Uyghur Location Question

ablimit.baki at ablimit.baki at
Thu Feb 23 16:55:39 UTC 2006

Hi Francis,
The area where Uyghur (Uighur) is spoken has been referred to as 
Western Regions, Uyghuristan, Eastern Turkistan (or Eastern Turkestan), 
Kashgaria, Great Steppe, Xinjiang (or Sinkiang) and Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous 
Regions or Western China.
1. The term Western Regions was used in the Chinese historical records to 
refer not only to the present Xinjiang but also to  a wider geographical area 
of Central Asia. It is also often related to the ancient Silk Road and the 
ancient Xinjiang. This is the least sensitive term and yet it has a now almost 
out of use.
2. The term Uyghuristan was in use for as long as 1,300 years only in a narrow 
sense.It means the land of the Uyghur but it can sometimes be offensive to 
other ethnic groups living on this land. Some Uyghur diaspora prefer to adopt 
this term as other Turkic peoples have established their independent countries 
after their names. But there are some people who are not in favour of it as 
the area doesn't just belong to the Uyghur only.
3. Easter Tutkistan came from the term Turkistan, the wide area where the 
Turkic people lived in Central Asia.Historically, The Karakhanids called their 
territory as Turkistan during the 10th-12th centuries to refer to the 
large area both in southern Xinjiang (Eastern Turkistan)and the areas in 
Turkmanistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgizistan (Western Turkistan). During the 1050s 
Turkistan was divided into Western Turkistan and Eastern Turkistan followed by 
an independence of the kingdoms in Turkmanistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgizistan. 
Nevetheless, Xinjiang winessed a shorlived independence of Eastern Tukistan 
during the 1930s and 1940s. It can be the most offensive term to be acepted by 
the Chinese authorities nowadays.
4. Chinese Turkistan is in contrast to the term Russian Turkistan. The term 
was picked up again during the western scholars during the 19th centiries. It 
is not commonly used nowadays.
5. Kashagria refers to the southern Xinjiang during the reign of Yakub Beg 
(1820-1877) during 1861/1866-1877.Kashgaria cannot be used to refer to the 
present area which consists both the northern and the southern Xinjiang.
6. Great Steppe was adopted by western scholars to highlight the geographical 
features of this land and beyond. Hence it is not to be recomended.
7. The term Xinjiang (New Territory) didn't appear until 1884 when the area 
was officially established as one of the provinces of China after the defeat 
of Yakub Beg. Uyghur diaspora regard it as an offensive as it implies strong 
colonial backround. It is short form of the current official name of 
the region.
8. The term Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region didn't appear until 1955 when 
this region became one of the five autonomous regions of China nafter the 
names of the major ethnic group.
9. Many scholars now call this area as Western China just to avoid any 
sensitivity but it doesn't refer to the exact location of the area where 
Uyghur is spoken. Western China can include several provinces and regions in 
China such as Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shanxi in its narrow send. In a broad 
sense it can also include Inner Mongolia, Tibet, Sichaun and Guizhou.
Conclusion: situationg the location of the area where Uyghur is spoken is most 
problematic and sensitive as this area covers both China and Central 
Asia.Adopting different terms may imply different intentions and attitudes of 
the writers and the speakers.
This is just my own personal understanding and knowledge as I'm an Uyghur 
person from Kashgar in that region. People are welcome to debate and try to 
come to an agreement.
Yours sincerely,
Ablimit Baki

Quoting "Francis M. Hult" <fmhult at>:

> Does anyone have any insight into the most appropriate way to refer to the 
> area where Uyghur is spoken?  Given the sociopolitical circumstances, what
> are 
> the implications to saying variously that Uyghur is spoken in the Xinjiang 
> Uyghur Autonomous Region, Uyghuristan, Chinese Turkestan, East Turkestan, or
> Western China?  I am working on a paper with a colleague and we are trying to
> determine the least offensive term.  The first and the last seem best to me 
> but from what I've read it seems that someone could possibly find any of
> these 
> terms politically problematic.  Any advice from folks who know the region 
> would be most welcome.
> Francis 

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