The Lanes of Bafang

Reimagining the Silk Road

The Lanes of Bafang

Linxia, 2010

The lanes of Bafang, the Muslim quarter of Linxia, have seen a lot of action. Since the seventeenth century, when Sufis arrived in China and established a base in Linxia, Chinese Muslims have debated, argued, and contested issues pertaining to Islamic orthodoxy and orthopraxy in the narrow lanes of Bafang. These disputes have occasionally snowballed into violent conflicts that engulf large Muslim populations throughout the northwest. The historic state has had to intervene repeatedly. Yet in these lanes, the state is one authority among many. Clerics, Sufi shaykhs, Tibetan lamas, Hui warlords, and Mongolian soldiers have all left their mark on the lanes.