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Pres Sap Niyazov Turkmenistan*

Turkmen leader redefines ages of man

August 17, 2002 Posted: 7:42 PM EDT (2342 GMT)

[a sap, not a sapien or sapient, RSB]

Turkmenistan President Saparmurat Niyazov

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan, (Reuters) -- Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov, who last week renamed the month of January after himself, has decreed a new system for dividing up the ages of his people.

Niyazov -- officially known as Turkmenbashi (Head of all the Turkmen), but more usually as Turkmenbashi the Great -- was quoted as saying on the official website, Turkmenistan.ru: "We will return to our roots.

"Our ancestors had a clearer and more reasoned division of the ages of man...childhood lasted to 13, adolescence to 25, youth to 37, maturity to 49.

"Later there followed: the age of the prophet, from 49 to 62; the age of inspiration, from 62 to 73; the age of the white-bearded elder, from 73 to 85; old age, from 85 to 97; and the age of Oguz Khan (an ancient ruler of the Turkic ancestors of the Turkmen) -- from 97 to 109."


Flamboyant Turkmen renames January

Turkmenbashi, who on his last birthday moved into the age of inspiration, first made the suggestion at a meeting last week of the People's Council, the country's highest consultative body.

The Ashgabat daily Watan said on Wednesday Niyazov had now decreed the new divisions.

Last week he also proposed renaming all the months of the year, a move which was quickly agreed. January is now "Turkmenbashi," while April is "Mother" after Niyazov's mother.

Other months have such names as "The Flag," "Independence," and "Rukhnama," the title of a quasi-religious spiritual guide for the Turkmen people, written by Turkmenbashi the Great and compulsory reading in schools and for conscripts.

Niyazov was offered the presidency for life in 1999, and again last week at the People's Council, although he turned this down saying there would be elections in 2008.

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