World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0000330821
Reproduction Date:

Title: Dongxiangs  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Islam in China, Hui people, Mongols, Utsul, Salar people
Collection: Dongxiang People, Ethnic Groups Officially Recognized by China, Islam in China, Mongol Peoples, Muslim Communities of China
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


A Dongxiang student in school.
Total population
Regions with significant populations
621,500 (2010 census) in Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai, and Xinjiang
Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups
Mongols, Bonan, Hui

The Dongxiang people (autonym: Sarta or Santa (撒尔塔); simplified Chinese: 东乡族; traditional Chinese: 東鄉族; pinyin: Dōngxiāngzú; Xiao'erjing: دْوݣسِيْاݣ) 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, while other groupings can also be found in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Qinghai Province, and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. According to the 2010 census, their population numbers 621,500.


  • Origin and development 1
    • Miscegenation 1.1
  • Economy 2
  • Language and education 3
  • Famous Dongxiang people 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Origin and development

The Dongxiang are closely related to the Mongolians. Scholars 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.

One possible origin is that they are descendants of Mongolian troops posted in the Hezhou area by Genghis Khan (1162-1227 AD) during his journey westward, while 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, the nephew of Ma Chuanyuan, at age 12, learned to write and speak Chinese in school, he was an alumnus of Tianjin's Nankai Middle School, and Nanjing's Military College.[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, 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]

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.[13]

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.[14] 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.[15] Tangwangchuan and Hanjiaji were notable for being the lone towns with a multiethnic community, with both non-Muslims and Muslims.[16]

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.[17]


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.[18] 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.[19]

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.

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.  
  5. ^ Louis M. J. Schram (2006). The Monguors of the Kansu-Tibetan Frontier: Their Origin, History, and Social Organization. Kessinger Publishing. p. 23.  
  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 - 360Doc个人图书馆
  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)2 - 360Doc个人图书馆
  10. ^ James Stuart Olson (1998). An ethnohistorical dictionary of China. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 66.  
  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.  (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.  (Original from the University of Michigan )
  13. ^ Colin Legerton, Jacob Rawson (2009). Invisible China: A Journey Through Ethnic Borderlands. Chicago Review Press. p. 156.  
  14. ^ Gail Hershatter (1996). Gail Hershatter, ed. Remapping China: fissures in historical terrain (illustrated ed.). Stanford University Press. p. 102.  
  15. ^ 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) [4][5][6]
  16. ^ Jonathan Neaman Lipman (1997). Familiar strangers: a history of Muslims in Northwest China (illustrated ed.). University of Washington Press. p. 145.  
  17. ^ 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)
  18. ^ Henry Serruys, Françoise Aubin (1987). The Mongols and Ming China: customs and history, Volume 1. Variorum Reprints. p. cxv.  
  19. ^ 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.  
  •  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 ethnic minority (Chinese government site)
  • 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
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.