The world buried in the pamphlet and its yellowed pages is Uighur

Today, dozens of libraries and museums in Europe preserve hundreds of manuals written or hand-copied by Uyghur craftsmen, artisans, calligraphers, and scribes. Over the years, the pages have yellowed, the ink has faded, and the covers have faded. These valuable pamphlets show the rich folk knowledge, collective creative power, talents in the field of crafts, and their unique entrepreneurial spirit created by the Uyghur people during their long history.

The meaning of the word “Risalah” in the Uyghur language is a manual of trades or a written statement about trades. Manuscripts are important written records for the transmission of crafts from one generation to the next.

In the course of the various production and industrial activities that the Uyghurs have been engaged in throughout history, they have created their own unique craft techniques, production methods and crafts, and have been continuously enriching them. At the same time, in order to pass down the production techniques and methods of these crafts to the next generation, the masters of these crafts wrote special treatises. Treatises were written and copied by hand and passed down from generation to generation.

Generally, treatises are short, simple, and reflect professional knowledge and characteristics. Craft brochures are handy to have around. Most of the Uyghur craft pamphlets preserved in Sweden are written on Hotan paper, which is usually 13 cm long and 9 cm wide.

لۇند ئۇنىۋېرسىتېتى كۇتۇپخانىسىنىڭ Prov.500 نومۇرلۇق ئارخىبىدا ساقلىنىۋاتقان «موزدۇزلۇق رىسالىسى» دىن ئۆرنەك.
Excerpted from the “Teaching Book” in Lund University Library’s archive Prov.500.

Despite their short size, the treatises cover a wide range of topics related to the industry. Treatises emphasize the rules and regulations of a particular craft or profession and the ethical standards that must be followed in that profession. It describes the legends about the origin of each profession, the names of the patron saints of the profession, the names of the tools, the procedures and rules for the execution of the profession, and the regulations that must be followed one by one. Along with imparting professional knowledge and teaching professional skills, it is also important to teach the religious sciences related to the profession. Some treatises are written in the form of questions and answers, and the prayers and verses recited in the execution and management of the profession are also described.

Craft is folk knowledge that occupies a very important place in the cultural tradition, production tradition and life tradition of any nation. In this sense, Uyghur craft pamphlets can be a proof of the existence of such craft in history. Craft treatises are also a necessary guide for understanding and researching the emergence, development, and economic impact of various crafts that have spread among Uighurs throughout history.

Since most of the Uyghur craft treatises that have been preserved were written in the post-Islamic era, they have a strong Islamic touch. From the treatises, you can see how deep the traces of Islam are in the lives of Uyghurs. In the treatises, the masters also emphasize the cultivation of virtues such as respect for elders and elders, loyalty to the profession, loyalty, and honesty.

The versions of the treatises spread in Central Asia and the Uighur region that have reached us so far can be generally divided into manuscripts, lithographs and new printings. Treatises were handwritten and copied until the late 19th century. During the period from the second half of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century, when printing technology began to be used in Central Asia, a large number of pamphlets were printed and distributed. From the first half of the 20th century, most of the pamphlets were printed and distributed in new printing presses. But even during this period, some pamphlets were still copied and distributed by hand.

Although there are no clear statistics on the number and types of craft pamphlets collected from the Uyghur homeland, it is known that hundreds of pamphlets covering more than 40 kinds of crafts are preserved when checking the catalogs of museums and libraries in European countries. These treatises are: ‘Treatment Treatise’, ‘Butcher’s Treatise’, ‘Craftsman Treatise’, ‘Baker’s Treatise’, ‘Farming Treatise’, ‘Dyeing Treatise’, ‘Blacksmithing Treatise’, ‘Jade’s Treatise’ (Rain Praying Treatise), and ‘Merchant Treatise’ ” consists of professional manuals on the craft and manufacturing industries.

At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, some European explorers, missionaries, travelers and orientalists took a large number of manuscripts written in the Uighur Chagatai language from the cities of East Turkistan such as Kashgar, Hotan, Yerkant, Hamul and Turpan. -Professional pamphlets are also kept. The Swedish Turkologist Gunnar Jarring, the German orientalist Martin Hartmann and the Russian Oldenburg can be said to be the people who made an effort to collect the treatises. The manuscripts they collected from East Turkistan at that time, especially the craft treatises, enabled research on treatises to emerge in the field of science in later times.

At present, the research of Uyghur craft treatises in the field of science is quite deep and at a high level. In this field, many studies are being carried out from the points of transcription (reading), text, structure, content, language and socio-cultural level of craft treatises. Research on this topic is also attracting interest in Turkey. Turkey has published a total of eight research books in 2018 based on Uyghur craft pamphlets stored in the European libraries of Nawshahir University.

Currently, the Uighur-related technical brochures are kept in many countries such as Sweden, Russia, Germany, France, Great Britain and Japan. Among them, Sweden’s Lund University Library, Sweden’s Uppsala University Library, Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Oriental Studies Library, Berlin Brandenburg Research College, Germany, Berlin State Library, French Academy of Sciences Library, Great Britain Library, Japan Toyo Bunko Library, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Museum, etc. It is kept in the Antiquities Office, Xinjiang University Library, Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences Library, as well as in the hands of some individuals.

Uyghur craft treatises are an important part of Uyghur culture and are an important source for researching the emergence, development and professionalization of crafts. The treatises are also important in deepening understanding of the endangered Uyghur cultural heritage and its value, and exploring the connection between crafts and Uyghur culture and history. In turn, the pamphlets are an indispensable source for understanding the folk knowledge that the Uighurs have built in history, that is, for understanding the techniques, business types and production knowledge, for learning the culture of life, and for studying the ability of the Uyghur language to express professional fields and create professional terms.

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