Mapping Old Kashgar: Mahallas and Pious Institutions in Documentary Sources
This paper approaches the historical landscape of Kashgar's old city (kuhna shahr) in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, by focusing on mahallas (neighborhoods) and individual religious facilities such as mosques, mazars (Islamic schrines) and khaniqahs (sufi brotherhood gatherings). The paper relies primarily on the descriptions provided in various types of contractual documents as well as in documents relating to waqf (Islamic endowments). Regarding geographical aspects of Kashgar old city, local intellectuals have previously provided general descriptions of features such as the city walls, the gates, the name of streets/alleys and well-known facilities. However, those past works do not provide sufficient detail on some historical issues like the actual locations of mahallas, or on now-defunct religious institutions. This paper wil advance our understanding of mahallas in Kashgar by examining a series of contract documents in the Xinjiang University collection, and extracting from them over forty mahalla names. Many of these are clear antecedents to contemporary residence committees (ahale komiteti) or to street and alley names, and are thus relatively easy to identify. On the other hand, there are also a few mahalla that cannot be identified, including those bearing personal names. Regarding religious institutions, the existence of mazars, maktabs (religious schools), and khaniqahs that no longer exist has been revealed by the descriptions provided in waqf-related documents. The mapping out of such information forms a basis for accurately reproducing the cityscape of Old Kashgar, and the dynamism of history in this city can only be understood on the basis of such a foundation.
Geographies of Piety in Kashgaria: New Sources, New Perspectives