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The Hui Ethnic Group

Living Areas:
The Hui ethnic group live all over Xinjiang but are concentrated in Jichang Hui Autonomous Prefecture, Yanshi Hui Autonomous County and five Hui autonomous townships.

Population: The Hui population of Xinjiang is approximately 866,700, according to the 2003 census, which is 4.48 percent of the region’s population.

Language: The Huis speak Mandarin Chinese and write in Chinese characters, although a number of Arabic and Persian words have remained in daily speech.

History:  The Hui’s ancestors can be traced back to Islamic soldiers and artisans who lived in central and western Asia. Their influx was a result of Genghis Khan’s western expedition during the 13th century. These people, called “Huihui” by the Mongolians, were recruited as scouts for the army. In 1273, Khan ordered them to be grouped into local garrison communities to guard the border while reclaiming wasteland and farming. The region known today as Xinjiang was a principal area where they were stationed, and during Mongolian rule they settled across the region in Jichang, Fukang, Jimsar, Kashi, Hotan and Ili River Valley. In the second half of the mid-18th century, many Huis moved to Xinjiang from elsewhere in China. The main body of the present Hui ethnic group in the region formed during this period.

The Huis live mainly on food crop farming. Some are also craftspeople or businesspeople.

Diet:  Wheat flour is the Hui’s traditional staple food. They make all sorts of dishes out of it, such as hand-stretched noodles, flakes, steamed buns, soup, deep-fried bread.

Culture:  The Huis boast a rich heritage of folklore and narrative poems. Their folk songs include the popular “Flowers,” “Ditty” and “Banquet Song.”

Holidays:  Rosun is the major Hui festival of the year and Corban the second most important.

Religion:  The Huis are Muslims, and divide themselves into two sects – the “Majors” and the “Minors.”

Costumes:  Compared to other ethnic groups in Xinjiang, the Huis dress themselves plainly. Men typically wear a small white skullcap, white shirt and black vest. Women wear veils or white caps. Many like to wear jewelry.

Marriage:   The Huis practice monogamy.

Residence:  Traditionally, Huis live in wooden-framed adobe bungalows. Most of these south-facing buildings have one door, two windows, and a flat or lean-to roof. But many now live in apartment buildings with modern facilities.

(China.org.cn August 25, 2005)

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