Add: Munaer Village, East Surburb of Turpan
Name & Address in Chinese: 苏公塔，吐鲁番市东郊葡萄乡木纳格村
How to Get to Turpan Emin Minaret Mosque
Bus No.6, Get off at Su Gong Ta Station
Emin Minaret is located a short distance east of Turpan. Standing 44 meters (144 ft) high, Emin Minaret is the tallest minaret in China. The exquisitely formed Emin Minaret with its helmet-shaped top is one of the most famous examples of Muslim architecture and one of the more distinguished landmarks of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Emin Minaret was started in 1777 during the reign of the Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong and was completed only one year later. During the 1750s, a subgroup of Mongolian people known as the Dzungars occupied large parts of Xinjiang north of Mount Tianshan and decided to openly rebel against the Qing Empire (1644-1912). The Uyghurs living south of Mount Tianshan, under Emin Khoja, joined forces with the imperial Qing government and helped defeat the Dzungars. Emin Khoja was subsequently promoted to governor inheritable of Turpan as a reward for his allegiance. On his death, his son, Suleman succeeded him as governor and build the Emin Minaret in honor of his father. Construction of the tower was completed in 1778 and its Chinese name, Su Gong Tower, literally means “Duke Su’s Tower”. Su is an abbreviation of Suleman and Gong means duke in Chinese.
Emin Minaret was designed by the Uygur architect Ibrahim and constructed by local craftsmen using local materials. The structure itself is made of wood and brick. It is an elegant, circular, tapered Islamic dome, with a diameter over 14 meters (46 feet) at its base and tapering to 2.8 meters at the top. The exterior is of sun-dried yellow bricks that narrow in shape as the tower rises. The richly textured bricks are carved into intricate, repetitive, geometric and floral mosaic patterns, such as stylized flowers and rhombuses. This mixture of Chinese and Islamic features is seen only in minarets in China. The unique geometric patterns are characteristic of Islamic architecture and have no counterparts in the architecture of China other than in Muslim structures. Positioned in the tower are several long, narrow windows at different heights and facing different directions that provide light and ventilation. The minaret has no stories. Inside, the spiraling internal support serves as a winding 72-step staircase to the top.
Turpan was once the site of several major trading cities along the Silk Road, it also acted as a conduit between Central Asian and Chinese culture. The outer decoration of the Emin Minaret incorporates geometric patterns, which were typical of Middle Eastern Islamic architecture, but also includes floral patterns and waves, which were commonly used in Chinese architecture. The Uyghur people who built these structures had been influenced by these two cultures in equal measure, which is part of what makes their constructions so unique.
The entrance of Emin Minaret is flanked by two steles: one with an inscription in Chinese that explains the purpose of the minaret and its connection to the Qing Dynasty, while the Uyghur inscription on the other side contains excerpts from the Quran.
The Emin Minaret is on the northeast corner of the Uyghur Mosque that seats 1,000 people, a rectangular structure with an iwan or mihrab, a pointed-arch niche enclosed on three sides but open to a large covered courtyard on the fourth. The mosque is divided into an inner hall for use in colder months and larger outer halls for warmer months. The outer halls are built with elegant, tall, thin, wooden pillars and beams supporting its exposed timber frame, and are open and spacious, while the inner hall is small and enclosed.
Set against the azure sky, silvery Mount Tianshan, and the scarlet Flaming Mountain, Emin Minaret is one of the most impressive examples of Muslim architecture in Xinjiang.