Population and Distribution:
The Uzbek people are an ethnic minority numbering 12, 370, according to a census taken in 2000. The Uzbek live in the provinces of Yining, Tacheng, Kashgar, Shache, Yecheng and Urumqi in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Their name, Uzbek, came from a king in the 14th century, and means 'leader of self'.
Language and Character:
Their language belongs to Turkic minority of the Altaic dialects, and they write in Uygur character.
Living along the famous Silk Road, the Uzbek people were mainly involved in commerce and trade until the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911). Since the foundation of the modern China in 1949, they have developed thriving handicraft and stock breeding industries.
The Uzbek people are Islamic, and their adherence to Islamic customs is reflected in their food, clothing and culture, which are similar to those of the Uygur and Tatar people.
Food and Food Culture:
The staple food of the Uzbek people is Nang and milk tea, as well as horsemeat, sheep, and oxen. Nang, a kind of pie made of flour, has a distinctive taste and is well suited to the lifestyle of people living and traveling in the desert. Shouzhuafan, literally 'hand-grasping rice', is a delicious meal mixed with mutton, carrots, raisins, rice and many others ingredients. Best enjoyed while drinking tea, yellow wine or juice, it really is a delight. Together with sausage, Shouzhuafan is usually served as a treat for distinguished guests. The method of eating it has changed from 'hand-grasping' to chopsticks.
As the Uzbek people are very polite, they insist the senior member of a party should be seated in the best position. It is absolutely forbidden to take off a hat at the table and to cough in the presence of a guest. When there are so many people present that they can not all be seated at one table, women and children sit at another.
All the Uzbek people are fond of small caps made of corduroy, a traditional form of decoration. Women wear one-piece silk dresses and jewelry such as rings, earrings and necklaces. Men wear gowns without buttons. Young Uzbek men tie their gowns with colorful waistbands, something the older men tend not to do.
The important festivals of the Uzbek minority are the Kaizhai Festival, the Corban Festival and the Almsgiving Festival. Natural singer and dancers, they take great delight in festival days, when they express their feelings through music.