Almost 400 years ago, a Muslim ruler in Kashgar built a tomb for his family. Later one of his descendents, the Fragrant Concubine, became a famous concubine to the Chinese emperor and was interned in the tomb on her death.
Apak Hojia ws a revered Sufi and a highly respected religious leader who controlled Kashgar and several other cities on the Taram basin in the early sixteenth century. He had a family tomb built in 1640 for his family and for the worship of Islam. The Apak Hojia Tomb was later repaired in 1795 under orders of the Qing Dynasty emperor Qianlong.
The Fragrant Concubine
The legendary fragrant concubine was Yiparhan, Apak Hojia’s great grandniece. Since childhood her body gave off an exceptional aroma so she was given the name fragrant maid. In 1760 she was chosen to enter the imperial harem and became the emperor’s favourite. She was initially given the noble title of Heguiren which was upgraded to imperial concubine 3 years later. She was then promoted to Rong Fei at the age of 35. Yiparhan died from disease at the age of 55 in the Forbidden City and her body was returned to her family where it was interned in the Apak Hoja Tomb.
Local Kashgar or Uyghur perception of the Fragrant Concubine's appearence is more European where as the Han Chinese perception of her appearence is typcial Chinese. This difference in perception is clearly illustrated in the photo at the bottom.
The Tomb Layout
The tomb itself consist of 13 buildings spread out on a site that is 30 mu (imperial units) or 20,000 square meters in size. The front gate of the tomb faces south and the main buildings arranged around a large rectangular courtyard. The main buildings are
The Main Vault or Apak Hoja Tomb
This building has a dome that is 35 meters wide and 29 meters in depth which is the biggest dome in Xinjiang. The building is said to house 72 members from 5 generations of the Hojia family but there are only 58 tombs/coffins in the building. The tombs vary in size with the men having larger tombs than the women.
This is the oldest building on the site and it was used by Apak Hojia and his father to teach religious doctrine.
Was used for worship in summer and has colourfully painted wooden pillars.
Used for worship in winter