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History: Central Asia, 140 years ago

History: Central Asia, 140 Years Ago

Buddhism was a prominent religion in Central Asia prior to the arrival of Islam, and the transmission of Buddhism along the Silk Road eventually brought the religion to China. Amongst the Turkic peoples, Tengrianism was the popular religion before arrival of Islam. Tibetan Buddhism is most common in Tibet, Mongolia, Ladakh and the southern Russian regions of Siberia, where Shamanism is also popular (including forms of divination, such as Kumalak). Contact and migration with Han people from China has brought Confucianism and other beliefs into the region.
Nestorianism was the form of Christianity most practiced in the region in previous centuries, but now the largest denomination is the Russian Orthodox Church, with many members in Kazakhstan. The Bukharan Jews were once a sizable community in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, but nearly all have emigrated since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
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At the crossroads of Asia, shamanistic practices live alongside Buddhism. Thus, Yama, Lord of Death, was revered in Tibet as a spiritual guardian and judge. Mongolian Buddhism, in particular, was influenced by Tibetan Buddhism. The Qianlong Emperor of China in the 18th century was Tibetan Buddhist and would sometimes travel from Beijing to other cities for personal religious worship.

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