After learning to make bread here in Kashgar I realized finally what these funny little turned wood doorknobs are – tukche. A small device used for making patterns on traditional Uyghur flatbread, I now own a whole set – should I ever decide to set up a Uyghur bakery (more on that idea in the next post).
Does anyone else out there have a kitchen full of essential equipment like this, purchased on holidays with the romantic notion that when you go back home you will make (insert name of foreign food here) every single day, thereby justifying the purchase?
2. Gold 金饰
Uyghur women wear small fortunes of gold, with elaborate gold earrings being part of normal daily dress. When a woman marries, her husband-to-be will provide for a whole set of gold jewellery – earrings, necklace and bracelet, which she will choose with the help of her female relatives.
I did have my heart set on a pair of real gold earrings, each filigree curl inset with one tiny rough turquiose stone, but when I went back to the store in the bazaar it was closed. Tragedy. Instead, I bought a handful of fake gold earrings, just as much fun and way, way cheaper than 370 yuan/gram (about $60/gram), which is the going price for gold in Kashgar.
3. Traditional Uyghur Silk 传统维吾尔族丝绸
Vibrant colors and woven from the softest silk, this traditionaly patterned resist-dye silk known as khan atlas (the king’s silk) is sold either as small scarves, or in 6.4 metre lengths.
When I enquired why one might need 6.4 metres exactly (a turban?I hadn’t seen any of those) I was shown a pattern book full of Uyghur women’s dress styles. So now you know how many metres it took to make this:
4. Glazed Earthenware 釉面陶器
Well OK, not the most practical or lightweight souvenir I’ve ever purchased, but I love my glazed green ewruk or water jug. The style is typical of Kashgar, with the earthy colours and simple designs perfect for serving hearty Uyghur food and drink.
The shops selling earthenware goods lie between the old city and the western edge of the bazaar – just look for piles of jugs and pots on a long stretch of pavement.
5. Spices 香料
In every bazaar is a whole postcode dedicated to spices, the air thick with the smells of dried chili, cumin, saffron and cinnamon – it’s intoxicating.
Visit any dora dermek shop selling spices and ask for a tetitku – a spice mixture. The vendor will take a little of this, a little of that, and hand you a small paper parcel inside which is a dynamite powder packed with flavour used for seasoning kebabs, roast lamb, chicken or vegetables.
6. Doppa 毡帽
Worn by Muslim men, the doppa is simple and beautiful – embroidered and decorated, there are no strict rules about who wears what kind, although older men favour the embroidered green hat of Uyghur muslims, and younger men the simpler ones shown above.
I love the simple white doppa – with designs of circles and inverted hearts woven into the fabric.
7. Tea 茶
Black tea is the staple drink of the Uyghur people, served at every meal and seemingly every other hour of the day too. Enter a Uyghur home and the first thing you will be offered is a shallow ceramic bowl of tea, drunk with the thumb hooked over the bowl’s rim.
The tea is also drunk flavoured with spices, rose petals, saffron and cinnamon.
You’ll need a teapot for making your tea in, and apparently, if you’re me and you have a large vehicle in which to store purchases from bazaars, you’ll need two.
Inexpensive but elegant, the brass teapots have a filter basket inside to stop you getting a mouthful of leaves, and to enable multiple steepings.
9. Brocades and Other Shiny Stuff 锦缎和其他闪亮的东西
As a lifelong sewer and hoarder of all things related to textiles and sewing, the Kashgar bazaar is a dangerous place to let me loose. These brocades are popular for furnishing fabrics, and not just a feature cushion or two either – imagine whole rooms decorated in this flamboyant brocade style, from wall coverings to quilts to the long, oblong cushions used for sitting on the floor. Every Uyghur house is a riot of colour, pattern and shine.
By the way, can you spot the camouflaged second woman in this shot?
10. Bounty of the Oasis 慷慨的绿洲
Last year in Kashgar I bought a small bag of the most exquisite tiny dried figs, about the size of a marble, sweet and chewy with the crunch of tiny, tiny seeds. The figs ran out ten months ago, so I’m not making that mistake again – I stocked up on several kilograms of the world’s best dried foods – apricots, figs, dates, sultanas, raisins, walnuts and almonds.
All of these fruit and nut trees thrive in the Kashgar oasis, along with melons, tomatoes, eggplant and the local yellow carrots.
11. Door Hinges 门铰链
Yes, I am the kind of person who buys door hinges. Who wouldn’t want a set of stunning hand-made Uyghur hinges like these? No? How about a door knocker?