There were roughly 1 million 250 thousand Kazakhs' as found in the latest National Census (Number 4) of the Year 2000 AD.
Most Kazakh are concentrated within the iIli Kazak Autonomous Prefecture found West of Urumqi (near Bayanbulak), the Mori Kazakh Autonomous County due North of the famous Silk Road Oasis of Turpan between the Qoltag Mountains and the Bogda (Shan) Mountains, and Barkol Kazakh Autonomous County in Hami Prefecture in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
The lifestyle of the Kazakh is traditionally very much alike that of the Kirghiz Ethnicity and that of Mongolian Herdsmen. The Kakzakh are semi-nomadic (or nomadic) and are mainly involved in the breeding of live-stock. They are a pastoral people, which means they move their animals to the green valleys in summer, but have to move to the southern mountain slopes in winter to find grass all year around.
That was however, the tradition. Today's Kazakh have modernized and a number of important changes have come their culture. The latest change must be the overwhelming development of infra-
History of the Kazakh Ethnic Group in China :
The Kazakh language belongs to the Turkic branch of the Altaic language family.
As the Kazakhs have lived in mixed communities and direct conatct with other ethnic groups in the Region, the Hans, the Uygurs and the Mongolians, the Kazaks have assimilated many words from these groups into their own language.
In the past, roughly until the establishment of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949 AD, the Kazakh' had a written version of their Kazakh Language based on the Arabic alphabet. This version of the Kazakh script is still in use, however under guidance of the Government Policies for Ethnic Minorities since, anew Latinized written form of the Chinese Kazakh language script was evolved after the founding of the People's Republic of China.
Festivals of the Kazakh Ethnic Group
Social Life and Customs :
Much of the traditional lifestyle of the Kazakh has changed. Especially the traditionally patriarchal relations within Kazakh families are a thing of the past.
In the traditional Kazakh family and marriage the male was the head of the family (patriarch) who enjoyed absolute authority at home; the wife was subordinate to the husband, and the children to the father.
As a much found phenomen among traditional families throughout China, the women had no right to property. The marriage of the children and the distribution of property were all decided by the patriarch. When a man in the Family came of age and got married he received some property from his parents and began to live independently in his own yurt. Only the youngest brother eventually stayed with the family. Herdsmen with close blood relations formed an "Awul" (a nomadic clan). Rich herd owners or venerated elders were considered the "Awulbas" (chiefs of the community).
The Kazak people usually practiced monogamy, but in the old society (before 1949 AD), polygamy was quite common among the feudal lords and tribal chiefs, in accordance with their Islamic faith.
The feudal mercenary marriage system deprived young men and women of their independence in matrimonial affairs and high bride prices (Dowry) were charged. Hence the wealthy Men married up to four wives each and poor herdsmen were unable economically to establish a family. Among the latter, a system of "barter marriage" was practiced. Two families, for example, could exchange their daughters as each other's daughter-in-law without asking for betrothal gifts. This often gave rise to a large disparity in age of the matrimonial partners, let alone mutual affection. Abuse of women, and situations were they were virtual household slaves of their in-laws were common. Today more and more young people are well educated, arranged marriages are less coomon and many couples choose their own partner.
The Kazakh People live in mobile tents known as Yurts, in a similar fashion as do the Mongolians and the Kirgiz.
Valuable family posessions are kept within the Tent, the yurt. These are the riding materials, cooking utensils, children and baby animals, and food stores. In the yurt, living and storage spaces are separated. The yurt door usually opens to the east, the two flanks are for sleeping berths and the center is for storing goods and saddles; in front are placed cushions for visitors.
Traditional Dress :
The Kazakh are horse-riding herdsmen who are traditionally clad in loose, long-sleeved furs and garments made of animal skins. The garments vary among different localities and tribes, but all are well suited for horse riders.
In winter, the men usually wear sheepskin shawls, and some wear overcoats padded with (Bactrian) camel hair, with a belt decorated with metal patterns at the waist and a sword hanging at the right side. The trousers are mostly made of sheepskin.
Kazakh Women wear red dresses and in winter they don cotton-padded coats, buttoned down the front.
Girls like to sport embroidered cloth leggings bedecked with silver coins and other silver ornaments, which jangle as they walk.
The Kazakh Herdsmen in the Altay Moutains Area of North and North-West Xinjiang wear square caps of baby-lamb skin or fox skin covered with bright-colored brocade, while those in iIli sport round animal-skin caps. Girls used to decorate their flower-patterned hats with owl feathers, which waved in the breeze. All the women wear white-cloth shawls, embroidered with red-and-yellow designs.
Diet / Food :
As nomadic and semi-nomadic herdsmen, the Kazak People live off their animals. Their animals are mainly sheep, but include goats, cows, and other animals which produce a great variety of dairy products.
The main kazakh foods are for instance, Nai Ge Da (milk dough) Nai Pi Zi (milk skin) and cheese. Butter is made from cow's and sheep's milk.
The Kazakh equal other Xinjiang People in their fondness of mutton, which they usually eat stewed in water without salt. The meat is then eaten from the hand.
By custom, Kazakh slaughter animals in late autumn and cure the meat by smoking it for the winter.
In spring and summer, when the animals are putting on weight and producing lots of milk, the Kazakh and other regional herdsmen put fresh horse milk in shabaw, which are barrels made of horse hide, and mix it regularly until it ferments. In the end this produces a cloudy, sour horse milk wine, which is a favorite summer beverage for the Kazakh.
In the past those who could afford it could buy tea from traveling tradesmen. This tea was drunk boiled down with cow's or camel's milk, salt and butter.
In the Kazakh diet Rice and wheat flour dishes and pastries also come in a great variety: the Kazakh have Nang (baked cake), rice cooked with minced mutton and eaten with the hands, dough fried in sheep's fat, and flour sheets cooked with mutton. Their diet contains few vegetables.
The Kazakhs are Muslims. Though there are not many mosques in the pastures, Islam exercises a great influence upon their social life in all aspects.
Although many mosques and religious scriptures were damaged and even destroyed during the Cultural Revolution Era (arbitrarily taken: 1966 AD - 1976 AD), since 1980 the religious policies of the Central Government have been more flexible, offering room for open practice of religion. In recent years many new Mosques have been built in western China, of whom many among the Kazakh.
The Kazaks' festivals and ceremonies are directly related to their religion of Islam. As such, the Qurban (Corban) and Id El-fitr festivals are occasions for feasts of mutton and mutual greetings.
The Nawuruz (Narooz, Norooz, Norouz) Festival is the Kazakh (and Kirgiz) New Year and falls in the first month of the lunar calendar. As with all ethnicities in China (P.R.C.) alike, The new years festival is a the grandest occasion of the Year and the Kazakh use the festival day & night to say good-bye to the old, usher in the new, and hope for a better year.
In their case many of the traditional new years wishes have to do with stockbreeding, the basis of the family livelihood.
At Nawuruz Festival every family entertains with "kuji," a food made of mutton, milk dough, barley, wheat and other delicacies.
On other occassions the Kazakh people give feasts when new children have been born, when there are engagements or when there is a wedding.
Id El-Fitr is better understood as the fast-breaking festival which falls at the end of the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan.
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.
In addition, all Muslim people are supposed to curb all their personal desires, including that of sexual intercourse, and practice abstinence during this time in order to show their allegiance to Allah.
There are only a few exceptions to the main rules. Children, elderly people and women who are undergoing menstruate are allowed not to practice fasting but they should limit their diet and must not eat or drink in public. Patients and those who are on their journey are also permitted not to conduct fasting, but they have to make up for it later; otherwise, they must hand in some property as punishment. In the evening when the bells in the mosques ring, people could suspend their fasting and begin to have their meal. During this period, in principle even a hungry stranger passing by should be warmly welcomed in local households.
The Kazakh ethnic minority has its own rich literary heritage. As there were many illiterates, folk literature was handed down in the only practical way, by oral transmission. Thus the Folk Songs and Tales of the Kazakh are well-developed and very diverse.
After what Chinese perceive as the "liberation" of China and Minority Groups, Kazakh ballad singers, or "Akens," made great efforts to collect, study and re-create old verses, tales, proverbs, parables and maxims of Kazakh verses.
Today many outstanding Kazakh classic and contemporary works have been published in the Kazakh language.
As an example of the many programs enacted by the Central Government to preserve the Kazakh and other minority cultures and their languages, most recently on June 18Th of 2008 AD, a precious project of preservation was completed. The resulting works now available are the complete literary histories 5 of China's 56 Minorities the Uygur, Kazakh, Kirgiz, Uzbek and Tajik. According to the scholars involved and others the publications, with 13 volumes and over 5 mln characters, fill in the blank in the field of literary research of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang and end preserve the complete literary history for the Kazakh Ethnic Minority. The project was started in 1984 AD and over the period of 20 years, scholars and experts of all the 5 nationalities in Xinjiang and beyond were involved.
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
Map China Ethno-Linguistic / Language Distribution China
Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region Shematic Map 2A
A Schematic overview Map of Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region entire and large parts of neighboring Nations of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazachstan, Russia, The Republic of Mongolia, as well as Chinese Provinces and Territories of Inner-Mongolia AR, Gansu Province, Qinghai Province and Tibet Autonomous Region.
This Map Includes Cities and Towns (shown by size) - Main Ethnic Communities in Xinjiang AR, Main Monuments & landmarks of Xinjiang AR, the Taklamakan Desert in South-Central Xinjiang AR, major highways, provincial railroads, a variety of border passes in the Karakoram Mountain Range and the Tian Shan Mt. Range, plus main waterways, rivers and lakes of this large region. - Click Map to go to Full Version !
Kazakh music and dance have their own unique features and are still very popular among the Kazakh People of today. With the best weather and the least worries about their animals, the summer is the Kazakh's best and favorite season. Among Kazakh, the summer is known as merry-making time. They often sing and dance throughout summer nights on the pastures.
The two-stringed instrument is favorite among the Kazakh, whereas Kirgiz are known for their own unique three stringed instrument.
structure in western China finally unlocking the pathways of the ancient silk road and remote mountain regions such as those where the Kazakh tend to live.
Except for a few settled farmers, most of the Kazakhs live by animal husbandry and one family can keep a large number of lifestock.
The Kazakh moved around, migrating to look for greener pasturage as the seasons change.
In spring, summer and autumn, they live in collapsible round yurts (collapsable family tent) and in winter the Kazakh traditionally build flat-roofed earthen huts in the pastures.
Riding and hunting gear, cooking utensils, provisions,baby animals, and all other valuable family posessions are kept within the yurt.
Grandiose and glamorous, if not just spectacular are the activities marking the festival of fast breaking and it is a common practice for Islamic people to white-wash their houses, clean up their yard, and have haircut and bath before the festival. Fast breaking is also the day favored by many young lovers to have their weddings.
Sound Bonus: Kazakh Ethnic Folk Song "Haji Birdali", Kokshetau.
The ancestors of the Kazakh minority in China immigrated into Xinjiang from Central Asia and Kazachstan.
In 1961 and 1962 AD, in the aftermath of the utterly failed Great Leap Forward Policy (1958 - 1962), there was a large exodus of mainly Kazakh and Uighur peoples trying to escape the ensuing "Great Famine" (the largest famine and starvation in human history) which is estimated to have killed over 40 million people in the Peoples Republic of China, mostly peasants and the rural poor. In 1962 the problem became so accute that the Chinese Government was forced to order the closure of all border-crossings from Xinjiang into neighboring Central Asian nations. The borders were closed on the 26Th of May 1962.
There is no information available on the traditional and modern economy of the Kazakh people.