Gold and Silver Market in Kashgar

Next to the IdKar mosque is an alleyway that hosts all sorts of interesting Kashgar delights. There are the edibles: both the sight of pretty almond cookies and the smell of lamb fat in the smoke rising from the kebabs are there to tempt you. Then there are the carpets: the Kazak handmade rugs made of boiled Camels hair and the Uyghur antique carpets are there to intrigue you. But it’s easy to miss another fascinating corner of this alleyway. Just at the entrance, right next to Idkar mosque is the silver and gold market of Kashgar.

During the week, at a simple glance the market seems to be very quiet. But with further probing you’ll see the market is alive. Of course the busiest time is the weekend. It doesn’t matter when you go, you’ll be able to find the metal smiths refining, hammering, soldering and polishing away their gold, and sometimes their silver.
The metal smiths are usually friendly and ready to pause from their refining process to pose different stages of their metal making for picture taking tourists. Generally these silver and gold sellers are not too interested in the business of selling to tourists. Their target market is to the local Uyghurs. It could be any special occasion that moves a local Uyghur woman to make her way to the market and purchase her gold. Whether she’s chosen a pair of earrings or a ring she watches closely as the metal smith weighs the piece and tells her the value of her chosen item. Each seller has his pieces lined up carefully and a small scale nearby.
Once when we were at the market man was in the process of refining some gold. The metal was in liquid form sitting in a bowl above the heat and a man torched it from above. When he heated it to the desired amount he poured it into a mold leaving the residue behind. The mold was torched for a few seconds then left to cool a few more seconds then dumped into a bucket of cold water. The bucket responded immediately by boiling away. About a minute later the man used his his tongs to take out a beautiful shining bar of pure gold. The process was done masterfully. He locked up his workshop and marched nonchalantly back to his stall with his newly refined piece of gold. He made it look like he did it at least twice a day. But I’ve never been back while someone was in the process of refining gold.
So tucked away at the gold and silver market at different corners is all kinds of interesting activity. Whether it’s an ordinary local Uyghur woman picking out her gold or a metal smith masterfully refining his piece of gold, the silver and gold market of Kashgar is worth a visit.

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