The Dongxiang people (autonym: Sarta or Santa (撒尔塔); Şablon:Zh; 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 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, which are merchants from Central Asia. Another possibility is that they could be a mixture of many peoples including Mongolian, Han, and Tibetan groups.<ref>Şablon:Cite news</ref>
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.<ref>Şablon:Cite book</ref><ref>Şablon:Cite book</ref>
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.<ref>Şablon:Cite book</ref> It was even said that Ma Fuxiang himself was of Santa descent, who had assimilated into the Hui community.<ref>Şablon:Cite book</ref>
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 tradersŞablon: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.<ref>Şablon:Cite book</ref>
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.<ref>抗击八国联军的清军将领——马福禄 - 360Doc个人图书馆</ref>
The Dongxiang have Mongol, Han Chinese, Hui, and Tibetan surnames.<ref>Şablon:Cite book</ref> 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.<ref>Şablon:Cite book(Original from the University of Michigan )</ref><ref>Şablon:Cite book(Original from the University of Michigan )</ref>
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.<ref>http://culture.people.com.cn/n/2014/1214/c172318-26204615.html</ref><ref>http://www.chinanews.com/cul/2014/12-14/6875063.shtml</ref><ref>http://big5.taiwan.cn/zppd/MMWZ/201412/t20141215_8361279.htm</ref><ref>http://sd.people.com.cn/n/2015/0107/c366019-23474035.html</ref><ref>http://culture.people.com.cn/GB/7158766.html</ref><ref>http://unn.people.com.cn/GB/7119528.html</ref><ref>http://ningxia.baike.com/article-33678.html</ref><ref>http://huizu.baike.com/article-122417.html</ref><ref>Şablon:Cite web</ref><ref>Şablon:Cite web</ref>
A town called Tangwangchuan (唐汪川) in Gansu had a multiethnic populace, the Tang (Şablon:Zh) and Wang (Şablon:Zh) 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.<ref>Şablon:Cite book</ref> 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.<ref>Şablon:Cite book(Original from the University of Virginia) </ref> Tangwangchuan and Hanjiaji were notable for being the lone towns with a multiethnic community, with both non-Muslims and Muslims.<ref>Şablon:Cite book</ref>
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.<ref>Şablon:Cite book(Original from the University of Virginia)</ref>
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.<ref>Şablon:Cite book</ref> 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.<ref name=lee>Şablon:Cite book</ref>
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
- 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