Baland Yollarm: The Ancient Art of Balancing Stones
Baland Yollarm is a Turkmen word that means “balancing stones”. It is also the name of a traditional art form that involves stacking natural stones of different shapes and sizes on top of each other without any glue or support. The result is a delicate and harmonious sculpture that defies gravity and challenges the viewer’s perception.
The origin of Baland Yollarm is not clear, but some historians believe that it dates back to the pre-Islamic era, when Turkmen nomads used to practice it as a form of meditation and worship. Others suggest that it was influenced by the Buddhist culture of neighboring countries, such as Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. Whatever the case, Baland Yollarm has been passed down from generation to generation as a part of Turkmen culture and identity.
Today, Baland Yollarm is practiced by both amateurs and professionals, who often display their creations in public places or exhibitions. Some of the most famous Baland Yollarm artists are Ata Atajanov, Orazgeldi Atayev, and Murad Annamuradov, who have won international recognition and awards for their work. They use stones of various colors, textures, and shapes, and sometimes add other elements, such as flowers, shells, or coins, to create unique compositions.
Baland Yollarm is more than just an art form. It is also a way of expressing one’s emotions, thoughts, and beliefs. Each stone represents a different aspect of life, such as love, faith, hope, or peace. By balancing them together, the artist creates a symbolic message that can be interpreted in different ways by different viewers. Baland Yollarm is also a reflection of the Turkmen spirit: resilient, creative, and harmonious.
One of the challenges of Baland Yollarm is finding the right stones for the sculpture. The artist has to search for stones that have a natural balance point, where they can rest on another stone without falling. This requires a lot of patience, skill, and intuition. The artist also has to consider the shape, size, weight, and color of the stones, and how they will fit together in the overall design.
Another challenge of Baland Yollarm is maintaining the stability of the sculpture. The slightest breeze, vibration, or touch can cause the stones to collapse. Therefore, the artist has to be very careful and gentle when placing the stones on top of each other. The artist also has to choose a suitable location for the sculpture, where it will not be disturbed by external factors. Some artists prefer to create their sculptures in natural settings, such as mountains, rivers, or deserts, where they can blend with the environment and create a contrast with the artificial structures.
Baland Yollarm is not only an art form, but also a sport. There are competitions and festivals where Baland Yollarm artists showcase their skills and creativity. The judges evaluate the sculptures based on their originality, complexity, beauty, and balance. The winners receive prizes and recognition from their peers and the public. Some of the most famous Baland Yollarm events are the International Stone Balancing Festival in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, and the World Stone Balancing Championship in Lanzarote, Spain.