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Uyghur Christians in Muslim Xinjiang

September 23 | 91 Comments

The Shanghaiist website has picked up on a story that I’ve been reading about with interest over the last few months. A Uyghur Christian named Alimjan Yimit was sentenced to 15 years in prison late last year and was recently allowed to visit with his wife and son for the first time in 2 years.

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Buzkashi Explained: Rules & Traditions of the World’s Most Dangerous Game

August 18 | 26 Comments

What is “Buzkashi” and how is it played? I’ve had the privilege of witnessing a number of games of Buzkashi and in addition to sharing some of my favorite photos from these experiences, I’d also like to explain the rules of Buzkashi as best I understand them. Buzkashi (pronounced “booz-ka-shee”) is a popular Central Asian game […]

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Anatomy of a Modern Chinese Wedding

February 6 | 6 Comments

My dad once told me that in order to fully understand a culture you need to attend a wedding, a funeral, and a baby shower. Unfortunately our Chinese friends never got that memo, so instead of a well-balanced cultural immersion, we’ve been invited to five (yes, count them…FIVE) weddings this month.

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Uyghur Customs | 26 Rules for Hosting or Being Hosted

October 29 | 3 Comments

Hosting or being hosted by somebody from a different culture can always be a bit stressful, and for me the Uyghur culture with all the nuances of Uyghur customs, has been no different.

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Celebrating Qurban in Urumqi, Xinjiang

August 31 | 42 Comments

It’s Qurban Festival in Xinjiang (aka “Corban” or “古尔邦节”) and I decided to take a walk through my local neighborhoods here in Urumqi to capture some photos and a video. You can watch the video below or scroll further down to read a more thorough description of Xinjiang’s Qurban Festival accompanied by a few photos. Hopefully […]

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Uyghur Dutar | Making and Playing Uyghur Music

September 9 | 10 Comments

The dutar is a two-stringed lute that is characterized by a long neck and pear-shaped body. There are various forms of the instrument that are played all over Central Asia, but the Uyghur dutar is known as one of the largest in this family of plucked instruments. I’ve always been fascinated by the Uyghur dutar and have known a […]

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Fascinating Tradition of Uyghur Paper Making in Hotan, Xinjiang

January 28 | 41 Comments

The tradition of Uyghur paper making in Hotan (Khotan), Xinjiang has been around for more than 2,000 years, and yet somehow it rarely gets a mention in most travel guides or tour packages. The truth is, if it weren’t for government subsidies, this local tradition of making paper from mulberry trees probably would have died […]

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Mass Uyghur Wedding in Turpan, Xinjiang (100+ couples!!!)

August 22 | 4 Comments

Living in Xinjiang has been a non-stop adventure for me – I love it! I have incredible memories of experiencing local festivals, traveling the province on my motorcycle and visiting small villages near the border of Kazakhstan. Memories like these are often created but every once in a while they just appear in front of you […]

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Joining 40,000 Muslims Breaking Ramadan in Kashgar

July 29 | 4 Comments

My alarm went off at 5:30am local time this morning and the sky was already filled with the soft light of dawn. This is only my 3rd day here in Kashgar, a lively desert oasis on the western edge of Xinjiang. Although the intense heat has consistently drained me of energy, I was surprisingly excited to jump […]

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Celebrating the Kazkh People of Xinjiang (Nowruz in China)

April 28 | 5 Comments

This last weekend I was privileged to attend a late Nowruz celebration put on by the Kazakh Consul here in Urumqi, Xinjiang. It was a beautiful display of traditional Kazakh costume, Kazakh singing, and even some Kazakh wrestling.

My favorite memory, however, was a personal concert given me by a talented young Kazakh Dombra player. I don’t know if I’ve ever witnessed such fast strumming in my life…

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