Uighurs(Weiwu’er), culture of


Uighurs(Weiwu’er), culture of
The Uighurs are a Turkic people, the population in 1990 being 7,209,675, all but a few thousand living in Xinjiang. In 1999, they made up approximately 46.5 per cent of Xinjiang’s total. They speak a language belonging to the Turkic branch of the Altaic family, and use Arabic script. Most Uighurs are Muslims and to this day their culture and livelihood remain deeply affected by their faith. Since 1990, when there was an uprising inspired by the Muslim doctrine of the ‘holy war’ in Baren township, Akto county, southern Xinjiang, the government has been suspicious of Islam among the Uighurs, believing it to be the source of ethno-nationalist separatism. In the south, Islam is especially strong, but in places like the capital Ürümqi and nearby Turpan, there are intellectuals interested in more secular ideas, often also strongly nationalist.
The Uighur arts reflect their Turkic ethnicity, with song and dance a major genre.
Many dances accelerate, rising to a climactic and excited conclusion. Percussion and string instruments dominate the orchestras that accompany song-and-dance performances, the players normally being exclusively male. The Uighurs have a significant literary tradition. A very fine example among contemporary writers is Abdurehim Ötkür (d. 1995), author of several historical novels set in Xinjiang and with the theme of Uighur identity.
Rudelson, Justin Jon (1997). Oasis Identities, Uyghur Nationalism Along China’s Silk Road. New York: Columbia University Press.
COLIN MACKERRAS

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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