vendredi 28 mars 2008

The Uighurs

Mural in Uighur home
Uighur woman in front of a Yurt

The Uighurs is one of the ancient Turkic peoples. They settled on territory of Eastern Turkestan (at present Xinjiang-Uighur Autonomous Region of Peoples Republic of China), and of present Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan long time ago. Nowadays the population of the Uighurs is about 8-10 millions. The Uighur language belongs to the Qarluq group of the Turkic languages. There are 3 stages in history of the Uighur language:

1. The Ancient stage consisting of 2 periods: the Most Ancient (up to the 5th century AD) and the Ancient (the 6-11th centuries) ones;

2. The Medieval stage breaking up for 2 periods: the Early Medieval (the 11-14th centuries) and the Medieval (the 14-18 th centuries) ones;

3. The Modern stage divided into the New (the 18-19th centuries) and the Newest (the 20th centuries) ones.

At various stages of historical evolution the Uighurs created a number of states. The First Uighur Qaghanat was established in Khanghaj in 323. It existed 200 years. The Second Uighur Qaghanat was founded in 523 and existed 80 years. It was destroyed by the Turkic Qaghanat in 603. In 743 the Third Uighur Qaghanat was built on the ashes of the Eastern-Turkic Qaghanat located on territory of the present Northern Mongolia. It was ruined in struggle with the ancient Khaqases in 840. The Third Uighur Qaghanat was a feudal state with the tribal vestiges.

However, despite these vestiges, the association of the Uighurs, formation of the Qaghanat, declaration of the Qaghan with hereditary authority are to be considered as a new stage in ethnic and political development of the Uighurs. The important expression of awareness of necessity of ethnic and political unity on the certain development stage was the acceptance of the self-name "the Uighurs". New union resulted in formation of the Qaghanat and in acceptance of common name "the Uighurs" appeared to be a stronger ethnic formation, which should be regarded to as a replacement of the tribal-patrimonial union by the ethnic group and in the aspect of public development - as a replacement of the patrimonial relations by the feudal ones.

In the Third Uighur Qaghanat the various crafts, agriculture and cattle breeding were highly developed. " The monuments and relics prove an originality of the Uighur civilization. Though the material culture of the Uighurs has deep Central Asian roots it was the Uighurs who began seriously to spread settled civilization with construction of large multi-quarter towns and fortresses in the Central Asian steppes."

The Uighurs already had high culture and written language in the beginning of the 5th century AD. Their script was developed from the Sogdian one. Along with the Sogdian script the Uighurs adopted Manicheism from the West. With accepting of Manicheism in 762 the Uighur society got acquainted closer with painting and other elements of the Sogdian culture.

After the fall of the Third Uighur Qaghanat in 840 the Uighurs created a state on territory of Eastern Turkestan with the center in town of Turpan. The Uighur state at the feet of Eastern Tian-Shan mountains (the 9-14th centuries) achieved high level of development in all areas. Territory of the state was approximately 500,000 Its borders laid to the west of the town of Qoutchar and far to the East of the town of Khami, to the north of Urumchie and in the south at Khotan. In 902-1036 the Uighur Ghanjou state was formed. The Uighur Koutchar Princedom existed in 11-12 centuries.

The Uighurs practiced Buddhism before they were converted into Islam.
The culture of Buddhist Qashqar was enriched by influence of Central Asia, Iran, Byzantium and adoptions from Syrian, Sogdian and other cultures of the Asian Middle Ages.

History of Uighurs in brief:

Uighur Script:

Listen to Uighur Music:

Watch: The Uighurs ( soundtrack from a movie called uch oghul )

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