In the 1860’s, while the US was busy crushing its agrarian revolution, the Russians were busy expanding their empire towards Afghanistan and cleansing
the Caucuses of those pesky Circassians, Chechens, and Tartars (to name a few) in a little known places like Abkhazia, the British were busy expanding their empire towards Afghanistan and extinguishing the last outposts of “mutineers,” and the Qing Dynasty of China was losing its grip on its Empire due to a cult of longhaired Christians lead by Jesus’s Chinese little brother
. Alimkul, the de facto Khan of Khotan
took advantage of the chaos by sending his greatest general, Yakub Beg, to Kashgar...
The indigenous population there was overthrowing and slaughtering their Chinese overlords. Yakub Beg quickly seized Kashgar and Yarkand and established Kashgaria for the Khanate. He sent a caravan full of riches for his warlord, but alas, it arrived too late; Alimkul was killed trying in vain to fend the Russians off in Tashkent. Now independent of his master, Yakub Beg declared himself Amir of Eastern Turkestan
set about liberating the cities surrounding the barren Tarim basin. Eventually Eastern Turkestan would encompass most of what is now Xinjiang.
Yakub Beg would become a brief lived but major player
in the Great Game
, positioning the British and Russians off of each other in order to hold off the inevitable reconquest by the Qing. He held out for over ten years before the Chinese conspired with a local hakim and he was poisoned. Considered a great ruler of the Uyghur people (though he was ethnically Uzbek, or was he Tajik?) Yakub Beg was buried near the great mausoleum
of Afak Khoja
, the Afaki, and the empty
tomb of the Fragrant Concubine
That is until 1978, when the People’s Republic of China began an extensive tourist renovation of the site of the Afaki tombs and bulldozed Yakub Beg’s grave (and record of it) into the Taklimakan dust. Today in the “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region”, Han Chinese make up nearly the same percentage of the population as Uyghur. Hanzu
make up the majority in nearly all prefectures except for in the extreme West and North. Fearing renewed Uyghur nationalism
despite the decades of displacement by Hanzu migrants, the Chinese have commenced a “modernization
” effort in the old city of Kashgar.