Origins of the Dungans – Chinese Muslims of the (Former) Russian Empire

Dungan-Girls
Image Source: Wikimedia

Most people outside of China know about the Hui people and the Uyghur people when it comes to Chinese Muslims. However in addition to 8 other ethnicites there are groups of Chinese Muslims that have migrated to other countries and thus over the course of time developed into new ethnic groups. One such more well known group are the Dungans who are the descendents of the Hui who migrated into Russian Empire in the 19th century. They came to Central Asia in multiple waves of migration. This is what Wikipedia has to say about these waves.

  • The first group, of some 1000 people, originally from Turpan in Xinjiang, led by Ma Daren (马大人, ‘the Great Man Ma’), also known as Ma Da-lao-ye (马大老爷, ‘The Great Master Ma’), reached Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan.
  • The second group, originally from Didaozhou (狄道州) in Gansu, led by ahong Ma Yusu (马郁素夫), also known as Ah Yelaoren (阿爷老人, ‘the Old Man Ah Ye’), were settled in the spring of 1878 in the village of Yrdyk (Russian: Ирдык or Ырдык) some 15 km from Karakol in Eastern Kyrgyzstan. They numbered 1130 on arrival.
  • The third group, originally from Shaanxi, led by Bai Yanhu (白彦虎; also spelt Bo Yanhu; often called by his followers “虎大人”, ‘The Great Man Hu’, 1829(?)-1882), one of the leaders of the rebellion, were settled in the village of Karakunuz (now Masanchi), in modern Zhambyl Province of Kazakhstan. It is located 8 km north from the city Tokmak in north-western Kyrgyzstan. This group numbered 3314 on arrival. Bai Yanhu’s name in other romanizations was Bo-yan-hu or Pai Yen-hu, other names included Boyan-akhun (Akhund or Imam Boyan) and Muhammad Ayyub

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