People & Culture
Introduction | Tribes |
Art & Craft | Music & Dance | Traditional Weddings | Festivals
Population and Distribution
The Uygur ethnic minority, with a population of 8,399,393 according to the national census in 2000, lives mainly in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regions, especially to the south of Tianshan. The origin of the Uigur ethnic group can be traced back to the nomadic people living around Lake Baikal and the area between the Irtish River and Lake Balkhash in the third century B.C. During the long history, these people amalgamated the north and south Xinjiang, Mongolian, Han and Tibetan clans.
The Uygur have their own language and alphabet which belongs to the Turkic group of the Altaic phylum. The name Uygur, which they also use to refer to themselves, means alliance or assistance.
The Uygur people believe in Shamanism, Manicheam, Jing, Zoroastrianism, and Buddhism. Since the 11th century they have gradually turned to Islam. This has strongly influenced their way of life and most festivals celebrated today relate to this religion. The grand festivals celebrated include the Corban Festival, Kaizhai Festival , and Alms Giving Festival.
The Uygur minority has a profound history of more than two thousand years. Historical records indicate that Uygur people had strong trade and communication links with a variety of middle Asian countries and other ethnic groups of China. The Uygur people work mainly with agriculture though are talented in the construction of handicrafts which are constructed for commercial purposes.
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