Urban Uighur fashion


The Uighur people are a Turkic people who live primarily in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region which is in the west of the country.

I don’t really know too much about their traditional attire but urban Uighur women tend to wear a hybrid between traditional and modern/western style or clothing. Many urban women wear a form of hejab which is similar to what is favored in Turkey and the Middle East. The semi-“traditional” covering favored by many Uighur women in Xinjiang cities is the Chumbel. It was traditionally a square of coarse horsehair material thrown over the head, its apparently lessening in popularity with many younger women switching to a more Turkish or Middle Eastern style of hejab/niqab. It was extremely common up until about a decade ago. Many chumbel wearing women would wear it on top of another scarf so the hair so covered when it is thrown up.

The picture above is not Uighur but from Uzbekistan and shows the historical “hejab” of the Central Asia region which was outlawed when the Soviets took over Central Asia, I would assume that upperclass, urban Uighur women wore something similar.

I mentioned above the Chumbel is slowly giving way to scarves from Turkey and the Middle east.

Uighurs though love colorful attire and traditional fabrics…

Dancer in traditional Uighur dancing attire.  I love the ikat designs and colors!


16 thoughts on “Urban Uighur fashion

  1. As salaamu ‘alaikum, Sister

    Very nice blog, mashaALLAH. We don’t hear much about Uighurs so it’s nice to learn a little more about them.

  2. I had a Uighur student a few years ago. She gave me a very large large scarf in pale brown and gold, not ikat, in a swirled design that was very striking. Not at all like any Turkish designs I had seen.

    Some time ago, there was a Mongolian exhibition here with samples of wonderful ikat for sale, but it was too pricey for me!

    • Yes I think ive seen those or similar ones, similar styles are worn in Iran by Turkomans and you can sometimes find them in the hejab shops…even if your not in Khorasan or other provinces with a lot of Turkomans. I bought 2 my last trip, they are HUGE, though these ones have the bright, gaudy floral design that Turkomans favor.

      They look nice as a shawl too!

  3. Assalamalaikum Sister,

    In my City in Australia, we have many Muslims who call themselves Tartars. They are from a region that lies on the China/Russian border – referred to as Sinkiung. They mostly have very fair skin with almond eyes and often speak both Chinese and Russian, as the border has changed over the years, and wear similar styles to the elderly lady in picture no 4 – otherwise they wear a simple square scarfe folded in a triangle and worn like the gyspies in old films.

    Are we talking about the same people?



    • No, Tatars are a different group from Uighurs, just like how Uzbeks are different from Osman Turks (those in Turkey), Kirghiz and other Turkic groups. They ARE a Turkic people or a Turkicized people but are not the same and are quite spread out between Eastern Europe through to China and Russia.

      I suggest you read up on them, while I do not consider Wikipedia an authoritative source along the same lines as say a Encyclopedia Britannica or an Academic work, it may be an OK place to start if you just want to read up about them in a brief manner. They are quite a diverse group actually.

      • Thank you Umm Ibrahim,
        I really appreciate you taking the time to reply.
        I really enjoy your blog and look forward to your updates.
        I trust your studies are successful.

        Anisah ( in Adelaide South Australia)

  4. Asalaamu aleikum-

    Yet another interesting piece from you! That is one of the things I really love about your blog, that you’re interested in other muslims and their particular cultures and histories, rather than just obsessed with your own life and wardrobe- like so many other blogs that I won’t name and that I don’t bother to follow anymore! And you come up with such great photos, as well- keep up the great work, sister, inshallah.

    • wa salaam, jazakhallakhair…I appreciate the comment. Sometimes I worry I’m being dull! LOL…yah I cant really focus on my own wardrobe too much cuz I fear it would make most of those trendy “fashionable” hejabis blanch with horror…LOL.
      Thou you know these features on attire from other Muslim communities is indeed “fashion” in its own right. :-)…I use fashion here in a non-Vogue sense.

      Dont worry, I frankly dont follow many blogs anymore either…blah!

  5. MashaAllah sis, nice post.

    Culturally and linguistically Uzbeks and Uughurs are very close. Uzbeks from Kyrgyztan have married Uyghurs and Dungans. The reason why the historic and traditional Islamic attire has vanished is because during religious suppression of communism the art of making traditional outfits and being able to wear them has been lost. For example, it’s incredibly hard to buy real Paranja (the Uzbek “burqa” photo you have there). The ones available in touristy locations such as Samarqand aren’t meant to be worn and are uncomfortable. Real good paranjas have been preserved by some families and been passed down as heirlooms. My mother wore traditional outfit on her wedding day which consisted of traditional dress and pants, head scarf, Paranja, and special footwear called “makhsi” (like knee boots that’s worn with it’s own shoes) but then next day worn her western style white dress and veil for the “wedding ceremony” LOL! I can’t get my hands on traditional Paranja and many of the traditional dresses of my ancestors (I’m mixed of Uzbek, Tadjik and Dungan, my 3 aunts are Uyghur tho) Markets are overflowing with skinny too-tight jeans and barely there tops, but finding modest traditional needs to be searched for. A lot of it is being replaced by fashion imported from Turkey. Turkish style Abayas, Turkish style pant/long top sets, Turkish style silk hijabs.

    Sorry for a long rant LOL! its a subject that gets me angry.

    • Thank you for your input…if you would like to share anything as a blog post…do let me know, Ive always had a thing for Central Asia…both dh and I want to travel the region someday, esp Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, en’shallah. Yes, I fear thats an issue which many of the worlds ethnic groups have a problem with…they culture is slowly vanishing either by force or slowly via foreign imports. But, I like you dont think thats such a great thing, but in the history of the world…it does seem to be the norm. What can I say.

      Reminds me of how traditional Persian dress is gone, entirely gone…yah the tribal groups and smaller ethnic groups still have preserved their traditional attire but Persian traditional attire is basically gone…

      Allahu alim.

      • InshaAllah I can put together a post for your readers about various traditional clothing of various regions within Central Asia. Maybe needs to be broken down a bit, because each region within a country had it’s own very unique style and design. But I would love to share with your readers the rich clothing culture that’s lost.

      • salaamu alaikum that would be great, yah you can break it down as you wish, Is the email I see listed under your name correct? If so i’ll email you there. I’m in no rush so whenever is good for you.

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