China’s Silk Road People Groups

 

Total Population: over 23 million

Kazak hat

You probably know that China is Atheist, Buddhist and Christian. But did you know that 10 different Muslim people groups also call China their home?

Hui

Young couple in a park, China's Silk Road

A diverse people group, skilled in trade. They live scattered all across China.

Population: 10.6 million

Language: Mandarin Chinese

Uyghur (Uigur)

Young Uyghur boys on the Silk Road

An ethnically Turkic people who take great pride in their traditional lifestyle, music & dance.

Population: 10.1 million

Language: Uyghur, related to Turkish

Find opportunities to serve

Learning Chinese calligraphy

Kazak (Kazakh)

kazak-horse-rider

Originally nomadic herders, influenced by shamanism. They still identify themselves by their horde (tribe).

Population: 1.5 million

Language: Kazak, a Turkic language

Dongxiang (Sarta)

dongxiang-mum-and-daughter

A mixed group of Mongolians, Han and Tibetans who intermarried after converting to Islam around 800 years ago.

Population: 622,000

Language: Dongxiang, related to Mongolian

Each person is an exquisite detail in this living tapestry of cultures

along the Silk Road, carpet factory merchant

Kyrgyz (Kirgiz)

Kyrgyz men

Semi-nomadic herders who settled in the mountains of northwest China. They affirm their heritage through the long traditional poem, “The Epic of Manas”.

Population: 187,000

Language: Kyrgyz, a Turkic language

Salar

salar-girl

The Salar are 14th century migrants from Central Asia who have retained the language and some of the traditions of their previous home.

Population: 131,000

Language: Salar, related to Turkmen

Teach others about the Silk Road

motorbike

Download a free powerpoint here:
China’s Silk Road on the Move.pptx

Download presenter’s notes for the powerpoint here:
Silk Road on the Move notes

Tajik

tajik-baby

Although they call themselves Tajik, they are an extension of the Shi’a Muslim Pamiris found in eastern Tajikistan. They find inspiration in the strength and beauty of eagles.

Population: 51,000

Languages: Sarikoli and Wakhi

Bonan (Bao’an)

baoan-family

Ethnically Mongolian Muslims who live in Gansu province. They are famous for their hand-made knives.

Population: 20,000

Language: Bonan, related to Mongolian

Uzbek

Uzbek man selling snacks

Silk road traders who settled in China around 500 years ago. Traditionally they wear long embroidered robes and leather boots.

Population: 10,500

Language: Uzbek

Tatar

along the Silk Road, boys herding sheep down tree-lined road

A group of mixed Russian and Mongolian ancestry. They enjoy sports competitions at their “Plough Head Festival” each spring.

Population: 3,500

Language: Tatar, a Turkic language

HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?

Find opportunities to serve

Learning Chinese calligraphy

 Bless China’s Silk Road through Prayer

A young Uyghur girl near her home on China's Silk Road

Visit China’s Silk Road for yourself

along the Silk Road, home to mostly Uigher people, mosque

STORIES FROM THE SILK ROAD

“My Cup Overflows” – Psalm 23:5

In the book of Isaiah, heaven is described as “a feast of rich food for all peoples” (25:6). Some cultures do their very best to recreate this extravagant hospitality on earth. You Prepare a Table for Me “Boldi, boldi,” Amangul says impatiently to her mom. I look at Amangul blankly. When she’s with her mother, [...]

Through the Darkest Valley – Psalm 23:4

Pain and heartache arrive in most of our lives at some point. May God be our hope for the future in the face of trauma and broken relationships. How much longer? My sister is crying again. She hardly makes a sound. There’s just the silent shaking of bony shoulders, and tears rolling down a pale [...]

“In Green Pastures” – Psalm 23:2

Wherever we live, our lives are punctuated by rhythms of work, and of rest. But, even if our bodies are resting, our souls may still be burdened by many worries. Rest Time “回来咯” Mr Ma calls out, “I’m back.” Only silence answers. The room is strewn with dishes and toys. An abandoned bowl of rice [...]

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want

This Ramadan, we have asked different friends to share short reflections with us, all on our theme of Psalm 23. This is a very special moment in history, when the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting our lives and shaking our confidence. What does God have to say to us through this Psalm for our lives, right here, [...]

My Father’s Sheep

“It’s the one with the white ear...” I ask anxiously. But my brother, Maksat, is already hurrying up the path to the next yurt. “We haven’t seen your sheep,” the man at the door answers gruffly. Despite his tone of voice, I know he will spread word to all the families in our valley. Sheep [...]

Two Dollars

马文凯, MaWenKai came home last night. He’s been my husband for seven years, and in all that time he’s never held down a job for more than six months. He travelled to the north-east for work. He was supposed to come back with a bank card full of money. Lots of people from our area [...]

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