Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Emin Minaret - Turpan, China

There are 39,000 mosques in China and 25,000 of them are located in the northwestern Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Of those mosques, Emin Minaret, just outside of Turpan, Xinjiang A.R. is the tallest. 
The minaret, in height and heft, dwarfs the mosque next to it. I assume the stone figure to the left is Emin Khoja.
The minaret is made of sun-dried yellow bricks. It is 144 feet tall, 46 feet in diameter at its base, and then tapers to 9 feet at the top. The bricks are placed in 15 different geometric and floral mosaic patterns and are a mixture of Chinese and Islamic patterns only found in minarets in China. The patterns include waves, flowers and rhombuses (equilateral quadrilaterals).  There are long narrow windows placed at different heights and facing different directions to provide ventilation and light. Inside is a 72 step spiral staircase to the top. 
Amazingly intricate brickwork in the minaret.
The minaret with tombs in the foreground. 
The minaret was built from 1777 to 1778 to honor the Turpan general, and later Turpan governor, Emin Khoja. Emin was a Uyghur. Uyghurs are of Turkic origin and one of 55 recognized ethnic minorities in China. The Uyghurs primarily practice Islam. The Uyghurs, under Emin Khoja, joined with the Qing Empire to defeat the Dzungar Mongols in the Turpan area in the 1750s.  

The Emin Minaret is also referred to as Emin Ta, Suliman's Minaret and Su Gong Ta. "Su" is an abbreviation of Suliman, "Gong" means Duke and "Ta" means tower in Chinese. Emin had eight children and one of his children, Suliman, or Suleman, inherited his father's rank after his father's death, and became the second Turpan ruler. Suliman financed the minaret to honor his father. 

The famous minaret stands next to a virtually nameless mosque. I've seen the mosque referred to as the mosque, Uyghur (or Uighur) Mosque and Su Gong Ta Mosque. 
We were blocked from going up this stairway and getting a different vantage point of the minaret.
These distinctive pointed arch doorways mirror the mihrab and I believe the mihrab may be directly in line of sight. 
Inside the domed entryway.
It has a feature I've not seen in a mosque before, that is a mihrab (the part of the mosque that faces Mecca) that is a pointed-arch niche, enclosed on three sides, but open to a large covered courtyard on the fourth side (we were not able to get close enough to go get a good look inside). The outer prayer hall, where the mihrab is located, is full of wood timber pillars that support wooden beams and a wood ceiling and the floor is covered in carpets. A barrier prevented us from entering into the prayer hall. 
The pointed arch niche is straight back on the far-end wall. 
Wooden pillars and the customary prayer-friendly carpets. 
I believe the picture above features a stele that has both Uyghur and Chinese writing. The Uyghur provides verses from the Quran and the Chinese writing praises the Qing government and tells about construction of the minaret. To the back and one side of the mosque were tombs. My pictures of the mosque from the front show dull gray brick and from the back and sides show a prettier brown. I believe the brick is more gray and the more beautiful brown may have been enhanced color from the more magical evening sunlight. 
These two prominent mausoleums may perhaps house the remains of Emin Khoja and his son, Suliman. However, this is just conjecture on my part. I find nothing that references the mausoleums. 


  1. I did not expect to find so many Muslims in China. I thought China was almost all Buddhist. I loved this minaret, not just for its intricate patterns, but also for its unique shape.

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