Reviews

This excellent study discusses the question of Muslim holy places and their power in the Tarim Basin during the modern and contemporary periods.  Using various primary sources, Masami Hamada analyses the modes of discovering of the saints’ tombs:  At the origin of a tomb discover stands a legendary narrative where a saint appears in someone’s dream, points out where his body is buried and enjoins the discoverer to build him a shrine.  These narratives, the author shows, are governed by political and religious motivations (capturing of charisma, confessional rivalry, organisation of the cult).  The case of Eastern Turkistan presents two historical periods during which the revelation of holy places plays a prominent role.  The first one goes from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century:  Multiple tomb discoveries by Sufi shaykhs, during that period, correspond with the overall Islamicisation process.  The second one is the contemporary period:  Since the 1980s exhuming saints’ graves has been falling within political stakes such as ethnic patrimony and the state policies towards the Uighur minority.

Alexandre Papas, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-5.3.E-504