Reviews

This volume brings together forty papers by the linguist and philologist Ibrahim Muti’i, edited by his daughter Khalidä Muti’i, with a biographical afterword by Tahirjan Muhämmät. Muti’i belongs to the generation of Uighur scholars who were educated in Tashkent prior to the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Upon his return to Xinjiang he fell foul of the purge of intellectuals carried out by Governor Sheng Shicai, and was imprisoned between 1940 and 1945. In the 1950s he worked in Beijing on Uighur lexicography, participating in the publication of the Qing Pentaglot Dictionary (Wuti Qingwen jian), but was to suffer for his pre-revolutionary political associations during the Cultural Revolution. From the late 1970s he took part in preparing the Uighur and Chinese editions of Mahmud Kashghari’s Diwan lughat al-turk, and the Irq Bitig. Topics covered by the papers here include the classification and periodisation of Old Uighur, Chaghatay and Modern Uighur languages. Muti’i’s literary criticism takes a typically ecumenical view of Uighur literary history, passing from mediaeval literati such as the Kuchean translator Kumarajiva and the Uighur Sinqu Sali, to the influence of early-twentieth-century Volga Tatar poet ‘Abd-Allah Tuqay on modern Uighur poetry. Of particular interest is Muti’i’s article investigating the Häzrät-i mollam shrine of Opal, south of Kashghar. In the 1980s, on the basis of waqf documents, oral traditions recorded by the shaykhs, and extrapolations from the Diwan lughat, Muti’i along with several other Uighur scholars identified this shrine as the resting place of the Qarakhanid scholar Mahmud Kashgari. Though its arguments will fail to convince every reader, the piece captures a significant stage in the development of the modern Uighur discourse on their nation’s history.

David J. Brophy, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
CER: II-5.3.B-476