Traditional Customs of Uzbek Minority

The Uzbek people have frequent exchanges with various other ethnic groups in Xinjiang, and have particularly close relations with the Uygurs and Kazaks. The Uzbek, Uygur and Tatar languages all belong to the Tuskic branch of the Altaic language family and are very close to each other. The Uzbek script is an alphabetic writing based on the Arabic letters. The Uzbeks believe in Islam, and their customs, dressing and eating habits are basically the same as those of the Uygurs.

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The Uzbek groom and bride. (Photo from culture.china.com.cn)

The Uzbeks build their houses in different designs. Some have round attics, and most are rectangular adobe houses with flat roofs. These wood and mud structures have thick walls with beautifully patterned niches. Patterns are also carved on wooden pillars.

Most Uzbek families are nuclear families with parents and children living separate, and brothers living apart from one another. There are also families in which three generations live together. Marriage between siblings or between people of different generations is strictly forbidden. The Uzbeks have traditional marital ties with the Uygurs and Tatars. In the past, marriages were completely arranged by parents. The boy's family had to present betrothal gifts to the girl's family and cover the cost of wedding feasts. The nuptial ceremony is as a rule held at the bride's home. The bride's parents would treat guests to fried rice and sweets during the day, and the newlyweds will go to the groom's home in the evening after the ceremony is held according to Islamic rules. Sometimes, relatives and friends of the bride would "carry the bride off" after the wedding ceremony, and the groom has to offer gifts to "redeem" her. When the "carried-away" bride is "redeemed," she has to make a circle round a fire in the courtyard before entering the house. This is perhaps a legacy of ancient nuptial ceremonies.

Funerals are conducted according to Islamic rules. People who attend funerals tie a strip of white cloth around the waist, and women wear a piece of white cloth on their heads. The dead person's children stay in mourning for seven days. On the 40th, 70th and 100th day of the person's death, imams will be invited to chant scriptures.



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