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Growing Up Uyghur: How Usma Grass Shaped My Beauty Routine

In the vast expanse of the Eurasian and African continents, there are two epic trade routes: one by land, where caravans cross high mountains and steep ridges, and traverse the Gobi Desert, with the sound of camel bells echoing through the long journey that seems to have no end in sight; the other by sea, where ships set sail on the boundless ocean, braving the waves and storms, with white sails dotting the surging sea.

It is through these epic trade routes that the seeds of European bluegrass entered China's western regions, where they took root and gradually evolved into Usma grass, also known as "Usmar grass" in Uyghur language. The local Uyghur people like to plant and use Usma grass for their own use or for sale. The Uyghur people have been using Usma grass for over a thousand years. Applying its juice to the eyebrows and nourishing the hair will make them black and shiny.

I remember when I was very young, my mother said to me, "Our Uyghur people have a custom that after a girl is born for seven days, the mother will use Usma grass juice to apply to her daughter's eyebrows, and will connect the eyebrows at the center, hoping that the mother and daughter will be in harmony and not marry too far away when they grow up."

When I was a child, I also liked to use Usma grass to draw my eyebrows. Usma grass goes on sale every April. My mother would rub the Usma grass into a ball, squeeze out the juice, drop it into a small bowl placed upside down, and then use a fine cotton swab to apply the Usma grass juice to my eyebrows, repeating the process several times after it dried.

The juice of this grass changes from light to dark indigo under different lighting conditions. My mom could use it to draw various eyebrow shapes, such as willow leaf eyebrows, phoenix tail eyebrows, flying bridge eyebrows, and single line eyebrows. She could also depict a person's emotions, often leaving me in awe.

Even after many years in the United States, every time someone says my eyebrows look good, I think that my eyebrows are now thick and black, and I don't need an eyebrow pencil, which saves me money and effort. Is this related to my mother using Usma grass to draw my eyebrows?

Every time I look at myself in the mirror, I think of the happy times with my family in the courtyard of my old home, like gold shining in the desert gravel, sparkling in my memory.

Love is like the wind, time flows like a river, but the purest and all-encompassing love in this world will always be etched in our hearts.

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