Dongxiang

Dongxiang people refer to themselves as Sarta. They were once part of “Hui Hui,” however,   they spoke a different language and lived in the Eastern countryside of Linxia city in a region called Dongxiang (lit. Eastern countryside). Hence, after the founding of The People’s Republic of China, they are called Dongxiang Zu (Dongxiang ethnic group). There has been a controversy about the origin of the Dongxiang people. According to the traditions of the Dongxiang people, they are descendents of artisans in Mongol troops brought by Genghis Khan (1162-1227) in his expedition Westward and were posted in the He Zhou region to manufacture military supplies, as names of their villages would reflect.  After the war, they settled in their current territory, known today as Dongxiang. The Dongxiang people speak a language that is a mixture of Mongol and Central Asian languages. However, presently, they are more influenced by the Chinese language. The language of Dongxiang does not have a writing system; traditionally Arabic characters were used to pronounce Dongxiang words. The Dongxiang people live in the Linxia Hui Autonomous District and the surrounding areas of Gansu. A large number are found in Xinjiang and some in Qinghai province. The total number of Dongxiang exceeds 600,000, (513,805 in the census of 2000).