Crafting heritage

Updated: 2012-10-31 10:44

By Zhang Zixuan (China Daily)

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Crafting heritage

Tower Houses area in Kashi, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. Photos by Zhang Zixuan / China Daily

Crafting heritage

Tursun Rustam, 60, carries on his family tradition of pottery making at his workshop on the third story of his house, in Tower Houses area in Kashi. Photos by Zhang Zixuan / China Daily

The unique Uygur style of pottery making has been in existence for more than 2,000 years. Zhang Zixuan speaks to the last guardians of the art in Kashi to find out what keeps them going.

Tursun Rustam, 60, reaches the workshop on the third story of his house, after climbing up several steep stone steps and two unstable bamboo ladders.

Using the light that streams from a tiny hole on the mud wall, he puts on his working suit to protect his clothes, which unfortunately have already been stained from moving within the narrow stairway.

Rustam sits on a wood platform behind a spinning tray, found a comfortable position and put his legs at the treadle. He is ready to start his pottery work.

Within the old town of Kashi, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Rustam and a handful of neighbors are the last guards of the unique Uygur craftsmanship of pottery making, which can be traced back to more than 2,000 years.

They still live in Tower Houses, the random-shaped Uygur habitat that gradually expanded over the years upon a 40-meter-high and 800-meter-long loessial cliff at the northeastern end of Kashi old town.

The pottery uses the same clay that was once used for making houses, Rustam says. He believes that the loessial cliff was one of the definitive reasons that their Uygur ancestors settled down in the highlands about 1,000 years ago.

"But now we have to transport loess from nearby counties to make the pottery, since the cliff has nearly been hollowed out," he says.

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