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Eternal Kashgar

Breathtaking scenery at the 5,100-meter-high China-Pakistan border on the Pamir Plateau. Photo: China Daily

 

In ancient times, Kashgar was a crossroads for traders and a gathering place for tribal peoples across the region. Known by the Chinese as Shule in those days, the modern name for this city of about 350,000 is Kashi.

 

The 2007 film The Kite Runner was filmed here, and the city today reflects all the cultural flavor of the many ethnic groups who live in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. In this relaxed western frontier, no one seems to be in a hurry.

 

Up on a 40-meter high and 800-meter long cliff at the northeastern end of Kashgar old town, the Tower Houses - randomly shaped Uygur homes that gradually expanded over the years - stand proudly alongside the new city areas.

 

Along the street, a goat stands up and leans against a tree to reach the leaves. Not far away, vehicles stop to let a flock of sheep pass.

 

Local residents favor motorcycles to get around. Wives sit cross-legged on the backseat behind their husbands. When tourist buses pass by, the women wave and give a big smile.

 

At any age, Uygur women care about their appearance. Their turbans are matched beautifully with dresses and shoes. For religious reasons, Uygur women seldom show their legs, but with the help of flesh-colored tights, they can wear a wide array of colorful clothing.

 

Uygur people are not camera shy, especially the women and children. They change poses when they notice they are the objects of focus. Some of them even ask to examine the pictures to make sure the camera has captured their most attractive moments.

 

At a local family, we ran into preparations for a Uygur wedding. All shoes are left at the entrance in front of the house, which is fully covered by carpeting.

 

Children and female relatives are crammed into the house, helping with the preparation or just simply playing. Upstairs the bride lies down on the floor to make it easier for the makeup artist who deftly applies makeup to her face. In a few hours, the bridegroom will arrive and pick her up.

 

Outside, a five-member folk music group has already started performing. Uygur men can no longer sit tight - they get up to dance. Women inside the house are also attracted by the lively sounds and they come out to join the dancing.

 

They pose with arms and fling back their shoulders. They form a circle, dancing first in one direction and then the other. They also invite new arrivals to join in, turning the yard into a dance floor.

During preparations for a Uygur wedding, the bride lies down on the carpet so that makeup can be applied on her face. Photo: China Daily


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