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Uygurs(all: wē`go͝orz), Turkic-speaking people of Asia who live mainly in W China. They were the Yue-che of ancient Chinese records and first rose to prominence in the 7th cent. when they supported the T'angT'ang
, dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907. It was founded by Li Yuan and his son Li Shih-min, with the aid of Turkish allies. The early strength of the T'ang was built directly upon the excellent system of communications and administration established by the Sui.
..... Click the link for more information. Chinese in central Asia. In 744 the Uigurs seized control of Mongolia and established their capital on the OrkhonOrkhon
, river, c.300 mi (480 km) long, rising in the Khangai Mts., N central Republic of Mongolia, and flowing east, then north, past the site of ancient Karakorum, and then northeast to join the Selenga River just S of the Russian border.
..... Click the link for more information. River, near the site of later KarakorumKarakorum
, ruined city, central Republic of Mongolia, near the Orkhon River, SW of Ulaanbaatar. The area around Karakorum had been inhabited by nomadic Turkic tribes from the 1st cent. A.D., but the city itself was not laid out until c.
..... Click the link for more information. . Ousted (840) from Mongolia by the Kyrgyz, they moved to TurpanTurpan
, town and oasis (1994 est. pop. 64,300), in the Turpan depression (c.5,000 sq mi/12,950 sq km), E Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China. It is an agricultural center producing cotton and cotton textiles, silk, wheat, grapes, dried fruit, and wine;
..... Click the link for more information. , in XinjiangXinjiang
[Chinese,=new frontier], officially Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (Mandarin Xinjiang Uygur Zizhiqu), autonomous region (2010 pop. 21,813,334), c.637,000 sq mi (1,650,257 sq km), NW China.
..... Click the link for more information. , where they founded an empire that lasted until the Mongol onslaught of the 13th cent. Unlike other peoples of central Asia, the Uigurs were not exclusively nomadic but practiced some agriculture and trade. They were converted to ManichaeismManichaeism
, religion founded by Mani (c.216–c.276). Mani's Life
Mani (called Manes by the Greeks and Romans) was born near Baghdad, probably of Persian parents; his father may have been a member of the Mandaeans.
..... Click the link for more information. but later became Sunni Muslims. The Uigurs transmitted their script to the Mongols.
A movement promoting Uigur independence has existed for many years, and there were attempts to establish an East Turkestan Republic in Xinjiang in the 1930s and 40s. Since the Chinese Communist victory in 1949 there have been sporadic antigovernment protests and violence and government antiseparatist crackdowns; in 1954 there was a Uigur uprising in Hotan. In 2009, in the worst recent incident, there was deadly street fighting between Uigurs and Chinese in Ürümqi. Uigur unrest has been aggravated in recent years by resentment over the increasing number of Han Chinese in Xinjiang and government restrictions on Islamic practices. A government crackdown in response led, by 2017, to the establishment of large internment camps in Xinjiang. Today half of the population of Xinjiang (reorganized as the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in 1955) is of Uigur descent; there they number about 8 million. Another 1 million Uigurs live in Central Asia and elsewhere.
See C. Mackerras, ed., The Uighur Empire (1968, repr. 1973).