Turpan of Xinjiang Uygur AutonomousRegion is certainlyworth exploring: Its surfacetemperatures can reach nearly80 degrees Celsius in summer. It featuresan extreme arid climate, with evaporationmeasuring almost 100 times its precipitation.It is also the lowest area in the nation.
Dry, hot and windy – its unpleasantnatural conditions haven’t left Turpan deserted.On the contrary, it was an importanttown along China’s ancient Silk Road andwas once the political, economic, and culturalcenter of the Western Regions (areawest of Yumenguan, including what is nowXinjiang and parts of Central Asia). Tracesof human activity 7,000 years ago can befound here. As the main passageway andhub for economic and cultural exchangebetween the East and the West in ancienttimes, Turpan had been a place whereseveral religions were practiced, includingManicheism and Nestorianism (whichwas introduced to China during the TangDynasty [618-907]), Buddhism and Islam.
Nowadays, religion is still part of the locals’ daily life, with Islam remaining asthe dominant local religion. When a Muslimof the Uygur ethnic group passes away,his or her body is carried to a mosque bythe family, where an imam leads all themen of the community in a prayer for thedeceased. If a woman wants children or ifsomeone in her family falls ill, she will goto Mazar to worship, in hopes of blessingsfor good health or the birth of children.Mazar is an Arabic word which literallymeans “a place to visit.” It generallyrefers to tombs of Islamic saints or famouspeople. From cradle to grave, Muslimspractice various rituals and ceremoniesduring each stage of their lives. The basicspirit of all these rituals is to show aweand respect for Allah.
Born in 1975, photographer WangQing, a Jiangsu Province native, now livesin Turpan. She devoted much of her timeto researching and photographing Islamicculture in Turpan. From a special femaleperspective, she captured these images todocument the land and daily life of Muslimsnow living in the area.