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The Kazak ethnic minority

(People's Daily)

11:07, August 08, 2011

Population: 1.11 million

Major areas of distribution: Xinjiang, Gansu and Qinghai

Language: Kazak

Religion: Islam


Photo: Chen Haiwen

The Kazak ethnic minority, with a population of over a million, mainly lives in the Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture, Mori Kazak Autonomous County and Barkol Kazak Autonomous County in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Some are also located in the Haixi Mongolian, Tibetan and Kazak Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province and the Aksay Kazak Autonomous County in Gansu Province.

The Kazak language belongs to the Turkic branch of the Altaic language family. As the Kazaks live in mixed communities with the Hans, Uygurs and Mongolians, the Kazaks have assimilated many words from these languages. They had a written language based on the Arabic alphabet, which is still in use, but a new Latinized written form was evolved after the founding of the People's Republic of China.

Ethnic Identity

Except for a few settled farmers, most of the Kazaks live by animal husbandry. They migrate to look for pasturage as the seasons change. In spring, summer and autumn, they live in collapsible round yurts and in winter build flat-roofed earthen huts in the pastures. In the yurt, living and storage spaces are separated. The yurt door usually opens to the east, the two flanks are for sleeping berths and the center is for storing goods and saddles; in front are placed cushions for visitors. Riding and hunting gear, cooking utensils, provisions and baby animals are kept on both sides of the door.

The pastoral Kazaks live off their animals. They produce a great variety of dairy products. For instance, Nai Ge Da (milk dough) Nai Pi Zi (milk skin) and cheese. Butter is made from cow's and sheep's milk. They usually eat mutton stewed in water without salt ¨C a kind of meat eaten with the hands. By custom, they slaughter animals in late autumn and cure the meat by smoking it for the winter. In spring and summer, when the animals are putting on weight and producing lots of milk, the Kazak herdsmen put fresh horse milk in shaba (barrels made of horse hide) and mix it regularly until it ferments into the cloudy, sour horse milk wine, a favorite summer beverage for the local people. The richer herdsmen drink tea boiled with cow's or camel's milk, salt and butter. Rice and wheat flour confections also come in a great variety: Nang (baked cake), rice cooked with minced mutton and eaten with the hands, dough fried in sheep's fat, and flour sheets cooked with mutton. Their diet contains few vegetables.
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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:黄蓓蓓)

Leave your comment2 comments

  1. Name

sxXtQdATyzQ at 2011-10-04218.240.39.*
Yup, that sohuld defo do the trick!
TfyTTdxAmmSvBZ at 2011-10-0495.9.157.*
Hallelujah! I nedeed this—you're my savior.
  

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