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Uygur means unity or people coming together. The Chinese Uygur population has now reached 9.9 million. Most of them live in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. There are also many Uygur people living in Henan and Hunan provinces.
Uygur people have their own unique language. It evolved from a branch of Turkic. Uygur people use the Persian alphabet to write their language. The Persian alphabet created major changes in the language in the 10th century. This is when the Uygur people embraced Islam.
Uygur people live and make a living through agriculture. In fact, they are the largest producer of grapes in China. They cultivate and grow grapes in the Turpan basin. In addition, they also produce large quantities of different types of crops. They include rice, corn, grain, and cotton.
The ancestors of the Uygur people were Turkic pastoralists known as the Tiele. Traces of the Tiele were found near Lake Baikal and the Yenisei River. They were nomadic tribes that lived around 200 B.C.
Uygur people make sure that they eat at least three meals every day. Their favorite foods are sweet jam, pancakes, dumplings, noodles, and melon. They love to drink strong tea and milk tea. Their most popular summer refreshment is melon.
Uygur people have strict beliefs when it comes to eating meat. Uygur people do not eat pork. They will only eat meat that comes from animals that were killed by people in the Uygur way.
Uygur people love to wear clothes made of cotton. Uygur women typically wear one-piece dresses with bright vests and baggy sleeves. They accentuate these with silk scarves. On the other hand, men usually wear gowns paired with a long scarf around the waist.
Uygur people never leave their home without a cap. Caps are the most important piece of clothing for Uygur people. Women like to put designs on their caps. They often add colorful embroidery and pictures.
Uygur women also love to accessorize with necklaces, earrings and bracelets. They keep their hair long. Married and single women can be distinguished by their braids. Married women only wear two braids. Single women can wear as many braids as they want.
Uygur people eat all of the rice they are served at every meal. They consider it insulting to leave rice uneaten. While elders are performing the Duwa rite, younger people and guests should behave properly. They should not stand up or make unnecessary noises.
During dinner, everyone in the family should wash their hands. No one should splash water on their hands. This signifies discourtesy. Younger people should sit with the senior members of the family.
In addition, no one is allowed to eat pancakes or the traditional food called nang (unleaved bread) when they are turned upside down. Most importantly, people should dress in modest clothing while eating. Large collars should also not be worn while eating.
Couples who plan to get married should undergo marriage interview and marriage contract ceremonies. These are ways of showing prudence and respect for the marriage rite. A young man who really wants to get married should go for a marriage interview first. This rule also applies to parents who want to have an arranged marriage for their son. The interview will confirm that the bridegroom knows everything about the future spouse. This includes their age, personality and family members.
The man can propose marriage to a woman when he feels like he is ready. When the woman agrees to it, they should inform their family members. The marriage interview then follows. This is their way of making the relationship public and legitimate.
Uygur people believe that entrance doors should not face west. They also believe that the proper way of sleeping is to lie on their back with their head facing towards the east. Male friends should shake hands when they meet. They also touch their chest using both of their hands. Women should also salute when meeting and saying goodbye. It is very important for Uygur people to receive gifts using both hands. This shows respect and appreciation.
The Corban Festival is second to none for Uygur people. This celebration is connected to their religion. They celebrate it on the tenth day of the second month of the Islamic calendar. This is their chance to express their gratitude and faith in their religion. This is the most important part of the year where they hold the biggest worship ceremonies.
Uygur people always make sure they prepare well for this day. Before the day comes, they clean their entire house. They also prepare their livestock. The people wake up early on the morning of the festival. They clean themselves and dress up. After that, they flock to local mosques for worship. Uygur people should not eat for half of this day.
When the ceremony ends, people go home and prepare the livestock for killing. The meat is equally divided into three parts. The first part is for the family who owns the livestock. Another part is for relatives or friends, and the last is given away as a donation.
People then go out to meet their relatives and friends. The most anticipated part of the festival is the singing and dancing performances. This is open for all to see in public areas. Corban Festival strengthens the religious beliefs of the Uygur. It is the time of the year when they promote harmony. Through this, family and friendship bonds become stronger.
Uygur people deeply respect the celebration of this Muslim religious festival. Every family that can afford to makes sure that they share a part of their livestock with poorer members of the community. The way that Uygur people celebrate this festival remains unchanged. The spirit and tradition have been kept safe through the years.
China Highlights are specialized in tailor-made China tours. Travel with us to explore the culture of uygur minority people in China.