Tajiks of Xinjiang
|41,028 (China) 1,000~2,000 (Tajikistan, Sarikoli)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County|
|Related ethnic groups|
Tajiks (Sariquli Tajik: [tudʒik], Tujik; Chinese: 塔吉克族; pinyin: Tǎjíkè Zú), are an ethnic group that lives in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China. They are one of the 56 nationalities officially recognized by the government of China.
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During the Tang dynasty, the members of the ethnic group were referred to as "Cina-deva-gotra" (from Sanskrit; Chinese transcription: 至那提婆瞿呾羅, 支那提婆瞿怛羅, or 脂那提婆瞿怛羅). The name literally means "descendant of Han and the sun-god" (漢日天种 or 日漢天种).
The name originates from a story about the Persian (波利剌斯) emperor seeking a Chinese princess' hand in marriage, followed by the bride-to-be's unexpected pregnancy in a mountainous and bandit-infested area en route to Persia.
The Tajiks of Xinjiang practiced slavery, selling some of their own as a punishment. Submissive slaves were given wives and settled with the Tajiks. They were considered property and could be sold anytime. Their slaves came from numerous sources, enslaving Sunni captives such as Kirghiz in retaliation for Kirghiz slave raids, or from Kunjud, Gilgit, Chitral. The Tajiks also sold some slaves to Bukhara. The Sunnis called them Rafidites and did not consider them Muslim.
Most foreign slaves in Xinjiang were Shia Mountain Tajiks, they were referred to by Sunni Turkic Muslims as Ghalcha.
In the 1940s around 9,000 Tajiks lived in Xinjiang.
During the Ili Rebellion, Uyghur forces butchered the livestock of the Tajiks as they advanced south. The Soviet backed insurgents destroyed Tajik crops and acted aggressively against the Tajiks and Kirghiz of China.
The population of Tajiks in China numbers 41,028 (2000). They are located in China's western Xinjiang region with 60% living in Tashkurgan Tajik Autonomous County. Despite the name "Tajik" that is used to refer to them, the Tajiks of China do not speak the Tajik language. Early 20th-century travelers to the region referred to them as Sarikoli, "Mountain Tajiks," or Ghalcha.
In China, the languages of the Tajik people have no official written form. The great majority speak the Sarikoli language, which has been heavily influenced by Uyghur, Chinese, and Wakhi. A small proportion speak Wakhi. Sarikoli and Wakhi belong to the Pamir language group of the Eastern Iranian language group.
The Tajiks in China are adherents of the Nizari Ismaili sect of Shia Islam, and are isolated from the rest of the worldwide Ismaili community. The Chinese authorities allow only one Ismaili mosque to function in Xinjiang's Tajik Autonomous District, whose imam was appointed by the Chinese secular authorities. Children under 18 are not allowed to attend that Mosque. Restrictions by the Chinese government bars foreign Ismaili preachers from openly working among the Tajiks in China and the religious leader of the of Nizari Ismaili sect, The Aga Khan, is barred from providing aid to the China's Ismailis.
From 2-4 April 2012, His Highness the Aga Khan, paid an official visit to Ürümqi, China, at the invitation of the Governor of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Mr Nur Bekri, to discuss collaboration between the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and the Government of Xinjiang. His Highness and Governor Bekri held constructive talks in the meeting and agreed to collaborate in several thematic areas of mutual interest, including poverty alleviation, education, tourism investment, and financial services.
The Aga Khan last visited China in 1981.
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