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A late 19th-century encyclopedia titled The cyclopædia of India and of Eastern and Southern Asia said "the Uigur are the most ancient of Turkish tribes, and formerly inhabited a part of Chinese Tartary (Xinjiang), which is now occupied by a mixed population of Turk, Mongol, and Kalmuck".
The inhabitants of Xinjiang were not called Uyghur before 1921/1934.
According to Linda Benson, the Soviets and their client Sheng Shicai intended to foster a Uyghur nationality to divide the Muslim population of Xinjiang, whereas the various Turkic Muslim peoples themselves preferred to identify as "Turki", "East Turkestani", or "Muslim".
The Qing dynasty and the Kuomintang generally referred to the sedentary, oasis-dwelling Turkic Muslims of Xinjiang as "turban-headed Hui" to differentiate them from other Muslim ethnic groups in China.
Some scholars say that the Yugur's culture, language, and religion are closer to the original culture of the original Uyghur Karakorum state than is the culture of the modern Uyghur people of Xinjiang. Robert Ramsey has argued for inclusion of both the Eastern and Western Yugur and the Salar as subgroups of the Uyghur based on similar historical roots for the Yugur and on perceived linguistic similarities for the Salar.