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Kuqa and Korla
2005-11-02 11:37:38
The heart and soul of the wicked humor of the Xinjiang folk song, "List Your Veil".

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"Lifting your veil", is a Xinjiang folk song.  It was first collected by the Chinese Han musician Wang Luobin more than half a century ago, and has since become known and loved throughout the country. 

Travel Express Vol.78: Korla, an Oasis in the "Sea of Death"

The vastness of Xinjiang is breathtaking. And the beauty of it leaves you gasping. The road stretches on and on and on and the landscapes look so close yet so far away. The sheer scope of nature here leaves the car looking like a little ant moving under the equally endless sky.  Heaven is indeed pretty close here, when you look at the land below.  The folk song "Lift Your Veil" was born here in Xinjiang and originally sung by the Uygur people, who are a fun loving, always cheerful, and sometimes very mischievous. You can tell that from the wicked humor of "Lift Your Veil".

Music collector, Wang Luobin took this song out to the rest of the country, and we all fell in love with it.  Now we are going back to the heart and soul of it.

The city of Kuqa is quite small. But it was once an important stop on the ancient Silk Road. Kuqa was also once the center of the ancient Qiuci Kingdom. For over a thousand years, the mighty kingdom flourished but now few traces of that glory are left.  Only the great stories live on.

Kuqa city is divided into the new district and the old. The old district is where you can still see the traditional white adobe homes, the typical Uygur homes. It is also where you can find many distinctively arabesque style mosques.  The Kuqa Mosque is the second largest mosque in Xinjiang, right after the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgar. Made of bricks, it was reconstructed after the original mosque was burned down in 1931.

The market in Kuqa is held every Friday and it hits its height around three o'olock.  What you find in Kuqa market is different. It's not like the bazaar in Urumqi, which expressly targets tourists. This is a real trade center for the locals. Along with many commodities, you can taste many good things. Especially recommended are the melons, and the iced yogurt. All these sights and sounds and tastes are more than enough to satisfy my thirst of curiosity about the local life. The typical headwear of the Uygur people adds a touch of exotic as the men here wear them with such style, be they simple or intricately embroidered jobs.  "Friendly, cheerful, spontaneous and generous" - these are the words that come to my mind to describe these people.

In Kuqa, you can also find the biggest Nang in Xinjiang. It is a kind of wheat pie. If you visit People's homes here at afternoon tea time, say at around three o'lock, they'll probably offer you some Nang as a gesture of welcome.  Another favorite Uygur dish is what they call La Tiaozi. Basically it's noodles with a special kind of carefully prepared sauce. The sauce is a scrambled mixture of beef and vegetables such as tomato, beans, eggplant, and green peppers. The process of flinging the noodle dough around guarantees a texture that is both resilient and soft. Besides food, music is another important part of any get-together.

"Lift your veil, let me see your face. You have long, slender eyebrows, which are just like the crescent moon on the sky."  The lyrics of the song make me wonder why they say Lift your veil.  Well, local people told me that in Uygur tradition, at a wedding, the bride has her face veiled and when the right time arrives, her mother will lift her veil and present her to the groom.

Taklamagen Desert is the biggest desert in China. We made a little detour into it before arriving at Korla, which is some five hours drive east of Kuqa. The desert landscape is dramatic but after a while, it becomes mesmerizing.

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Related Stories:
Turpan, a Xinjiang Legend
Ili, the Most Beautiful Place in Xinjiang
Absolute Xinjiang
Xinjiang Photo Gallery

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