China in My Eyes

50 years of continued friendship

Mosques

Colin visited Xinjiang five times, in 1982, 1994, 1999, 2007 and 2010. He has taken an interest in the situation with Islam. Although there are many restrictions, mosques operate openly and freely but can run into serious trouble if their clergy opposes the state or takes actions that look like threatening secession.

Almost all of these pictures were taken during his 1999 and 2010 visits. In Xinjiang there are about 25,000 mosques, and the pictures are of only a few of them. In general, Islam is very much stronger in southern Xinjiang than elsewhere in the Region.

The Sinic Muslims called Hui worship in Chinese-style mosques, while the Uygurs normally worship in mosques in Central Asian style. The reason for this is that the sermons are in different languages, Chinese for the Hui, Uygur for the Uygurs. The former are Chinese in style, and have something in common with Buddhist temples. The latter are quite Central Asian in style, the prayer-halls open to the outside, although covered.

In contrast to Buddhism or the main branches of Christianity, Islam does not permit images of people, which means that the interiors of mosques are quite stark by comparison with Buddhist temples of Christian churches in the sense that they lack the pictures or statues that are so common in the worshipping places of Christianity or Buddhism. However, Islam does encourage quotations from the Qur’an, which are prominent.

A main Uygur mosque in Ürümqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region

A main Uygur mosque in Ürümqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region

The inside of a Chinese-style mosque in Ürümqi together with a Hui cleric.

The inside of a Chinese-style mosque in Ürümqi together with a Hui cleric.

Main Uygur-style Mosque in Turpan, Central Xinjiang

Main Uygur-style Mosque in Turpan, Central Xinjiang

Mosque in Tuyuk. Tuyuk is a very ancient town on the Silk Road, near Turpan, and Colin visited it in May 2007. It is very traditional in its customs, beliefs and architecture. It is still strongly Muslim and the mosque is by far the biggest building in town. Because of a sign outside saying that unbelievers may not enter the mosque, he did not go in, but adds that foreigners are welcomed in most mosques in Xinjiang.

Mosque in Tuyuk. Tuyuk is a very ancient town on the Silk Road, near Turpan, and Colin visited it in May 2007. It is very traditional in its customs, beliefs and architecture. It is still strongly Muslim and the mosque is by far the biggest building in town. Because of a sign outside saying that unbelievers may not enter the mosque, he did not go in, but adds that foreigners are welcomed in most mosques in Xinjiang.

The Square outside the Idkah Mosque, Kashgar. This has been recently renovated

The Square outside the Idkah Mosque, Kashgar. This has been recently renovated

The Idkah Mosque, Kashgar, is the largest in China. It was built 1440s and has been renovated many times, including in 1983. It was expanded in the 1990s.

The Idkah Mosque, Kashgar, is the largest in China. It was built 1440s and has been renovated many times, including in 1983. It was expanded in the 1990s.

Section of the Idkah Mosque

Section of the Idkah Mosque

Scene in the Idkah Mosque, Kashgar

Scene in the Idkah Mosque, Kashgar

Outside the Idkah Mosque, Kashgar

Outside the Idkah Mosque, Kashgar

An old Uygur comes into the Idkah Mosque, October 2010

An old Uygur comes into the Idkah Mosque, October 2010

Some explanation of the Golden Mosque in Yarkant

The Golden Mosque was first built in 1533 but has been restored many times. It is one of the most beautiful ancient mosques in Xinjiang.

One of its special features is that the king who presided over its construction Abdurixithan is buried there. Also very interesting is the tomb of his wife Amanisahan (1526-60), who died in childbirth. Despite her comparatively short life she is credited with collecting and editing what has become the standard version of the “Twelve Muqam”. In song and dance form, these are the most famous and outstanding examples of traditional Uygur performing arts.

The beautiful Golden (Altun) Mosque in Yarkant (Chinese Shache) in Southwest Xinjiang.

The beautiful Golden (Altun) Mosque in Yarkant (Chinese Shache) in Southwest Xinjiang.

 

Inside the Golden Mosque

Inside the Golden Mosque

Tomb of Abdurixithan Khan, Golden Mosque, Yarkant

Tomb of Abdurixithan Khan, Golden Mosque, Yarkant

Tombs of Amanisahan and her baby, Golden Mosque, Yarkant

Tombs of Amanisahan and her baby, Golden Mosque, Yarkant

Xinjiang Muslim tradition does not allow women to pray in the main prayer-hall of a mosque. These three women are praying outside the Golden Mosque, Yarkant

Xinjiang Muslim tradition does not allow women to pray in the main prayer-hall of a mosque. These three women are praying outside the main prayer-hall of the Golden Mosque, Yarkant

Entrance of Hotan Mosque beside the city’s busy market square

Entrance of Hotan Mosque beside the city’s busy market square

Outside the Hotan mosque Colin spoke to the imam (left), but, a modern man, he took a call on his mobile during the interview. Nearby are others, including an old Uygur with a very long beard.

Outside the Hotan mosque Colin spoke to the imam (left), but, a modern man, he took a call on his mobile during the interview. Nearby are others, including an old Uygur with a very long beard.

Outside the main prayer hall of the Hotan Mosque

Outside the main prayer hall of the Hotan Mosque

A women prayers in the Hotan Mosque, away from the main prayer hall

A women prayers in the Hotan Mosque, away from the main prayer hall

The main prayer-hall of the beautiful mosque in Yutian, southwest Xinjiang. Note the elaborate designs at the top of the columns.

The main prayer-hall of the beautiful mosque in Yutian, southwest Xinjiang. Note the elaborate designs at the top of the columns.

yutainceiling

Ceiling of Yutian Mosque

 

Xinjiang

Imam at a Mosque in Xinjiang

Hui mosque Xinjiang

Hui mosque in Xinjiang

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