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Two million visit China's oldest hand-written Koran

(Xinhua)

14:37, March 30, 2012

XINING, March 29 (Xinhua) -- Nearly two million people from all over the world have viewed China's oldest hand-written copy of the Koran in the museum in which it has been housed since 2009, according to figures newly released to Xinhua.

Guarded day and night by an elder of Salar ethnicity, the historic multi-volume religious work is found in the Hand-written Koran Museum in Jiezi Mosque in Salar autonomous county of Xunhua, China's only Salar autonomous county.

"This is our treasure, one of the world's most well-preserved hand-written copies of the Koran," said Nurimani, the prized exhibit's 60-year-old guard, whose Muslim ethnic group is credited with bringing this copy of the Koran, the central religious text of Islam, to the region around China's Yellow River.

The hand-written Koran in 30 volumes is tangible evidence for the study of Salar history, said Nurimani.

Its 860-odd pages were filled during the 8th to 13th century, according to experts with China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

Salar people are Muslims and descendants of the western Turkic tribes, who used to live in today's Turkmenistan. Their ancestors left middle Asia 700 years ago, carrying the hand-written Koran, and finally settled around the Yellow River.

The religious work is bound to a beautiful legend by the Salar people. It is said the Koran was carried by a white camel during the migration. The Salars lost the animal when they arrived in Xunhua by the Yellow River, according to Nurimani.

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