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East Turkistan And Uyghurs

Uyghurs Archive is a non-profit library. We collect free e-books, uyghur movies, Documentary, music, websites, and more about Uyghur people and East Turkestan.

East Turkistan, also known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China, lies in the very heart of Asia. Situated along the fabled ancient Silk Road, it has been a prominent centertur of commerce for more than 2000 years. The land of East turkistan gave birth to many great civilizations and at various points of history it has been a cradle of scholarship, culture and power.

The current territorial size of East Turkistan is 1.82 million square kilometers. The neighbouring Chinese province annexed part of the territory as a result of the Chinese communist invasion of 1949. East Turkistan borders with China and Mongolia to the east, Russia to the north, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India to the west, and Tibet to the south. East Turkistan has a rich history and a diverse geography. It has grand deserts, magnificent mountains, and beautiful rivers, grasslands and forests.

History

Old Uyghur or Old Turkic is an ancient form of Turkic used from the 7th to the 13th centuries in Mongolia and the Uyghurstan/East Turkistan region, in particular in the Orkhon inscriptions and Turpan texts. It is the direct ancestor of the Southeastern Turkic, or Uyghur-Chaghatai, family of languages, including the modern Uyghur and Uzbek languages. By contrast, Yugur, although in geographic proximity, is more closely related to the northeastern Turkic languages in Siberia.

During the 11th century, a scholar of the Turkic languages, Mahmud al-Kashgari (Memhud Qeshqeri) from Kashgar in modern-day Xinjiang, published the first Turkic language dictionary and description of the geographic distribution of many Turkic languages with his “Compendium of the Turkic Dialects” (Divān-ul Lughat-ul Turk).

Old Uyghur, through the influence of Perso-Arabic after the 13th century, developed into the Chagatai language, a literary language used all across Central Asia until the early 20th century. After Chaghatai fell into extinction, the standard versions of Uyghur and Uzbek were developed from dialects in the Chaghatai-speaking region, showing abundant Chaghatai influence. The Uyghur language today shows considerable Persian influence as a result from Chaghatai, including numerous Persian loanwords. Modern Uyghur uses the Urumchi dialect in Xinjiang as its standard, while the similar Ili dialect is used in the former Soviet Union. Russian sources cite the central dialect of Ghulja (Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture) as the pronunciation norm for modern Standard Uyghur. The similar pronunciation of Zhetysu and Fergana Uyghurs is considered standard for Uyghurs living in the Central Asian countries.

Uyghur Culture

Toward the end of the 19th century and into the first decades of the 20th century, scientific and archaeological expeditions to the region of East Turkistan’s Silk Road discovered numerous cave temples, monastery ruins, wall paintings, as well as valuable miniatures, books and documents. Explorers from Europe, America and even Japan were amazed by the art treasures found there, and soon their reports caught the attention of an interested public around the world. These relics of the Uyghur culture constitute today major collections in the museums of Berlin, London, Paris, Tokyo, St. Petersburg and New Delhi. The manuscripts and documents discovered in East Turkistan reveal the very high degree of civilization attained by the Uyghurs. This Uyghur power, prestige and civilization, which dominated Central Asia for over a thousand years, went into a steep decline after the Manchu invasion of their homeland.

Uyghur Music

Uyghur music embraces several distinct regional styles, product of the geography and complex history of the region, whose oasis kingdoms, separated by mountains and deserts, have been subject through the course of history to rule by many different outside forces. The musical traditions of the southern oasis towns of Khotan and Kashgar are more closely allied to the classical Central Asian traditions of Bukhara and Samarkand, while the music of the easternmost oasis town of Qumul has closer links to the music of Northwest China. Each of the region’s oasis towns have to this day maintained their own distinctive sound and repertoire, but they are linked by a common language and overarching culture, maintained by constant communication through trade and movement of peoples. Musically there is much to link these local traditions, in terms of instruments, genres, styles and contexts.

The most prestigious and well-known genre of Uyghur music is the muqam, the large-scale suites of sung, instrumental and dance music. In addition to the muqam the Uyghurs maintain popular traditions of sung epic tales (dastan) and other forms of narrative song (qoshaq, läpär, äytshish and mäddhi namä); suites of dance music (sänäm); instrumental music; musical genres linked to the ceremonies of the Sufis, and a huge repertoire of folksongs which commonly dwell on the suffering of life on earth and the torments of frustrated love. Contrary to the common perception of Islam in the West as hostile to music, amongst the Uyghurs many traditional musical contexts are linked to the religion, largely due to the influence of the Sufis who use music to express and promote their faith. Today these traditional genres compete with a lively pop music industry and the music of the professional, state-sponsored troupes.

[Excerpted from Dr. Rachel Harris & Yasin Muhpul — Originally Published 2002. Encyclopedia of the Turks, vol. 6. Istanbul: Yeni Turkiye, p. 542-9.]

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