Three Poems by Exmetjan Osman

Translated and introduced by Joshua L. Freeman

Exmetjan Osman (b. 1964) is widely acknowledged as the founder of the gungga (“hazy”) movement in Uyghur poetry, a modernist school which blossomed after Exmetjan’s first Uyghur-language abstract poems were published in Xinjiang’s Tengri Tagh journal in 1986. As a teenager in Ürümqi during the early days of China’s reform period, Exmetjan developed a strong interest in international literary trends, and in 1982 joined one of the first cohorts of Xinjiang Uyghurs to study abroad after the Cultural Revolution. Completing first a Bachelor’s and then a Master’s degree in Arabic literature at Damascus University, Exmetjan acquired Arabic with such fluency that in 1988 he was able to publish his first Arabic-language poetry collection, The Second Stumble. His first Uyghur-language collection followed three years later, and the years since have seen the publication of six more volumes in Arabic and Uyghur, to great acclaim in both the Syrian and the Uyghur literary worlds. Continue reading

A Japanese Xiangfei

Hashimoto Kansetsu 橋本関雪, a Kyoto-based painter, lived from 1883 to 1945. His home in Kyoto was a carefully cultivated assemblage of pavilions and greenery, now open to the public for a small fee, with a gallery displaying some of his works. His paintings deal mostly with natural subjects, some of which can be seen here. One picture is of a more historical nature, though. It is a copy of one of the portraits of the Qianlong Emperor’s famous concubine from Xinjiang, who was known variously as Rong Fei 容妃, Xiang Fei 香妃 (the “Fragrant Concubine”), or among Uyghurs as Iparkhan. The original, which belongs to the National Palace Museum in Taiwan, is attributed to the Jesuit artist Giuseppe Castiglione (Lang Shining 郎世寧). There are, in fact, quite a few different pictures thought to be the Castiglione portrait, as James Millward has discussed (“An Uyghur Muslim in Qianlong’s Court: The Meanings of the Fragrant Concubine,” Journal of Asian Studies 53, no. 2 [1994]: 427-58.). To this collection, then, we can add this slightly Japanese-looking Xiang Fei, now hanging in the National Diet of Japan: