From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Dongxiang minority student.jpg
A Dongxiang student in school.
Total population
Regions with significant populations
621,500 (2010 census) in Gansu
Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups
Bonan, Hui, Hazaras

The Dongxiang people (autonym: Sarta or Santa (撒尔塔); simplified Chinese: 东乡族; traditional Chinese: 東鄉族; pinyin: Dōngxiāngzú; Xiao'erjing: دْوݣسِيْاݣذُ) are one of 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China. Most of the Dongxiang live in the Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture and surrounding areas of Gansu Province in northwestern China. According to the 2010 census, their population numbers 621,500.

Origin and development

The Dongxiang are closely related to other Mongolic peoples like the Monguor and Bonan. Scholars[who?] speculate that their identity as an independent ethnic group arose through contact with Central Asians, due to whom the Dongxiang converted to Sunni Islam in the 13th century.

They are believed to be descendants of Mongolian troops posted in the Hezhou area by Genghis Khan (1162-1227 AD) during his journey westward, mixed with Sarts from Central Asia. Another possibility is that they could be a mixture of many peoples including Mongolian, Han, and Tibetan groups.[1]

The American Asiatic Association published an account of the Dongxiang's origins in the "Asia, Volume 40". A Muslim Mongol, Ma Chuanyuan, who was the supermagistrate of five districts, was interviewed, and gave a story on his people's origins. The conversion to Islam by a clan descended from Genghis Khan angered their relatives, who drove them all the way to Eastern Linxia. This occurred at the twilight of the Yuan dynasty. East Linxia was described as a land of "thorns and yellow earth". The author estimated a number of 100,000 Mongolian Muslims. They spoke Mongolian but were all illiterate. The account described them as a community of one hundred thousand, Mongol by race, Islam by religion and Chinese by culture. The majority of them were monolingual.[2][3]

Dongxiang were also known as Santa (San-t'a) people, it was reported that many of them served in the army of the Hui General Ma Fuxiang.[4] It was even said that Ma Fuxiang himself was of Santa descent, who had assimilated into the Hui community.[5]

Their autonym, sarta, may also provide a contradictory clue to their origin: a similar word Sart was formerly used in Central Asia to refer to Arab traders[citation needed], later to the local (mostly) Turkic-speaking city dwellers. Their official name of Dōngxiāng meaning "eastern villages" stems from the fact that their settlements are east of the major Han Chinese settlements.

Like other Muslims in China, the Dongxiang served extensively in the Chinese military. It was said that they and the Salars were given to "eating rations", a reference to military service.[6]

Dongxiang, Baoan, and Hui troops served under Generals Ma Fulu and Ma Fuxiang in the Boxer Rebellion, defeating the invading Eight Nation Alliance at the Battle of Langfang. Ma Fulu along with 100 Dongxiang and Hui troops died in fierce combat at Zhengyang Gate in Beijing against the Alliance forces as they fought to the death to hold the Alliance at bay.[7]

Dongxiang, Baoan, Hui, Salar, and Tibetan troops served under Ma Biao in the Second Sino-Japanese War against the Japanese.[8][9]


The Dongxiang have Mongol, Han Chinese, Hui, and Tibetan surnames.[10] Dongxiang with Han Chinese surnames such as Wang, Kang, Zhang, Gao, and Huang claim descent from Han Chinese. Those with surnames such as Ma and Mu are descended from Hui.[11][12]

Many of the Muslim descendants of Confucius are descended from the marriage of Ma Jiaga (马甲尕), a Muslim woman, and Kong Yanrong (孔彦嵘), 59th generation descendant of Confucius in the year 1480 and their descendants are found among the Hui and Dongxiang peoples.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22]

Some Dongxiang have said that, in the rare instances that they do marry with other people, it is only with Hui and Han, but not Tibetans.[23]

A town called Tangwangchuan (唐汪川) in Gansu had a multiethnic populace, the Tang (Chinese: ) and Wang (Chinese: ) families being the two major families. The Tang and Wang families were originally of non-Muslim Han Chinese extraction, but by the 1900s some branches of the families became Muslim by "intermarriage or conversion", while other branches of the families remained non-Muslim.[24] People in the area have changed their ethnicity by marrying members of other groups or converting to their religion. The Tang and Wang families are now composed of all three different ethnic groups, with Han Chinese, Hui, and Dongxiang people. The Dongxiang and Hui are Muslims.[25] Tangwangchuan and Hanjiaji were notable for being the lone towns with a multiethnic community, with both non-Muslims and Muslims.[26]

The cuisines of various ethnicities have spread across boundaries in the area of Hehuang, with different groups such as Mongolians, Tibetan, Dongxiang, and Hui eating each other's cuisines, such as mutton and milk tea.[27]


The base of the economy of Dongxiang is agriculture. The main products are potatoes, maize and wheat. They are also recognized craftsmen, specializing in the elaboration of traditional carpets.

Language and education

The Dongxiang speak the Dongxiang language, a member of the Mongolic family.[28] The Dongxiang people also have a rich tradition of oral literature, and use the Arabic alphabet.

As a result of the language shift, some 20,000 people in several villages in the northeastern Dongxiang County now speak the so-called "Tangwang language": a creolized version of Mandarin Chinese with a strong Dongxiang influence, in particular in its grammar.[29]

Government statistics show that the Dongxiang are among the poorest and least literate of China's minorities, with most Dongxiang having completed only an average of 1.1 years of schooling, a problem aggravated by the lack of a written language.

In 2004, the Ford Foundation provided US$30,000 in grant money for a pilot project to promote bilingual education in Dongxiang and Mandarin, in an effort to reduce school drop-out rates. The project is credited with the publication of a Dongxiang-Chinese bilingual dictionary as well as recent rises in test scores.


The East Asian O3-M122 Y chromosome Haplogroup is found in large quantities in other Muslims close to the Hui like Dongxiang, Bo'an and Salar. The majority of Tibeto-Burmans, Han Chinese, and Ningxia and Liaoning Hui share paternal Y chromosomes of East Asian origin which are unrelated to Middle Easterners and Europeans. In contrast to distant Middle Eastern and Europeans whom the Muslims of China are not related to, East Asians, Han Chinese, and most of the Hui and Dongxiang of Linxia share more genes with each other. This indicates that native East Asian populations converted to Islam and were culturally assimilated to these ethnicities and that Chinese Muslim populations are mostly not descendants of foreigners as claimed by some accounts while only a small minority of them are.[30]

Famous Dongxiang people


  1. ^ Jim Yardley (March 7, 2006). "Poor, illiterate and unaware they're in China". THE NEW YORK TIMES. Retrieved 2011-06-27.
  2. ^ American Asiatic Association (1940). Asia: journal of the American Asiatic Association, Volume 40. Asia Pub. Co. p. 659. Retrieved 2011-05-08.
  3. ^ Hartford Seminary Foundation (1941). The Moslem World, Volumes 31-34. Hartford Seminary Foundation. p. 182. Retrieved 2011-05-08.
  4. ^ Pamela Kyle Crossley (2002). A Translucent Mirror: History and Identity in Qing Imperial Ideology. University of California Press. p. 142. ISBN 0-520-23424-3. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  5. ^ Louis M. J. Schram (2006). The Monguors of the Kansu-Tibetan Frontier: Their Origin, History, and Social Organization. Kessinger Publishing. p. 23. ISBN 1-4286-5932-3. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  6. ^ Christian Literature Society for India, Hartford Seminary Foundation (1920). Samuel Marinus Zwemer, eds. The Moslem World, Volume 10. Hartford Seminary Foundation. p. 379. Retrieved 2011-06-06.
  7. ^ "抗击八国联军的清军将领——马福禄". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  8. ^ "马家军悲壮的抗战:百名骑兵集体投河殉国(1)". 军事-中华网. 19 September 2008.
  9. ^ "民国少数民族将军(组图)". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  10. ^ James Stuart Olson (1998). An ethnohistorical dictionary of China. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 66. ISBN 0-313-28853-4. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  11. ^ Henry G. Schwarz (1984). The minorities of northern China: a survey. Volume 17 of Studies on East Asia (illustrated ed.). Western Washington. p. 100. ISBN 0-914584-17-0. Retrieved 17 July 2011.(Original from the University of Michigan )
  12. ^ Richard V. Weekes (1984). Richard V. Weekes, ed. Muslim peoples: a world ethnographic survey, Volume 1 (2, illustrated ed.). Greenwood Press. p. 238. ISBN 0-313-23392-6. Retrieved 17 July 2011.(Original from the University of Michigan )
  13. ^ "孔子后裔中有14个少数民族 有宗教信仰也传承家风--文化--人民网". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  14. ^ "孔子后裔中有14个少数民族 有宗教信仰也传承家风-中新网". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-10-06. Retrieved 2016-07-24.
  16. ^ "孔子后裔中有14个少数民族 有宗教信仰也传承家风--山东频道--人民网". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  17. ^ "西北生活着孔子回族后裔--文化--人民网". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  18. ^ "孔子后裔有回族--地方--人民网". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  19. ^ "孔子后裔有回族? - 宁夏百科". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  20. ^ "孔子后裔有回族? - 回族百科". Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-04-13. Retrieved 2016-03-29.
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-04-13. Retrieved 2016-03-29.
  23. ^ Colin Legerton; Jacob Rawson (2009). Invisible China: A Journey Through Ethnic Borderlands. Chicago Review Press. p. 156. ISBN 1-55652-814-0. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  24. ^ Gail Hershatter (1996). Gail Hershatter, ed. Remapping China: fissures in historical terrain (illustrated ed.). Stanford University Press. p. 102. ISBN 0-8047-2509-8. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  25. ^ M.E. Sharpe, Inc, International Arts and Sciences Press (2007). Chinese sociology and anthropology. M.E. Sharpe. p. 42. Retrieved 17 July 2011.(Original from the University of Virginia) [1][2][3]
  26. ^ Jonathan Neaman Lipman (1997). Familiar strangers: a history of Muslims in Northwest China (illustrated ed.). University of Washington Press. p. 145. ISBN 0-295-97644-6. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  27. ^ M.E. Sharpe, Inc, International Arts and Sciences Press (2007). Chinese sociology and anthropology. M.E. Sharpe. p. 51. Retrieved 17 July 2011.(Original from the University of Virginia)
  28. ^ Henry Serruys; Françoise Aubin (1987). The Mongols and Ming China: customs and history, Volume 1. Variorum Reprints. p. cxv. ISBN 0-86078-210-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  29. ^ International Council for Philosophy and Humanistic Studies (1996). Atlas of languages of intercultural communication in the Pacific, Asia, and the Americas, Volume 2, Part 1. (Volume 13 of Trends in Linguistics, Documentation Series). Walter de Gruyter. pp. 875–882. ISBN 3-11-013417-9.
  30. ^ Yao, Hong-Bing; Wang, Chuan-Chao; Tao, Xiaolan; Shang, Lei; Wen, Shao-Qing; Zhu, Bofeng; Kang, Longli; Jin, Li; Li, Hui (1 December 2016). "Genetic evidence for an East Asian origin of Chinese Muslim populations Dongxiang and Hui". Scientific Reports. 6 (1). doi:10.1038/srep38656. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  •  This article incorporates text from The Moslem World, Volume 10, by Christian Literature Society for India, Hartford Seminary Foundation, a publication from 1920 now in the public domain in the United States.

External links

  • The Dongxiang
  • The Dongxiang ethnic minority (Chinese government site)
  • Dongxiang in China
  • Oliver Corff: The Dongxiang Mongols and Their Language
  • Ford Foundation Grant Information: Narisi Primary School of Dongxiang Autonomous County
  • Poor, illiterate, and unaware they're in China
  • Dongxiang people history and photo gallery
Retrieved from ""
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia :
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Dongxiangs"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA