Ozbek ethnic minority has a long history. The modern Ozbek people mainly inhabit in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrghyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in China. In China, the Ozbek people mainly inhabit in Urumchi City, Yingning County, Mori Kazak Autonomous County, Qitai County, Tarbagatai in northern Xinjiang, Kashgar, Hotan, Shache and Karghalik in southern Xinjiang. Among those inhabiting places, the number of the Ozbek people in Yining County is larger than that in other places. No matter it is building or single-storey house, people of the Ozbek ethnic minority like to build a storey of cycloidal arch attic in Arabic and Islamic style.
Ozbek ethnic minority in China has a population of more than 14 thousand, inhabiting in Urumchi City, Yingning County, Mori Kazak Autonomous County, Qitai County, Kashgar, Hotan and Shache and Karghalik in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. They live in harmony with the Han people, the Uygur people, the Kazak people and people of other ethnic groups. People of Ozbek ethnic minority are mainly engaged in stock farming.
Ozbek ethnic group has their own language, which belongs to Turki branch in Altaic language family. Ozbek is a kind of alphabetic writing based on Arabic alphabet.
Dating back to the 14th century, Ozbek ethnic minority was originated from the Uzbek Khan of the Golden Horde in Mongolian in the 15th century; when the Golden Horde fell apart, and the merchants living in Khorazm, Andijan, Samakand, Bokhara and some other regions went to Xinjiang along the ancient Silk Road. They came to Xinjiang to do business in endless streams. Some of the merchants settled down in some cities and towns in Xinjiang, and have inhabited there. Gradually, the Ozbek ethnic minority in China formed.
People of the whole Ozbek ethnic minority believe in Islamism. Since the Yuan (1279 A.D.--1368 A.D.) and Ming dynasties (1368 A.D.--1644 A.D.), there has been an increasing number of Ozbek people settling down in Xinjiang. The Ozbek people living in Kashgar, Shache, Ili and Qitai volunteered to raise fund, collect material and work hard to build some grand and magnificent mosques. These mosques are used as the centers for them to hold religious activities. The Ozbek people strictly obey the basic beliefs of Islamism, showing great respect to The Koran and hadith and follow the required assignments. The influence of Islamism on the Ozbek people's life can be seen from every aspect of lives.
The Ozbek people attach much importance to rites and customs. They respect the elderly in every aspect of their lives. If two persons go out by horse, the senior one will be seated in front of the young one, and the male will be seated in front of the female. When two men meet each other, they will firstly bow to each other with hands on the chest and then shake hands. However, when two women meet each other, they will firstly bow to each other with hands on the chest and then hug each other. When having meals, the senior is seated on the distinguished seat while the young ones are seated on other seats. In a family consisting of many people, they will eat on separate tables. In this case, the children and the women will have meal at the same table. In the past, the Ozbek people grabbed food with their hands, so they had to wash hands before and after meals. Nowadays, except in some pasturing areas where people have kept this habit, most of the Ozbek people have meals with chopsticks. During the meal, people are forbidden to take off their hats or cough while eating at the table with guests.
People of Ozbek ethnic minority are very fond of singing and dancing. Their traditional music boasts a rich content, including folk songs and dances, rap, classical song cycle and many other forms and contents. The folk music instruments include Dutar, Rewapu and Dobro. When they perform, they sing and play the instruments by themselves simultaneously, expressing their great passion. All Ozbek people are good at singing; no matter it is folk song, working song, customary song or love song. Folk songs of Ozbek ethnic minority boast beautiful tunes with lively rhythm. There are various performing forms, such as unison, solo and antiphonal singing. The dance of Ozbek ethnic minority is relaxing, elegant and variegated, with a lot of revolving movements. The movements are stretching and graceful, full of amorous feelings of the western regions.
Both men and women of Ozbek ethnic minority like wearing little colorful hats. There are many kinds of little colorful hats, such as the hats with edges, the hats without edges, the hats with patterns on the top or around the hats. The patterns are usually in the form of flowers and geometric figures. The hats which the elderly wear have few patterns, or even no patterns at all. The little colorful hats are usually made of pleuche and corduroy, in the color of purplish red, blackish green, black and purplish red.
Some Ozbek women wrap a long colorful hood around the little colorful hats, and wear a pair of riding boots with decorated patterns, showing irresistible charms. In spring and summer, they will wear loose colorful pleated dresses, together with necklaces, bracelets, rings and some other jewelry, increase their great charms. In summer, Ozbek women like to wear silk shirts and dresses. The pleats on shirts and dresses of senior Ozbek women are large in number and loose in shape, with humble colors. However, the costume of the young Ozbek women is bright and colorful, with various patters and figures embroidered over the breast. There are also some colorful pearls and paillettes decorated on their costume. In winter, Ozbek women like to wear overcoats made of fox fur.
There are also many styles of male costumes. The Ozbek men like to wear a long gown which looks like the traditional costume "Qian pan"(Uygur or Tajik robe buttoning down the front) of the Uygur people. There is no button or pocket on the long gown. Tying a triangular embroidered belt around the waist and wearing a pair of riding shoes with rubber overshoes, the Ozbek men look handsome and energetic. In summer, the Ozbek men usually wear white shirts. On the neckline, collar and wristband, some geometric patterns are embroidered.
The main festivals in Ozbek ethnic minority include "Mawlid al-Nabi", "Id al-fitr" and "Corban Festival". The traditional festivals of Ozbek ethnic minority are similar to the festivals of other ethnic minorities believing in Islamism. "Id al-fitr" and "Corban Festival" are the most important festivals in a year. In the Ramadan before "Id al-fitr", the adults should fast. While having a traditional meal during the Ramadan, the relatives, friends and neighbors should invite each other. If there is a guest coming over, the host should entertain the guest with hospitality and warmth. During the "Corban Festival", the Ozbek people will butcher cattle and sheep, and fry deep-fried dough cakes. Besides, they will also have boiled lamb, zhua fan (meaning grasping rice, a typical Xinjiang staple food), and a unique folk food named "Na Ren". Like Uygur ethnic minority, Ozbek ethnic minority butcher sheep and camel during festivals, and hold congregation in Mosques. In addition, they also sing and dance, holding various activities such as horse racing, Buzkashi and wrestling.
Ozbek people mainly live on meat and dairy products, including lamb, beef and horse meat. They have Naan (a kind of crusty pancake) and tea with milk three meals a day. The staple food of the Ozbek people include Zhua Fan, Naan, hot cake, Na Ren, Hai Le Wa, (a kind of fried food made of mutton fat, flour and sugar), steamed stuffed bun, roast steamed stuffed bun and cold noodles with sesame sauce. The steps to make naans are similar to that of making roast sesame seed cake in Han nationality. Many people add milk, edible vegetable oil, mutton fat or butter into the flour, making the naan crispy outside and soft inside. That is called "you naan" (meaning naan with oil). In addition, there are meat naan, wo wo naan, pian naan and many other kinds. Tea with milk is essential in Ozbek people's daily lives. While drinking tea with milk, Ozbek people pour the tea with milk into a bowl, and add some butter, mutton fat, or pepper, and drink it.
Zhuan fan is also a unique kind of food of Ozbek ethnic minority. Ozbek people usually entertain guests with zhua fan. Zhua fan is mainly made of rice, fresh mutton, edible vegetable oil, carrot and onion. Before having the meal, the host will firstly offer an exquisite hand-washing pot and a beautiful basin to the guest. These are for guests to wash hands one by one. Then, the guests will grasp food from the plate directly. Instead of meat, some zhua fans contain died fruits like raisin in it, which is called sweet zhua fan or vegetarian zhua fan by local people.
Most of the houses of Ozbek ethnic group are in traditional central Asia style. The houses are mainly built of earth and wood, each of which has its own yard. The houses are usually tall and commodious, with thick loam walls. The four sides of the houses are covered or bottomed by bricks. The rooftops of the houses are a little bit oblique. Some Ozbek families cover their rooftop with a layer of iron sheet to make it water-proof. In the Ili district, the house of Ozbek people always contain extended eaves above the verandas. In summer, people of the Ozbek family can have their meals or entertain guests under the eave. Besides, they can also store some equipment or put some decorative ornaments under the eaves. On the pillars inside the house, there carved some patterns. In winter, the Ozbek family usually put fireplace in houses to keep warm. Many of the Ozbek families set up some grape trellises in their yards. In summer, spring and autumn, people of the Ozbek minority usually live in yurt; while in winter, they usually live in a solid earthen house or a wooden house.
According to the traditional customs of Ozbek ethnic minority, the younger sister should not get married until her elder brother get married, and the younger brother should not marry anyone until his elder sister get married. The scope of marriage is limited to the tribe one belongs to. However, for a long time, the Ozbek people in southern Xinjiang have close relationships with the Uygur people, so that people from Ozbek ethnic group are allowed to marry someone from Uygur ethnic group. In northern Xinjiang, due to the same reason, people from Ozbek ethnic group are allowed to marry someone from Kazak ethnic group, Tatar ethnic group, Khalkhas ethnic group and some other ethnic minorities.
According to the traditional customs in Ozbek ethnic group, before the man and woman are engaged, the man's family needs to go the woman's to propose the marriage for many times. After the woman's family approves the proposal, both families should invite the relatives and friends for dinner and decide on the date of the wedding through discussion. Before the two persons get married, the man's family should send gifts to the woman's family during festivals. They can send the woman's family cloth, food, daily essentials and other kinds of gifts. Several days before the wedding day, the man's family should send some more gifts to the woman's family. On the day prior to the wedding day, both of the parents of the bridegroom go the bride's home to confirm the name list of the guests to be invited to the wedding. Then, they will send out invitation cards. All of the costs on the wedding day should be afforded by the bridegroom's family.
There are a lot of taboos in Ozbek ethnic group. Like other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang which also believe in Islam, people of Ozbek ethnic minority are forbidden to eat the meat of pigs, dogs, donkeys, mules and on the like. They have to wash hands both before and after meals. After washing the hands, they should wipe dry their hands with towels, instead of swinging hands. When there is only a mature woman at home alone, other people should not come over. In public, people are forbidden to be tripped to the waist. They cannot wear shorts in public either. The Ozbek people pay special attention to the cleanness and safety of the drinking water.