September 22, 2009

‘Id Kah’ means ‘a place of praying and celebrating in festivals’. The Id Kah Mosque is located on the central square in Kashgar City, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. As the biggest mosque in China, it is a group of old Islamic constructions with strong ethnic style and religious features.

The whole complex occupies 16,800 square meters (about 4 acres) and consists of the courtyard, the Hall of Prayer, and the gate tower and as well as some other attached structures.

The mosque has a light greenish color with delicately carved flowery patterns. The entrance of the Etigar Mosque was made into a 12-squaremeter archway, which is giant as tall as 17 meters but delicately decorated. For example, on top of the archway there ingeniously carved a crescent moon. At dawn, Islamic monks living in the temple would climb up and down the tower exactly 5 times and summon all Muslims to pray. There are 15 beautiful frescos along the walls of the archway. The clusters of temples stretch out 140 meters north to south, and 120 meters west to east.

The prominent Etigar Mosque takes its fame from not only its amazing scale but more importantly its ability to serve special religious purposes. Everyday thousands of Muslims traveled miles from all over Xinjiang to pray here. In the afternoon of a typical “Juma Day” (a service day for prayers, and is usually on a Friday), an estimated six to seven thousand Muslim males would participate in the service. The annual “Juma Day” is an even grander occasion for prayer service where there will usually be around twenty to thirty thousand participants. After the ceremony the crowds would gather outside the temple, and music is always best choice for celebration: drums, singing and dancing. They will carry on the Saman Dance throughout the entire night. Yet quite unfortunately as a tradition of Muslim, women are restricted to participate in this dance.

As a pivot preserved cultural relic of Xinjiang Municipality, Id Kah Mosque continues to serve as an important location for religious services and activities, and increasingly become a significant and popular scenic and tourism spot in Kashgar area. During the busy holiday seasons thousands of Islamic people would gather in and around the prayer temple or at the big courtyard. Uygur young men would wear handsome festal costume and dance Saman creating quite an exciting and joyful atmosphere.

 

September 1, 2009

 

‘Id Kah’ means ‘a place of praying and celebrating in festivals’. The Id Kah Mosque is located on the central square in Kashgar City, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. As the biggest mosque in China, it is a group of old Islamic constructions with strong ethnic style and religious features.

The whole complex occupies 16,800 square meters (about 4 acres) and consists of the courtyard, the Hall of Prayer, and the gate tower and as well as some other attached structures.

The mosque has a light greenish color with delicately carved flowery patterns. The entrance of the Etigar Mosque was made into a 12-squaremeter archway, which is giant as tall as 17 meters but delicately decorated. For example, on top of the archway there ingeniously carved a crescent moon. At dawn, Islamic monks living in the temple would climb up and down the tower exactly 5 times and summon all Muslims to pray. There are 15 beautiful frescos along the walls of the archway. The clusters of temples stretch out 140 meters north to south, and 120 meters west to east.

The prominent Etigar Mosque takes its fame from not only its amazing scale but more importantly its ability to serve special religious purposes. Everyday thousands of Muslims traveled miles from all over Xinjiang to pray here. In the afternoon of a typical “Juma Day” (a service day for prayers, and is usually on a Friday), an estimated six to seven thousand Muslim males would participate in the service. The annual “Juma Day” is an even grander occasion for prayer service where there will usually be around twenty to thirty thousand participants. After the ceremony the crowds would gather outside the temple, and music is always best choice for celebration: drums, singing and dancing. They will carry on the Saman Dance throughout the entire night. Yet quite unfortunately as a tradition of Muslim, women are restricted to participate in this dance.

As a pivot preserved cultural relic of Xinjiang Municipality, Id Kah Mosque continues to serve as an important location for religious services and activities, and increasingly become a significant and popular scenic and tourism spot in Kashgar area. During the busy holiday seasons thousands of Islamic people would gather in and around the prayer temple or at the big courtyard. Uygur young men would wear handsome festal costume and dance Saman creating quite an exciting and joyful atmosphere.

August 30, 2009

Kashgar Prefecture, with a total area of 162,000 kilometers, lies in the southern part of Xinjiang, and 1,473 kilometers away from the city of Urumqi,  with an area of 15 square kilometers and an average elevation of 1289.5 meters. Located in the plain climate zone with the clear four seasons, Kashi has a long summer and a short winter. The annual mean temperature in Kashi is 11.7 , with the lowest temperature of -24.4 in January and the hottest 40.1 in July. The frost-free period averages 215 days.
Kashi prefecture was called Shule in ancient times and it has a history of more than two thousand years. In the beginning of the Han Dynasty, it belonged to the Zhuangpu Prefecture General’s Office of the Hun. In the latter half of the second century B.C., after the Han Dynasty Emperor Wudi sent Zhang Qian as his special envoy to the Western Region, Kashi submitted to the authorities of the Western Han Dynasty. During the first century, Kashi was the supreme headquarters of Ban Chao, an imperial general who administered the Western Region. During the reign of the Tang Dynasty Emperor Taizong and afterwards, it was an important military stronghold of the Tang government. Kashi was one of the four important towns in Anxi at the time; thus it was made the seat of the Shule Superintendent’s Office. The Karakhanid Dynasty also established its capital in Kashgar. Before Genghis Khan went on his western expedition, Kashgar was the south capital of the Western Liao Regime established by Khitans. After Khan’s western expedition was over, Kashgar became the fief of the crown prince of Chagatai. During the reign of the Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong, Kashgar became the seat of government of the Kashgar Councilor of the Qing government.

 

August 30, 2009

In the old districts of Kashgar, many streets have “bazaar” as part of their names. Although most of the bazaars have ceased to exist except in name, there are still some that are still in use. From the names of these streets people can imagine the past glory of this ancient trading city on the Old Silk Road.

Today’s Kashgar has preserved the old traditions. On the streets one can find markets selling various commodities, such as vegetables, fruits, food, garments, tools and handicrafts.

Kashgar’s markets differ from markets in other places in that most of the commodities on sale are made by the vendors themselves. Here tourists can see the handicrafts actually being made in the workshops. Wandering along an ancient street in Kashgar, it is as if one has traveled back in time. At the shoes and caps market, the caps and boots on sale are made on the spot.

Going ahead, one can hear the clanging of blacksmiths’ hammers. If you hear the sound of an electric saw, then you can go and see carpenters making furniture and kitchen utensils. If you smell the fragrance of baked cakes, you will soon find an eating place serving nang, the staple food of the Uygur people. The nang is broken into small pieces and dipped in soup. It is said nang can be kept for weeks without going stale.

These markets are open every day. The famous Sunday bazaar has been operating since ancient times, and the scale has become larger and larger, attracting merchants from all over Xinjiang and neighboring countries such as Pakistan and Kirghizstan.

Farmers from the suburbs of Kashgar come to the bazaar early in the morning, using various means of transportation, such as bicycles, motorcycles, tractors, trucks and donkey-drawn carts. The highways leading to Kashgar are crowded with these vehicles and pedestrians on Sunday mornings, as well as with flocks of sheep.

On Sunday the whole city becomes a big market. It is hard to tell the markets from the ordinary streets. Of the 20 markets, some are comprehensive ones, and some are specialized markets selling local produce, arts and crafts, garments, knives, timber, coal or animals. Among them, the animal markets are the largest. Each day, more than 1,000 head of cattle, horses, sheep and camels are traded here.

October is the best season to visit Kashgar, as the weather is pleasant and the autumn harvest makes the markets more brisk. In autumn, many types of fruit are on sale, such as grapes, watermelons, Hami melons and figs. Other local products include Xinjiang knives and carpets, which make good souvenirs for tourists.

Uygur people make up most of Kashgar’s inhabitants. On the streets, one can seldom see people of other ethnic groups except foreign tourists and tourists from other parts of China.

On the ancient streets of Kashgar there are men wearing Uygur skullcaps and women wearing brown veils. The Uygur language is universally spoken by the local people.

After visiting Kashgar’s Sunday bazaar, people will understand the saying” without visiting Kashgar, one cannot say he has visited Kashgar”. If you have a chance to visit Kashgar, don’t miss the chance to visit its Sunday Bazaar.

 

August 30, 2009

Five kilometers (3.1 miles) northeast of Kashgar, an ancient Islamic building nestles among poplar trees. With glazed tiles shining in the sun, its tower points to the azure sky. A masterpiece of Uygur architecture, this is Abakh Khoja Tomb, 17th Century family cemetery of the Kashgar area Islamic leader.In China the tomb is better known as the Tomb of Xiang Fei, the only Uygur concubine among the 41 wives of Emperor Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Legend has it that Iparhan, a descendant of Abakh Khoja, exuded an enchanting fragrance without using any perfume, hence the name Xiang Fei (Fragrant concubine in Chinese). She spent 28 years beside the emperor in Beijing, abiding strictly by Islamic doctrines. She wore ethnic costumes and was waited on by a special chef. Before her death at 55 she expressed her desire to be buried in her hometown of Turpan. The emperor so loved her that he had her coffin of clothes sent back to where it is now. This cost 124 people for three years and a half. The ancient cart carrying the coffin of Xiangfei still stands in front of the mausoleum, adding a touch of mystery to the building. According to archeological findings, the authentic tomb of Xiang Fei is in the East Qing Tomb near Beijing.Built from 1640, the tomb covers an area of about five acres. Just inside the gate is a large rectangular courtyard made up of a gate tower, worship walls, Doctrine-Teaching Hall, and tomb chamber.The tomb chamber is the main building in the group, the most magnificent mausoleum in Xinjiang. Its base is rectangular with a huge brick column at each corner. The dome of the main tomb chamber is semicircular with a diameter of 17 meters (55.7 feet). At its top is a circular edifice with a crescent. The chamber is 36 meters (118 feet) long and 27 meters (88.5 feet) high. The tomb faces south with a staircase leading to the top of the tomb. The gate to the tomb is decorated with exquisite plaster patterns. The walls and the dome are covered with green glazed tiles. Ceramic tiles with colored patterns and Arabic words dot the four sides as well. Fifty-eight tombs provide resting places for five generations of 72 people in the Abakh Khoja family. All coffins are covered with gorgeous silk and satin. The stone coffin of Xiang Fei lying inconspicuously in the southeast corner attracts many visitors.Abakh Khoja Tomb is admired as a well-preserved Islamic architectural complex not only in Xinjiang, but throughout Central Asia. Xiang Fei’s love story intrigues tourists from home and abroad.

 

August 30, 2009

 

Located at the foot of Mushitage Mountain and 3,600 meters above sea level, Kalakuli Lake is also known as the Ka Lake, which means “Black Lake”. With the depth of 30 meters, the lake covers an area of 100,000 square kilometers. The lofty snow-covered Mushitage Mountain is reflected in the lake, which makes it looks even more attractive. There are wood houses and camps at the bank of the lake catering to the tourists’ needs.