Äynu people

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For the ethnic group of Japan and the Russian Far East, see Ainu people.

The Äynu (also Ainu, Abdal, and Aini) are a people native to the Xinjiang region of western China. There are estimated to be fewer than 30,000 Äynu, mostly located on the fringe of the Taklamakan Desert.[1]


The origins of the Äynu people are disputed. Some historians theorize that the ancestors of the Äynu were a nomadic people who came from Persia several hundred years ago,[2] while others conclude that the Persian vocabulary of the Äynu language is a result of Persian being once the major trade language of the region, or Persian traders intermarrying with local women.[3]


Main article: Äynu language

Uyghur is spoken at home and in public, by Äynu men and women alike. Äynu men also speak Äynu, a Turkic language with mainly Persian vocabulary.[1]


The Äynu people engage mostly in agriculture, although in the past some were peddlers, circumcisers, or beggars.[1]

There is a tradition of discrimination against the Äynu by their neighbors, who identify the Äynu as Abdal, a name which carries a derogatory meaning.[1] Intermarriage with their neighbors the Uyghur people is uncommon.[4] However, the Chinese government counts the Äynu people as Uyghur.[4]

The predominant religion is Shi'a Islam.


  1. ^ a b c d Johanson, Lars (2001). "Discoveries on the Turkic Linguistic Map" 5. Stockholm: Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul. pp. 21–22. 
  2. ^ Safran, William (1998). Nationalism and Ethnoregional Identities in China. Routledge. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-7146-4921-4. 
  3. ^ Matras, Yaron; Bakker, Peter (2003). The Mixed Language Debate: Theoretical and Empirical Advances. Walter de Gruyter. p. 9. ISBN 3-11-017776-5. 
  4. ^ a b Gordon, Raymond G., Jr., ed. (2005). Ethnologue: Languages of the World (15th ed.). Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. 

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