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"The chief Taranchi mosque in Kuldja" (now Yining), from Henry Lansdell's 1885 book describing his visit there in 1882

Taranchi is a term denoting the Muslim sedentary population living in oases around the Tarim Basin in today's Xinjiang, whose native language is Turkic Karluk, and whose ancestral heritages include Iranian and Tocharian populations of Tarim and the later Turco-Mongol immigrants of the Qarluq, Yaghma, Chigils, and Mongol tribes.[citation needed]


The same name – which simply means 'a farmer' in Chagatai – can be extended to agrarian populations of the Ferghana Valley and oases of the entire Central Asian Turkestan. Although the Tarim Basin (with such oases as Kashgar, Kumul, Khotan and Turpan) is the agrarian Taranchis' traditional homeland, they have throughout the Ming and Qing periods of China, populated regions that are now Urumqi and Ili. Many Taranchis were encouraged to settle in the Ili valley alongside sedentary Xibe garrisons and the nomadic Kyrgyz by the Qing military governors after the conquest of the Dzungars by the Chinese. In the multiethnic Muslim culture of Xinjiang, the term Taranchi is considered contradistinctive to Sart, which denotes towns dwelling traders and craftsmen. It of course excluded the ruling classes of the oases Muslim states, often called Moghol/Mughal or Dolan because of the Doglat Mongol origin of the Chagatay-Timurid dynasties. However, from a modern perspective, Taranchi, Sart and Moghol Dolans cannot be considered three distinctive ethnic groups, but rather three different classes or castes in the same cultural-linguistic zone that was Chagatay-Timurid.

In the early 20th century, the geopolitical Great Game between Russia and Great Britain resulted in the division of Central Asia among modern nation-states. All oases farmers native to Xinjiang became part of Uyghur nationality by 1934. It is interesting to note that while most Sarts of oases or Ili Valley towns became part of the Uyghur nationality, those with particularly strong ties to regions west of Xinjiang became Uzbeks. Sometimes such divisions are very arbitrary, because Kashgaris can be as distinctive from Turpanliks as they are from Andijanliks.


After perpetrating wholesale massacres and completing the Zunghar Genocide on the native Dzungar Oirat Mongol (Zunghar) population after conquering the Zunghar Khanate, in 1759, the Qing finally consolidated their authority by settling Han Chinese, Hui, and Taranchi (Uyghur) emigrants the Dzungar (Zunghar) land in Dzungaria, together with a Manchu Qing garrison of Bannermen. The Han, Hui, and Taranchi (Uyghurs) worked as farmers on state farms in the region to supply the Manchu garrison with food. The Qing put the whole region under the rule of a General of Ili (Chinese: 伊犁将军, Yili Jiangjün), headquartered at the fort of Huiyuan (the so-called "Manchu Kuldja", or Yili), 30 km west of Ghulja (Yining).

Xinjiang at this time did not exist as one unit. It consisted of the two separate political entities of Dzungaria and the Tarim Basin (Eastern Turkestan).[1][2][3][4] Dzungharia or Ili was called Zhunbu 準部 (Dzungar region) Tianshan Beilu 天山北路 (Northern March), "Xinjiang" 新疆 (New Frontier),[5] or "Kalmykia" (La Kalmouquie in French).[6][7] It was formerly the area of the Zunghar Khanate 準噶爾汗國, the land of the Dzungar Oirat Mongols. The Tarim Basin was known as "Tianshan Nanlu 天山南路 (southern March), Huibu 回部 (Muslim region), Huijiang 回疆 (Muslim frontier), Chinese Turkestan, Kashgaria, Little Bukharia, East Turkestan", and the traditional Uyghur name for it was Altishahr (Uyghur: التى شهر‎, ULY: Altä-shähär).[8] It was formerly the area of the Eastern Chagatai Khanate 東察合台汗國, land of the Uyghur people before being conquered by the Dzungars.

Zunghar Genocide[edit]

Main article: Zunghar Genocide

The Dzungar (or Zunghar), Oirat Mongols who lived in an area that stretched from the west end of the Great Wall of China to present-day eastern Kazakhstan and from present-day northern Kyrgyzstan to southern Siberia (most of which is located in present-day Xinjiang), were the last nomadic empire to threaten China, which they did from the early 17th century through the middle of the 18th century.[9] After a series of inconclusive military conflicts that started in the 1680s, the Dzungars were subjugated by the Manchu-led Qing dynasty (1644–1911) in the late 1750s. Clarke argued that the Qing campaign in 1757–58 "amounted to the complete destruction of not only the Zunghar state but of the Zunghars as a people."[10] After the Qianlong Emperor led Qing forces to victory over the Zunghar Oirat (Western) Mongols in 1755, he originally was going to split the Zunghar Empire into four tribes headed by four Khans, the Khoit tribe was to have the Zunghar leader Amursana as its Khan. Amursana rejected the Qing arrangement and rebelled since he wanted to be leader of a united Zunghar nation. Qianlong then issued his orders for the genocide and eradication of the entire Zunghar nation and name, Qing Manchu Bannermen and Khalkha (Eastern) Mongols enslaved Zunghar women and children while slaying the other Zunghars.[11]

The Qianlong Emperor issued direct orders for his commanders to "massacre" the Zunghars and "show no mercy", rewards were given to those who carried out the extermination and orders were given for young men to be slaughtered while women were taken as spoils. The Qing extirpated Zunghar identity from the remaining enslaved Zunghar women and children.[12] Orders were given to "completely exterminate the Zunghar tribes, and this successful genocide by the Qing left Zungharia mostly unpopulated and vacant.[13] Qianlong ordered his men to- "Show no mercy at all to these rebels. Only the old and weak should be saved. Our previous campaigns were too lenient."[14] The Qianlong Emperor did not see any conflict between performing genocide on the Zunghars while upholding the peaceful principles of Confucianism, supporting his position by portraying the Zunghars as barbarian and subhuman. Qianlong proclaimed that "To sweep away barbarians is the way to bring stability to the interior.", that the Zunghars "turned their back on civilization.", and that "Heaven supported the emperor." in the destruction of the Zunghars.[15][16] According to the "Encyclopedia of genocide and crimes against humanity, Volume 3", per the United Nations Genocide Convention Article II, Qianlong's actions against the Zunghars constitute genocide, as he massacred the vast majority of the Zunghar population and enslaved or banished the remainder, and had "Zunghar culture" extirpated and destroyed.[17] Qianlong's campaign constituted the "eighteenth-century genocide par excellence."[18]

Qianlong emperor moved the remaining Zunghar people to China and ordered the generals to kill all the men in Barkol or Suzhou, and divided their wives and children to Qing soldiers.[19][20] In an account of the war, Qing scholar Wei Yuan, wrote that about 40% of the Zunghar households were killed by smallpox, 20% fled to Russia or the Kazakh Khanate, and 30% were killed by the army, leaving no yurts in an area of several thousands of li except those of the surrendered.[21][22][23][24] Clarke wrote 80%, or between 480,000 and 600,000 people, were killed between 1755 and 1758 in what "amounted to the complete destruction of not only the Zunghar state but of the Zunghars as a people."[21][25] 80% of the Zunghars died in the genocide.[26][27] The Zunghar genocide was completed by a combination of a smallpox epidemic and the direct slaughter of Zunghars by Qing forces made out of Manchu Bannermen and (Khalkha) Mongols.[28]

It was not until generations later that Dzungaria rebounded from the destruction and near liquidation of the Zunghars after the mass slayings of nearly a million Zunghars.[29] Historian Peter Perdue has shown that the decimation of the Dzungars was the result of an explicit policy of extermination launched by Qianlong,[21] Perdue attributed the decimation of the Dzungars to a "deliberate use of massacre" and has described it as an "ethnic genocide".[30] Although this "deliberate use of massacre" has been largely ignored by modern scholars,[21] Dr. Mark Levene, a historian whose recent research interests focus on genocide,[31] has stated that the extermination of the Dzungars was "arguably the eighteenth century genocide par excellence."[32] The Dzungar (Zunghar) genocide has been compared to the Qing extermination of the Jinchuan Tibetan people in 1776.[33]

The Qing identified their state as "China" (Zhongguo), and referred to it as "Dulimbai Gurun" in Manchu. The Qing equated the lands of the Qing state (including present day Manchuria, Dzungaria in Xinjiang, Mongolia, and other areas as "China") in both the Chinese and Manchu languages, defining China as a multi ethnic state. The Qianlong Emperor explicitly commemorated the Qing conquest of the Zunghars as having added new territory in Xinjiang to "China", defining China as a multi ethnic state, rejecting the idea that China only meant Han areas in "China proper", meaning that according to the Qing, both Han and non-Han peoples were part of "China", which included Xinjiang which the Qing conquered from the Zunghars.[34] After the Qing were done conquering Dzungaria in 1759, they proclaimed that the new land which formerly belonged to the Zunghars, was now absorbed into "China" (Dulimbai Gurun) in a Manchu language memorial.[35][36][37] The Qing expounded on their ideology that they were bringing together the "outer" non-Han Chinese like the Inner Mongols, Eastern Mongols, Oirat Mongols, and Tibetans together with the "inner" Han Chinese, into "one family" united in the Qing state, showing that the diverse subjects of the Qing were all part of one family, the Qing used the phrase "Zhong Wai Yi Jia" 中外一家 or "Nei Wai Yi Jia" 內外一家 ("interior and exterior as one family"), to convey this idea of "unification" of the different peoples.[38]

Consequences of the Genocide in Xinjiang's demographics[edit]

The Qing "final solution" of genocide to solve the problem of the Zunghar Mongols, made the Qing sponsored settlement of millions of Han Chinese, Hui, Turkestani Oasis people (Taranchi Uyghurs) and Manchu Bannermen in Dzungaria possible, since the land was now devoid of Zunghars.[21] The Dzungarian basin, which used to be inhabited by (Zunghar) Mongols, is currently inhabited by Kazakhs.[39]

Settlement of Dzungaria with Han and Uyghurs[edit]

After Qing dynasty defeated the Dzunghar Oirat Mongols and exterminated them from their native land of Dzungaria in the genocide, the Qing settled Han, Hui, Manchus, Xibe, and Taranchis (Uyghurs) from the Tarim Basin, into Dzungharia. Han Chinese criminals and political exiles were exiled to Dzhungaria, such as Lin Zexu. Chinese Hui Muslims and Salar Muslims belonging to banned Sufi orders like the Jahriyya were also exiled to Dzhungaria as well. In the aftermath of the crushing of the 1781 Jahriyya rebellion, Jahriyya adherents were exiled.

Taranchi was the name for Turki (Uyghur) agriculturalists who were resettled in Dzhungaria from the Tarim Basin oases ("East Turkestani cities") by the Qing dynasty, along with Manchus, Xibo, Han and other ethnic groups in the aftermath of the destruction of the Dzhunghars.[40][41][42][43][44][45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52][citation clutter] The Manchu garrisons were supplied and supported with grain cultivated by the Han soldiers and East Turkestani (Uyghurs) who were resettled in agricultural colonies in Zungharia.[8] The Manchu Qing policy of settling Chinese colonists and Taranchis from the Tarim Basin on the former Kalmucks (Dzungar) land was described as having the land "swarmed" with the settlers.[53][54] The amount of Uyghurs moved by the Qing from Altä-shähär (Tarim Basin) to depopulated Zunghar land in Ili numbered around 10,000 families.[55][56][57] The amount of Uyghurs moved by the Qing into Jungharia (Dzungaria) at this time has been described as "large".[58] The Qing settled in Dzungaria even more Turki-Taranchi (Uyghurs) numbering around 12,000 families originating from Kashgar in the aftermath of the Jahangir Khoja invasion in the 1820s.[59] Standard Uyghur is based on the Taranchi dialect, which was chosen by the Chinese government for this role.[60] Salar migrants from Amdo (Qinghai) came to settle the region as religious exiles, migrants, and as soldiers enlisted in the Chinese army to fight in Ili, offen following the Hui.[61]

After a revolt by the Xibe in Qiqihar in 1764, the Qianlong Emperor ordered an 800-man military escort to transfer 18,000 Xibe to the Ili valley of Dzungaria in Xinjiang.[62][63] In Ili, the Xinjiang Xibe built Buddhist monasteries and cultivated vegetables, tobacco, and poppies.[64] One punishment for Bannermen for their misdeeds involved them being exiled to Xinjiang.[65]

The Qing resorted to incentives like issuing a subsidy which was paid to Han who were willing to migrate to northwest to Xinjiang, in a 1776 edict.[66][67] There were very little Uyghurs in Urumqi during the Qing dynasty, Urumqi was mostly Han and Hui, and Han and Hui settlers were concentrated in Northern Xinjiang (Beilu aka Dzungaria). Around 155,000 Han and Hui lived in Xinjiang, mostly in Dzungaria around 1803, and around 320,000 Uyghurs, living mostly in Southern Xinjiang (the Tarim Basin), as Han and Hui were allowed to settle in Dzungaria but forbidden to settle in the Tarim, while the small amount of Uyghurs living in Dzungaria and Urumqi was insignificant.[68][69][70] Hans were around one third of Xinjiang's population at 1800, during the time of the Qing Dynasty.[71]

Professor of Chinese and Central Asian History at Georgetown University, James A. Millward wrote that foreigners often mistakenly think that Urumqi was originally a Uyghur city and that the Chinese destroyed its Uyghur character and culture, however, Urumqi was founded as a Chinese city by Han and Hui (Tungans), and it is the Uyghurs who are new to the city.[72][73]

Settlement of the Tarim Basin[edit]

Han and Hui merchants were initially only allowed to trade in the Tarim Basin, while Han and Hui settlement in the Tarim Basin was banned, until the Muhammad Yusuf Khoja invasion, in 1830 when the Qing rewarded the merchants for fighting off Khoja by allowing them to settle down.[74] Robert Michell noted that as of 1870, there were many Chinese of all occupations living in Dzungaria and they were well settled in the area, while in Turkestan (Tarim Basin) there were only a few Chinese merchants and soldiers in several garrisons among the Muslim population.[1][2]

The Taranchi revolted against the Qing dynasty during the Dungan revolt. At first, they cooperated with the Dungans, but turned on them, massacring the Dungans at Kuldja and driving the rest through Talk pass to the Ili valley.[75]

Many of the Turkic peoples of the Ili region of Xinjiang had close cultural, political, and economic ties with Russia and then the Soviet Union. Many of them were educated in the Soviet Union and a community of Russian settlers lived in the region. As a result, many of the Turkic rebels fled to the Soviet Union and obtained Soviet assistance in creating the Sinkiang Turkic People's Liberation Committee (STPNLC) in 1943 to revolt against Kuomintang rule during the Ili Rebellion.[76] The pro-Soviet Uyghur who later became leader of the revolt and the Second East Turkestan Republic, Ehmetjan Qasim, was Soviet educated and described as "Stalin's man".[77]


  1. ^ a b Michell 1870, p. 2.
  2. ^ a b Martin 1847, p. 21.
  3. ^ Fisher 1852, p. 554.
  4. ^ The Encyclopaedia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and General Literature, Volume 23 1852, p. 681.
  5. ^ Millward 1998, p. 21.
  6. ^ Mentelle, Edme; Brun, Malte 1804, p. 144.
  7. ^ Mentelle, Edme; Brun, Malte 1804, p. 160.
  8. ^ a b Millward 1998, p. 23.
  9. ^ Chapters 3–7 of Perdue 2005 describe the rise and fall of the Dzungar empire and its relations with other Mongol tribes, the Qing dynasty, and the Russian empire.
  10. ^ Clarke 2004, p. 37.
  11. ^ Millward 2007, p. 95.
  12. ^ Crowe 2014, p. 31.
  13. ^ Crowe 2014, p. 32.
  14. ^ Roberts 2011, p. 152.
  15. ^ Nan & Mampilly & Bartoli 2011, p. 219.
  16. ^ Nan & Mampilly & Bartoli 2011, p. 219.
  17. ^ Shelton 2005, p. 1183.
  18. ^ Westad 2012, p. .
  19. ^ 大清高宗純皇帝實錄, 乾隆二十四年
  20. ^ 平定準噶爾方略
  21. ^ a b c d e Perdue 2009, p. 285.
  22. ^ Perdue 2005, p. 285.
  23. ^ Wei Yuan, 聖武記 Military history of the Qing Dynasty, vol.4. “計數十萬戶中,先痘死者十之四,繼竄入俄羅斯哈薩克者十之二,卒殲於大兵者十之三。除婦孺充賞外,至今惟來降受屯之厄鲁特若干戶,編設佐領昂吉,此外數千里間,無瓦剌一氊帳。”
  24. ^ Lattimore 1950, p. 126.
  25. ^
  26. ^ Powers & Templeman 2012, p. 537.
  27. ^ Archived 11 February 2011 at WebCite
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  29. ^ Tyler 2004, p. 55.
  30. ^ Perdue 2005, pp. 283-285.
  31. ^ Dr. Mark Levene, Southampton University, see "Areas where I can offer Postgraduate Supervision". Retrieved 2009-02-09.
  32. ^ Moses 2008, p. 188
  33. ^ Theobald 2013, p. 21.
  34. ^ Zhao 2006, pp. 11,12, 13.
  35. ^ Dunnell 2004, p. 77.
  36. ^ Dunnell 2004, p. 83.
  37. ^ Elliott 2001, p. 503.
  38. ^ Dunnell 2004, pp. 76-77.
  39. ^ Tyler 2004, p. 4.
  40. ^ Millward 1998, p. 77.
  41. ^ Millward 1998, p. 79.
  42. ^ Perdue 2009, p. 351.
  43. ^ Perdue 2009, p. 352.
  44. ^ Perdue 2009, p. 339.
  45. ^ Millward 2007, p. 118.
  46. ^ Millward 2007, p. 93.
  47. ^ Pollard 2011, p. 188.
  48. ^ Walcott 2013, p. 57.
  49. ^ Journal of the North-China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Volume 10 1876, p. 218.
  50. ^ Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. North China Branch, Shanghai 1876, p. 218.
  51. ^ Bretschneider 1876, p. 144.
  52. ^ Linguistic Typology, Volume 2 1998, p. 202.
  53. ^ Prakash 1963, p. 219.
  54. ^ Islamic Culture, Volumes 27-29 1971, p. 229.
  55. ^ Rudelson 1997, p. 29.
  56. ^ Rudelson 1997, p. 29.
  57. ^ Rudelson 1992, p. 87.
  58. ^ Juntunen 2013, p. 128.
  59. ^ Tyler 2004, p. 67.
  60. ^ Rudelson 1997, p. 162.
  61. ^ Dwyer 2007, p. 79.
  62. ^ Gorelova, Liliya. "Past and Present of a Manchu Tribe: The Sibe". In Atabaki, Touraj; O'Kane, John. Post-Soviet Central Asia. Tauris Academic Studies. pp. 325–327. 
  63. ^ Gorelova 2002, p. 37.
  64. ^ Gorelova 2002, p. 37.
  65. ^ Gorelova 2002, p. 37.
  66. ^ Debata 2007, p. 59.
  67. ^ Benson 1998, p. 21.
  68. ^ Millward 2007, p. 306.
  69. ^ Parker 2010, p. 140.
  70. ^ Millward 1998, p. 51.
  71. ^ Bovingdon 2010, p. 197
  72. ^ Millward 1998, p. 133.
  73. ^ Millward 1998, p. 134.
  74. ^ Millward 2007, p. 113.
  75. ^ Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons (1871). Accounts and papers of the House of Commons. Ordered to be printed. p. 35. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  76. ^ Forbes 1986, pp.172-173.
  77. ^ Forbes 1986, p. 174

 This article incorporates text from Accounts and papers of the House of Commons, a publication from 1871 now in the public domain in the United States.