Uygur Ethnic Minority

Written by Matteo Updated Jun. 18, 2021

Uygur, signifying unity or union, is the nickname used for members of The Uygur ethnic group. Many Uygur people live in concentrated communities of areas such as Karsh, Hetian, Akesu and Ku'erle, south of Tianshan Mountain in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Others, are scattered throughout Ili north of Tianshan Mountain, Taoyuan, and, Changde of Hunan Province.

Uygur people depend upon agriculture. They plant various crops such as cotton, grain, corn, and rice.  Many are also good at gardening. The largest grape production area in China is situated in the Turpan Basin, located 184 kilometers from Urumchi, the capital city of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

The culture and art of Uygur people is unique and distinctive. The Story of Afantee, a music dance epic called The Twelve Mukam and local Uygur dancing are very well known. Dances of the Uygur people have a lot of categories; the traditional dances include Dingwan (dancing with several bowls on one's head), Dagu (dancing to the big drum beat), Tiehuan (dancing with iron rings), and Puta. Uygur folk dances are further characterized as Sainaimu and Xiadiyana.


The Uygur people possess their own language which is derived from a branch of Tujue in the Altay Language Category. Its characters are Pinyin based upon Arab. Since the founding of the PRC, a new form of characters based on Latin has been combined with the former.


A color cap is a popular accessory among the Uygur people, and also a signification of beauty. There are many methods to make a color cap. For instance, silk thread flat embroidery, shizi color embroidery, silk thread knot embroidery, bead-string patch embroidery, grid supported embroidery, gold surrounded silk-thread embroidery, floss embroidery, and combined embroidery made through procedures of puncture, prick, bunch and set. Uygur females embroider color and various pictures on the four surface parts of a cap, and knit them together. They then put an inner layer into it and set a black floss rim to seal the cap.


Residential buildings of the Uygur people are characterized by courtyard clusters. Their entrance doors usually face the west. The Architecture is square with deep, front corridors  The layout of a hall is modest; the walls are white and blue decorated with hanging tapestries; the bed is placed close to the wall and the beddings are under a carpet with a pair of pillows on it. Normally in the middle of a room there is a long or round table; the furniture is usually adorned with an embroidered; folk pictures are placed on the ground. Uygur people like to grow various plants, flowers, fruit trees, and grapes.


Uygur people eat three meals a day. They like to eat pancakes, melon or guard jam, sweet jam, milk tea, and oil tea for breakfast, various staple foods for lunch, and pancakes, steamed dumplings, and noodles for dinner. Uygur people enjoy strong tea and milk tea. In summer different fruit and melons are consumed.


The traditional festivals of Uygur people include the Rouzi , Gu'erbang and Chuxue Festivals (celebrated at the first fall of snow). Rouzi Festival is also called Kaizhai. Gu'erbang Festival is a traditional festival held 70 days after Rouzi Festival.


Uygurs are monogamists. The tiqin, marriage interview, and marriage contract ceremonies are held before marriage as a show of respect and prudence towards marriage. A marriage interview is a necessary step that must be taken if a young man falls in love with and wishes to be married, or a family wants to arrange a marriage for its son. Before a marriage-interview, the prospective bridegroom must make sure that he knows his love's background, including her age, appearance, character and family members. He will propose the marriage when he feels it is appropriate. In many cases the man and the lady might have previously been in courtship. They would first agree to marry with each other and then ask the family members of the male to conduct a marriage-interview so as to publicize and make their relationship legitimate.


Uygur people never eat pork or the meat of other animals which are not killed by people or without blood-shedding. When guests come, the host should invite them to take the senior seats, treat them first with tea or milk, and then bring some pancakes, cookies and candy. Fruits or vegetables should also be provided in summer. When the meal is ready, the host will bring a kettle of water to invite the guests to their wash hands and then treat them with Zhuafan (rice taken by hands).When the meal is finished, the elder people will take the lead to conduct Duwa, a kind of local pray rite. Guests should stay in their seats until the host clear up all the used utensils and dishware. It is not polite for the guest to fiddle with the food on his dish, to go close to the boiler, or leave some food in his bowl. If rice falls out of the bowl the guest must pick it up and put it on their tissue.

Rice cannot be put back once taken. After the meal, guests should not stand up or behave carelessly when the elder people are holding the Duwa rite. At dinner time, all family members should first wash their hands and sit together with the seniors in front of the salt. It is very discourteous if somebody splashes the water on their hands. Never place the Nang (a local food like pancake) upside down while eating it. It is impolite to wear a small shirt or a cloth with a large collar. Normally the frock should extend to ones knee and the trouser should reach the foot-surface. Pants should never be worn on the outside.

Uygur people never make their entrance door face west. When they sleep, they usually lie on their back with their head towards the east. When male friends meet with each other, they should shake hands, solute, touch their chest with two hands, and withdraw one step with their right arm on the left side. Females should solute after meeting each other and then say goodbye. Two hands should be used when receiving gifts or treated with tea.

Create My Trip

Need Help?

Request a custom itinerary today and get one step closer to your personalized trip

Create Your Trip