Kuqu County is situated in the mid-west of China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, southern foot of the middle section of the Tianshan Mountain and the northern edge of the Tarim Basin. Kuqa was known as Qiuci in ancient times. In his book Buddhist Records of the Western World, the famous Tang Dynasty monk Xuan zang referred to Qiuci as Quzhi.
It is recorded in historical chronicles as a big power in the Western Regions in ancient times, Qiuci had a long history of connections with the Central Plains kingdoms and had an important position in the political, military, economic and cultural life. During the Western Han Dynasty, Qiuci was one of the most influential kingdoms south of the Tianshan Mountain. With a majestic capital city, Qiuci was well-known for its fine steed, cattle, fine felt and perfume. Qiuci people were also very good at making metal knives, and brewing good wines. As an important commercial port on the transportation artery in ancient times, many wealthy merchants from the Central Plains and form the northern and western regions settled in Qiuci as early as during the Han Dynasty. Most of the ethnic minority merchants came from the then Daqin and Persia. In 60B.C., when the Han Dynasty established the Western Regions Frontier Command, Qiuci came under its jurisdiction. The King and his subordinates were all awarded printed ribbons by the imperial court of the Han Dynasty. After Ban Chao of the Eastern Han Dynasty pacified the Western Regions, the Western Regions Frontier Command was set up in Qiuci. Han Dynasty sent army to protect the villages, built irrigation systems to water the land. Agriculture began to flourish. With deepened economic and cultural influence from the Central Plains Quici became a more and more developed economy. By the Wei and the Jin dynasties, Qiuci became a rice growing area and a textile center in the Western Regions. Cloths produced in Qiuci such as white rope fabric, flower-patterned fabric and brocade were exported to many other places.During the Sui Dynasty and the early Tang Dynasty, Qiuci was controlled under the Western Turks Khanate, a newly emerging power in the north. The outbreak of the Anshi Rebellion gave the Tibetans the opportunity to advance towards the Western Regions. In 790, Qiuci was taken over by the Tibetans. Not long after, the Uighurs defeated the Tibetans and controlled Qiuci. Prior to the 11th century, Buddhism was the national religion of Qiuci and the center of Theravada Buddhism in the Western Regions. There were large quantities of Buddhist architecture and works of art such as grottoes. Qiuci people were very good at singing and dancing. Qiuci music spread to Hexi area during the Western Han Dynasty when general Lv Guang took his westbound expedition. It then entered the Central Plains during the Northern Wei Period and was loved by people in the Central Plains. The Tang Dynasty made Qiuci music one of the ten official music style,a decision that produced great impact on the development of Chinese ethnic music. At about the end of the 11th century, Qiuci broke away from the rule of the Uighurs and submitted to the rule of Kashgar Khan of the Kara-Khanid Khanate and converted to Islamism. Since then Qiuci stopped being an independent or semi-independent regime, and became a local administrative unit under the rule of the Kara-Khanid Khanate, Western Liao, Mongolia, the Yuan Dynasty, Zungar tribes. In 1758, Qiuci was incorporated into the Qing Dynasty and renamed Kuqa.
Today, Uygur residents comprise the bulk of the population in kuqa. Others ethnic groups residing in kuqa include the Hui, Kirgiz, Kazak, Mongolia and many others. As the mainstay population, the Uygurs are not only preserving their own ethnic identity and special characteristics, they are also absorbing and integrating experiences and wisdoms of other ethnic groups.