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Kashgar: Life In An Ancient Silk Road City


A man watches the market crowd from the second floor of a teahouse. - The densely packed houses and narrow lanes of old Kashgar are said to be the best-preserved examples of a traditional Islamic city in all of China. (All photos www.ryanpyle.com)
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A man watches the market crowd from the second floor of a teahouse. - The densely packed houses and narrow lanes of old Kashgar are said to be the best-preserved examples of a traditional Islamic city in all of China. (All photos www.ryanpyle.com)

A man receives a shave from a street barber. - Kashgar's old city has survived the centuries, and remains an important Islamic cultural center for the Uyghurs, the Turkic ethnic group living in Xinjiang Province.
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A man receives a shave from a street barber. - Kashgar's old city has survived the centuries, and remains an important Islamic cultural center for the Uyghurs, the Turkic ethnic group living in Xinjiang Province.

A picture of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin hangs beside one of Chairman Mao in a small street market. - Dominated by a gigantic statue of Mao, old Kashgar has seen many changes in recent decades, including the construction of a main street running through the old town center.
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A picture of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin hangs beside one of Chairman Mao in a small street market. - Dominated by a gigantic statue of Mao, old Kashgar has seen many changes in recent decades, including the construction of a main street running through the old town center.

Many Kashgar residents live traditional lives. Here, a man crafts Uyghur instruments. - It’s unclear what will remain of the design and way of life of the city following an ambitious government redevelopment plan.
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Many Kashgar residents live traditional lives. Here, a man crafts Uyghur instruments. - It’s unclear what will remain of the design and way of life of the city following an ambitious government redevelopment plan.

A medicine man - Many see a political aspect to the redevelopment project in Kashgar, which Chinese officials consider a breeding ground for Uyghur separatism.
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A medicine man - Many see a political aspect to the redevelopment project in Kashgar, which Chinese officials consider a breeding ground for Uyghur separatism.

A woman, fully veiled, walks down a street with her son. - Street vendors in Kashgar sell hand-made candy, fresh mutton, or hand-sewn skull caps. Donkey-cart drivers navigate the narrow streets.
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A woman, fully veiled, walks down a street with her son. - Street vendors in Kashgar sell hand-made candy, fresh mutton, or hand-sewn skull caps. Donkey-cart drivers navigate the narrow streets.

Jewelery makers ply their trade in Kashgar. - The Beijing Cultural Protection Center worries that it has been unable to obtain any details of the government's reconstruction plan.
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Jewelery makers ply their trade in Kashgar. - The Beijing Cultural Protection Center worries that it has been unable to obtain any details of the government's reconstruction plan.

Two men wait for a mosque to open. - "This group of [homes] shows a way of life and a way of urban planning -- how the city can be organized around different mosques," says Matthew Hu Xinyu, an adviser to the Beijing Cultural Protection Center. "If we have the houses removed and rebuilt, then...the significance of the city will disappear."
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Two men wait for a mosque to open. - "This group of [homes] shows a way of life and a way of urban planning -- how the city can be organized around different mosques," says Matthew Hu Xinyu, an adviser to the Beijing Cultural Protection Center. "If we have the houses removed and rebuilt, then...the significance of the city will disappear."

Artisans hammer metal bowls, pans, and pots, carve wood, and hone brightly decorated knives.
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Artisans hammer metal bowls, pans, and pots, carve wood, and hone brightly decorated knives.

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