Art treasures of Xinjiang

Source:Global Times Published: 2011-2-28 16:45:00

Xinjiang dances

The Uyghurs are known for their skill in singing and dancing. On festive days and at gatherings of friends and relatives, Uyghurs love to sing and dance. Their lively dances demonstrate diligence, bravery, openness and optimism.

Uygur folk dances are distinguished by head and wrist movements. Their clever coordination is enhanced by the typical posture of tilted head, thrust chest and erect waist. The dances, Sanam in particular, express the Uyghurs' feelings and character.

A slight shivering movement is characteristic of Uygur folk dances. The rhythmic and continuous shivering of the knees and the momentary shiver when a movement is changed lend grace and continuity.

As time goes by, many subtypes, including Dolan dance, Sama dance, Sanam dance and Huteng dance, have emerged from Xinjiang dancing art and become more and more influential.


Xinjiang music

There is much variation in the music of Xinjiang, including unique regional differences in Ili, Kashgar, Khotan and Aksu Prefecture. The southern area includes the simple songs of Hotan, the dance-oriented music of the Kuga and the complexly rhythmic songs of the Kashgar. Ili has perhaps the most well-known musical tradition in Xinjiang, including a number of emotional tunes that are narrative in form.

The Uyghurs' best-known musical form is the On Ikki Muqam, a complex suite of twelve sections related to Uzbek and Tajik forms. These complex symphonies vary wildly between suites in the same muqam, and are built on a seven-note scale. Instruments typically include dap (a frame drum), hammered dulcimers, fiddles and lutes; performers have some space for personal embellishments, especially in the percussion. However, there is much variation on the number and kind of instruments used in the performance of a muqam. In November 2005 the Art of Uyghur Muqam was named a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

The sanam tradition is a kind of dance music popular among the Uyghurs, while spoken songs like Maida, Eytishish and Qoshaq are popular love songs with simple tunes.


"Living cultural relics" in Xinjiang—Muqam

Muqam is a kind of musical phenomenon spreading among those nationalities that mainly depend on agriculture and farming in oasis in Xinjiang. Apart from Xinjiang in China, there are also various forms of Muqam music in more than 20 different countries. However, the Muqam music in Xinjiang boasts the biggest composition, longest history and richest forms among all the extant Muqam music.


Have you ever heard a concert that takes one day and one night to play? The 12 Muqam of Xinjiang's Uygur people has 360 melodies, 4,000-plus lines of lyrics, and the whole set needs 24 hours to finish.


Xinjiang Grape Festival

Grape cultivation in the world-famous city of Turpan dates back to more than 2000 years ago. Of the 100-odd grain strains in Turpan, the seedless white grapes, dubbed "green pearls of China," are the most precious. The raisin and wine produced in Turpan are known for their lingering good tastes. Most of Turpan’s grapes are grown in the renowned Grape Valley, or "Pearl City in the Desert." The Xinjiang Grape Festival was first launched in 1990 and has since become an annual event in Turpan.

It is also a special event to commemorate the ancient Silk Road which stretches 4000 km in China and 2000 kilometers in Xinjiang territory, with south, middle and north 3 routes crossing the area. Turpan is well-known as a strategic key point at the middle route.

On the festival, a large-scale firework display marked the opening of the 14th Grape Festival of Turpan on China's Silk Road on the evening of August 25, 2005. Events on the festival are a Wedding in the Uygur style, mashlap (lively and humorous folk dance), nazkum (witty art performance), Koco style songs and dances, Hami-melon competition, trade negotiations, tour of the Street of Grapes and Melons, and camel caravans reminiscent of the Silk Road more than 2,000 years ago.  Large scale Mucamu concert, a grape-eating competition, Dawazi (in Uyghur means high-altitude wire walking) challenge competition, an international sand sculpture festival and an international super modeling contest are also arranged on Grape Festival 2005.


Uyghur Hats

When you come to Xinjiang you'll see these hats everywhere, usually worn by the Uyghur half of the population. Also known as a "dopa" these 4-angled hats - brightly colored and embroidered with beautiful beads - have come to be known by some as a symbol of the Uyghur people.  Here you see a small shop in Kashgar showcasing the variety of sizes and colors of hats you can find to buy as a souvenir. 

In festivals, if you come to Kashi, you will see a sea of hats. Hundreds and thousands of Uyghur, whether men in suit or women in Adilis shirts wear embroidered hats. On Sundays, if you go to Id Kah square or the east bazaar, you can see the same scene. Uyghurs love to wear embroidered hats and regard them as the most precious gifts for relatives and friends.

The chief varieties of Uyghur hats are Badam hats, Tashigan and Gelem hats, Qiman hats, Zir hats, and Marjan hats. The most common hats are about seven centimeters high with a round opening and square top. Some are round or with four or five angles. There is also a kind of hat with pointed-top for women only. There are approximately 30 kinds of embroidered hats. These hats are all hand-made which are exquisite and delicate. If you want to buy some as presents, a sort of hat with a diameter of about two inches are recommended.

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