Hotan Culture

Ethnic Culture

Yutian Music and Dance (于阗乐舞)

Hotan is a famous hometown of song and dance, and the most famous is Yutian Music and Dance (于阗乐舞). Yutian Music (《于阗乐》) was played in royal court since Yutian Buddhist Songs (《于田佛曲》) was introduced into Central Plains, and it often attracted Emperor Gaozu of Han Dynasty to listen. During the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589), Yutian Music and Dance (于阗乐舞) was quite popular in Central Plains. Yutian Music and Dance (于阗乐舞) was collected in the national music of Tang Dynasty -- Ten Kinds of Music (《十部乐》). Back in that time, the Tang performer -- Yuchi (尉迟) is quite well-known in Chang’an.

Ethnic Festivals

Hotan celebrates a large variety of festivals and activities, and they are roughly divided into two kinds: ethnic traditional festivals and tourism festivals. The major minority of Hotan Prefecture is Uyghur nationality so that the special festivals here are Id Al-fitr (肉孜节),Corban Festival (古尔邦节) and Nowruz Festival (诺鲁孜节). The former two belong to Islamic festivals. Id Al-fitr (肉孜节) According to sharia, people would do Ramadan in each September of Islamic calendar. Every healthy adult of Muslim man and woman should fast for the whole month, namely they will not eat and go for entertainment from sunrise to sunset. Usually, the festival would keep omnibus three days. Corban Festival (古尔邦节) Corban Festival is Arabic transliteration, meaning "slaughter domestic animals" or "blood sacrifice". After the founded of Islam, Mohammed set lunar ephemeris December 10 as one of islamic festivals, and Corban Festival became a annual grand festival for the Uyghur who believe in Islam since the beginning of the 11th century. Nowruz Festival (诺鲁孜节) Nowruz Festival falls on March 20th to 22nd each year, and it is one of the most important festivals for Uyghur people. It is also known as Spring Welcoming Festival, namely to well the arrival of spring. The ceremony of the event starts on the dawn of 20th : people of all ages are dressed in ethnic splendid attires. Parents usually get up first to light fire using pine and cypress branches, and use smoky branches circling on the head of each family member, which shows the best wishes to them. The same ceremony will also be taken to domestic animals which demonstrates people’ wishes for good harvest in the following year. And then people prepare their special meals and pay visits to each other.

Meshrep (麦西来甫)

Meshrep (麦西来甫) means gathering in uygur language. It is a recreational activity which integrates singing and dancing, character education and dining together. According to the ancient customs, it is generally held in the agricultural off-season. Usually, every family hosts in turn, meanwhile, they would prepare meals to entertain guests. People of the whole village would gather together during the event. Maixilaifu (麦西来甫) has different forms of organizing which celebrate festivals, outing and wedding in turn. The contents are usually divided into three parts: songs and dancing, games of entertainment and punishment for those would have misconduct.

Local Customs

Diaoyang (刁羊)

It is a traditional sport in Xinjiang, which shows fearless spirit of people on horseback. It is also an ancient game. The sport is quiet popular in rural pasture areas of Hotan. Diaoyang (刁羊) is often held during the period of springs, weddings, funerals, and festivals.


Wrestling is one of the traditional and games of Uyghur people. And its styles are different from wrestling of other areas.

Special Craftsmanship

Uighur mulberry paper making skills are mainly spread in southern Xinjiang Uyghur Region, villages of Hotan Prefecture where Uyghur people live in a compact community, and some areas of Turpan where is suitable for mulberry planting.This kind of paper takes tender skin of mulberry branches as raw materials, and its products could be divided into three levels: high, mean and low quality.

Special Food

The roast mutton string is one of the most famous ethnic flavor snacks. Places in Xinjiang provide the most authentic Shish Kebab.

Roast Whole Lamb

As a major Uighur traditional food, roast whole lamb is not only a street delicacy, but also the best and fine food that the Uighurs use to treat their guests.

Roast Sheep Abdomen

Invented by the nomads of the desert, the dish is a kind of high-calorie food with high nutrition.