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?


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)


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)


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



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


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



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)


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

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

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


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