Manchu memorials to the martyrs of Kashgar

David Brophy

At some point soon I hope to write up some notes from my experience looking around for photographs for my forthcoming book. Along the way I came across quite a few interesting bits and pieces, things that won’t make it into the book but seemed worth noting here at least. It turns out that the archive of the Royal Geographical Society in London has an excellent collection of photos from Xinjiang, and particularly from the Ili Valley region (catalogue here). These consist mostly of E. Delmar Morgan‘s photos from his trip in 1880, but include some later shots, which I would tentatively attribute to the British journalist and Labour politician M. Philips Price, who detoured into Xinjiang on his first trip through Russia.

In 1880, E. Delmar Morgan was travelling through Ili in the midst of the negotiations between the Qing and Russian Empires for the restitution of territory occupied by Russia in 1871. His photos depict Ili as a desolate region, showing that it still hadn’t recovered from the violence of the anti-Qing rebellion of the 1860s. One of the towns he visited was Samar, or Zharkent as it’s now known, which lies on the right bank of the Ili river. Samar was originally a Qing garrison town, and was more or less razed to the ground during the rebellion. It ended up in Russian territory after the Treaty of Saint Petersburg in 1881, and is now the centre of the Uyghur community of Kazakhstan.

While passing through, Morgan snapped a couple of interesting grave steles, commemorating Qing soldiers (known as bannermen because they were organised into “banners”) who lost their lives during Jahangir Khoja‘s assault on Kashgar in 1826. Both of these bannermen belonged to the Manchu-speaking Sibe, a people who hail from from the north of Manchuria. The transplantation of the Sibe to the Ili valley took place in the 1760s, meaning that these men were probably third or fourth generation migrants. So, the steles commemorate Manchurian colonists, who fought and died to defend Qing-held Kashgar from Muslim rebels, and were buried in what’s now south-east Kazakhstan. They’re an interesting reminder of the scope of Qing imperium, from a part of the world where most such reminders have long been erased. Continue reading

Xinjiang in the Archive of the Tsarist Foreign Ministry


I’m posting here some information on files in AVPRI (Arkhiv vneshnei politiki rossiiskoi imperii), the Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Empire, that relate to Xinjiang. AVPRI can be a slow place to work, so these notes might assist those planning a trip, or maybe inspire someone to do so. I made this list on a visit to the archive in 2012, just before AVPRI shut its doors for renovations. Recent reports have these renovations continuing into 2016, but hopefully it won’t be too long before it’s up and running again. Most of the files come from two sections of the archive, the Kitaiskii stol, literally the “China desk”, and the Mission to Beijing. Apart from these two subdivisions, I’ve also listed a few items at the end from the archives of specific consulates in Xinjiang (unfortunately these collections are rather thin) and the personal files of tsarist diplomats. Inevitably the selection will reflect my own interests to some extent, so this shouldn’t be thought of as an exhaustive list of things on Xinjiang in AVPRI.  Continue reading

Introduction to the Swedish National Archives (Riksarkivet)

By Eric Schluessel

Researchers working on Xinjiang can face significant difficulty in gathering source material, especially when it comes time to visit the archives. Some young foreign scholars have seen success in the Xinjiang Regional Archives in Urumqi, but all of the other facilities in the region are difficult to access even for Chinese researchers. So, we have to get creative. Fortunately, Sweden is home to some of the world’s richest and by far the most accessible archives of materials specifically on Xinjiang. These are the East Turkestan Collection and the Mission Covenant Church of Sweden collections, both housed at the National Archives in Stockholm, and the Jarring Collection at Lund University. This introduction focuses on the two branches of the National Archives in Stockholm, while a further essay will discuss Lund. Continue reading

Xinjiang in the Turco-Tatar press: a partial bibliography

Hopefully one day scholars of Central Asia will have access to the same kinds of online indices and databases of periodicals that exist for people who study other parts of the world. Until that time, making use of the source material in the Turkic-language press of the Russian Empire requires leafing slowly through copies held in only a few libraries in Russia or Central Asia, or spending large amounts of time in front of a microfilm reader. In the course of my research I have had experience of both. To make things slightly easier for future researchers with similar interests, I make my bibliographic notes available here. This is a list of articles relating to Chinese Muslims, Xinjiang, and the Uyghur diaspora in Russian Turkistan, primarily Semireche, in pre-revolutionary periodicals published in Turkic-speaking parts of Russian Empire. Continue reading