Living Areas: Most of the Daurs in Xinjiang live in the Axier Daur Township in Tacheng.
Population: Around 6,700 Daur residents were found in Xinjiang by the 2003 census, 0.04 percent of the region’s population.
Language: The Daurs’ language belongs to the Mongolian group of the Altaic language family. The Xinjiang Daurs speak a different dialect from those in northeastern China. The Daurs used to write in Manchu scripts during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), but since the 1911 Revolution Mandarin Chinese has been used.
History: The ethnic group identify themselves as “Daurs” but the Xinjiang Daurs used to be known as “Sorens” by local people during the Qing Dynasty, because of their Soren tribal origins. They reclaimed their name as “Daurs” in 1953.
The present Daurs in Xinjiang are descendents of soldiers who came from Buteha, Heilongjiang Province along with the Qing army to suppress rebellions of Dzungarian nobles in the 1680s. They were known as the “Soren Battalion” and were on three-year garrison duty. Later in 1763, the Qing court dispatched another 1,000 Daur troops in two groups with their families from northeastern China to Xinjiang. These people were stationed at Horgos north of the Ili River. In 1868, they were re-stationed around Tacheng.
Economy: Most of the Daurs are farmers, who also engage in stock breeding and hunting.
Diet: The Daurs’ traditional diet consists of wheat, beef, mutton and dairy products. Baked cakes, dumplings, noodles and mutton cooked on the bone are favorites.
Culture: Traditional Daur sports include wrestling, horseracing, a neck strength competition and field hockey.
Holidays: The Daurs celebrate Spring Festival, Lantern Festival, Pure Brightness, Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival as the Hans do, though they do so slightly differently. The 16th day of the first lunar month is the Daur Mohei Festival.
Religion: Most of the Daurs used to observe Shamanism, some Lamaism.
Costume: In summer, Daur men in Xinjiang traditionally wear white jackets with white pants and homemade cotton or leather shoes. In winter, they wear robes tied up with a waistband, a hat or black silk cap and leather boots. Women wear long Manchu gowns, white cloth socks and embroidered shoes in summer. In winter, they wear cotton-padded or fur jackets and pants with leather boots.
Marriage: Monogamy is the general rule among the Daurs. Marriage within the same clan or between different generations is prohibited.
Residence: The Xinjiang Daurs’ homes were straw huts or wooden longhouses in the old days. Today, most are wood-brick or wood-adobe structures. Typically, these houses face east and have three rooms – the middle one as kitchen and one on each side bedrooms for parents and children.
(China.org.cn August 25, 2005)