Royal Residence

Kuqa (Kucha), in Xinjiang A.R.
Silk Road Map

Kuqa is a Silk Road oasis town on the northern edge of the Taklamakan desert, about halfway (500km, 300mi) between Kashgar and Turpan. An independent Buddhist kingdom (Qiuci) from Han times, it was conquered by Tang China in the 8th century, but passed into Islamic (Uighur) rule in the 9th century. The Qing reestablished control of the region in the 18th century. This photo shows the residential compound of the Hojas, the last Uighur rulers of Kuqa. A branch of the family still lives here. Behind the residence in the distance, one can see part of the Tang-dynasty city wall.

For a thousand years, Kuqa was the most important kingdom in the region. Its renowned music, imported from Central Asia along the Silk Road, strongly influenced the development of Chinese music from the Tang dynasty onwards, and a Kuchean orchestra was even resident in the Tang capital of Chang'an.