The Kashgar Livestock Market has been meeting every Sunday on the outskirts of Kashgar for generations. And by generations, I mean at least since Marco Polo visited more than 700 years ago and probably well before then.
Also called the Kashgar Livestock Bazaar, the event launches with Uighur herders and farmers descending on the market space with what seems like every animal in a radius of 50 miles or more. The animals arrive on foot, in the back seats of taxis, in trucks, on the backs of motorcycles, on the backs of other animals – every way imaginable. And they depart in the same manner.
The whole event is noisy, dusty, crowded, chaotic and absolutely should not be missed.
The gates to the livestock market:
Entering the bazaar:
Sheep cover the center of the market and most of them are roped together in long rows such as this:
I was with our Uighur fixer and asked him about the prices for the various animals. For the sheep, he advised me that a small sheep will sell for around 1,300 yuan, while a large sheep can go for up to 4,000 yuan.
At the time of our visit, 1,000 yuan were worth about $165 US dollars.
Some herders arrive at the market with more than a hundred animals, while others such as the old boy below arrive with just several:
After a potential buyer has carefully inspected the animals, haggling over prices is a short, sharp process with lots of hand gestures… I would compare it to watching Italians argue:
A group of sheep that had just been sold:
As I mentioned above, the sheep (or goats in the case below) are tied together with an incredibly complex array of ropes and knots. When an animal, or group of animals, is sold the ropes will be expertly adjusted to cut out the exact animals that were purchased and then expertly redeployed to accommodate the new circumstances as the man below is doing:
I feel sorry for the animals, but there is no denying this is an interesting site to visit:
For sheer numbers, sheep are the dominant animal of the livestock bazaar, but goats are not too far behind:
The prices for goats were all over the place, but overall they were cheaper than sheep:
A man struggling to control his goats… Some things are the same everywhere in the world:
The section of the market where cattle are sold… Adults sold for approximately 10,000 yuan, while calves could be had for around 2,000 yuan:
I’m not sure if he knew the fate that awaited him, but this one was fighting against his tether for all he was worth:
A handsome red bull:
A “yakboy” strutting down the section where yaks are sold… He had the confidence of a Texas cowboy, but since his specialty is yaks – that makes him a yakboy, right?
Prices for the yaks varied considerably, but they were always cheaper than cattle:
More of the yaks for sale:
Off in the upper corner of the market can be found a selection of donkeys and mules for sale:
Prices for the donkeys and mules varied from 1,500 to 2,500 yuan:
In this section of the market one has ample opportunities to be reminded of where the expression “hung like a mule” originates:
This group was negotiating furiously over the donkey tied to the back of the truck, but we did not stick around to observe the outcome:
Across from the donkeys and mules are the horses that are for sale:
Horses can be had for between 5,000 to 8,000 yuan. By comparison, the small, ubiquitous motorbikes in Xinjiang can be had for 3,000 to 4,000 yuan:
Although there were none on the day that we visited, camels are also frequently bought, sold and traded in the Kashgar Livestock Market. The camels typically sell for between 10,000 to 15,000 yuan.
Although the market is principally focused on animals, other commercial activities take place there as well. Such as a group of leatherworkers:
Or an impressive crew at work shearing (no electric trimmers here) huge numbers of sheep:
And then, naturally, others are just there to look around…
…and observe the goings on:
For those of you that might be curious, below are two videos I shot inside the market… These offer a better sense of the ambiance of the market by capturing the sights and sounds that still images just cannot do: