In the cemetery of the village of Nokhur, located in Turkmenistan, most graves are marked with a wooden pillar, which is decorated with the horns of a mountain goat and more rarely mountain ovis (wild sheep). According to local belief, goat horns ward off evil spirits and help the souls of the dead make a safe passage to heaven.
Decorations in the form of horns can be found here not only in the cemetery, but also at the entrance to some houses. In Turkmenistan, mountain goats have been revered since ancient times and were considered sacred animals in many places for their strength, incredible agility, endurance and the difficulty of hunting them.
Apparently, the veneration of mountain goats goes back to ancient times and existed among the inhabitants of Nokhur even before the arrival of Islam in Central Asia. Today, the Nohuris are devout Muslims. However, this part of their ancient belief system continues to persist.
The Nokhur cemetery is an excellent example of how Islam combines with local traditions in Central Asia. With the exception of the Middle East, where the advent of Islam virtually erased all traces of pre-Islamic religions, in Central Asia certain parts of pre-Islamic belief systems were incorporated into younger religion, creating a syncretism that is often symbolized in the funerary rites of local tribes.
Actually the Nokhur people have maintained a highly homogeneous society based upon ancestral rights, and tribal custom. Varied images in the stunning silk embroideries sewn by local Nokhur women, indicating their particular tribe, make Nokhur silk renowned throughout the country. The Nokhur felts are also thought to be exclusive to this region.
They differ from customary Turkmen felts with their original designs and Zoroastrian ornaments symbolising the worship of fire, and the cult of fertility. Constructing their homes from the stones found around the area, the Nokhur people have decorated these simple homes with handcrafted wooden columns and capitals unique only to this clan of people.