Uygur laborers harvest cotton on the outskirts of Kashgar, one of two cities in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of western China, in a recent photograph.
This week's rioting in China, which state media said took at least 156 lives, has been tied to ethnic unrest between the Uygurs and China's Han majority.
Uygurs (also spelled "Uighurs") number about 8.4 million. The culture dates from the third and fourth centuries, when Turkic tribes were nomads roaming the region in search of pastures and oases.
Once a fabled stop on the Silk Road, Kashgar developed as the Uygurs gradually settled in the region to take up farming and trade. Outside the cities and their thriving markets, Uygur farmers irrigate their fields with an unique underground system of channels that brings water from the distant mountains.
A recent picture shows the historic Old Town in Kashgar, one of two cities home to China's ethnic Uygurs, being torn down piece by piece at the demand of the Chinese government.
The predominantly Muslim Uygurs ruled in what is now the Xinjiang Autonomous Region until 1759, when the Qing Dynasty took over the area. In 1955 the area was named an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China.
In recent years large numbers of Han Chinese have been migrating to the Uygur homeland to relieve population pressures and boost economic development.
Two Uygur women in matching outfits walk along a city street in a recent picture.
Uygurs in western China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region have adopted the Chinese custom of dressing alike, but using their own Uygur style.
The market in Kashgar, a major Uygur city, is also a blend of cultures: a mix of Arab souk and Chinese bazaar filled with animals, spices, carpets, furs, and brilliantly hued silk dresses.
A Uygur man sits down for a meal during one of the Muslim holidays of Eid in the western China city of Kashgar.
Once part of nomadic Turkic tribes, modern Uygurs have became scholars, administrators, architects, musicians, and physicians, among other trades.
A Uygur shepherd pauses to tend to his flock in a recent picture.
In the aftermath of July 2009 violence, many Uygurs living in the multicultural cities of western China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region are considering a return to the country, even if it means their salaries would be slashed, according to the Washington Post.
Mmmm, nerdy sauce.
Found this after wondering who exactly these people were and why this was going on, hope you find this interesting!