Religion had and retains
a wide influence throughout the ethnic minority areas.
Lamaism, a Buddhist
sect, has its followers mostly among the Tibetan, Mongolian,
Tus and Yugur. Hinayana, or Lesser Vehicle Buddhism,
has believers mainly among such ethnic groups as the
Bai, Dai, Deang, Achang, Blang, Jingpo and some of the
Islam has a following
among ten ethnic groups -- the Hui, Uygur, Kazak, Tatar,
Kirgiz, Tajik, Ozbek, Dongxiang, Salar and Bonan.
converts among the Miao and Yi, and some ethnic minorities
living in western Yunnan. Believers in the Orthodox
Eastern Church are found among the small groups of Russian
and polytheism, ancestor worship, totemism and shamanism
can still find believers among such ethnic minority
groups as the Drung, Nu, Va, Shui, Dong, Bouyei, Jingpo,
Gaoshan, Oroqen, Miao, Jino and Pumi.
Religion exerted an
enormous influence among Islamic and Lamaist peoples.
Before 1949, Lamaist monasteries in Tibet, Qinghai and
Sichuan held large amounts of land and livestock and
practiced usury. Spiritual rulers not only went into
political and economic collaboration with the secular
feudal lords and big landlords, but worked with them
as one, forming an inseparable whole in the exercise