Global Images Contest 2007-2008

Muslim City; Kashgar, Xinjiang: Uighur Woman Walking

Honorable Mention

Xinjiang is one of China's largest provinces; it borders Tibet to the south, Mongolia to the east, Russia to the north, and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistani-controlled parts of Kashmir to the west. It an "Autonomous Region" for the Uighur ethnic group, a Turkic people who are mainly Muslim. To Uighurs outside of China (and for many inside Xinjiang) it is known as "East Turkestan," and there is strong resentment against the Chinese state for its continued dominance over the region.

This woman, walking down a street in the Uighur area of Kashgar, is veiled in traditional cloth almost like a sweater; her facial features only delineated by the hand holding the fabric down. Though Uighurs are almost uniformly Muslim, the conservativism of practice varies place by place, oasis by oasis; in Kashgar the old ways (such as veiling in this brown cloth) is slow to die out, especially for the older residents of the city. What I love about this picture is that, without being told where the picture is, it is difficult to place the woman. Is she Muslim? Is she in the Middle East? It’s difficult to say, and the fact that this picture was taken just a hundred feet away from one of the busiest economic centers in China is surprising for many when they first hear it.

Jen Udden '08