May 21, 2011

Uyghur Wedding Kierya, Xinjiang Province, China

Village Street Donkey Cart  Keirya, Xinjiang China

Inside the old Kierya village the tightly wound, hard packed sand roads are busy with local traffic. Here, away from the rushing highway, the air vibrates with the chirping and twittering sounds of the hundreds of birds taking refuge in the cooling branches of the Poplar trees that line the banks of the gently flowing streams running along side the roads. Donkey carts are still the major means of transport for this fertile region. Keirya is the home to 300,000 people who are primarily Uyghur farmers who work the rich soil to harvest apricots, melons, raisons, corn and wheat for the infamous noodles, the staple of every Uyghur diet.  

I traveled 9182 miles, 20 hours flying time, a total of 3 days travel time to to return to Keirya in China’s Xinjiang Province. The home to the authentic Uyghur people whose way of life is dramatically changing with every passing year. The super highway system that connects this once remote southern oasis city is nearing completion. Now, donkey carts gallantly compete with huge oil tankers, semi-trailers, cars and motorcycles fitted with flatbeds that pass them, speeding down the highway, loaded with people and produce alike. 

I was fortunate to learn of the local wedding of Mamut and Halahnhan, from the friend of my young guide. I ventured into the old village and happily joined in the celebrations just as the entourage arrived at the family homes for their separate receptions; women and girls in one house, men and boy in another house. Luckily for me this was a true boy meets girl next-door love story as both houses were directly across the street from each other. 

 Mother of the Groom Greets Guests in her Home Keirya, Xinjiang China

Hasiyat Turd; Mother of the groom, at the entrance of her family home greeting guest to her son Mamut’s wedding reception. In traditional Uyghur style, she wears the formal attire and the tiny hat once made by the women of this small village in Kierya.  Her tiny hat, worn for weddings and funerals, is very rare as they are no longer handmade by the local village women. 

Aunts Waiting Wedding Party Keirya, Xinjiang China

Bridal Offering Keirya, Xinjiang China

Bride's Wedding Party Keirya, Xinjiang China

Female friends and family of Halahnhan, the young bride, are welcomed into the home of the Groom. They all sit on the heavily carpeted floor as they lean against the colorful wooden panel dado that lines the lower portion of the interior wall. The remaining wall is then covered right to the ceiling in bright patterned carpets. The bride will now live in her husband’s home, becoming part of the larger extended family. 

Cottage Keirya, Xinjiang China

Village Street Keirya, Xinjiang China

Keirya is 112 miles East from Hotan or 4 hours driving time. Hotan is 322.50 miles South East from Kashgar or 10 hours driving time. Kashgar, Xinjiang Province’s far Western city is located 2100 miles, 7 hours flying time from Beijing. New York City is 6760 miles, 13 hours flying time, East to Beijing.

Mt. Ararat

Marla Mossman

My photo
One woman traveling alone, in search of her religious and cultural heritage.