About Uyghur Culture
Mihray Abdilim Abral
Xinjiang, Uyghur Culture, Costume, Food
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is located in the North-West of China. Xinjiang, the largest administrative division at provincial level, occupies one sixth of the total territory of China, which is about 1.66 million square kilometers. It is borders with Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, with the total boundaries running to 5,600 km, accounting for one fourth of the total land border of China.
Xinjiang has a complicated topography, which consists of three large mountain ranges, the Altai Mountains, the Tangritagh (Tianshan) Mountains and Khara-Khurum (Kunlun) Mountains ,and two vast basins, the Tarim Basin and Junggar Basin. Xinjiang is divided into the North and the South by Tangritagh Mountains. There are vast pastures, fertile fields and natural forest, as well as the Kurban – Tongghut Desert in the North. In the Northern region the amount of yearly rainfall is comparatively more than that of the South. The Taklimakan Desert lies in the heartland of the South, which is surrounded by many fertile oases irrigated by seasonal rivers. The climate in the South is very dry. The total amount of yearly rainfall hardly reaches 50 millimeters. The Tarim River is the largest water system in the South.
In the past, Xinjiang has been the meeting place where the eastern and western civilizations converged. That is to say, the key sections of the World-famous Silk Road were all situated in Xinjiang . The well known four civilizations of China, India, the ancient Rome and Greek, and the Arabic-Islam culture formed here the unique ancient Tarim civilization.
Xinjiang is a region of multiple ethnic groups with the Uyghurs as the majority among them. According to the sample survey of population mobility in this region of 2001 provided by the Statistical Bureau of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region the total population of Xinjiang is 18,761,900, of which the minority residents numbers 11,339,908 accounting for 60.44% of the total, while the 7,421,992 Hans make up 39.56%.
According to the statistical data of 2001, Uyghurs account for 8,605,575, making 45.87% of the total population of Xinjiang. Nearly 80% of them live in the South .
The language of the Uyghurs belongs to the family of Turkish language group and Altay language system. Uyghurs use the Arabic script. Uyghur is one of the most ancient nationalities in China. They established Orkhun Uyghur Khanate in 7th Century A.D. This Uyghur Khanate had twice sent troops out to help Tang Dynasty to put down the “Ongluk-Soygun Riot”. By the end 9th century A. D. Uyghur established the Huigu-Edikut khanate and The Khanate of Karakhanids. To the honor of Uyghur people ,outstanding statesmen ,strategists, astronomers, historians, translators and other distinguished scholars emerged in Uyghur history. In the 13th century and the years after many such eminent persons held high official positions in Yuan (Mongghul) Dynasty.
Uyghurs began to adopt the religion of Islam in the 10th century and by the end of 16th century Islam became a common religion of Uyghurs.
Uyghurs is a nationality of unique natural and spiritual civilization. They are honest, openhearted, friendly, outgoing, hospitable people. Humor, song and dance are the important features of their social life.
The “Twelve Mukam” is the typical classic musical collection of a long history and high honor. Uyghur dance is well-known for its lively, joyful and glorious form. Mashrap, as a form of get-together, is the common fiesta of Uyghurs. High-wire- walking (Darwaz), horse racing, sheep snatching, wrestling, etc. are also the common forms of sport in the towns and villages.
Uyghurs are the experts at many forms of traditional craftsmanship, such as carpet knitting, atlas (kind of unique colorful silk) weaving, gold crafting, carving, architecture, embroidery, coppersmith, making musical instruments, etc.
Uyghur diet culture is well known at home and abroad. There are over 50 varieties of dishes, which suit with Central Asian dry climate, such as nan (crust bread), polo (rice dish with lamb and carrot), various dumplings, laghman (hand made noodles), kabob, goshnan (pancakes stuffed with lamb), halwa (a sweet dish made with oil, flour and sugar) , yapma ( stewed lamb topped with layered dough), ogure (a kind of hand-cut noodl soup), opka-hesip ( a dish in combination of boiled blood –free lung and the stuffed intestines of lamb), and more. Uyghurs enjoy fruits such as grapes, apple, pear, apricot, peaches, pomegranate, figs, sweet melon, water melon, etc.
Being Muslims, Uyghur always follow the rules of Islam in their diet, never touch food that is regarded haram.
Uyghurs pay great attention to social etiquette. They say to each other “Assalamu Alaykum” (may you be healthy always) with their right hand placed on their chest. They treat guests with great respect.
Uyghur wedding and funerals are held according to the rules of Islam and by the the traditional ways.
Uyghurs celebrate Nawruz , Kurban Heyt and Roza heyt. During such holidays the tables in every family topped with typical Uyghurs snacks, such as sangza and other sweets and fruits. On the day of Kurban heyt, a sheep is sacrificed. Relatives and friend pay visit to each others home wishing the best each other.
When a child is born , a ceremony is held and Mullah is invited to give the name to the newborn. On the 7th day of birth, with a small ceremony, the baby will be put into the cradle ,and on the 40th day a Boshuk toy (lit. : Cradle Feast) is held. There will be a greater feast given on the day of circumcision, when the boy reaches the age of 7, which is called Sunnet Toy . A girl began to wear earrings also at the age of seven.
1.The Costume Culture . The most noticeable items of Uyghurs ethnic
costumes are the :
Hat ( doppa, tumak, telpek taj, kadak,chumbel ) ;
Coat ( atlas silk dress, bakasam chapan( silk coat) , Parije , Juyaza, Pashmat,Jugancha,Chiltek, Chapan)
Shoes ( Choruk , Otuk, Kesh, Pima, topley etc.)
2.The Dietary Culture.
Uyghurs dishes are well known today for it’s variety and value both at home and abroad. Uyghur Dishes (1985,the people’s publishing Huose ,Xinjiang ) provides detailed information about 360 kinds of Uyghur recipes, such as 21 types of nan ; 26 types of polo; 19 kinds of kawab 11 different manta; 12 kind of samsa; 11 type of shorpa; 11 different kinds of chochure; 8 style of langman etc.
3. Musical Instruments.Uyghur instruments hold special position in the musical history ,still over 40 types of Uyghur musical instruments are being used in modern days. Dutar,rawap,ghijek,satar,tambur,barbap,baliman,chang, hushtar, kalun, burgha , tash,dap,naghra,sunay,sapaye ,koshuk and more.