How is Abdukerim Rahman surviving without his books?

Abdukerim Rahman

written by Amy Anderson
Published on October 2, 2018

For decades there was an inside joke that was told by generations of Uyghur students in the School of Humanities at Xinjiang University. The joke went: “How can you be a doctoral advisor without having a Ph.D. degree?” In response they would say, “Work as hard as Abdukerim Rahman!”  Mr. Rahman is a legendary figure among students and faculty not only for his knowledge but also his humble and caring attitude toward his students. Students know that if a Uyghur language book had been published, it could be found in his home library. Everyone knows that even those books that are not available in the university library can be found there. Mr. Rahman is known for his passionate scholarship, for his love of book. But most importantly students recognize him as the father of Uyghur folklore studies. His humor, inspiration, and positive feedback always encourages their young souls. All folklorists, anthropologists or Uyghur literature researchers who are interested in Uyghur culture view him as an essential resource. His scholarship has become the critical texts in disciplines such as anthropology, ethnology, literature and folklore study.

Abdukerim Rahman was born in December 1941 in Kashgar. He studied literature at Xinjiang University from 1959 to 1964. In the years that followed he worked as a lecturer and worked for the school for more than 47 years until he retired in 2011. Throughout his life he never ceased to be fascinated by the power of fieldwork. He always passionately encouraged students to do as much field work as possible. Reminiscing about his first fieldwork in 1961 in Ghulja, he described how he fell in love with the Uyghur oral tradition after hearing beautiful folk rhymes on historical themes that showed the vivid history and beauty of Uyghur language. For example, the Koch-Koch qoshiqi (Migration Ballads) he heard at that time, described a large scale forced migration in 1881 from Ghulja to the Zhetysu (also called Yettesu) Region of Almaty. The epic tale of suffering and survival starts like this:

Biz Elidin Kochkenda,           When we moved from Eli,
Altinji Ay Roza Idi.                It was June and Ramadan.
Dehshetlik Ehir Kunde,         In those harrowing days,
Ata-anam Bolsidi.                 I wished my parents were with me.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT Art of life in Chinese Central Asia