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U I G H U R   CULTURE   AND   ART

 

1.     1. Education and science

According to official statistics, majority of the Uighurs in the USSR lived in Kazakhstan. As is well-known, August 26, 1920 All-Union Central Executive Committee and Central Asian Committee of Russian Soviet Federative Socialistic Republic passed a law, which established Autonomous Kazakh Soviet Socialistic Republic. The government of a new state emphasized people’s education. In October 1920, 22,000 Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Uighur children went to 250 new schools in Semirechye region14. 

After the October revolution, the Uighurs strove after knowledge. They appealed to Departments of People’s Education with the request to assist in opening schools. Taking into consideration economic difficulties the Uighurs were ready to support schools themselves. In 1923 village communities in Yarkent region sowed 6 dessiatinas (1 dessiatina = approx. 2 ¾ acres) with grain for every school15. In the village of Janashar 300 poods (1 pood = 16,38 kg) of wheat were harvested to pay salaries to the teachers16. Peasants of Kuram-Chilik region sowed 23,5 dessiatinas with grain for schools, and people of Malyvay region allotted 200 poods of grain to schools and 1,500 roubles in cash17. 

The facts above testify that the population regarded education as a very important issue. The government of the Kazakh Republic promoted further development of education. In 1931 2,500 Uighurs studied at schools organized under campaign against illiteracy18. On January 1, 1935 in Alma-Ata region 48,220 people studied in 1,044 centers organized under campaign against illiteracy. In 1932-33 academic year 190 Uighur young men and girls studied in Alma-Ata Women Pedagogical Technical School19. In several years the number of children who were studying increased. In 1951-52 academic year there were 52 Uighur schools in Kazakhstan, 3 of which were secondary schools, 17 were seven-year schools, the rest were elementary schools with a number of pupils about 60 thousand20. In 1969-1970 there were 64 Uighur schools in Kazakhstan with a number of pupils 16,000. In 1986-1987 academic year there were only 11 Uighur schools and 38 mixed schools with 12,549 pupils. The number of Uighur schools reduced due to decrease of entrants into them because children after graduation encountered some difficulties entering high schools and Universities where mostly Russian and, to a lesser degree, Kazakh were the languages of instructions. 

Regardless of the difficulties, the number of Uighur youth who wanted to have secondary and higher education did not decrease. Establishing of Uighur Department at Philological Faculty in the Kazakh Pedagogical University named after Abai by the government of Kazakhstan was of great importance for the Uighurs who desired to have higher education. The Department prepared teachers for Uighur schools. The foundation of success for functioning of Uighur schools was the publishing house "Ruan", which published textbooks in the Uighur language. 

One of the major moments in history of Uighur culture is the establishing of the Uighur Studies in which Kuanysh Satpayev, a great scientist, a luminary of the Kazakhstan geological science played a highly important role. That was him who initiated foundation of Sector of Uighur-Dunghan culture in 1949. It was the beginning of the development of the Uighur Studies in Kazakhstan. Later on the Sector was transformed into a Department of the Uighur Studies. In 1986 the Institute of the Uighur Studies was founded in Alma-Ata. Works of Uighurologists of Kazakhstan were recognized by Turcologists around the world. Names of such specialists as Academician A.Kaydarov, G.Sadvakasov, Corresponding Member of the Academy of Sciences of Kazakhstan, M.Khamrayev, Corresponding Member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR came to light. Works of Kazakhstan Uighurologists were highly evaluated.  Murat Khamrayev, Doctor of Philology was awarded with Prize of Lenin’s Komsomol of the USSR for a series of works on the Uighur Studies. A.Kaydarov, Doctor of Philology for his work «Modern literary language of the Uighurs», G.Sadvakasov for his work «Language of the Uighurs of the Fergana valley» (part 1-2) were awarded with Prize of Ch.Valikhanov. Scientific public spoke favorably of works of Doctors of sciences – Sh.Nadyrov, K.Abdullayeva, Doctor of philological sciences, Professor T.Talipov. However, due to political reasons the Institute of the Uighur Studies was closed in 1997, and its staff was diminished to the size of Department of Uighur Studies in the Institute of Oriental Studies. 

Names of Uighur scientists and scholars are well-known outside the academic science. They are S.Karabayeva (Doctors of Medicine Sciences), T.Sopiyev (Doctors of Medicine Sciences), R.Avutov (Doctor of Economic Sciences), M.Abdrakhmanov (Doctor of Philology), T.Alibakiyeva (Doctor of Arts) and others. 

Uighur journalism develops along with Science and Humanities. Republican newspaper «The Uighur Avazi» (“The Voice of the Uighurs”) and its supplement “Yengi Khayat” (“The New life”) in Arabic Uighur script with total circulation of 10,000 copies, the radio- and tele- broadcasting in Uighur reflected life of the Uighurs in Kazakhstan.

 

2. Fine and Applied Arts

The beginnings of original art of the Uighurs go back to ancient days. Eastern Turkestan, old motherland of the Uighurs, is the region where the Great Silk Route, which tied East and West and assured interchange of material and spiritual values, ran. Contacts, which took place in this place between representatives of various cultural environments, assisted in enrichment of Uighur artistic traditions with achievements of Central Asian, Eastern Iranian and Northern Indian cultures. Wall paintings and sculptures of ancient Uighur cave temples “Myng oy” (“Caves of Thousand Buddhas”), samples of carpet weaving, metallic, ceramic and wood products testify for this interchange. After the October Revolution ancient Uighur arts had a chance for further development. Fine arts, which were prohibited under Islam, had an opportunity to revive. Avakri Shamsuddinov (Shamsi) was the first Uighur Soviet artist-professional. In 1928 he entered Moscow Conservatoire and next year he was sent to Leningrad Academy of Arts. In 1937 he had his first personal exhibition at Conference of Intelligentsia of Uighur culture. In 1974 more than 30 his canvases were displayed at his personal exhibition. He was an acknowledged master of portrait. His portrait works such as “Sadyr Palvan”, “Anayat Kurbanov”, “Amangeldy Imanov”, “Jambul” are well-known. In his works he aspired to reflect inward life, spirituality of his personages. A character of a man of labor was the main theme of Z.Yusupov, other talented Uighur artist who created a number of original portrait works such as “Nasyrov”, “I.Sattarov”, “Karibjanov”, “A.Shamiyev” and others. 

In 1970-1980s works of M.Khetakhunov, P.Ibragimov (Honored Worker of Arts) as well as works of young artists K.Zulfikarov, A.Akhatbakiyev, R.Yusupov and others obtained broad recognition. 

Ideas of preservation and continuity in development of Uighur spiritual tradition of fine arts, which popularized multinational arts in Kazakhstan and encouraged favorable exchange between various cultures and traditions, prevailed among modern Uighur artists. Gallery “Myng oy” led by U.Jalilov was the initiator of these ideas and practical principles. Many gifted artists such as A.Isa, R.Yusupov, K.Zulfikarov, A.Zulfikarov, Kh.Kurbanov, M.Khitakhunov and others who keep great legacy of their ancestors in their works are unified under the Gallery.

 

3. Calligraphy

Niyaz Kerim Şärqiy is a well-known calligrapher. His outstanding works have brought fame both to him and to the Uighur people. He has taken initiative to put all the styles of modern Uighurs calligraphy into order. He compiled a textbook for modern Uighur calligraphy, which consists of twelve books. He has also written a number of articles on the arts of Uighur calligraphy. They include: "Styles of Uighur Calligraphy", "Practical Examples of Uighur Calligraphy", "Handbook on Uighur Calligraphy" and "The Works of Niyaz Kerim Şärqiy".

 

Some of the works by Niyaz Kerim Şärqiy are presented here.

 

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14. Sharipov A., 40 years of people’s education in Kazakhstan, Alma-Ata, 1960, pp.7-8.

15. AOGA f. 489, Op.1, d.644, sv. 49, L. 6-7.

16. “Kämbäğällär avazi” ("Voice of the poor”), 15.12.1929.

17. AOGA, f.337, Op.1, d.228, sv.16, L. 6-7.

18. SGA Kaz.SSR, f.81, Op.1, d.1370, sv.107, p.19.

19. SGA Kaz.SSR, f.5, Op.14, d.307, L.19.

20. Sembayev A.I. History of development of Soviet school in Kazakhstan. Alma-Ata, 1962, p.292.

21. On history of founding of Uighur theater see Kaydarov A. Uighur Soviet theater. Alma-Ata, 1984.

 

 


 

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