Information about the Uygur

Uyghurs (also called Uighurs, Uygurs, or Uigurs) are a Turkic-speaking ethnic group living in northwestern China (mainly in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, where they are the largest ethnic group together with Han people), Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia. Another group of Uyghurs lives in Taoyuan county of Hunan province in Southcentral China. Uyghurs form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China.


Historically the term "Uyghur" was applied to a group of Turkic-speaking tribes that lived in what is now Mongolia. Along with the so-called Kokturks (a.k.a. Gokturks), the Uyghurs were one of the largest and most enduring Turkic peoples living in Central Asia. They existed as a tribal federation ruled by the Juan Juan from 460–545, and then by the Hephthalites from 541–565 before being taken over by the Gokturk empire ( Khaganate).

Known as Huihe (?? huíhé) and Huihu in Chinese sources, Under Khutlugh Bilge Kul Khagan's leadership, they established an empire (Khaganat) in the 8th century and replaced the Gokturks. Their ethnonym Huihu is the origin of the term Huihui (??) which came to be used for Muslims in Chinese and which is now used for the Hui nationality in China.

Their empire stretched from the Caspian Sea to Manchuria, and lasted from 745–840, when they were overrun by the Kirghiz, another Turkic people. The result was that the majority of tribal groups formerly under the umbrella of the Uyghurs migrated to what is now modern Xinjiang. Joined by other Turkic tribal groups living in Zungaria and the Tarim Basin, they established the Idiqut kingdom which lasted until 1209 when they submitted to the Mongol under Genghis Khan. Others, occupying western Tarim Basin, Ferghana Valley, and parts of Kazakhstan bordering the Muslim, Turco-Tajik Khwarazm Sultanate, converted to Islam no later than 10th century and built a federation with Muslim institutions called Kara-Khanlik, whose princely dynasties are called Kara-Khanids by historians.

After the rise of the Seljuks in Iran, the Kara-Khanids became nominal vassals of the Seljuks. Later they would serve the dual suzerainty of both the Kara-Khitans to the north and the Seljuks to the south.

In his now dated book Empire Of The Steppes, René Grousset reports that the Uyghurs took up a settled agricultural lifestyle in the Tarim. They had an opportunity to resume nomadism after the Kirghiz were driven out of Mongolia by other tribes, but the Uyghurs chose not to do so.

A small number of Uyghurs also migrated to what is now Gansu province in China around the late 9th century, where they converted from Manicheism to Tibetan Buddhism. Unlike other Turkic peoples further west, they did not later convert to Islam at that time; they are thus unusual amongst Turkic peoples. Their descendants still live there to this day, where they are known as Yugurs (population approximately 10,000). They are distinct from modern Uyghurs.

Most Uyghurs in the Besh Balik and Turfan regions did not convert until the 15th century expansion of the Yarkand Khanate, a Turko-Mongol successor state based in the western Tarim. With conversion to Islam, the traditional ethnonym Uyghur was dropped and the population of what is now modern Xinjiang identified themselves by the terms Turki and Muslims.

Before converting to Islam, Uyghurs included Manichaeans, Buddhists and even some Nestorian Christians. Genetically and culturally, modern Uyghurs descend from the nomadic Turkic tribes from Mongolia as well as the many Indo-europian speaking groups who preceded them in the Tarim Basin oasis cities. Today, one can still see Uyghurs with light-coloured skin and hair. At the present time, the Turkic and Islamic cultural elements are dominant in the Tarim, reflecting Turkic emigration to the Tarim region, especially during the Mongol period, as well as the replacement of previous religious traditions by Islam. This has had an effect on modern politics, despite a long, on-and-off association with China. These factors have resulted in a troubled relationship with past and present Chinese political institutions and with the dominant Chinese ethnic group, the Han.

Modern usage of the Uyghur ethnonym is used to give an ethnic definition to a traditional Central Asian distinction between nomads and settled farmers. It refers to the descendants of settled Turkic urban oasis-dwelling and agricultural populations of Xinjiang as opposed to those Turkic groups that remained nomadic. It is widely credited as having been used for the first time in 1921 with the establishment of the Organization of Revolutionary Uyghur (Inqilawi Uyghur Itipaqi), a Communist nationalist group with intellectual and organizational ties to the Soviet Union.

There is some evidence that Uyghur students and merchants living in Russia had already embraced the name prior this date, drawing on Russian studies that claimed a linkage between the historical khanate and Xinjiang's current inhabitants. Official recognition of the Uyghurs came under the rule of Sheng Shicai, who deviated from the official Kuomintang "five races of China" stance in favor of a Stalinist policy of delineating fourteen distinct ethnic nationalities within Xinjiang. Despite the efforts of the Chinese government and Uyghur intellectuals it is not a particularly favored term in modern Xinjiang. Most modern Uyghurs prefer to describe themselves as Muslims (if they are farmers) or Turkic (if they are intellectuals).

Notable Uyghurs

Famous Uyghurs include Tumen, Koltekin, Bayanchur Khan,Sultan Satuq Bughra Khan, Kashgarli Mehmud (Mehmud kashgari), Yusuf Balasaguni(Yusuf Has Hajip), Farabi(Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Tarkhan ibn Uzalagh al-Farabi), Sultan Said Khan, Abdurashid Khan , Amannisa Khan, Yakubbeg(Bedewlet), Ipar Khan(Xiang Fei), Ehmetjan Qasimi, Mehmet Emin Boghra, Turghun Almas, Alptekins(Isa Yusuf Alptekin & Erkin Alptekin), Rebiya Kadeer .

  • Mackerras, Colin. Ed. and trans. 1972. The Uighur Empire according to the T'ang Dynastic Histories: a study in Sino-Uyghur relations 744–840. University of South Carolina Press.
  • Millward, James A. and Nabijan Tursun, "Political History and Strategies of Control, 1884–1978" in Xinjiang: China's Muslim Borderland (ISBN 0765613182).
  • Rudelson, Justin Ben-Adam, Oasis identities: Uyghur nationalism along China's Silk Road, New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.

The above includes excerpts from Wikipedia.org, the free encyclopedia:

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