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Source: Index >> Xinjiang_Today >> Xinjiang Regions

IV Full Bodied Nationality Features
(Tianshannet) Updated: 2010-July-29 16:00:53

Like elsewhere in Xinjiang, Kashgar is a big family where all ethnic groups live together and enjoy harmony, solidarity and common prosperity. There in Kashgar are people from 31 nationalities including Uygur, Hah, as well as Hui, Uzbek, Kyrgyz, etc. Kashgar Prefecture has a population of 3.69 million people, of which 90% are Uygur people.

Among the multiple ethnic groups, Uygur and Tajik can best represent the local cultures in Kashgar.

Northern Ancient Nationality - Uygur

Uygur is an ancient nationality in northern China. People of this ethnic group call themselves "Uygur", which means solidarity or unity. According to history books in various dynasties, "Yuanhe", "Weihe", "Huihe" and "Huihu" are phonetically different translations of Uygur. Since Mongol Khanate, Huihu was translated phonetically as "Weiwuer." In 1935 (the 24th year of the ROC), the provincial government of Xinjiang decided to call the nationality "Uygur", which has been used till now.

Uygur residential buildings

Eagle dance of Tajik in the Pamirs

Uygur are the dominant nationality in Xinjiang. They are distributed across the whole region with most of them concentrating in Kashgar, Hotan, Aksu sub-prefectures south of the Tianshan Mountains. In Iii prefecture and other areas north of the Mountains, Uygur can also be found. This ethnic group has its own language and characters. The language is categorized as Turkic of the AItaic Languages and the characters are Arabic-based Uygur characters. Thanks to frequent Iongtime exchanges and mutual learning between nationalities, most Uygur people also command Chinese and Kazak.

Uygur believe in Islam, which deeply influences Uygur's ideology and lifestyle. The origin of this nationality can be dated back to 300 B.C. when people called "Dingling" lived their nomadic life in northern and northwest China, south to the Lake Baikal and between the Ertix River and Balkhash Lake. Later on, "Dingling" was also called as "Tiele" or "Chile". Due to the very big wheels they used, these people were also given the name "Gaoche". Till 800 AD, "Huihe" was replaced by "Huihu".In the middle of 900 AD, most of the "Huihu" moved to Xiyu and settled down. mis part of Huihu people lived together and integrated with Han people that had moved here since the Han Dynasty, with local people who spoke Qara Shahr, Kuchean and Keriya and had been living in the vast South Xinjiang, and with Tibetan, Khitan and Mongol who moved here later. It was throught such multiplying and development, the Uygur finally came into being.

Maxrap in courtyard

Uygur famous for their hospitality, strait forwardness and honesty, attach great importance to etiquettes. In their daily life, the general rule is: the junior courtly yield to the senior,male to female and the younger to the older.

Younger members of a Uygur family respect the older members; they walk and speak after the older, they reserve honor seats to the older, serve food to the older first and lay the best cushions for them when having a meal. Hospitable Uygur people always serve distinguished guests with delicious foods.

Many Uygur taboos have relations with their traditions,customs, religions and belief. For example, the Uygur are forbidden to eat animals naturally died or meat from pig, ass,dog and mule, or blood of any animal; they are not allowed to make noises in a mosque, or to spit, litter and commit nuisance everywhere, neither permitted to do digging, damage grass and trees and commit nuisance at mazars (tombs), or to walk in front of, crowd around and laugh at prayers. The following performances are regarded as ugly deeds: to take hemp cigarettes or heroin, play gambling, drink excessively, commit affray, tell a lie, and to steal, etc.

Receiving the bride

Generally, the Uygur people only inter-marry muslim nationalities; in particular, they exclude females from marrying males from non muslin nationalities. Traditional marriage was decided by the parents. Today, though free courtship has become the dominant pattern, they still insist that a man who doesn't offer betrothal gifts to his girlfriend is considered as diminishing her; small carpets for praying are indispensible for the betrothal gift,Imam witnesses at a wedding ceremony; the bride the bridegroom shall eat haan steeped in salted water together;and relatives and friends sing and dance to celebrate the marriage.

Residential buildings in Shache County of Kashgar

Sheep fight

In accordance with Islam rules, Uygur adopt burial There is an important feature of "stressing life time rather than after death", which means children shall respect and look after their parents during their life time; once they have passed away, the parents will be buried without any grave goods.

The most ceremonious festival for Uygur people is Corban Festival, also called "Feast of the Sacrifice", which falls on the 10th day of December in Islam calendar. When the festival is approaching, all families clean up their houses, prepare fruits and foods and make new clothes for the event, in the early morning of the festival day, men in gorgeous dresses rush to mosques for worshiping first, while women prepare for receiving guests. After worshiping, men hurry back home to slaughter goats or cattle, contribute the skin to the mosque, and put the big pieces of meat into cooking ware. While the hostesses are cooking meat, men go out for dancing "Sama Dance" in the The Etigar Square. Sama Dance is an ancient dance, people dance it annually in the The Etigar Square.

The Rozah Festival, or Islam Balram, is also an important festival. September in Islam calendar is Ramadam Month. Every day from dawn to sunset, people are forbidden to have food and sexual intercourse, which is called "to fast". But children, pregnant women, and the old, weak and disabled are not restricted by that. In the evening, family members drink and eat and ta{k happily. After a month of fasting, people look for the crescent on the last day of September. The next day after seeing the moon (month), or the first day of October in Islam calendar, is the Ramadam Day.

"The word "Nuoluzi" comes from ancient Iranian, whose meaning is the day of spring rain, or Day of Vernal Equinox.Celebration of the festival begins at dawn on this day. Head of a family gets up first and burns a pile of pine or cypress branches at the center of his house. Then, he holds a smoking twig and draws a circle above each family member's head, wishing them a peaceful and happy new year. On the day of the festival,Uygur people cook "Nuoluzi rice". Remaining grain and food with various seasonings (including some wild plant seasonings) are cooked into thick congee, named "Keque" or "Chongkeque" means sumptuous congee). No more livestock is slaughtered when cooking this rice. People dress themselves gorgeously for the festival and each family invite guests to dinner after sunset. They dance and sing, expressing their joy to the utmost in greeting the new year. After the Nuoluzi Festival, the busy farming begins.

(SOURCES:China Intercontinental Press)Editor: zhaoqian
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