Ethnic Minority Groups of Qinghai Province (青海) :
Among things due to its geographic position along main crossroads of Civilizations the Province of Qinghai is home to a variety of ethnic groups. Some derive their history from the Central Asian Steppes and the wars and great human treks along the ancient Silk Road, others find their origins upon the Tibetan Plateaux of which Qinghai Province is but a lesser part. All minority groups present have all been living in Qinghai for many generations.

According to the official Chinese Government Census Qinghai Province is currently home to 55 ethnic groups, which means that all but two of the 57 Ethnic groups in China are supposedly represented.  This is however practically untrue and somewhat confusing or misleading.
Today Ethic minorities make up more than 2.38 million, or 45.5 percent of the total population of Qinghai Province. Of them the far majority are Tibetan, Hui, Tu, Salar and Mongolian. The Tibetan People account for 21.89 percent of the province’s population, the Islamic Hui 15.89 percent, Tu 3.85 percent, Salar 1.85 percent, and Mongolian 1.71 percent.  The remainder are Han immigrants of whom more and more are entering Qinghai Province.
Next to the above Main Ethnic Groups in Qinghai Province there are a number of other smaller minority groups in the Province, all with their own distinct cultures, dress, festivals and religious beliefs. These smaller groups are the Mongolians ,the Yugur, the Salar (Sala) and the Tu People.

Among tourist and experienced foreign travelers Qinghai is mainly known for its Tibetan Population as it is roughly encompasses the Eastern Half of (former) Tibet. The second large Ethnic Group in Qinghai are the Hui (or Hui Hui), who are Muslims of mixed blood and who can be found in most of the counties and cities throughout the country. They are however especially found in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region - Their main ethnic enclave, area's of mainly south and south-western and central Gansu Province, in Qinghai Province, and further in Henan, Hebei, Shandong and Yunnan Provinces as well as Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region.
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A Full and complete Map of China (PRC) identifying all Language Areas big and small in all Provinces and Autonomous Regions of China.
Map includes Turkic Languages (Uygur, Kazakh, Kirghiz, Salar & Uzbek), Mongolian Language and Sub-Divisions (Mongol, Tu, Daur and Dongxian), Tungusic Peoples (Oroqen, Evenki and Xibe) and Languages, Korean, Tajik (Tadzhik), Mon-Khmer (Kawa + Puman (or Pulang)), Hui, Uygur (Uighur), Tibeto-Bhurman Languages, Tai and Miao, Yao and She' Language Area's and Borders. Main Area's and sub-divisions of Han Languages (Northern Mandarin, Eastern Mandarin, South-Western Mandarin and Cantonese) further included. This color-coded ethno-linguistic Map (of 1967 AD) identifies at a glance most ethnic minority regions in China
Among the ethnic groups near uniquely found in Qinghai Province are the Salar ethnicity. This small but distinct Islamic ethnic group mainly reside inside the Xunhua Salar Autonomous County in the extreme East of Qinghai Province. Other Salar reside  in their communities in Hualong Autonomous County of the Hui Nationality within Qinghai Province, and nearby in bordering Gansu Province in Jishishan Autonomous County. Last there are Salar Communities in the extreme far west of China in Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region inside the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture.
According to the Year 2000 National Census there were 104.500 Salar in China of whom most in Xunhua County.
Another unique group in Qinghai are the Yugur of whom only a small number remain in the Peoples Republic of China. Currently there are only 3000, a few of which live in ethnic enclaves near the Town of Yushu in South-Eastern Qinghai Province.
The main Festival of the Yugur is the yearly horse racing event which is held near Yushu (stricken by an earthquake April 14Th 2010) and draws Yugur's and others from far away. Despite its remoteness the Yugur Festival is increasingly drawing outside visitors (See Below).

An important Community of Ethic Mongolians in West of China is Haixi Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province.

Members of the Kazakh Ethnicity in Qinghai Province mainly reside in Central North-West Qinghai Province near Golmud and along the Northern Rim of the Tibetan Plateaux. They derive their ancestry from the Silk Road history and contacts with Central Asia, originated in Kazakhstan and today are left concentrated in the Haixi Mongolian, Tibetan and Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture near Golmud and the Aksay Kazakh Autonomous County which lies just across the Provincial Border south of Dunhuang in Gansu Province.

Among China's dozens of minorities, few get along as badly as Tibetans and Muslims. Over the last five years, there have been dozens of clashes between Tibetans and Muslims in Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces, as well as in the Tibet Autonomous Region. Most of the incidents go unreported. The state-controlled news media are not eager to publicize anything that is in clear contradiction with the Communist Party continuing claims that minorities live "happily together" in a "harmonious society."

The animosity between Tibetans and Hui Muslim in Qinghai specifically, dates to at least the 1930s and the Warlord Era. At the Time Qinghai and Gansu were under control of the Ma Clique of Warlords of Hui islamic Origin.  when Muslim warlord Ma Bufeng tried to establish an Islamic enclave in Qinghai in the 1930's, Tibetans were pushed off their lands, some executed or forced to convert to Islam. After the communists took over in 1949, tensions were repressed.
Although current tensions have more to do with the ecologic degradation of pasturelands and economic woes caused among things by Han economic dominance, the Hui and Tibetans remain interdependant but nevertheless sometimes resentful of eachothers ways.

The tensions are palpable in Golog, a mountainous prefecture in south-west Qinghai that consist for 90% of ethnic Tibetans. Although there is a wide four-lane boulevard which has been dubbed Tuanjie, or "Solidarity," Street, by the Provincial Government, a large archway and an invisible wall of suspicion separates the Tibetan town of Dawu from the smaller Muslim town of Guojia.

According to the UNHCR in 'August of 2007 AD, violent ethnic clashes occurred between Hui and Han in eastern Shandong, and nearly simultaniously Tibetan monks and Hui Muslims in north-western Qinghai. Such incidents, although not unknown, point at the growing level of social tension between minority communities segregated by religion and ethnicity in tightly controlled areas'.

The vicious cycle of climate change and pastoral poverty has affected the fragile ecosystem and in turn endangered the livelihoods of 33 minority groups on the pastoral Qinghai Plateau in the north-west of Tibet.
Soundbonus - Chinese Folk Erhu Music - 'Mongolian Horse'. By Guo Yi & Guo Yue.

Mongolian Festival of Nadaam:
Although there is a significant population of Ethnic Mongolians within Qinghai Province, the main Mongol Festival of Nadaam is celebrated with a giant gathering of the Mongolians in Ulanbataar, in the Republic of Mongolia. Naturally, lesser celebrations of Nadaam are organized within the ethnic Mongolian enclave of Qinghai Province, at Haixi Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture.
Other than the Nadam Festival, the Mongolian Minority in China have mainly adopted the (Han) Chinese Festivals of Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), Mid-Autumn Festival or Autumn Harvest etc.

Islamic Festivals:
Every September according to Islamic calendar is called Ramadan, which lasts for 29 or 30 days. During this period, Muslim people must finish their pre-fasting meal before sunrise and they are not allowed to eat or drink anything in the daytime no matter how hungry or thirsty they are. Smoking, alcohol and gambling are always prohibited but are especially forbidden during Ramadan.
Naturally, during this Time the Hui, Salar and Kazakh Minorities of change their habits and afterwards enjoy and rejoice celebrating their Hari Raya Puasa, the Fast Ending Festival or more popularly 'Sugar Festival'. The Hui people living in Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai, and Yunnan provinces also call this festival Daerde.

70 Days after Fast Ending comes the important Islamic festival of Eid al-Adhs, which in Arabic language caries the meaning of sacrifice and self-devotion. Hence known popularly as the Feast of Sacrifice or Festival of Fidelity and Filial Piety, this is a Time when each Hui Family traditionally kill one of their oxen in sacrifice to Allah and the Prophet Mohammed.  The practice refers to the ancient biblical story of Abraham and his son Ishmael, and their ultimate loyalty and subjugation to their God.
The Hui People have peculiarly nick-named this festival Little Eid. As one of the three main festivals of the Islamic religion, it is usually celebrated seventy days after the Fast Ending Festival.
The third largest Ethnic Minority and 4th largest Ethnic Group are the Tu, who as shown make up only around 4% of the population (at best).
The Tu are an ethnic minority that lives primary along the Huang and Datong rivers in the Huzhu Tu Autonomous County in northeast Qinghai Province. The rest are scattered mostly in the eastern part of Qinghai Province. The Tu are ethnically similar to the Muslim Dongxiang and Bonan. What sets the Tu apart is that they are Buddhists and share other cultural traits with the Tibetans and Mongolians. They regard themselves as Mongolians or White Mongols and what sets them apart from the Mongolians and Mongols is that have intermarried more with Chinese and live in an area traditionally occupied by non-Mongolians.
The Tu are also known as the Huzhu, Guanting, Mongols, Monguor, and White Mongols. A 1990 census counted 192,000 of them. They speak an Altaic language similar to Mongolian and have no written language of their own (they use Chinese characters for writing). Most belong to the Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Tu Families have traditionally sent at least one son to a monastery to be a monk.
Tibetan Festivals:
The Yushu Horse Fair or Yushu Horse Racing Festival is probably the most sensational Festival found in Qinghai Province. It is held each Year in the Summer Month of July. Local town-folk attend and nomads from far and wide travel to Yushu to participate in thier largest cultural celebration of the Year. The festival includes unique and exciting displays of quality horsemanship and yak racing, as well as traditional Tibetan song and dance, Tibetan costume shows, rifle and arrow shooting, (mongolian) wrestling, a large market and plenty of Tibetan local food.
Yushu horse race is the greatest and largest ethnic festival held in the Western Regions of China. An even larger 'super-festival' or “great festival” is held every 3 years attracting a huge crowd of well over 100,000 people to flock to the Jiegu Grasslands near Yushu. Expect Thousands of colorful tents, beautiful traditional folk costumes of Kham Tibetan variety, and amazing things you haven't experienced anywhere else.

The Horse Fair was cancelled in 2009 by the Provincial Goverment in response to wide-spread riots earlier in the year in connection with the commemmoration of the 1959 AD Tibetan Uprising which initiated the Flight of the Dalai Lama from Tibet.
In 2010 the Fair was scheduled to be held, however the Earthquake that struck Yushu on April 14Th of 2010 has drastically altered the situation for all inhabitants of the region. At this Time it is unclear if the Festival can be held.
If so it will be held from July 25th through August 1 in 2010, count on contributing ¥40-50 in 'tourism tax'. Do not worry, it is fully worth this small extra investment.
YouTube Video: CCTV 9 'Travelogue Ethnic Odyssey' : Qinghai-Yushu Horse Racing Festival Part 1.
A Completely New Festival is the one held in Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, where 90% of inhabitants are Tibetans.
What is officially known as the annual Shambala Ecumenical Prayer Festival for World Peace was established by Hung Kar Dorje Rinpoche in Golog in 2004.  Since, every year, renowned Lamas from all the dharma traditions of Tibet, along with thousands of others, are invited to participate in this five-day event dedicated to the welfare of all living creatures in Tibet and on the planet.  The Festival has been attended by visitors from all over China, the U.S., Vietnam, The Netherlands, France, Australia, Japan and many other countries.

One of the important functions of the Prayer Festival, along with other, periodic gatherings during the year, is to bring together thousands or tens of thousands of people from all walks of life and all over the Golog region.  Everyone participates.  After the prayers are concluded, the gathering effectively becomes a town hall meeting, where Hung Kar Dorje and others can address and educate the people as a group on important matters.
Hui Festival of Hua'Er:
Hua'er is a form of folklore among Hui people, especially prevalent in Ningxia, Gansu and Qinghai Province. During festivals and the sixth month of the year, there is a pageant and people sing and dance joyfully for six days.

In 2010 the ethnic Salars of Qinghai Province celebrated their first "Nowruz" a Turkmenic Festival in modern times. This festival was long banned as a result of Ethnic Minority Strife with their Hui neigbors, an ethnic group of whom they have adapted many cultural traits, festivals and customs.
(See: 'Hui Minority in China', and 'Salar Minority in China'.)
Source Book
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Chinese Travel Guide to Tibet (Autonomous Region) - Best Full Detail !!
This page was last updated on: July 11, 2017
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