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The Salar ethnic minority

(People's Daily)

15:37, August 28, 2011

Population: 87,500

Major areas of distribution: Qinghai, Gansu and Xinjiang

Language: Salar

Religion: Islam


Photo: Chen Haiwen


Past Socio-economic Conditions

There have been different theories put forward on the origin of the Salars. The prevalent view held at the moment is that the ancestors of the Salars came from the region of Samarkand in Central Asia during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).

Xunhua County, which the largest group of the Salars live, is a mountainous area situated along the banks of the Yellow River in southeastern Qinghai Province. Although it has a mild climate and fertile land crisscrossed by canals, it is handicapped by insufficient rainfall. Before China¡¯s national liberation in 1949, farmers here did not have the capability of harnessing the Yellow River, and the county was often referred to as "arid Xunhua." The Salars are mainly farmers, going in for such crops as wheat, Tibetan barley, buckwheat and potatoes. As sideline occupations, they engage in stock breeding, lumbering, salt-producing and wool-weaving.

During the Yuan Dynasty, a Salar headman bearing the surname of Han was made hereditary chief of this ethnic minority. With the rise of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), he submitted to the new rulers and continued to hold his position. He had under him a basic bureaucracy which looked after such things as military affairs, punishments, revenue and provisions. Following the development of the economy and the expansion of the population, the region inhabited by the Salars was divided into two administrative areas, i.e. the "inner eight gongs" of Xunhua and the "outer five gongs" of Hualong, during the early period of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). A "gong" included a number of villages, equivalent to the later administrative unit of "xiang" (township).

New organizational setups were introduced during the following years of the Qian Dynasty to step up the control and exploitation of the Salars. During both the Ming and Qing periods Salar men were constantly subjected to conscription, which was an extremely heavy burden on the Salar people.

As the Salars were devout Muslims, the villages were dominated by the mosques and the Muslim clergy. Along with the development of the feudal economy, land became concentrated in the hands of the ruling minority -- the headman, community chiefs and imams.

Prior to the founding of the People¡¯s Republic of China in 1949, the landlord economy was dominant. Relying on their political power, and feudal and religious privileges, the Salar landlords maintained ownership over most of the land and farm animals, as well as water sources and oil mills. Most of the Salar farmers, on the other hand, were either landless or owned only a very insignificant portion of barren land. They were subjected to crippling land rents and usury, in addition to all kinds of heavy unpaid labor services including building houses, felling trees and doing transportation work for the landlords. As a result, at times there were large-scale exoduses of Salars from their villages, leaving the farmlands lying waste and production at a standstill.


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yURtNwaxDepxTbco at 2011-10-16189.80.33.*
Thanks alot - your answer solved all my problems after sereavl days struggling
  

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