Introducing the Baoan

 

The Baoan are one of the minorities of China with smaller population. They were only 9.000 people in 1982, reaching 16.500 in 2000.

They are also known as Bonan.

Most of them live in the northwest of China, in Gansu Province, Lingxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture. In Jishishan Autonomous District of the Baoan, Dongxiang and Salar. There is a small number of Baoan living in Qinghai province, Tongren County.

They call themselves Baoan, but given their Muslim religion, they have sometimes been denominated "Baoan Hui" or "Huihui". (Hui it is a term applied in China to the Muslims). It is thought that they received that name because about 150 years ago they inhabited the proximities of the city of Baoan, in Qinghai Province.

Their main activity is the agriculture, although their lands are very poor and provide them low yields. They are also cattle raisers, generally in family size exploitations, and have a forestry little developed.

Inside their crafts, generally limited to the self supply, their swords have certain fame in the near regions.

They have their own language, although all the Baoan are bilingual with Chinese, whose writing they use. Their language belongs to the Altaic family, Mongolian branch. It is related to that of the Dongxiang and the Tu.

The origin of the Baoan is not known. It is thought that they come from the border area between Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai, being the result of the merger of the local populations with Mongolian and Tibetan immigrants. In the Yuan dynasty they adopted the Muslim religion, who makes them different from its neighbors.

It is believed that during the Qing dynasty, they participated in some of the big rebellions taken place in the area. After their defeat, the survivors moved to their current home.

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