Neighbors Beshkeiram Village, Kashgar Xinjiang Province, China
Shadebeth; seen here in the blue dress, lives in an old style mud house, traditional for centuries in Xinjiang. Her home is in Beshkeiram, a quaint village 11km from Kashgar. Its rare to see a mud home that is occupied as almost all the houses are quickly being converted to brick walls - on Government orders.
As I travel around Xinjiang I have observed that culture survives with the women. It is because the women’ role as the central pillar, her family flourishes. In a traditional Uyghur household the marriages are arranged with the bride and groom’s consent to their parent’s choice. The just married young Bride moves into her husband’s home to begin the process of learning how to be an Ayalim – wife in Uyghur language. She will develop the style of cooking of her mother-in-law, learning the foods her husband likes to eat. After a few years of living with the man’s family the young couple may move into their own home, built on a portion of the family’s ancestral property.
I met Shadebeth when I visited her mud style home and was saddened by her tragic story of loneliness. She tells me with tears flowing, that she has no children. That her life is very difficult since her husband has left her, to live with his son from his first wife. Shadebeth has no one to turn to besides her close friend and neighbors. This extended family is common to the Uyghur villagers.
The family gathers outside their home on the Poplar lined street. The traditional carved wooden doors mark the walled entrance to the inner courtyard of the typical brick house. As is fashionable, the entire family is color co-coordinated to the mother’s clothing.
Nsagul and her two daughters- Aisha and Maryama make the famous tiny “Ear-shaped”- Chuchuro. Lamb filled dumplings served in a light vegetable and lamb soup. “Tamlick” - Delicious in Uyghur.
6 million Uyghurs live in Xinjiang Province today comprising 47% of the population. Unlike the city dwelling Han Chinese who are restricted to one child, it’s common for Uyghur’s, to have five to six children. Primarily farmers, the children will eventually help with the multitude of chores in the home and on the farm.