Salar Ethnic Minority

The Salar ethnic minority, with a population of 87,697 (as of 1990), mainly lives in the Xunhua Salar Autonomous County in eastern Qinghai Province. There is also a sparse distribution in Gansu, Xinjiang and some other counties in Qinghai Province.

The Salar people have their own language which belongs to the Turkic Austronesian of the Altaic Phylum. As a result of frequent contact with the Han, Hui and Tibetan people, the language of the Salar contains quite a number of words taken from the Chinese and Tibetan languages. These days most young and middle-aged can speak Chinese. The language of the Salar people has no written form and Han character is widely used in daily life.

The ancestors of the Salar people were the Samarkand people who migrated from Central Asia to China during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). They entered into the eastern Qinghai Province and settled down in the Xunhua area. The continuous integration of the Samarkand people with the Tibetans, Huis, Hans, and Mongolians finally gave birth to the present Salar ethnic minority.

The Salar people call themselves "Salar'er". Han people usually call them "Sala", "Salacu", "Salahui", etc. With the founding of the PRC in 1949, following consultation with this ethnic minority, the official name of Salar ethnic minority was established.

The Salar people take agriculture as their mainstay, and are adept at horticulture since gardening is well developed. They are especially famous for the planting of chili and red peppers, as well as the apiculture. The Salars live in mountainous areas in which rugged mountain paths diverge and the Yellow River flows by. Nowadays, you can still see the brave Salars steer their wooden rafts along the Yellow River.

All the Salar people believe in Islam. Like other Muslims, the Salar people strictly obey the rules of studying the Muslim scripture, attending religious service, and going on pilgrimages. Influenced by the Islamic culture, the Salar people mainly celebrate the Corban Festival, the Almsgiving Festival and the Kaizhai Festival.


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