in the alley
For these children their alley will soon become a distant memory…
We often go back to the places where we grew up and most of us find ourselves surprised at how much smaller they look, how much our imagination added to them over the years, how developed they look or how abandoned. For the children of Kashgar, they will come back to find nothing of the old. The city is under demolition and their homes will soon be gone with no trace of them ever having existed. I feel so lucky to have been one of the photographers who captured a slice of this beautiful old culture before it gets forced to metamorphose completely into something else, somewhere else.
photo taken: children playing in an old Kashgar city alley~ Xinjiang
the little questioning eyes
In the streets of old Kashgar I met so many children, playful, joyful, running here and there, but not this little boy. I had some candy in my pocket that I offered him and he just stood there looking at me then down at his shoes, then at me again until he summoned the courage to extend his had for the sweet candy only to drop his eyes back again to his feet. He looked so innocent and fragile with his borrowed woman’s shoe that I almost reached out to hug him… but I did not. He walked slowly away down the alley to found the door to his house and disappear into it.
the little man and the wheel
As beautiful as the old city of Kashgar is, it is also heartbreaking to visit. The charming old architecture is being demolished systematically by the authorities section by section for the last few years. The reason given: a possible danger from earthquakes the real reason, I leave for you to research. The locals are horrified as they are moved family by family outside the city and in place of their neighborhoods, malls, plazas, and fancy holiday housing is being planned and erected. Every year less and less of this historical city is left to admire and its traditions diluted slowly into the new characterless architecture. Yes, it is most definitely painful to see and to know about.
photo taken: a little family in front of a neighborhood condemned to be demolished in the old city of Kashgar
Uyghur gentleman at door of Idkah mosque in Kashgar
The Idkah or in local Uyghur language Heit Kah mosque is the largest in China. Locals in Kashgar gather daily for prayer on the grounds of the old mosque and for celebrations in its large courtyard. The mosque was first built in 1442 as a small structure and was later expanded in different stages.
There is a great kind of dignity with the locals in Kashgar that stares you right in the eyes. I could also feel a sense being content with who they are, a strong belief and a strength from unity emanating from the people that I met during my travels in the region.
the bright Uyghur people of Kashgar
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, spanning more than 1.6 million square kilometeres in the north western part of China, borders Tibet, Russia, Mongolia, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, Kasakhstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. It is home to different ethnic groups like Uyghur, Kazakh, Hui, Kyrgyz, Mongol, Tajik and the Han Chinese. Only about 4,3% of Xinjian is suitable for human habitation.
Traveling in Xinjiang was an unforgettable adventure. This month’s journey will start in Kashgar, go across the old silk road to the high mountain of Tashkurgan near the Pakistani border and then go back to end in Kashgar again. The people I met on this trip were some of the brightest, most hospitable and unique tribes in this part of the world. The name Uyghur translates to ‘united’ or ‘people coming together’, as these wonderful people demonstrate in their great sense of community and age old traditions.
photo taken: a playful moment between brothers in an old city street in Kashgar.