With a population of 5.95 million the Uygur nationality has, among the 13 nationalities in Xinjiang, the largest number of people. Though the re are Uygurs
n almost every county in Xinjiang, 90 percent live in the area of the Tarim Basin, South of the Tianshan Mountains near the ancient route of the Silk Road.The Uygurs are an old nationality, and developed out of people known historically as the Northern Di Dingling, Tiele and Huihu. In the third century, the Northern Dis lived in Shanxi, northern Shaanxi and
around the Taihang Mountains together with people of Huaxia (an ancient name for China). The two peoples had close econ mic contacts. The Uygurs and Hans learned from one another and worked together fdr the unity of the country for many centuries. At certain times
of civil war the Uygurs fought on the side of the central authorities. The rebellion of An Lushan and Shi Siming in 775, for instance, was put down with the help of the
Huihus. The Huihu established the Kingdom of Kara in the Western Regions during the endless disputes of the Five Dyansties, but they still considered themselves
under the overlordship of China. The Taklimakan desert, lying in the central Tarim
Basin, is known for its dry and windy climate. In the desert, oasis after oasis has been cultivated by the wise and industrious Uygurs. Those who visit the oases, are immediately attracted by the stetches of new houses surrounded by trees, clusters of grapes hanging heavy
the vines,the Hanmi and watremelons,and acres of wheat. Beautiful Uygur songs and dances entertain guests from afar. Farmland is irrigated with melted snow water from the Tianshan, Kunlun and Karakorum mountains andwith water from the karez, or underground wells and pipes. Taking advantage of the sandy soil, the Uygurs raise the worldfamous Turpan
grapes, Hami and Shanshan melons, Korla pears, Kashi figs, Yecheng pomegranates (akrgilik), Hotan walnuts and watermelons, and fine varieties of rice, wheat and corn. They have grown cotton and mulberries since ancient times, along with sericulture and weaving. Silk
from China's central plains was shipped to the Western Regions in exchange for cotton and jade
stones from Tarim. During a long period feudal society, the Uygur- nationality developed comparatively advajced handi craft industries such as spinning, cotton weaving,
cotton ginning, cotton fluffing, iron and copper smelting, jade carving, dyeing and embroidery. The Uygurs made fur caps, leather boots and fur-lined coats, woolen felt, rugs, ropes, woven mats, water mills and water-powered trip hammers (for husking rice), and were skilled in carpentry and bricklaying. They are known for their rugs and jade carving from Hotan, small
knives, embroidered caps from Kashi and sable fur from Kuqa. Cotton weaving and pinning were the most popular household sidelines. he Uygurs were one of the nationalities of Central
Asia which had their own written language. They began to use the language of the Huihu and the Tujue under the rule of the Tujue. The language of Huihu became an international language used by many nationalities in Central Asia after the fall of the Tujue Khanate. It had been the official language of the Kingdom of Kara, Huihu in Gaochang, the Western Liao dynasty, the Jinzhang Khanate, the Chahetai Khanate and Tiemuer Empire. Edicts of Cenghis Khan
and certificates of appointment of Chahetai Khanate,

orders, letters, poems and songs, history and stories were also written in the language of Huihu. "Those
who know the Huihu languge will never suffer from poverty," said one Arabic historian. Many books in the
Huihu language have been discovered on the Old Silk Road in Tarim. The languages of the Mongols and
Manchus developed from it. The Uygurs had both movable type and block printing by the 13th century. Archaeologists have
found block-printed manuscript in the Huihu language from Turpan and Tuokexun. A Frenchman
took away several hundred of wooden movable type letters from the Thousand-Buddha Cave of the
Dunhuang Grottoes. The Uygurs were for a long time one of most culturally developed nationalities in Central Asia, in
view of their written language and their location on the route of the Silk Road in Central. Eurasia. There were
many ancient Uygur scholars, scientists, writers and storians and such distinguished writings as the
Dictionary of Tujue Language compiled by Mahmud Kashgari between 1072 and 1074, which is the most
important encyclopedia for studies of Central Asia of this period. Knowledge, Root of Happiness by Yusup
'Has Hajip in the same century is an immortal masterpiece of philosophy and literature. The ABC of
Truth compiled by Ahmat Yuknaki in the 12th century is an outstanding poem in feeling and story.
During the Mongol Yuan dynasty, the Uygur nationality made great contributions to the unity of the
country, the expansion of production and the flowering of culture and science. Notables of the
period include military theorists Ark Hiya and Barquk Art Tikin; the statesmen; Bruhiya, Lion Xixian and his
son, Guan Yunshi, also a noted poet and writer; Lianhuishan Hiya, a historian who compiled and
revised the History of Liao Dynasty; Lu Mingshan, agronomist and writer of The Fundamentals of
Agriculture, Sericulture, Clothing and Food; Sinku Sail, a great translator who was a master of the Han, Weiwu,
Mongolian, Tibetan and Sanskrit languages. After the Yuan dynasty, the Uygurs also produced many famous
writers, historians and scient sts Notable writings in Uygur include the poem "Flower and Spring" by Lutf
in the 1 5th century; the long lyrical "Love and Labor Poem" by Kirkiti (1634-1672); lyrics by Zalili; (1685-
1759); Collection of Love Poems by Abdureyim Hizari (1770- 1848) who was brought up in Kashi, of which
Rabiya--Saydin parhad--Xirin and layli--Majnun have long been on the lips of people; Biography of
Hojas, written between 1768 and 1769 by Muhammad Sadik Kaxkari; the History of Hamedee from the 19th
century by Molla Msa Sayrami; and the History of Kaxkariya. Traces of various religions, including Zoroastrian -
ism, Buddhism, Nestorianism, Manichaeism and Islam, can be found in the Torito Basin since the Uygurs used
to believe in them. Apart from Islam, which is still strong today, there are many relics of Buddhism.
Thouasnd-Buddha caves can be found in Shanshan (piqan), Turpan, Yanqi, Kuqa, Baicheng and Kashi, on
the Old Silk Road. The superb' array of cave murals mirrors the splendid culture of this earlier period.
Most Uygurs today are Muslims, and Islamic influence can be traced in Uygur architecture and
customs. For instance, there are mosques almost everywhere in urban and rural. Aidkah Mosque in Kashi
is the most famous. Apart from mosques are also a great number of tombs, the most famous being the tomb of
Sutuk Bugrahan, Khan of the Karo Khanate who is believed to have been the first Uygur Muslim. The tomb
of Apok hoja, the head missionary of the Baishan Sect, is the most magnificent. Hotan prefecture has the
largest number of ancient tombs. Troops representing Buddhist and islamic forces fought there for 24 years,
from the late 10 th to the early 11 th century, and both sides suffered great loss of life. Some leaders of the
Islamic side who died in the war are buried there, and their tombs became famous. Mansions and tombs of
the Huihu and Emin pagoda in Turpan are all notable architectural items in the Islamic style, and are well
worth study. Travelers in the Tarim Basin are greeted with pleasant songs and dances under grape trellises and by
orchards of apricots, Centuries ago the music of Gaochang, Guizi, Shule and Yizhou from the Tarim
Basin became very popular in central China among the court offisak and noblis of the sui
there, and tang dynasties, and among ordinary people of various nationalities. One poem says that "A woman
married to a man of Hu (non- Hah nationalities living in the north and west in ancient times) will dress your.
hair and app(y makeup as the women of Hu do, and you will love her music as weil." Another poem of the period
said that every family in Luoyang was learning the songs and dances of the Hu. Those graceful dances still exist. Uygurs have
developed them into Twelve Mukama, or the twelve grand suites, including poetry recited to a musical
background, ballads and dance music. Because of their strategic location on the Old Silk
Road, the Uygurs absorbed elements of both eastern and western culture and played an important role in
economic exchanges between east and west. A great number of Uygurs traveled and traded on the Old Silk
Road. They loved the silks of central China since ancient times. The states in the area of the Tarim Basin
derived considerable economic benefits from the Silk Road. Silks from central China were shipped to the
Western Regions by carts, horses and camel caravans. The "Song of Liangzhou" by Zhang Ji describes camel
caravans going westward: Rain falls at dusk on the frontier town wild geese fly Iow, The new reeds grow
rising high and wild. Countless camel bells ring over desolate sands,
Caravans travel to An xi city with rolls of silk. Products of the countries in the west such as
woolen knitwear, jewelry, colored glazes and spices were transported to central China through the Tarim
Basin.Now the Uygurs, along with other Chinese nationalities, are working to develop socialist
modernization. They have made great contributions to the economic and cultural exhanges between China
and other countries. As a people with a long tradition of trade and cultural exchange with other countries, the
Uygurs can play a major role in China' s efforts to enter the international arena and forge ties with nations all
over the world.