Pressed up against the border with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Kashgar – also known as Kashi – is the westernmost city in China. Frequently described as the best-preserved example of a traditional Islamic city to be found in Central Asia, it is hard not to like Kashgar:
We’ve already covered the “Kashgar Night Market” and so this post will focus on the city of Kashgar itself (there will be more posts forthcoming on other aspects of Kashgar as well).
The streets of Kashgar:
Watermelons from Kashgar are especially renowned:
The craftsmen of Kashgar are highly specialized. So, for example, one wouldn’t just go to a store to purchase a table. One would go to the shop that sells the legs to the table first (see the picture below) and then go to a separate shop to buy the surface of the table and then a final shop to assemble the table.
The specialty of this family is carving legs for tables and beds:
This group is etching patterns into brassware. They do all of their work freehand and do not use stencils or any other shortcuts. So, the precision of their work is quite remarkable:
A Uighur girl offering an array of sweets and pastries:
A butcher shop in Kashgar with its wares on display:
A manufacturer of fine musical instruments – such as the dutar:
At the heart of Kashgar is the Id Kha Mosque… Although small compared to some of the mosques one can see in Afghanistan and elsewhere, the Id Kha Mosque is the largest mosque in China and can accommodate 20,000 worshipers during Ramadan and other religious holidays.:
The entrance to the mosque:
The mosque was built in 1442, although it is said that it incorporated older structures dating back to 996.
Chinese law bars locals under 18 from entering the mosque… However, a carefully placed English-language placard reminds visitors of the Communist Party’s magnanimity toward Islam. Curiously though, the sign makes no mention of a dark event associated with the mosque: it was here, in 1933, that troops allied with the Chinese Nationalist army beheaded Timur Beg, a Uighur rebel leader whose failed attempt to establish an independent East Turkestan Republic led to the slaughter of thousands of local residents.
In early 1934, the Uighur emir Abdullah Bughra was also beheaded and also had his head displayed on a spike at Id Kah Mosque.
Despite the bloody history relayed above, the grounds of the mosque, shaded by poplars and draped in rugs, are today a welcome respite from the intense summer heat of this region:
The holiest Islamic site in Xinjiang is also located in Kashgar. The tomb of Apak Hoja – constructed in the 17th century – also happens to be the largest Islamic mausoleum in Xinjiang.
Apak Hoja was a popular and powerful ruler and, among the Uighurs, is considered a saint.
A Chinese tourist at the entrance to the mausoleum:
The tomb itself – being renovated when we visited:
The grounds of the mausoleum:
Near the site of the tomb is a large Uighur cemetery:
Hopefully, the above has given you a slightly better sense of the city and its people. Unfortunately, all is not well in Kashgar and the rest of Xinjiang (a topic we are building up to with these posts)…