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a people and the indigenous population of the Sin-kiang-Uighur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China. Population, approximately 5.5 million (1975, estimate). Uighurs also live in several regions of the USSR and in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. They speak the Uighur language. Religious believers among them practice Islam, which replaced shamanism, Manichaeism, Christianity, and Buddhism between the 14th and 17th centuries. Uighurs are Europeoids with a small Mongoloid admixture.

The Uighurs are among the oldest Turkic-speaking peoples of Central Asia. Their ancestors, the nomadic tribes of eastern Turkestan, were an important part of the Hun tribal alliance, which existed from the third century B.C. to the third and fourth centuries AD. The Uighurs are mentioned in written sources beginning in the third century AD., including the Orkhon inscriptions of the eighth century. From the fifth to the eighth centuries the Uighurs were part of the Juan-juan Kaganate; later they were included in the Turkic Kaganate.

The ethnic consolidation of the Uighurs was completed in the eighth century, after the collapse of the Turkic Kaganate and the formation of an early feudal state by the Uighurs on the Orkhon River. In 840 the Uighur state was overrun by the Enisei Kirghiz. Some Uighurs migrated to eastern Turkestan and western Kansu, where they created two independent states with centers in Kansu and the Turfan oasis. The first was destroyed by the Tanguts, and the second became a vassal of the Karakitai in the 12th century and part of Mogulistan in the 14th century.

With the prolonged hegemony of various conquerors and national disintegration, the term “Uighur” nearly became obsolete. The people themselves came to be known by terms referring to their place of residence—Kashgarlyki, “people of Kashgar, ” and Turfanlyki, “people of Turfan”—or to their occupation— Taranchi, “farmers.” The Uighurs preserved their ethnic identity, however, as well as their language.

In the 17th and 18th centuries eastern Turkestan was the site of a Uighur state, which was seized by the Manchu rulers of China in 1760. National oppression and cruel exploitation caused the Uighurs to rebel several times against enslavement by the Ch’ing (Manchu) and, later, the Kuomintang. With the victory of the people’s revolution in China in 1949 and the formation of the Sinkiang-Uighur Autonomous Region in 1955, the economy and culture of the Uighurs have undergone some development.

The traditional occupations of the Uighurs are farming and various domestic handicrafts; a working class has also emerged. The Uighurs created a rich and distinctive culture, including large-scale religious architecture and musical and literary works, which has influenced the culture of many Eastern countries.

In the USSR, Uighurs live in several regions of the Kazakh, Kirghiz, Uzbek, and Turkmen SSR’s, with a total population of 173,000 (1970 census). From the mid-18th to the early 20th century, many Uighurs migrated from the Kashgar oasis to Middle Asia—primarily to Semirech’e and the Fergana Valley—to escape the oppression of the Chinese rulers. In 1921, at a congress of Uighur representatives held in Tashkent, the ancient self-designation “Uighur” was restored. The Uighurs in the USSR are primarily kolkhoz and industrial workers. A national intelligentsia has emerged.


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Tikhonov, D. I. Khoziaistvo i obshchestvennyi stroi Uigurskogo gosudarstva X-XIV vv. Moscow-Leningrad, 1966.
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References in periodicals archive ?
It has been observed that although there are periodic riots, infrequent bus bombings and frequent fistfights between Uighurs and Hans, resistance against Chinese government control is generally passive.
Most violent incidents involving Uighurs attacking Han Chinese or Chinese institutions reflect varying degrees of both the government's and pro-Uighur groups' claims and often fall somewhere in the middle.
This will please not only China but also us, and we will help our Uighur brothers at the same time," Davutoglu told reporters en route to China.
More than eight million Uighurs - a Turkic-speaking people who have called Xinjiang home for centuries - live in the region and many complain about what they say has been decades of repressive rule by Beijing.
The answer is that Beijing has, over the decades, engaged in a systematic program of marginalizing Uighurs in their own homeland, as well as fostering economic growth that favors the Han majority of eastern China and that encourages the exploitation of Xinjiang's wealth of natural resources for Han areas.
Though it is natural that the Uighurs would want to live among those who speak their language and share cultural touchstones, the detainees had undercut their legal and moral argument that they were continuing to be held against their will.
She said six Uighurs have agreed to be resettled in Palau, and two more may soon agree to go.
Xinjiang's population is split between mainly-Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese.
In this shocking yet inspiring autobiography, Uighur human rights activist Rebiya Kadeer gives a compelling account of her own life, and in so doing, calls attention to the desperate plight of the Uighur people.
However, Beijing owes the Uighurs more than just an apology, for it is Chinese policy that drove them to such desperate measures.
China also used its growing international influence to secure cooperation from neighbouring states to arrest and deport Uighurs who had fled persecution.
Uighurs say the riots - put down by volleys of tear gas and a massive show of force - were triggered by the late June deaths of Uighur factory workers during a brawl in a southern Chinese city.