eric lafforgue

Young Uyghur Woman, Opal Village Market, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China

The Uyghurs are a very welcoming Muslim Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia. About 7,2 millions of them live in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region at the western extremity of China. Uyghur means unity or alliance. Their origins seem to come back to the Ding Ling nomads, in the 3rd century BC. The ancestors of the Uyghurs mixed with Turkish nomad tribes, Hans, Mongolians and Tibetans. With the settlement of the population and the development of trade, commercial links with China developped on the Silk Road. At the end of the 10th century, Islam spread. The imperial governement of China then implemented a tight control over the region. This led to the unrest of Uqturpan in 1765. Rebellions and separatist revendications have never ceased since then, even after the region became autonomous in 1955. Islam used to have a real influence on economic, legal land educational affairs as well as on the matrimonial system. Nowadays religion has shrunk to the personal space.

Photographer: Eric Lafforgue