There is an acquaintance of mine living in Ashgabat Dovletnepes Soyunov, an amateur artist. He works in the structural unit of the capital’s municipality– “Ashgabatteplo” (central heating institution) and has been painting the dried fruits of decorative pumpkin varieties for five years. The master says that in total he created about two hundred works. The hollow, hard-edged inedible “berries,” as all pumpkins are called, are transformed with a brush and the artist’s fantasies into gray-bearded old men, Turkmen gelins (brides) dressed in the national outfit. You can find attractive plot drafts as well. For instance, a caravan (camels) gliding along the ocean of sand, led by an experienced caravanbashi (leader of the caravan) guide, green meadows – open space for the faithful helper of the shepherd – Alabai dog. Pumpkins of a special form are painted for money boxes, chests, lamps, watches, and vessels for storing bulk food products.
According to Dovletnepes Toilievich, the first years he worked more for the soul, delighting relatives and friends, and gave the best pieces of his works to friends as a present. Now the master is working to order: his painted miracle pumpkins are presented as a gift on family celebrations, such as weddings, anniversaries and birthday parties. A part of his products he offers to his customers through the capital’s souvenir shops; he receives raw materials from Dashoguz melon growers, from where he comes from. His nephews-farmers, especially for him, grow three varieties of decorative pumpkin – from compact, which are suitable for the production of key chains, to huge ones that can be painted as a swan or dutar. In the process of pollination, caring for plants, Dovletnepes-aga visits his family Dashoguz melon, and by the time of harvesting, he selects unusual fruits for work.