The Turkmens of Iran are from Turkic ethnic group native to Central Asia who inhabit in northeast of the country. They speak the Turkmen language and they are mostly Sunni Muslims. It is believed that by the advent of Islam in Iran, the Turkmens were the first group who converted to Islam and when they were asked to introduce themselves, they said we are “Turk Man” of “Turk Iman” (the words “Man” and “Iman” are Arabic words meaning “faith”) and their name gradually changed to “Turkmen”. Till the beginning of the 20th century, they had nomadic life style but later they started living in counties and towns.
They are mostly inhabiting in southeast of Caspian Sea and Turkmen Sahra. Their settlement is mostly in Golestan province, the borderline of the north of Razavi Khorasan province, Torbat-e Jawm and North Khorasan province. The most important cities of Iran wherein the Turkmen are inhabiting in are Bandar Turkaman, Gonbad-e Kavus, Kalaleh, Aqqala, Gomishan and Incheh Borun.
With respect to their nomadic life style, the Turkmens are mainly occupied with husbandry and can train horse, sheep and camel professionally. Their habitats are gazebos which are called “Ovi”. They have a wooden skeleton and are surrounded by straws. Setting up the Ovi is a difficult job which is done by women. The oldest women of a family covers the ceiling of the Ovi with a felt.
The handicrafts of the Turkmens are carpet weaving, needlework and making traditional jewelries. The Turkmen carpet, especially double-sided silk carpets, are globally known and each of them has various designs and specific name. Needlework of the Turkmens is a delicate art which is used in decorating the collar, hem of the trousers and the ring which is used by the Turkmen women after getting married, the ring is called “Anna” and is worn under their scarf.
The literature of Turkmens has a long history and has been verbally transferred to the next generations, the most important part of their literature is the “nursery rhymes”. It is pointed out that the Turkmen women come out of the Ovi at nights, gather together and sing songs, this action is called “Laleh-Khani” which is an important part of their literature. It has several kinds and while performing it, the women hit their chin and neck to make it more tragic.