Be honest: how much do you know about the Uyghurs?
Sadly, many people have only recently become aware of them since evidence of China’s cultural genocide emerged in the news. But whether or not they’re featured in the news, Uyghur culture is something to be celebrated by everyone!
At Charity Right, we’re proud to give Uyghurs in Turkey school meals; it helps their parents financially and allows them to receive an education for a brighter future… But crucially, these schools help the children preserve their culture and heritage.
Although it’s important for them to integrate into Turkish society as they build their new home there, they risk losing their cultural identity and what makes them so special. If preserving their culture is one of the main reasons why we give them school meals, we should learn about Uyghur culture too!
So, let’s start out with one of the main symbols of Uyghur culture: a hat.
What’s a Doppa?
A Doppa is a skullcap worn by Uyghurs and other Turkic groups in Asia, such as Kazan Tatars, Tajiks and Uzbeks. In fact, the word ‘Doppa’ stems from the Uzbek word for hat: ‘doppi.’
Although the Doppa’s name might stem from the Uzbek language, Uyghur Doppas are different to those worn by Uzbeks. Uyghur Doppas are made differently and tend to have a different shape and colour. While Uzbek Doppas are squarer and firm with pointy edges, Uyghur Doppas are rounder and softer.
What Does a Doppa Look Like?
There’s a huge range of shapes, colours and styles for Doppas – around 250 in total! Traditionally, they are brightly studded or hand-embroidered with naturally dyed silk.
Their embroidery includes beautiful, intricate patterns that tell you everything you need to know about a person: from their personality and social status to their family and hometown. The embroidery is often so detailed that it can take up to two weeks to make just one Doppa!
Why is the Doppa Important?
You can still find bazaars selling Doppas in countries like Uzbekistan. But if you head out looking for one, you might be searching for a while since Doppas are sadly becoming increasingly rare.
But not when it comes to the Uyghur Doppa Cultural Festival!
Started by Uyghur activist Tahir Imin in 2009, this festival takes place every year on 5th May. It’s a chance to celebrate not only the beauty of Doppas, but the wonders of Uyghur culture in general.
China is determined to destroy the Uyghurs’ traditional culture; banning Doppas in schools and other public places is just the tip of the iceberg. But the East Turkistan Government-in-Exile hopes the Doppa might become a symbol of resistance against China’s eradication of Uyghur culture and encouraging people to wear Doppas as often as they can.
So, if you want to stand in solidarity with Uyghurs, there’s no better way than donating school meals to their children in Turkey and wearing a Doppa! Donate now.
What is a Doppa?
A Doppa is a skullcap worn by Uyghurs and other Turkic groups. It's a significant cultural symbol with its unique design telling a story about its wearer.
What is the Uyghur Doppa Cultural Festival?
Initiated by Uyghur activist Tahir Imin, this annual festival celebrates the beauty of Doppas and Uyghur culture at large.
How can I support the Uyghurs?
You can stand in solidarity by donating towards school meals for Uyghur children in Turkey and wearing a Doppa.
Why is the Doppa considered a symbol of resistance?
Given the Chinese government's attempts to erase Uyghur culture, the Doppa has become an emblem of resistance.
How is a Doppa made?
A Doppa is hand-embroidered, which can take up to two weeks due to its intricate design.
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