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?

Discover the fascinating ethnic tapestry of China's Silk Road

China’s Silk Road People Groups

 

Total Population: over 23 million

Young couple in a park, China's Silk Road

Hui

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

Population: 10.6 million

Language: Mandarin Chinese

Young Uyghur boys on the Silk Road

Uyghur (Uigur)

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

Population: 10.1 million

Language: Uyghur, related to Turkish

kazak-horse-rider

Kazak (Kazakh)

Originally nomadic herders, influenced by shamanism. Even today, they identify themselves according to their horde (tribe).

Population: 1.5 million

Language: Kazak, a Turkic language

dongxiang-mum-and-daughter

Dongxiang (Sarta)

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

A mountain dream, China's Silk Road

Kyrgyz (Kirgiz)

Settlers from the nomadic tribes of neighboring Kyrgyzstan. They affirm their heritage through the long traditional poem, “The Epic of Manas”.

Population: 187,000

Language: Kyrgyz, a Turkic language

salar-girl

Salar

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

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

along the Silk Road, home to mostly Uigher people, carpet factory merchant
tajik-baby

Tajik

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

baoan-family

Bonan (Bao’an)

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 man selling snacks

Uzbek

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

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

Tatar

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

STORIES FROM THE SILK ROAD