The Tatar Nationality
The Tatar nationality, with a population of over
4,800, consists of people who immigrated to Xinjiang from Kashan, Xiemilieqi,
Zaisang and other places in Russia in the 19 th century. They have their
own language, using the Uygur written scripts. They believe in Islam.
Most people live in major cities in Xinjinag. Their cultural and educational
undertakings are quite developed, so intellectuals are numerous. Tatar
singing and dancing are widely enjoyed in the region.
For a long time the Tatars have been living with
the Uygurs and the Kazaks, so they are closely related. The languages
of the other two nationalities are also used in the Tatars' everyday
conversations and writings.
The Tatar nationality is one of the few nationalities which have relatively
less population. Her 4,800 people mainly distribute to Yiling, Tacheng
and Urumqi in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Some scatter in Bu'erjin,
Qitai and major cities in South Xinjiang.
The Tatars usually live in flat™≤roofed houses enclosed in a courtyard
where they plant fruit trees and flowers. Since they need to heat the
house with firewalls or fireplaces, their walls are quite thick. The
house is spacious and bright inside. Tapestries are hung over lightly
painted walls and carpets are spread on the floor. Most of their furniture
is of European style.
"Gubangdiai" and "Yitbailixi" are unique foods of
Tatar flavor. The former is a pastry made from rice, cheese and dried
apricot, the latter rice, pumpkin and meat. For holidays and banquet
occasions, they make various European refreshments, which are good in
color, smell and taste, to entertain the guests.
"Keerxima," a special Tatar drink similar to beer, is brewed
with fermented honey and hops.
The Tatars eat neither with their hands nor with chopsticks. They use
spoons. When their Uygur or Kazak friends invite them to dinner, they
always take a little spoon with them.
Tatar costumes have a distinct characteristic. Both men and women love
to wear embroidered shirts. The collar, front and cuffs of the shirts
are embroidered with X'shaped patterns in pretty harmonious colors.
Over the shirt, they usually put on a black vest. The men prefer black
and white to any other colors. Their clothes are black and white, so
are their caps. In summer, they wear black and white embroidered small
caps, in winter black curly fur caps. The women like white, yellow and
purple dresses. They wear all sorts of gold or silver ornaments and
colored caps decorated with beads.
The Tatar people are good at singing and dancing. In XinJiang, whenever
there are ceremonies and weddings, no matter for which nationality,
there are always Tatar music, Tatar folk songs and Tatar dances. People
say that the Tatars are shining stars in ceremonial and cultural activities
among all the brotherly nationalities in Xinjiang.
Tatar songs and dance music are wide-spread. The melodies of the songs
are often smooth and magnificent. The rhythm is at first moderate, then
gathers strength, and in the end becomes fervent. When the enthusiastic
atmosphere reaches a certain degree, there are often shouts and whistles,
which push the feeling of happiness to the climax. Dance music has become
an essential accompaniment when youths of different nationalities dance
together. The music gives expression to their rich emotions and sentiments
According to the tradition, women often play the leading roles in Tatar
dances. They always choose a picturesque place for their grand meeting
held every spring-"the Saban Festival," or "the Plough
Festival." Both men and women put on their best clothes, bring
their instruments and gather at that place. They congratulate each other,
singing and dancing while enjoying the beautiful scenery. They also
compete each other in horseracing, tug™≤of™≤war and wrestling. They sing
and dance to their hearts' content until they become intoxicated.
Their cultural and educational undertakings have begun fairly early,
therefore intellectuals dominate a high percentage among the people.
At the end of the 19th century, they had already established some religious
schools in Yining, Tacheng and other places, teaching Chinese, arithmetic
and other general knowledge courses. Yining Tatar School established
in1949 was one of the earliest new schools for the minority nationalities
in Xinjiang. Tatar educators teach not only in schools founded by their
own nationality but also in schools founded by other nationalities.
Some go down to the countryside and establish schools in the pastoral
area. They have made a lot of contributions to the dissemination of
science and culture.