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Uyghur Arts and Crafts
The people of our village are extremely artistic. We live in a very rugged but beautiful landscape and these natural surroundings have always influenced our architecture and our own sense of decoration. The Uyghur people have a very long history as far as arts and crafts are considered. Wonderful examples of Uyghur frescoes (wall paintings) have been preserved in the caves in and around the towns skirting the Takla Makan Desert. When we became Muslims, Al-Hamdulillah, our art became even more beautiful.
As Muslims, we are forbidden to represent any human or animal form. As a result, we looked at our natural world for inspiration. For example, our artists have always incorporated beautiful landscapes showing in great detail the flowers and fruits of our gardens. Also durable bricks were made using the honey-coloured earth. In the hands of a master bricklayer, exquisitely designed walls, mihrabs, and minarets were produced. Even today, in towns like Turfan, where my aunt lives, there are gigantic decorated minarets made from hundreds of thousands of bricks. Over the centuries, earthquakes have occurred; whole towns and villages have been destroyed and covered up by the sands of the Takla Makan. Still, these minarets survive, mashaAllah and attest to the skill of the master craftsmen who made them.
We have an interesting custom here in Gonja village. When any family member gets married, everyone in the village helps to build a house for the happy couple. Of course, a master bricklayer guides us in the construction. Another gifted artist will paint the carved wooden poplar beams and rafters. The beautiful floral patterns on them reflect our great love of gardening.
We take very special care when building our mosques and other religious buildings. The walls are typically made from local brick. The columns supporting the heavy wooden beams of the roof are beautifully carved and painted. Even the most modest mosque will have such columns and rafters. You can see here the capital, or top of one such column from our mosque.
Three artists of our village recently went to a special school in Urumchi, our capital city. There they studied in great detail the many arts and crafts of the Uyghur people. Because of young artists such as these, our traditions are being kept alive, Al-Hamdulillah.
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