A young Uyghur man poses for the camera after afternoon chai in Kashgar.
Three generations of Uyghur women, and a girl, are preparing the daily meal of Kawa Manta in a traditional city home in East Turkestan. Kawa Manta is a large steamed dumpling made with pumpkin.
Young Uyghur men install counterfeited software and exchange bootleg movies after a day of working in the orchards. September 2012, East Turkestan
Many would be surprised how aware of technology and pop culture the people of East Turkestan (the far Western reaches of China) are. Many covet the latest iPhone and can talk about Hollywood blockbusters of the last decade. Also, quite aware of local fashion trends; where the men dress more hip and Western than the Han Chinese majority.
Because of limited news resources, many use websites like the BBC to follow modern news and politics. The Uyghurs in cities that have followed through with high school education are free thinkers, inquisitive, and very well aware of what’s happening in their own country and elsewhere. Even in the countryside, there is intelligence and a curiosity. They know what is going on politically and religiously…perhaps no computers or iPhones, but there are rumors of underground newspapers circulating and secret meetings among men.
Uyghur couple near Aksu, East Turkestan, September 2012
Many in the West have this idea that Muslim men and women do not interact with one another, a segregated culture. I have found this to be quite untrue through out East Turkestan and often in Central Asia. This husband and wife were nearly always side be side, whether in the home, picking cotton, or working their personal fruit orchard.
A Uyghur dentist near Aksu, East Turkestan (Xinjiang, China), 2012
Muslim women in East Turkestan are often educated and find themselves in high positions of employment. Although the Uyghurs are generally a lesser educated and poorer minority of China, because of politics/government, they take great care in good hygiene and oral care (by comparison to the countryside/poor Han).
Once, during a conversation with a young lady of the Hui minority (the other Muslim minority) said, “Oh, we are not like Uyghurs, they are dirty people…they eat with their hands.” I could never understand this mentality, as I’ve eaten with my hands countless times, even at Uyghur weddings. Homes are extremely clean, by Chinese standards, and they wash their hands, feet, and brush their teeth daily.
A Uyghur couple rides an electric scooter through Old Town, Kashgar. This part of Kashgar is being demolished and rebuilt like many “ancient” towns in China. It will soon be “jiade” like the Great Wall and so many other “new” old and ancient places. I was there last March and again in August and couldn’t believe what had happened in such a short period of time.
Kashgar, October 2012
These Uyghur children, in a small village Southeast of Kashgar, eat their breakfast while one boy prays. Breakfast and lunch in the poor, far reaches of East Turkestan, usually consists of “chai” which is water and home made naan. You can generally see a families economic status by their diet. A littel wealthier would use tea leaves in the hot water or even soak the naan in fresh milk. Perhaps even a plate of left over Lagman or Polo (Plov) from the previous night’s dinner.
East Turkestan, September 2012
Behind the Veil
Uyghur Women of East Turkestan attending a wedding celebration.
Copyright Eleanor Moseman 2012
A Uyghur woman prays towards Mecca in her home. Uyghurs, as all Muslims, pray at least 5 times a day. Near Kasghar, 2012
Two ,Uyghur, jade miners curl up together to keep themselves warm from the winds and sandstorms of the Taklamakan Desert. About 200km South of Hotan, nestled between the Taklamakan and the Kunlun Range. Near Bostan, Xinjiang 2012
A piece of “Hotan Jade”, at about 1” x 1/2” can cost around $500 USD depending on quality and grade. Noted as being the most expensive jade in China.