Doors of Turpan

In keeping with my old hobby of collecting doors and windows, I’ve been going around snapping doorways and mosque frontispieces around the Turpan area. Here are thirty three of the most interesting (I have nearly a hundred). As a fellow in Tuyuq explained to me, these are mostly representative of northern Uyghur door decoration. Apparently in the south painting doors is less common and carving doors more; the doors in this lot that are both carved and painted represent a new hybrid tradition. Similar to my theory on why Tibetans paint their houses so brightly, the same fellow explained that living in a place with an extremely harsh, bleak climate (Turpan is one of the driest places in the world, with frigid winters and legendarily hellish summers), the local Uyghurs like to paint their doors with scenes and in colors that they don’t often get to see. I’m not sure exactly who makes these things, a lot of them bear similarities so presumably there’s some workshop somewhere. I’ve been wondering about the meaning of these doors and about the meaning of collecting them. I think I with my camera have become a bit of a rag-picker of beauty, hording scraps of warmth and majesty against the desert cold. Which is a strangely cheerful way to live one’s life. Here they are:

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