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Aksu - The Islamic Encyclopedia, History, People, Places


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—  County-level city  —
Chinese transcription(s)
 - Pinyin Ākèsù
Location in the Aksu Prefecture and Xinjiang
Location in Xinjiang
[[File:Template:Location map China|250px|Aksu is located in Template:Location map China]]
[[File:Template:Location map China|6x6px|link=|alt=]]
Location in China
Coordinates: Template:Coord/input/dm
Country China
Province Xinjiang
Prefecture Aksu Prefecture
 - Total Template:Infobox settlement/areadisp
Population (2003)
 - Total 570,000
 Density Template:Infobox settlement/densdisp
 - Urban density Template:Infobox settlement/densdisp
 - Rural density Template:Infobox settlement/densdisp
 - Metro density Template:Infobox settlement/densdisp
 -  Density Template:Infobox settlement/densdisp
 -  Density Template:Infobox settlement/densdisp
Time zone CST (UTC+8)

Aksu or Akesu (also known as Ak-su, Akshu, Aqsu, Bharuka and Po-lu-chia; Template:Ug. simplified Chinese 阿克苏; traditional Chinese 阿克蘇, pinyin (Ākèsù), is a an ancient city of East Turkistan, or as it is was renamed Xin Jiang after the region was annexed by China in the 19th Century.. The name Aksu literally means white water (in Turkish), and is used for both the oasis town and the Aksu River.

The economy of Aksu is mostly agricultural, with cotton, in particular long-staple cotton as the main product. Also produced are grain, fruits, oils, beets and so on. The industry mostly consists of weaving, cement, and chemical industries.

It was the site of the 2010 Aksu bombing.


Historical Aksu

Aksu was a town in the ancient Turkic homeland known as East Turkistan, its inhabitants were drawn from the two nomadic tribes of Turks and Mongols

Aksu was an important stop on the Northern Silk Road that runs along the northern edge of the Taklamakan desert in the Tarim Basin between Kucha and Kashgar.

The Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang visited this "kingdom" in 629 CE and referred to it as Baluka. He recorded that there were tens of Sarvastivadin Buddhist monasteries in the kingdom and over 1000 monks. He said the kingdom was 600 li from east to west, and 300 li from north to south. Its capital was said to be 6 li in circuit. He reported that the "native products, climate, temperament of the people, customs, written language and law are the same as in the country of Kuci Kucha, (some 300 km to the east)], but the spoken language is somewhat different [from Kuchean]." He also stated that fine cotton and hemp cloth made in the area was traded in neighbouring countries.[1]

After a breif occupation by the Han The Battle of Talas led to the gradual withdrawal of Chinese forces, returning sovereignty to the uyghurs

Aksu was positioned on a junction of trade routes: the northern-Tarim route Silk road, and the dangerous route north via the Tian Shan's Muzart Pass to the fertile Ili River valley.[2]

Around 1220 Aksu became the capital of the Kingdom of Mangalai. In 1207-08, they submitted to Chinggis Khaan. The area had been part of the whole Mongol Empire before it was occupied by the independent-minded Chagatai Khanate under the House of Ogedei in 1286 from the hands of the Empire of the Great Khan (Yuan Mongolian Empire). After the decline of the Yuan and Chagatayid in the late 14th century, Aksu fell under the power of Turkic and Mongol warlords.

Along with most of Xinjiang (East Turkestan), Aksu fell under the control of the Khojas, and later that of Yaqub Beg, during the Dungan Rebellion of 1864-1877. After the defeat of the rebellion, a learned cleric named Musa Sayrami (1836–1917), who had occupied positions of importance in Aksu under both rebel regimes, authored Tārīkh-i amniyya (History of Peace), which is considered by modern historians as one of the most important historical sources on the period.[3]

The British Army officer Francis Younghusband visited Aksu in 1887 on his overland journey from Beijing to India. He described it as being the largest town he had seen on his way from the Chinese capital, with a population of about 20,000, besides other inhabitants of the district and a garrison of about 2,000 soldiers. "There were large bazaars and several inns—some for travellers, others for merchants wishing to make a prolonged stay to sell goods."[4]

Unrest in Aksu

Two bombs went off in Aksu in July 1994 following the implementation of “family planning and birth control” experiments that didn’t settle well a Uyghur population that was used to large families.

Interestingly, Aksu has also been home to Han demonstrations. Back in 1979 and 1980, over 5,000 to 6,000 Han ‘educated youth’ from Shanghai occupied the local administrative offices for 50 days. They had been brought to Xinjiang to work in the Bingtuan but were unhappy and ready to go back home.




The kingdom bordered Kashgar to the south-west, and Kucha, Karasahr then Turpan to the east. Across the desert to the south was Khotan.


  1. Li, Rongxi. Translator. 1996. The Great Tang Dynasty Record of the Western Regions. Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research. Berkeley, California.
  2. Wright, George Frederick (2009), Asiatic Russia, Volume 1 (, BiblioBazaar, LLC, pp. 47–48, ISBN 1110269013, <> (Reprint of a 19th century edition)
  3. Kim, Ho-dong (2004). Holy war in China: the Muslim rebellion and state in Chinese Central Asia, 1864-1877. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0804748845 [1]. 
  4. Younghusband, Francis E. (1896). The Heart of a Continent, p. 154. John Murray, London. Facsimile reprint: (2005) Elbiron Classics. ISBN 1-4212-6551-6 (pbk); ISBN 1-4212-6550-8 (hardcover).
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