The Dongxiang are a Muslim minority that lives primarily in Gansu Province, with some in Xinjiang. Most live in the foothills of the mountains south of the Yellow River in Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, mostly in Dongxiang Autonomous County. Some believe they are descendants of a Turkic people who were driven from the Middle East to China in the 13th century. Others say the are descendants of Mongol soldiers stationed at Dongxiang in Hezhoy during the establishment of the Yuan Dynasty in the 13th century. Yet others claim they are descendants of local Hui people who mixed with Mongolian, Han and Tibetan peoples who arrived later in the region.

Regarded among Chinese as Mongolian Huis and also known as Dongxiang Monggu, Dongxiang Huihui and Santa, Dongxiang speak their own Turkic language, which is similar to Mongolian and belongs to the Mongolian group of Altai languages and has many Mongolian and Chinese loan words. These days many Dongxiang speak Chinese. The Dongxiang was no written language of their own. Chinese is accepted as their common written language. Quite a few of them can use Arabic alphabet to spell out and write Dongxiang or Chinese words.

Dongxiang live among Han, Hui, Tibetan, Tu, and Salar peoples. Some Dongxiang have Caucasian features such as green-blue eyes, large noses and high cheekbones. The Dongxiang are primarily farmers. Some engage in animal husbandry. They raise wheat, maize and especially potatoes for consumption and grow hemp, beans, sesame seeds and rapeseed for cash crops. The live in areas where deforestation, desertification and erosion are problems The government has helped them plant trees.

The Dongxiang live mainly in Dongxiang Autonomous County, Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, Gansu province in northwest China. Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture is situated south of the Yellow River and southwest of Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu. About half of all Dongxiang live in Dongxiang Autonomous County. The rest are scattered the city of Lanzhou, Jishishan autonomous county of Baoan, the Dongxiang and Salar areas of Linxia county, Hezheng county, Guanghe county and Kangle county in Gansu province and the Yili region in Xinjiang.

The Dongxiang call themselves as "Sa'erta", which means the Muslim in Central Asia. They are called "Dongxiang" (People of the West) by other nationalities because they had been living to the east of Linxia prefecture (called He prefecture in the ancient time) before they arrived in the places they live today. Most scholars believe the Dongxiang are the result of a long-term merging of Islamic Semu people, stationed in the Dongxiang region after the Mongolian conquests in the 13th century, with the local Hui, Han, Mongolian and other ethnic groups. Before the founding Communist China in 1949, they were called the "Dongxiang Hui" or "Mongolian Hui". In 1951, they were recognized as a single minority nationality called the Dongxiang. [Source: Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities, Science of China, China virtual museums, Computer Network Information Center of Chinese Academy of Sciences]

The Dongxiang are the 23rd largest ethnic group and the 22nd largest minority in China. They numbered 621,500 in 2010 and made up 0.05 percent of the total population of China in 2010 according to the 2010 Chinese census. Dongxiang populations in China in the past: 513,826 in 2000 according to the 2000 Chinese census; 373,872 in 1990 according to the 1990 Chinese census. The Dongxiang population has grown very fast. A total of 155,761 were counted in 1953; 147,443 were counted in 1964; and 279, 523 were, in 1982. [Sources: People’s Republic of China censuses, Wikipedia]

Dongxiang History

Dongxiang man in the winter in 1934

Historians are divided in their views about the origin of the Dongxiang ethnic minority. Some hold that they are descendants of Mongolian troops posted in the Hezhou area by Genghis Khan (1162-1227) during his march to the west. Other historians say they are a mixture of many races — Hui, Mongolian, Han and Tibetan groups. [Source: |]

According to legends and historical data, the Dongxiangs probably originated from the Mongolians. As far back as the 13th century, Mongolian garrison units were stationed in the Dongxiang area. In these units were Mongols and military scouts and artisans Genghis Khan brought from West Asia. In time of war, the military scouts would fight as soldiers on the battlefield. And they farmed and raised cattle and sheep in time of peace. These garrison troops later took local women as wives, and their offspring at the beginning were called "military households" which became "civilian households" with the passage of time.|

During the early years of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), they were offered amnesty by the Ming rulers, and they settled down permanently in the Dongxiang area. The Dongxiang people have been victims of oppression and have rebelled arms against their oppressors several times. Before the founding of the People's Republic in 1949, the Dongxiang people were suffering under the oppressive rule of the feudal Hui warlords, Ma Anliang, Ma Qi and Ma Bufang, and Kuomintang warlord Liu Yufen, who pressganging some of their young men into the Kuomintang army. In 1948, more than 3,000 young men were rounded up. According to the Chinese government: “Even the ahungs in some mosques were not spared. They were thrown into the army after their beards were shaved. Pressganging operations that were carried out time and again had made the Dongxiang villages and towns devoid of young men.” |

Many changes took place in the Dongxiang area after the arrival of the People's Liberation Army in the autumn of 1949. On September 25, 1950, the Dongxiang Autonomous County was founded to be followed by the establishment of many ethnic minority townships in other localities. "Solidarity Committees" were set up everywhere to eliminate disunity then still existing between the Dongxiangs and other ethnic groups. Many Dongxiangs were trained to be government functionaries at various levels. Trees and grass were and are being planted on barren hills to check erosion which had plagued the Dongxiang area for ages. Large tracts of farmland on hill slopes have been transformed into terraced plots. All this, coupled with the construction of irrigation facilities, has greatly raised annual grain production. |

The Communists also built power stations and factories turning out farm implements, cement, flour, bricks and tiles in an area that was once of the most under-developed localities in China. Transportation and communication were improved. Roads and highways were constructed that links together all the townships, and the Dongxiang area with the provincial capital of Lanzhou. Diseases such as kala-azar (caused by malnutrition) and leprosy were stamped out, thanks to improved health care and health education conducted among the people. |

Dongxiang Religion

Most Dongxiang are Muslims. They practice ground burials and celebrate Muslim holidays. About two thirds are Sunni. Some are Wahabis. Most of the remainder are Shiites. Although the Shiites are relatively few in number they have traditionally been more outspoken and Islamic than the Sunnis.

Dongxiang communities used to be the center for learning and spreading Islamism in the 13th century. Nowadays, in Dongxiang Autonomous County, there are still some graves of Islamic sages. At one time there were 595 mosques and 79 other places of worship in the Dongxiang area. This gave every 30 Dongxiang households a place of worship. Apart from the 12 imams, there were more than 2,000 full-time religious workers. That means every 18 households had to provide for one religious worker. And there were 34 different kinds of religious expenses which had to be borne by the ordinary people. Many mosques were presumably destroyed or damaged during the Cultural Revolution but have since been rebuilt. [Source: |; \=/]

mosque in the 1930s

In the old days Muslims in the Dongxiang area were then divided into three sects — Qadim (the old) and Ikhwan (the new) and and the Emerging sects. There are four major tariqas (Islamic religious order) in Qadim. The Ikhwan has no tariqa, and it claims to resume the orthodoxy of Islamism, thus getting more popular support and advocacy. In the beginning of the 10th century, it was spread to some other provinces of China, such as Ningxia, Qinghai and Xinjiang. | \=/

According to the Chinese government: “Carrying out a "divide and rule" policy, the ruling class sowed dissension among these sects. As a result, the Moslems were at feud among themselves. At times there were armed clashes. Since the early days of 1950s, the Chinese government has pursued a policy of freedom of religious beliefs in the Dongxiang area and taken measures to restore unity among the Moslem population. In 1958, the Dongxiang people carried out the struggle against religious and feudal privileges and the system of oppression and exploitation. This resulted in a further liberation of the productive forces. |

Dongxiang Marriage and Wedding Customs

Dongxiang marriages are usually arranged and decided by their parents. According to “Young men and women are not allowed to meet or talk to each other before marriages, and a matchmaker is considered as the communication intermediary. The man’s family will ask the matchmaker to make an offer of marriage. If the woman’s family agrees, the man’s family will send engagement tea as a gift. After that, the formal engagement procedure is formed. The man, together with his father, the matchmaker and other relatives will take betrothal gifts to the woman’s family. There are two kinds of betrothal gifts, including tea, brown sugar and cakes. Besides, there are also clothes, money, earrings, bracelets and so on, which were previously discussed and agreed upon. In some mountainous areas, there is also the custom of giving steamed bread as betrothal gifts. The male party will grind the wheat which is harvested in the same year into flour, and then make steamed bread. It weighs 1 kilogram for each with turmeric applied on top. When the steamed bread is ready, the white bread with turmeric, looking like blooming yellow flower, indicates the wish for a bumper year. They will ask the Iman to read the marriage testimony. [Source: \=/]

“On the day of wedding, the bridegroom with his wedding team will come to the bride’s home so that the marriage is acknowledged by the community. When they come to the gate of the groom’s home, the bride will be carried by the escorting team from the horse cart into the yard. Family members and friends will sing songs to congratulate the couple. When the wedding proceeds to summit, people will jokingly make fun of the groom’s father and other older relatives. They will daub ashes of pan on to their faces, fasten bells on their waists, and tie their arms and legs.” \=/

right The Dongxiang have many interesting wedding customs, including "smashing the pillows", "'punishing the bridegroom" and "joking with the parents-in-law". "Smashing pillows" is when relatives and friends exchange friendly banter with the newlywed. It gets its name because pillows serve as the main props. The bride, whose head is covered with cloth, sits in a dignified fashion on a kang, surrounded by the bridesmaid and other women. Male youths participating in the bantering look for opportunities to smash the bride with pillows, forcing her to lift the cloth covering her head, and everybody "see her face" and appreciate the dowry. At the beginning, the women surrounding the bride do their best to block the pillows. But after some time, the women gradually show signs of weariness and cracks begin to appear in their blockade. At this juncture the young men "fight" more bravely and begin to succeed with their pillow attacks. Finally, having no other choice, the bride "lifts her cloth and surrender" and lets everybody see her face. The whole process is full laughter and good times. [Source: Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities ~]

"Punishing the bridegroom" refers to youths in the family of the bride joking with the bridegroom and his entourage when the bridegroom goes to the bride's home to welcome her. This can include as lashing them with willow twigs or scaring their horses. Their flustered expressions and funny embarrassed looks often make all the people split their sides with laughter. Later, when his entourage prepares to go back, the bridegroom goes into the kitchen of his father-in-law, express his thanks and says goodbye to the cooking women, and try to "steal" a kitchen utensil or chopsticks, etc, symbolizing that he has "stolen" the superb cooking skills of his father-in-law's family. ~

Dongxiang Customs and Taboos

Dongxiang are regarded as warm and hospitable. Another Dongxiang proverb says, "When smoke comes out of the chimney, the host has his wish fulfilled". When the guests come, they always warmly entertain them wholeheartedly, even when there is no rice to cook, they will heat up some water for the guests. The Dongxiang generally go out of the house to welcome when guests come to visit. When the guests go into the house they are led to the Kang (heatable bed built of bricks) and offered tea served cover bowls. Sometimes rock candy, dried longan or fried jujubes are added into the tea, which is called Sanxiang Tea. For meals, Dongxiang people like entertaining guests with chicken or meat. The grandest meal is Duanquanyang (serving the whole sheep), meaning all parts of the sheep such as neck, rib, foreleg, rear leg and tail are served on the table in proper order. [Source:]

The Dongxiang attach great importance to etiquette and hygiene. In the regions where the Dongxiang live showing respect to old people is seen as a rudimentary part of moral character. One Dongxiang proverb goes: "The people that do not show filial respect to their parents cannot 'leave'", which means, for the people who do not show filial respect to their parents and elder generation, even when they are dead, their soul cannot be separated from this world, and they will be laughed at and condemned by people forever.[Source: Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities, Science of China, China virtual museums, Computer Network Information Center of Chinese Academy of Sciences ~]

20111102-wiki com Dongxiang.jpg
At Dongxiang meals, the elderly sit in the seat of honor. The young won’t eat until the elderly begin to eat. Except for older women, young women usually do not sit at the same table with men. Guests should take off shoes while sitting the Kang (heatable bed built of bricks), while female guests needn’t taking off their shoes. Dongxiang people usually do not sit at the same table and eat with guests, showing their respect to the guests by serving beside them. Male guests are dined by the host, while female guests by the hostess. \=/

According to “Dongxiang people do not wash clothes and other stuff or feed the livestock near streams and springs, where the water is used for drinking or bathing. Their religious services are forbidden for non-Muslims. Pictures of people or animals are not allowed to be hung in the living room or the central room. Smoking and drinking alcohol is strictly forbidden. Non-Muslims can visit the mosque, but should not enter the main hall unless they are given permission. Non-Muslims should take off shoes before entering if they are allowed to enter. \=/

“Don’t litter used paper, make the draw for fortune-telling, or waste food or water. Men are not allowed to have long hair. Speaking ill of others behind their backs or telling a lie is forbidden. People are also forbidden to eat animals that die of natural causes, pig, horse, mule, donkey, cat, dog and coagulated blood of any animal. Don’t use cooking tools of non-Muslims. Pancakes and steamed bread should be divided instead of eating the whole one. Don’t make jokes about food. Don’t offer cigarettes or wine. Don’t wear revealing clothes in the public. Don’t bring unclean stuff to the graveyard or mosque. \=/

Dongxiang Hygiene Customs "Small and Big Cleaning"

The Dongxiang value cleanness and are particular about sanitary conditions. When people from other places enter a Dongxiang village or home, they are often struck by how clean and tidy they are: big and small articles are all placed tidily, the windows are bright and the tables are clean, the boxes and cabinets are all shiny. luster. Besides, in Dongxiang, where it is dry and in lack of water, and the water is almost as expensive as oil, people all keep the bathing habit of "small cleaning" every day and "big cleaning" every week. [Source: Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities]

Generally, Dongxiang people do not use washbasins; they use "cages" and "jugs" instead. Also called "buckets" or "showering buckets", "cages" are the water cages made of pottery, wood or iron. At the bottom of the cage, there are is a small hole, with a wood plug. Generally, they are hung on the roof beam behind the door. When using it, people can loosen the wood plug, and the water will flow out from the little hole. The "jug" is also called the "jug pot". Formerly named a "washing pot", and also called the "Tang jug" and "Tang bottle", it is a kind of water pot made of copper, enamel, tin iron and aluminum or iron that has a flowing pipe and mouth. According to legend, it was first manufactured in the Tang dynasty. At that time, to show his friendship with the Arabians, Emperor Tang Xuanzong specially appointed skillful craftsmen to imitate the "washing pots" brought by Arabians and improve on them. Arabians appreciated the sophisticated technologies of the Tang craftsmen and glad to be friends with Tang Xuanzong, so they named it as "Tang jug". After that, the jug gradually became a household item commonly used by Dongxiang, Hui, Salar, Baoan and other Islam nationalities.

"Small cleaning" means to wash the mouth, nose, face, elbows and feet with the water in jugs. "Big cleaning"—a careful washing of the entire body—is generally done once per week because the Dongxiang have traditionally lived in places where water was scarce. Whether it is the "small cleaning" or the "big cleaning", the Dongxiang are very particular about their washing and showering procedures. The procedure of "small cleaning" is: first wash the hands three times, then wash the private parts three times, rinse the mouth three times and wash the nostrils three times. After that they wash the face three times, wash the right and left elbows three times, then use clean water to wet the hands and wipe the head. Lastly they wash their ears and their feet. For of "big cleaning": after they finish the "small cleaning", they then wash the body from right to left and from up to down by three times in sequence, and use a clean towel to dry the body. The Dongxiang believe the water that has touched the body and been used to wash is dirty, it cannot be put into a jug or used for washing eating utensils. When washing face, the two hands can only clean the face from up to down; repeatedly washing from up to down and from down to up is discouraged.

Dongxiang Food

The staples of the Dongxiang are mainly wheat, highland barley, corn, beans and potato. Common dishes made from flour include steamed bread, noodles and Youxiang (cake of flour with salt, fried in sesame oil). Their most famous dishes are Lahaha (stretched noodles or planed noodles), fried Youxiang, Gajiwa (chicken cut and classified to serve to people according to seniority) and finger mutton—all important dishes to serve guests. Zhanyang (fat lamb) is very unique. The whole lamb is boiled using only water, and at the same time Fazi (lamb heart, liver and lung are chopped and mixed with condiments) is also steamed above it. They also cook clear mutton soup with Zhanyang. Dongxiang people like tea very much and drink during every meal and when socializing. The tea is usually made into cover bowls or small teapots. A Gaiwan (cover bowl) consists of lid, bowl and saucer. [Source:]

The Dongxiang entertain guests mainly with fried salted cakes (cooked with wheat flour), hand-grabbing mutton and stewed chicken. "Toasted whole sheep" is served up on special occasions. Roasted cock (Gajiwa)is another special food. It is divided into 13 parts, with tail considered to be the most precious part. When serving this, one cock or chicken is chopped into 13 pieces. The "tail of cock" must be presented to the main guests to eat; otherwise the host commits a severe breach of etiquette. There are additional rules for eating chicken that people are expected to follow according to their status, with larger pieces going to elders and younger people getting the smaller pieces. Dongxiang people often say, "The chicken must be eaten according to the generation and age". [Source: Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities]

Dongxiang Felt

Among the best-known Dongxiang handicraft are rolling felt blankets and zhihezi. The regions where the Dongxiang live are ideal for sheep raising. These areas are known for sheep's wool; wool felt blanket are widely used and the Dongxiang are famous for their skill rolling felt. Dongxiang men have traditionally been skilled at this practice. Many Dongxiang felt craftsmen come from the northern part of Gansu province and parts of Xinjiang and Qinghai. [Source: Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities ~]

Dongxiang wool felt blankets come in a great variety. According to the types of wool, they are divided into: 1) spring wool felt, 2) sand wool felt and 3) sheep wool felt. According to specifications, they are divided into: 1) the four six felt (that is, the width is 4 chi and the length is 6 chi), 2) five seven felt, single felt and 3) felt specially used in Islam churches. According to design and color, they are divided into 1) white felt, 2) multicolored felt, 3) red felt and 4) tile green felt. The Dongxiang wool felt blankets are famous with their softness, comfort, evenness, cleanness, beauty good taste and durability. It is said there is nothing special about the wool of Dongxiang, what makes the blankets special is the skill and technologies of the felt craftsmen. ~

The Dongxiang use three main tools of rolling felt— the "three treasures of felt craftsmen: 1) the fluffing bow, 2) the bamboo curtain and 3) the sand willow twig". Though the tools are simple, the manufacturing procedure is very complex, and divided into: 1) fluffing the wool, 2) rolling the felt and 3) washing the felt. The procedures of fluffing, washing and rolling the edges need exquisite technologies, especially the last procedure of rolling the felt edges because the uneven felt edges cannot be cut by scissors and can only be rolled by hands. Craftsmen need lots experiences and superb technologies to manufacture the straight felt edges. A Dongxiang proverb says: "The quality of the rolling felt blanket depends on the last procedure".

Dongxiang Clothes

Dongxiang have traditionally worn brown shirts woven by spun wool threads. These days they dress in modern clothes made from a variety of materials. Many Dongxiang the women still wear traditionally clothes with round collar, front, wide sleeves, and long trousers or leggings. On holidays, they generally wear embroidered clothes, skirts and shoes, and cover their heads with cloth. Men in in traditional garb wear oversized gowns and waist belts. Some men wear a long shirt called "zhongbai" with no buttons down the front.

After the 18th century, Islam gradually became the national belief of Dongxiang nationality. Through the development of their religious beliefs and the long-term contact with the Hui, Han and other nationalities, the clothes of the Dongxiang have changed a lot, and have become similar as those of the Hui minority. [Source: Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities ~]

Like Hui men, Dongxiang men generally wear skullcap-like little white or black hats with no brim, called the "hao hat". These were originally worn when reciting scripture or praying but now they are worn at all times, in part a symbol of their religion and ethnic group. Most Dongxiang women wear "headscarves" usually made of gauze, silk or cotton flannel. Dongxiang headscarves are often very long, extended like a cloak to the waist. When the women wear them, the back of their heads and their necks are covered; only the faces can be seen. Colors are different according to age: green for the young girls and young married women; black for middle-aged women; and white for old women. These days many young working women wear white skullcaps for convenience instead of veiled hats.~

Dongxiang clothing is generally simple and frugal. Most women wear headscarves, underclothes, front, right front and knee clothes, and long sleeveless jackets. The men wear "hao hats", loose and long robes, white cloth shirts with buttons down the front. They like wearing a belt made of bound embroidered triangle cloth around the waist and secure things like knives, pouches, a snuff box or glasses inside it. On holidays and the days of jubilation, some people still wear long shirts. Older people prefer gray or black double-breasted long robes. Women sometimes dress in big-collared coats and waistcoats that extend to the knees. Women’s hats worn on special occasions are very beautiful and delicate. Girls wear green or blue round hats with red or green trimmings and colorful tassels or beads on the edge. Unmarried young girls wear hats made of fine and soft green sateen, whose color is changed to black after they get married. Older women like to wear white skullcaps. [Source: ~]

Milagahei: the Premier Dongxiang Folk Story

The folk stories, legends, long narrative poems, folk songs and other literary and art works of the Dongxiang are rich and colorful. There are quite a number of popular narrative poems and folktales in the Dongxiang area. The folk tale "Green Widow Kills the Boa" depicts the courage, wisdom and self-sacrificing spirit of Dongxiang women. In the Dongxiang area, there are many folk songs which local people have dubbed "flowers". They were sung in the past by people to express their hopes for a better life. [Source:]

The long narrative poem Milagahei—also called "Meilagahei and Miss Machenglong"—is especially loved by Dongxiang people and has been passed down orally over the centuries. According to the Chinese government: it “sings the praise of the heroism of a young couple who pitted themselves against out-moded ethics and the feudal marriage system.”

The gist of the Milagehei story is: Long long ago, there was a young brave and strong man named "Milagahei" (in the Dongxiang language, "Mila" means "little", "gahei" means brother). His fiancé Mazhilu was very sweet and charming. Shortly before they were going to marry, enemies invaded their country. Putting the concerns of the state over his personal interests, Milagahei decided to join the army, and went to the frontline to resist the enemies and defend his country. Before leaving, the two lovers were heartbroken and could hardly tear themselves away from each other. Milagahei presented a half mirror to Mazhilu, and Mazhilu also gave presents to her beloved. [Source: Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities ~]

The poem goes:

The roots of the grass and trees are twisted,
The hearts of beloved people are connected,
The girl Mazhilu bursts into tears,
With her both hands holding two presents.
I present you a handful of white beans,
Your eyes will shine when they are in bloom,
I present you a pair of chopsticks made of bamboo,
Your hands will shake when holding the bowl.

Several years later, when the war was ending, Milagahei had three strange dreams in succession: 1) the flowers planted in his own garden bloomed in another person's back garden; 2) the foal of his family is tied in the stable of another person; and 3) the smoke of his home's kitchen goes out from the chimney of another person's home. A wise and farsighted elder interpreted the dream for him and said that it was because some thugs were forcing his beloved to marry. Under the guidance of the elder, Milagahei, whose heart was burning with impatience, speedily returned home. With the help of a miraculous horse, he returned in time to defeat the thugs and got married happily and lived on happy life since then. The full Milagahei story is dense and full of plots and characters that bring to life the struggling spirit of the Dongxiang’s pursuit of freedom and a happy life free of fear and violence.

Huarer Singing Festival

The Huaer Festival lasts for five days and is celebrated between the 4th and 6th lunar months in May, June or July by the Han, Hui, Tu, Sal, Dongxiang and Baoan peoples in the northwest provinces of Ningxia, Gansu and Qinghai. A huaer is a kind of folk song that is popular among these people. Most huaer songs are improvisations, sung by one or two people, with long and prolonged sonorous tones which have both a lyrical and a narrative content.

The festival is usually celebrated in a big square decorated with hanging red lanterns and colorful streamers. The festivities open with gongs, drums and fireworks. At night bonfires are built and sometimes the singing and dancing goes until dawn. In some places older singers put ropes around the festival site and people can't enter until after they have sung a song.

In the singing competitions, which are held on a stage, singers are given a subject and they quickly have to compose a song about it. There are individual, duet and team competitions and participants are judged on their singing, their improvisations and their words. Sometime the singing is gentle and soft. Other times it is more forceful.

Hua’er was inscribed in 2009 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. According to UNESCO: In Gansu and Qinghai Provinces and throughout north-central China, people of nine different ethnic groups share a music tradition known as Hua’er. The music is drawn from an extensive traditional repertoire named after ethnicities, towns or flowers (‘Tu People’s ''ling’,'' ‘White Peony ''ling’''), and lyrics are improvised in keeping with certain rules – for example, verses have three, four, five or six lines, each made up of seven syllables. [Source: UNESCO]

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons, Map from Joshua Project

Text Sources: 1) "Encyclopedia of World Cultures: Russia and Eurasia/ China", edited by Paul Friedrich and Norma Diamond (C.K.Hall & Company, 1994); 2) Liu Jun, Museum of Nationalities, Central University for Nationalities, Science of China, China virtual museums, Computer Network Information Center of Chinese Academy of Sciences, ~; 3) Ethnic China *\; 4) \=/; 5), the Chinese government news site | New York Times, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Chinese government, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wikipedia, BBC and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated October 2022

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of country or topic discussed in the article. This constitutes 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. If you are the copyright owner and would like this content removed from, please contact me.