กกกกThe Ozbek ethnic minority, with a population
of 12,370, is scattered over wide areas of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous
Region. Most of them being city dwellers, the Ozbeks live in compact
communities in Yining, Tacheng, Kashi, Urumqi, Shache, and Yecheng.
The name Ozbek first originated from
the Ozbek Khan, one of the local rulers under the Mongol Empire
in the 14th century. Himself a Moslem, the Ozbek Khan spread Islam
in his Khanate. In the 15th century, a number of Ozbeks moved to
the Chuhe River valley, where they were called Kazaks. Those who
remained in the area of the Khanate continued to be known as Ozbeks,
who later formed the Ozbek alliance.
The ancestors of the Ozbek group moved
to China's Xinjiang from Central Asia in ancient times. In the Yuan
Dynasty (1271-1368), Ozbek merchants often traveled along "the
Silk Road" through Xinjiang to do business in inland areas.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, Ozbek trading caravans from Buhara
and Samar Khan used Yarkant in Xinjiang as an entrepot for business
deals in silk, tea, chinaware, fur, rhubarb and other such products.
Some Ozbek merchants moved goods to inland areas via Aksu, Turfan
and Suzhou (present-day Jiuquan of Ganzu Province). During this
period, Ozbeks from Central Asia began to settle in certain cities
in Xinjiang, and the number grew with each passing year. Later on
Ozbeks also settled in Kashi, Aksu, Yarkant and other cities in
southern Xinjiang and a number of places in northern Xinjiang.
The Ozbek people have frequent exchanges
with various other ethnic groups in Xinjiang, and have particularly
close relations with the Uygurs and Kazaks. The Ozbek, Uygur and
Tatar languages all belong to the Tuskic branch of the Altaic language
family and are very close to each other. The Ozbek script is an
alphabetic writing based on the Arabic letters. The Ozbeks believe
in Islam, and their customs, dressing and eating habits are basically
the same as those of the Uygurs.
Both men and women wear skull caps
with bright colored embroidery in unique patterns, and some are
made of corduroy or black velvet. Women sometimes wear scarves on
top of their caps. Men wear buttonless robes reaching the knee,
with oblique collars and the right side of the front on top of the
other. The robe is tied with a triangular embroidered girdle. Women
wear broad and pleated dresses without girdles. Ozbek men usually
wear leather boots and overshoes with low-cut uppers. Women's embroidered
boots are very beautiful and unique in design. The collars, front
openings and sleeves of men's shirts are trimmed with colorful,
patterned lace, which is typical of the handicraft art of the ethnic
Like other ethnic groups in Xinjiang
who believe in Islam, the Ozbek people do not drink alcohol and
eat pork. They like mutton, beef and horse meat and dairy products.
Crusty pancake and tea with milk are standard fare for all three
meals of the day, and they enjoy stewed meat with potatoes, honey
and syrup. "Naren," a mixture of minced cooked meat, onion
and sour milk, dressed with gravy and pepper, is a table delicacy
reserved for guests. The Ozbeks eat it with their fingers.
The Ozbeks build their houses in different
designs. Some have round attics, and most are rectangular adobe
houses with flat roofs. These wood and mud structures have thick
walls with beautifully patterned niches, in which odd things can
be placed. Patterns are also carved on wooden pillars.
Most Ozbek families are nuclear families
with parents and children living separate, and brothers living apart
from one another. There are also families in which three generations
live together. Marriage between siblings or between people of different
generations is strictly forbidden. The Ozbeks have traditional marital
ties with the Uygurs and Tatars. In the past, marriages were completely
arranged by parents. The boy's family had to present betrothal gifts
to the girl's family and cover the cost of wedding feasts. The nuptial
ceremony is as a rule held at the bride's home. The bride's parents
would treat guests to fried rice and sweets during the day, and
the newlyweds will go to the groom's home in the evening after the
ceremony is held according to Islamic rules. Sometimes, relatives
and friends of the bride would "carry the bride off" after
the wedding ceremony, and the groom has to offer gifts to "redeem"
her. When the "carried-away" bride is "redeemed,"
she has to make a circle round a fire in the courtyard before entering
the house. This is perhaps a legacy of ancient nuptial ceremonies.
Funerals are conducted according to Islamic rules. People who attend
funerals tie a strip of white cloth around the waist, and women
wear a piece of white cloth on their heads. The dead person's children
stay in mourning for seven days. On the 40th, 70th and 100th day
of the person's death, imams will be invited to chant scriptures.
The Ozbek ethnic group is one of those
in Xinjiang that are good at singing and dancing and their folk
music is melodious and appealing. They have a great variety of musical
instruments. Most of them are plucked and percussion instruments.
One string instrument with a triangular sound box is known for its
sweet and appealing tone. Ozbek dances are famous for their vivacity,
grace and variety. Most dances are solos, with the dancer waving
her arms while turning round and round. The traditional tambourine
dance is unique in style and very entertaining.