Did you know…?

What the heck. Let’s play hookey.

Greenwald has an interesting piece today on the Uighers. He references an article from the NYT this morning which reports:

The Chinese state news agency reported Monday that 156 people were killed and more than 800 injured when rioters clashed with the police in a regional capital in western China after days of rising tensions between members of the Uighur ethnic group and Han Chinese.

The casualty toll, if confirmed, would make this the deadliest outbreak of violence in China in many years.

So, it being Monday (laundry day), I wandered off on another google-chase.


I wish I had more time to read more, but the history of these people is fascinating. They were some other things long before they became Muslims.

The Uighurs had an extensive knowledge of medicine and medical practice. Chinese Sung Dynasty (906-960) sources indicate that a Uighur physician Nanto traveled to China and brought with him many kinds of medicine not known to the Chinese. There are 103 different herbs for use in the Uighur medicine recorded in a medical compendium by Li Shizhen (1518-1593), a Chinese medical authority. Tartar scholar, professor Rashid Rahmeti Arat in Zur Heilkunde der Uighuren (Medical Practices of the Uighurs) published in 1930 and 1932, in Berlin, discussed the Uighur medicine. Relying on a sketch of a man with an explanation of acupuncture, he and some Western scholars suspect that acupuncture was not a Chinese, but a Uighur discovery.


Looking for more art.

Back after a while. Dryer beeped.

Ah ha. Here. Before they were Muslims, maybe a thousand years ago, they were… Uighur.

After the disintegration of this Uighur empire, some of its survivors created the kingdom of Kocho (Gaochang) (ca. 860-1284), whose urban centers were in the Turfan oasis north of the Taklamakan desert astride the northern branch of the Silk Road. This was a region that previously had been occupied by Indo-Europeans, whose language now was replaced by Turkic Uighur. The Uighurs of western Gansu and Xinjiang today are the descendants of the mixed ethnic population of the kingdom of Kocho.

The dominant religion in that region had long been Buddhism, as we know from accounts such as that by the famous Chinese pilgrim Xuanzong in the middle of the seventh century. Important Buddhist monasteries were located in and around the oases of Turfan. Their wall paintings providing striking evidence of the transmission and transformation of Buddhist art along the roads leading from India into China. Buddhism became the religion of the Uighur elite in the Kocho kingdom, although Manichaeism and Nestorian Christianity were prominent as well. The German archaeologists who excavated the Uighur ruins in the early twentieth century took back to Berlin some striking Manichean manuscript fragments and other evidence of what had once been a vibrant and truly cosmopolitan urban culture.

The penetration of Islam into the Tarim Basin (that is, the region around the Taklamakan Desert) was gradual. As early as 821 an Arab ambassador visited the Uighur capital at Karabalghasun. Islam spread east under the Karakhanids in the eleventh century (one of their capitals was Kashgar), but only much later would become the dominant religion of the Uighurs of Xinjiang in modern times.

Thing is… I keep getting this weird disconnect in my mind… when I read about the Uighurs who have been held in Guantamano, and their stories. I can’t help but think of Gov. Perry and the others who talk about Texas “seceding” from the USA. So. Give it back to the native Indians then? I don’t get it.


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  1. laundry 2 Pictures, Images and Photos

  2. via Real News (h/t edger) from AlJazeera, about 3 minutes, which gives some history and insight.

  3. I head a report on the radio yesterday about the conflict, in which Uighur workers at a factory were interviewed.  Their complaint was that the Uighurs were required to do the heavy work while their Han(?) (Hahn?)counterparts were not required to do heavy labor; also the Uighurs are paid about half of what the other workers are paid.

    If there was unrest already brewing, these policies are likely to bring them to the surface much more quickly, IMHO.

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