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15 July 2015

Home > About Hunan > National Customs

Uygur Ethnic Minority

 

 

The Uygur ethnic minority, with a total population of 7,939,  is centered around Changde City, in northern Hunan Province. They live in compact communities, mainly in Uygur townships.  The Uygur people usually engage in agriculture, but a small number are also good at business and handicrafts. Due to their long-term coexistence with the Han, the Uygur have taken Chinese as a common language, but still retain their own customs, religious activities, and daily life.

 

Folk Culture and Art

 

The Uygur ethnic minority has its own language and alphabet, which belongs to the Turki Austronesian of Altai Phylum. They have two written languages, one based upon Arabian letters, the other based upon Latin letters.

 

Uygur culture and art have flourished, and have a long and rich tradition. Uygur literature is very rich in style and subject matter, their oral literature mainly reflecting the Uygur's historical origins, heroic characters, social changes, and customs, in works such as "The Tales of Afandi".

 

The Uygurs are excellent dancers. The "12 Mukams" (opera) is an epic comprising more than 340 classic songs and folk dances, and the "Daolang Mukams" is another, distinctively Uygur, suite.

 

The Uygur musical instruments include the Dutar, Rawap and Dap. The first two are instruments with a clear and crisp tone, and are used for solo and orchestral performances. Dap is a sheepskin tambourine, with many small iron rings attached to the rim, and is used to accompany dancing.

 

Food

 

Wheat flour, rice, and maize are the staple foods of Uygurs. In some areas the Uygur people like milk tea with baked maize or wheat cakes. Some are made by mixing flour with sugar, eggs, butter, or meat, and are delicious. Paluo (sweet rice), cooked with mutton, sheep fat, carrots, raisins, onions and rice, is an important festival food that is often served to guests.

 

Clothing

 

Men wear a long gown called a qiapan, which opens on the right, and has a slanted collar. It is buttonless, and is bound by a long square cloth band around the waist. Women wear broad-sleeved dresses and black waist coats, with buttons sewn on the front. Some now like to wear Western-style suits and skirts. The Uygurs, old and young, men and women, like to wear small, four cornered caps, upon which traditional Uygur designs are embroidered, using black and white or colored silk threads. The women's favorite decorations include earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. Girls comb their hair into a dozen pigtails. After marriage, they usually wear two pigtails with loose ends, decorated on the head with a crescent, shaped comb. Some tuck up their pigtails into a bun.

 

Living Quarters

 

The Uygur people's houses are made of clay, one household to each building. Houses face south, and are decorated with carvings and patterns.

 

Festivals

 

The Corban Festival, the Noroz Festival, the Kaizhai Festival, and the Nuolu Festival are the most important festivals of the Uygur people.

 

Customs

 

The Uygurs are believers in the Islamic faith. Over the centuries, many mosques, mazas (Uygur complexes, nobles' tombs), theological seminaries, and religious courts have been set up in Uygur areas.