Tujia people

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Tujia girl apparel-1.jpg
Tujia girl in traditional dress
Total population
approx. 8 million
Regions with significant populations
Place - Tujia.gif
(Hunan · Hubei · Guizhou · Chongqing)
Mandarin Chinese
Tujia language (traditional)
Predominantly Nuo folk religion

The Tujia (Northern Tujia: Bifjixkhar/Bifzixkar, IPA: /bi˧˥ dʑi˥ kʰa˨˩/ /pi˧˥ tsi˥ kʰa˨˩/; Southern Tujia: Mongrzzir /mõ˨˩ dzi˨˩/; Chinese: 土家族; pinyin: Tǔjiāzú), with a total population of over 8 million, is the eighth-largest ethnic minority in the People's Republic of China. They live in the Wuling Mountains, straddling the common borders of Hunan, Hubei and Guizhou Provinces, and Chongqing Municipality.

The endonym Bizika means "native dwellers". In Chinese, Tujia means also "local", as distinguished from the Hakka (客家; Kèjiā) whose name implies wandering.[1]


Although there are different accounts of their origins, the Tujia may trace their history back over twelve centuries, and possibly beyond, to the ancient Ba people who occupied the area around modern-day Chongqing some 2,500 years ago. The Ba Kingdom reached the zenith of its power between 600 BC and 400 BC but was destroyed by the Qin in 316 BC. After being referred to by a long succession of different names in ancient documents, they appear in historical records as the Tujia from about 14th century onwards.

Ming and Qing Dynasties[edit]

The Tujia tusi chieftains reached the zenith of their power under the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), when they were accorded comparatively high status by the imperial court. They achieved this through their reputation as providers of fierce, highly disciplined fighting men, who were employed by the emperor to suppress revolts by other minorities. On numerous occasions, they helped defend China against outside invaders, such as the wokou ("Japanese" pirates) who ravaged the coast during the 16th century.

The Manchus invaded and conquered the Ming in 1644 and established the Great Qing Empire, known in China as the Qing Dynasty. Ever suspicious of local rulers, the Qing emperors always tried to replace Han officials with Manchu officials wherever they could. In the early 18th century, the Qing court finally felt secure enough to establish direct control over minority areas as well. This process, known as gaituguiliu (literally 'replace the local [ruler], return to mainstream [central rule]'), was carried out throughout south-west China gradually and, in general, peacefully. The court adopted a carrot-and-stick approach of lavish pensions for compliant chieftains, coupled with a huge show of military force on the borders of their territories.

Most of the Tujia areas returned to central control during the period 1728-1735. Whilst the Tujia peasantry probably preferred the measured rule of Qing officials to the arbitrary despotism of the Tujia chieftains whom they had replaced, many resented the attempts of the Qing court to impose national culture and customs on them. With the weakening of central Qing rule, numerous large-scale uprisings occurred culminating in the Taiping Rebellion which affected the area badly.

Recent history[edit]

Tujia village in current-day Yichang
Tujia brocade

Following the collapse of the Qing, the Tujia found themselves caught between various competing warlords. More and more land was given over to the cultivation of high-earning opium at the insistence of wealthy landlords, and banditry was rife. After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Tujia areas came under Communist control and banditry was rapidly eradicated. The Great Leap Forward led to mass famine in Tujia communities.

The Tujia were officially recognised as one of the 55 ethnic minorities in January 1957, and a number of autonomous prefectures and counties were subsequently established.

State Councillor Dai Bingguo, one of China's top officials on foreign policy, is the most prominent Tujia in the Chinese government.


Today, traditional Tujia customs can only be found in the most remote areas.

The Tujia are renowned for their singing and song composing abilities and for their tradition of the Baishou Dance (摆手舞), a 500-year-old collective dance which uses 70 ritual gestures to represent war, farming, hunting, courtship and other aspects of traditional life. They are also famous for their richly patterned brocade, known as xilankapu, a product that in earlier days regularly figured in their tribute payments to the Chinese court. For their spring festival they prepare handmade glutinous rice cakes called ciba cake. They gather round the fire to sing folk songs and eat grilled ciba.[2]

Regarding religion, most of the Tujia worship a white tiger totem, although some Tujia in western Hunan worship a turtle totem.


Tujia is a Sino-Tibetan language and is usually considered an isolate within this group, although it has grammatical and phonological similarities with Nuosu (though its vocabulary is very different).[3]

Today there are at most 70,000 native speakers of the Tujia language, most of whom live in the northern parts Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture in north-western Hunan Province.

The vast majority of the Tujia use varieties of Chinese, mainly Southwestern Mandarin; a few speak Hmongic languages. Few monolingual Tujia speakers remain; nearly all are bilingual in some dialect of Chinese. Children now learn Chinese from childhood and many young Tujia prefer to use Chinese when communicating among themselves. Among fluent Tujia speakers, Chinese borrowings, and even sentence structures, are more common.


By province[edit]

Furong, an ancient town located in Yongshun County of Xiangxi, Hunan

The Fifth National Population Census of 2000 recorded 8,028,133 Tujia in China.

Provincial Distribution of the Tujia
Province Tujia Population % of Total
Hunan 2.639.534 32.88%
Hubei 2.177.409 27.12%
Guizhou 1.430.286 17.82%
Chongqing 1.424.352 17.74%
Guangdong 135.431 1.69%
Zhejiang 55.310 0.69%
Sichuan 41.246 0.51%
Fujian 29.046 0.36%
Other 95.519 1.19%

In Chongqing, Tujia make up 4.67% of the total population; in Hunan, 4.17%; in Guizhou, 4.06%; in Hubei, 3.66%; and in Guangdong, 0.16%.

By county[edit]

County-level distribution of the Tujia

(Only includes counties or county-equivalents containing >0.5% of China's Tujia population.)

Province Prefecture County Tujia Population % of China's Tujia Population
Chongqing Same Youyang 462,444 5.76%
Hunan Zhangjiajie Cili 399,906 4.98%
Hubei Enshi Lichuan 388,035 4.83%
Hunan Changde Shimen 387,480 4.83%
Guizhou Tongren Yanhe Tujia Autonomous County 383,499 4.78%
Chongqing same Shizhu 348,790 4.34%
Hunan Xiangxi Yongshun 342,570 4.27%
Hunan Zhangjiajie Yongding 319,330 3.98%
Guizhou Tongren Dejiang 300,432 3.74%
Hubei Enshi Xianfeng 276,394 3.44%
Hubei Enshi Enshi 270,753 3.37%
Chongqing same Qianjiang 261,327 3.26%
Hunan Zhangjiajie Sangzhi 260,092 3.24%
Hunan Xiangxi Longshan 251,007 3.13%
Guizhou Tongren Yinjiang 233,802 2.91%
Hubei Enshi Badong 212,424 2.65%
Hubei Yichang Changyang 211,129 2.63%
Chongqing same Xiushan 197,570 2.46%
Hubei Yichang Wufeng 174,546 2.17%
Hubei Enshi Jianshi 173,984 2.17%
Guizhou Tongren Sinan 160,089 1.99%
Hunan Xiangxi Baojing 148,291 1.85%
Hubei Enshi Hefeng 142,805 1.78%
Hubei Enshi Xuan'en 140,837 1.75%
Hunan Xiangxi Jishou 103,242 1.29%
Hunan Huaihua Yuanling 102,636 1.28%
Hubei Enshi Laifeng 93,471 1.16%
Guizhou Tongren Jiangkou 77,791 0.97%
Chongqing same Pengshui 74,591 0.93%
Guizhou Tongren Tongren 70,286 0.88%
Hunan Xiangxi Fenghuang 64,727 0.81%
Hunan Xiangxi Guzhang 47,162 0.59%
Guizhou Zunyi Wuchuan 46,253 0.58%
Hunan Huaihua Xupu 45,900 0.57%
Hunan Zhangjiajie Wulingyuan 41,910 0.52%
Hunan Xiangxi Luxi 40,643 0.51%
Other 771,985 9.62%


By province[edit]

By county[edit]

Tujia Profile regions with significant populations in Qingjiang Gallery
County-level distribution of the Tujia

(Only includes counties or county-equivalents containing >1% of county population.)

By county/city Tujia % Tujia Total
Longwan district, Wenzhou 1.24 2,541 204,935
Hubei province 3.66 2,177,409 59,508,870
Yichang city 10.26 425,548 4,149,308
Xiling district 2.08 8,876 427,299
Wujiagang district 1.67 3,068 184,000
Dianjun district 2.20 1,069 48,612
Xiaoting district 1.56 824 52,827
Changyang Tujia autonomous county 50.66 211,129 416,782
Wufeng Tujia autonomous county 84.77 174,546 205,897
Yidu city 3.47 13,383 385,779
Songzi city 1.08 9,301 859,941
Enshi Tujia Miao autonomous prefecture 45.00 1,698,703 3,775,190
Enshi city 35.83 270,753 755,725
Lichuan city 49.31 388,035 786,984
Jianshi county 34.08 173,984 510,555
Badong county 43.77 212,424 485,338
Xuan'en county 41.92 140,837 335,984
Xianfeng county 75.99 276,394 363,710
Laifeng county 29.51 93,471 316,707
Hefeng county 64.86 142,805 220,187
Shennongjia district 6.08 4,758 78,242
Hunan province 4.17 2,639,534 63,274,173
Changde city 7.07 405,745 5,740,875
Wuling district 1.08 5,508 509,940
Shimen county 57.54 387,480 673,435
Zhangjiajie city 68.40 1,021,238 1,493,115
Yongding district 78.66 319,330 405,968
Wulingyuan district 87.76 41,910 47,755
Cili county 62.81 399,906 636,659
Sangzhi county 64.58 260,092 402,733
Huaihua city 3.49 162,105 4,639,738
Hecheng district 1.50 5,200 346,522
Yuanling county 17.12 102,636 599,680
Xupu county 5.74 45,900 798,983
Zhijiang Dong autonomous county 1.63 5,438 334,229
Xiangxi Tujia Miao autonomous prefecture 41.12 1,012,997 2,463,617
Jishou city 35.08 103,242 294,297
Luxi county 15.82 40,643 256,869
Fenghuang county 18,82 64,727 343,878
Huahuan county 6.05 15,355 253,750
Baojing county 57.03 148,291 260,034
Guzhang county 39.56 47,162 119,202
Yongshun county 76.94 342,570 445,224
Longshan county 51.19 251,007 490,363
Sanshui city 1.41 6,201 440,119
Chongqing municipality 4.67 1,424,352 30,512,763
Districts under the municipality 3.00 291,073 9,691,901
Wanzhou district 1.12 18,390 1,648,870
Qianjiang district 59.07 261,327 442,385
Counties under the municipality 6.88 1,132,068 16,460,869
Fengdu county 1.43 11,054 774,054
Zhong county 1,36 12,985 954,075
Fengjie county 1.38 12,021 871,743
Shizhu Tujia autonomous county 71.93 348,790 484,876
Xiushan Tujia Miao autonomous county 38.93 197,570 507,522
Youyang Tujia Miao autonomous county 77.81 462,444 594,287
Pengshui Miao Tujia autonomous county 12.64 74,591 590,228
Xuanhan county 2.95 30,891 1,047,230
Guizhou province 4.06 1,430,286 35,247,695
Nanming district 1.58 10,896 687,804
Yunyan district 1.21 8,447 698,988
Baiyun district 1.24 2,319 187,695
Zunyi city 1.54 100,454 6,543,860
Daozhen Gelao Miao autonomous county 6.07 17,404 286,715
Wuchuan Gelao Miao autonomous county 11.98 46,253 386,164
Fenggang county 6.48 24,005 370,253
Yuqing county 1.63 4,128 252,965
Tongren city 37.81 1,248,696 3,302,625
Tongren city (Bijiang) 22.78 70,286 308,583
Jiangkou county 41.10 77,791 189,288
Yuping Dong autonomous county 1.29 1,628 126,462
Shiqian county 1.62 5,425 334,508
Sinan county 29.46 160,089 543,389
Yinjiang Tujia Miao autonomous county 69.74 233,802 335,263
Dejiang county 77.30 300,432 388,639
Yanhe Tujia autonomous county 80.85 383,499 474,331
Songtao Miao autonomous county 2.59 14,190 547,488
Wanshante district 2.84 1,554 54,674
Qiandongnan Miao Dong autonomous prefecture 1.03 39,512 3,844,697
Zhenyuan county 5.04 11,227 222,766
Cengong county 10.40 19,524 187,734

Autonomous Areas Designated for Tujia[edit]

Tujia autonomous prefectures and counties in China.
Province-level Division Name
Hunan Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture
Hubei Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture
Changyang Tujia Autonomous County
Wufeng Tujia Autonomous County
Chongqing Shizhu Tujia Autonomous County
Pengshui Miao and Tujia Autonomous County
Xiushan Tujia and Miao Autonomous County
Youyang Tujia and Miao Autonomous County
Qianjiang District (former Qianjiang Tujia and Miao Autonomous County)
Guizhou Yanhe Tujia Autonomous County
Yinjiang Tujia and Miao Autonomous County

Famous Tujia[edit]


  1. ^ 土家族族源 [Origins of the Tujia]. Xinhua.
  2. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-eObWLjzLs
  3. ^ Brief Introduction to the Tujia Language


  • Brown, M.J. (2001). "Ethnic Classification and Culture: The Case of the Tujia in Hubei, China," Asian Ethnicity 2(1): 55-72.
  • Brown, M.J. (2004). "They Came with Their Hands Tied behind Their Backs" - Forced Migrations, Identity Changes, and State Classification in Hubei. Is Taiwan Chinese? (pp. 166–210). Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Brown, M.J. (2007). "Ethnic Identity, Cultural Variation, and Processes of Change - Rethinking the Insights of Standardization and Orthopraxy". Modern China. 33(1): 91-124. Sage Publications.
  • ---- 2002. "Local Government Agency: Manipulating Tujia Identity," Modern China.
  • Ch'en, J. (1992). The Highlanders of Central China: A History 1895-1937. New York: M.E. Sharpe.
  • Dong, L. (1999). Ba feng Tu yun—Tujia wenhua yuanliu jiexi (Ba Manners, Tu Charm—An Analysis of the Origins of Tujia Culture). Wuhan: Wuhan Daxue Chubanshe.
  • Dong, L., Brown, M.J., Wu, X. (2002). Tujia. Encyclopedia of World Cultures - Supplement. C. Ember, M. Ember & I. Skoggard (eds.), NY: Macmillan Reference USA, pp. 351–354.
  • Huang B. (1999). "Tujiazu Zuyuan Yanjiu Zonglun" ("A Review of Research on Tujia Ancestral Origins"). In Tujia zu lizhi wenhua lunji (A Colloquium on Tujia History and Culture), edited by Huang Baiquan and Tian Wanzheng. 25-42. Enshi, Hubei: Hubei Minzu Xueyuan.
  • Li, S. (1993). Chuandong Youshui Tujia (Tujia of the Youshui River in East Sichuan). Chengdu: Chengdu Chubanshe.
  • Peng, B., Peng, X. et al. (1981). Jishou University Journal, Humanities Edition #2: Special Issue on Tujia Ethnography [in Chinese]. Jishou: Jishou University.
  • Shih C. (2001). "Ethnicity as Policy Expedience: Clan Confucianism in Ethnic Tujia-Miao Yongshun," Asian Ethnicity 2(1): 73-88.
  • Sutton, D. (2000). "Myth Making on an Ethnic Frontier: The Cult of the Heavenly Kings of West Hunan, 1715-1996," Modern China 26(4): 448-500.
  • Sutton, D. (2003). "Violence and Ethnicity on a Qing Colonial Frontier: Customary and Statutory Law in the Eighteenth-Century Miao Pale". In: Modern Asian Studies 37(1): 41–80. Cambridge University Press.
  • Sutton, D. (2007). "Ritual, Cultural Standardization, and Orthopraxy in China: Reconsidering James L. Watson’s Ideas". In: Modern China 33(1): 3-21. Sage Publications.
  • Tien, D., He, T., Chen, K., Li, J., Xie, Z., Peng, X. (1986). Tujiayu Jianzhi (A Brief Chronicle of the Tujia Language). Beijing: Minzu Chubanshe.
  • Wu, X. (1996). "Changes of chieftains' external policy in the Three Gorges Area in the late Ming and early Qing dynasties [1630s-1660s]". In: Ethnic Forum, (3): 88-92. (Hunan, China)
  • Wu, X. (1997). "Tujia's food-getting pattern in west Hubei in the Qing Dynasty". In: Journal of Hubei Institute for Nationalities, (2): 33-35. (Hubei, China)
  • Wu, X. (1997). "On the Tage Dance". In: Journal of Chinese Classics and Culture, (2): 22-29. (Beijing, China)
  • Wu, X. (2003). "Food, Ethnoecology and Identity in Enshi Prefecture, Hubei, China". (Doctoral Dissertation, University of Alberta, 388 pages).
  • Wu, X. (2003). "Turning Waste into Things of Value": Marketing Fern, Kudzu and Osmunda in Enshi Prefecture, China. In: Journal of Developing Societies, 19(4): 433-457.
  • Wu, X. (2004). "Ethnic Foods" and Regional Identity: the Hezha Restaurants in Enshi. In: Food and Foodways, 12(4): 225-246.
  • Wu, X. (2005). "The New Year's Eve Dinner and Wormwood Meal: Festival Foodways as Ethnic Markers in Enshi". In: Modern China, 31(3): 353-380.
  • Wu, X. (2006). "Maize, Ecosystem Transition and Ethnicity in Enshi Prefecture, China". In: East Asian History, 31(1): 1-22.
  • Wu, X. (2010). "Tujia National Minority". Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion.
  • Ye, D. (1995). Tujiayu yanjiu (Studies of the Tujia Language). Jishou, Hunan: Hunan Chu Wenhua Zhongxin, Jishou Daxue.

External links[edit]