the ground, perched on an outcrop of white marble cliff. 

Photo by Reuters

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