Apak Hoja and Iparhan

Copyright 1999, by Gulamettin Pahta

Paper presented at "Exposing Communist Chinese Government Influence in America" Conference, Orlando, Florida May 15, 1999

The story about the "Xiangfei tomb" is a shameless fabrication of the Chinese authorities. I grew up in Kashgar city where the tomb is located, I know the place and its legendary stories since my childhood. The tomb is called Apak Hoja Tomb, not "Xiangfei". It is the burial piace of a 17th century Uyghur ruler, Apak Hoja, who is regarded by the local Uyghurs as a holly person. That is why local Uyghurs regard the tomb with reverence. There are always people lying prostrate before his shrine praying piously.

The local people do not know if a woman named Xiangfei or lparhan ever buried there. But the splendid China gave a completely different story about the history of the tomb. It said the tomb is named after Xiangfei, and that people make pilgrimages to the tomb because of her. They even confused the Xiangfei, the fragrant concubine, with Apak Hoja, the Uyghur male ruler who lived a century ahead of Xiangfei (Iparhan). This is a blatant distortion of history. The Apak Hoja tomb was built a century before her death.

The so called Xiangfei is known to Uyghurs as Iparhan. According to Uyghur legends, she was an Uyghur warrior and poet with extraodinary beauty and bravery. She was said to be an excellent horse rider with superior combating skills. In the 18th century, she had fallen captive to the invading Chinese army lead by general Zhonghui. The Chinese general was very impressed by her beauty and talent, therefore brought her to Beijing as captive, to present her to the Chinese emperor. Emperor Qianlong of the Qing court, captivated by her beauty, asked her to be his concubine. But she refused. When she was forced, she killed herself. Before she died, she left words that she wishes her remains to be sent back to her hameland. The Chinese legends say the emperor complied with her wish. But textual research revealed that she was actually buried in the Eastern Mausoleum (Dongling) of the Qing Royal family outside Beijing. However, the Uyghur legend say the emperor sent her clothes to Kashgar and kept her body in Beijing secretly without letting her Mother, who was said to be greatly disturbed by the emperor's possession with Iparhan, know it. This legend can explain why textual research found her body in Beijing.

Iparhan is remembered by Uyghurs for her legendary bravery and patriotic love for her homeland and people. But she has nothing to do with the Apak Hoja tomb in Kashgar. The Xiangfei story was intentionally imposed on the Tomb by the Chinese for political purposes. Just as the Chinese don't like the Tibetan leader Dalai Lama, they do not like an Uyghur leader either, even a dead one. That is why they are trying so hard to disconnect him from a tomb that is revered by Uyghurs. They want to show that Uyghurs have never had their own ruler and that East Turkistan have always been an inseparable part of China. This is a different version of the Chinese claim that Uyghurs are happy under Chinese rule. They are getting away with many lies about us, because we are not in a position to argue. But they can not get away with this one, Apak Hoja Tomb is one of the few places where a written record of the buried are kept by tomb keepers who inherit this family business from generation to generation, besides, the Apak Hoja story is so wide spread and deep rooted among the Uyghurs that changing it is impossible.

I am very disappointed that the Chinese government is exporting their wholesale propaganda all the way to the United States. They disregard all the well-known historical facts and cheating the American visitors, specially kids with blatant lies. Twisting the history and current situations of minority peoples is well-known practice of the Chinese communists. Even though the Uyghurs, Tibetans and Mongolians are rising against the Chinese rule, the Chinese government is still shamelessly trying to cheat the world public with the false claim that those peoples are happy with its rule. The Splendid China is a vivid display of that propaganda. I am strongly offended by the park's obvious political motivation in including the Apak Hoja and Id Kah Mosque.

Gulamettin Pahta can be reached by email through: webmaster@caccp.org

Third Panel:"Exposing Chinese Government Propaganda: Examing the propaganda exhibits at Florida Splendid China"


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