There are few museums, which can boast of the exhibits, which age is more than a thousand years. And there are less of them, where the exposure can tell you about the evolution of long-missing people. In this sense, the park-museum of stone sculptures, located in Taras Shevchenko National University of Lugansk, is unique. Silent witnesses of the Cumans’ (ancient Turkic-speaking nomadic people, which contrasted with their courage) culture and life are gathered here.
The idea of creating a park-museum of stone statues appeared during the archaeological excavations in Lugansk region carried out under the direction of K.I. Krasilnikov. Excavated mounds and thousands of ancient artifacts had testified the fact that the current Lugansk region in ancient times was a place of their settlement. But truly, stone statues traditional for the Cumans culture – it is the most convincing proof of it. Just so they should be called. The "baba" is more familiar name, came from the Turkic, where the "baba" means "grandfather or ancestor." Less commonly, stone statues were called "mamais."
Such statues, made of sandstone, were placed at the head of the graves of soldiers killed in battle. But, in addition, they were the objects of worship of pagan Kipchaks. Vessels for the gifts that statues keep in their hands are evidence of it. There are not many similar monuments in the world - only about two thousand. And the largest collection, assembled by the students of historical faculty throughout the region, is located in Lugansk. About 80 statues give us an idea about the development of culture and life of the missing people. More than 30 statues are kept in museum collections of cities, primarily in Sverdlovsk, Lisichansk, Lugansk, Pervomaisk.
As for the sculptures’ forms, early stele-statues can be found, among the seated or standing male and female figures. Incidentally, the vast majority of the collection - are female sculptures. Whether the image of a topless woman-mother symbolized the idea of valor and victory, and gave the Cumans force, or whether there were other historical reasons. It is known that during the centuries the number of the Cumans statues had decreased. Firstly they were destroyed by the Tatar-Mongols. They believed that by destroying the stone idols they reduce the Cumans’ force. The statues were broken up. The heads of stronger sculptures were demolished and buried deep in the ground. In the XVIII-XX centuries, the statues were brought to the masters’ estates in the best case, or just were broken up and used in commercial and construction purposes. By the way, the statues are kept in the open air not in vain. So, being in their natural environment, they are better preserved. In 2004 Lugansk Stone Sculpture Park was added to the list of national treasure of Ukraine. And in 2010, it became the winner of "Wonders of the Lugansk region" project.