This is a seminal study on the cult of Muslim saints in contemporary Xinjiang.  Based on a wide range of sources (fieldwork data, unpublished primary sources, Russian and Uighur works), the author relates the history of the cult from the foundation of the PRC till nowadays.  The article explains how the Chinese authorities started a de-sacralisation process, although they adopted different attitudes towards holy places (mazars).  At the same time Uighur intellectuals—whether Jadids or Communists, or both—fiercely criticised superstitions (khurapatliq).  To say things shortly, the issue of the cult of the saints does not mean a simple opposition between a devout society and an impious state—for using the title of a famous book.  Nevertheless, beyond such hostility, the cult remains extremely active until today.  In this article, the reader will find meticulous description of rituals performed on mazars: circumambulation (täväp), incense burning (küjä), fixing of poles (tugh), flags (äläm) and others symbols of sanctity and power.

Alexandre Papas, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-5.3.E-513