The Tajiks have been roaming the extenses of Central Asia for countless generations becoming a distinct ethnic group of their own. However, according to research their origins mainly derive from Persia. The Pamir mountain tribes, including the Tajike are classified as Homo-Sapiens Alpinus, a distinct branch of the Human Tree all by themselves. Beyond this, scientific opinions conflict. The 19Th Century European explorer (Sir) Marcus Aurel Stein (and others) in his books referred to them simply as Sarikoli. Languages spoken in the area suggest there were originally multiple tribes, at least the Shugni and the Wakhi. Robert Shaw observed mainly Sarikolis and Wakhis, referring to the Tajiks collectively as Ghalchah.
Currently, there are several designations for the Tajik Ethnic Group including such titles as "Pamiri People in China", also "Plateau Tajiks" or Tajiks in China. In more scientific terms they are regarded as part of a mixture of several East Iranian Pamiri ethnic groups, predominantly Sarikoli, Shugni and Wakhi speakers. They use Uyghur, Kyrgyz or Chinese to communicate with others.
The Tajiks of today are Muslims, but distinct from adjacent tribes are of Shi'ite Denomination. Accordingly they have different traditions and mainly pray on Holidays. The Tajiks follow the Ismaili Sect of Islam. They also hold animalistic beliefs, such as in the Mountain Eagle.
According to the Year 2000 AD Census the total population of Chinese Tajiks numbered around 41.000. In 1949 AD the Tajik Population measured just about 7,000 when Xinjiang brought under Chinese Central Government. Today in 2008 AD the majority of Chinese Tajiks, some 26.000 live in Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region in the Pamir Mountains on the border with Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistani Controlled Kashmir in the so called Wakhan Corridor. Others live in small communities scattered throughout Southern Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region.
In a more general sense therefor, Tajik is a general designation for a wide range of mostly Persian-speaking people of Iranian origin with traditional homelands in present-day Afghanistan, Tajikistan where some 5.2 million Tajiks have their home, southern Uzbekistan, north west Pakistan and western China.
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
According to Figures the total population of Tashkurgan was 27800 souls in 1995 AD. Of these 84% were Tajiks, only 4% Han and 12% other nationalities (Uygurs, Kirgizs, Xibes).
Tashkurgan (Uyghur - تاشقۇرغان, Simplified 塔什库尔干) itself is only a small town (population 5,000) dominated by an old 600 year old Fortress and surrounded by orchards and green valley pastures. The town lies at the Tashkurgan River which passes from the vicinity of the Khunjerab Pass up north along the Karakoram Highway (KKH) to the Town. The Town lies some 3600+ Meters (11.811 ft) above sea level on the outskirts of a large glacial valley with an average height of over 4000 meters above sea level.
Apart from its Silk Road legacy it has a remarkable international fame as the startpoint of the Chinese section (440 Kilometers) of the Karakoram Highway, the highest paved road and border crossing in the World. The Karakoram Highway travels between Kashgar and the Capital of Pakistan at Islamabad.
From Kashgar the road leads via Tashkurgan Town, to Karakoram Mountain Range where it passes over the 4600 Meter high Khunjerab Pass and River Valley into Pakistan's North-Western Frontier Regions. A section of the Silk Road traveled by the historic traveler Marco Polo (on his second travel to China) lies nearby.
Marco Polo, reportedly reached Kashgar in 1273 AD to continue his way eastward through Yarkand to Dunhuang, historically considered as the first Town lying exclusively and safely within the Chinese Cultural Zone.
Tashkurgan Town is surrounded by high mountain ridges on 3 sides, the fourth side faces the western most expanses of the Taklamakan desert.
Tashkurgan County measures 25,000 some Square-kilometers, including the second highest mountain in the World, the Mount Qogir or K2 with a top of 8611 meters. Other Mountains average 6 kilometers in height. The two main rivers in the Valley are the Taxkorgan River and the Tiznap (or Tiznef) River.
Average temperature in Tashkurgan County is 3.3 degrees Celcius.
Asia Report - Map of Karakoram Highway / China-Pakistan Mountain Highway
Due to their isolation in one small area underneath the highest mountains and most dangerous passes in the World (the Karakoram Highway, for instance, was opened al late as in 1978 AD), the Tajiks in China (P.R.C.) are said to be culturally and linguistically distinct from their ethnic kin across the border in Tajikistan. The Tajik of Xinjiang for generations have lived in the Pamir Mountains and Highlands of far western China where altitudes lie at over 3000 meters above sea level. Here they grazed their herds, making a semi-nomadic life of animal razing and herding, combined with small scale farming. Animals kept are mainly cows, yaks, sheep, camels and mules. Crops are highland barley, peas, wheat and others that may withstand the harsh high mountain climates. Today's lifestyle continues in traditional ways but includes local transport and tourism.
The 35.000 to 45.000 Tajiks in West China are ethnically related to the more than 2 million Tajiks in Tajikistan.
There are several hot springs in Tashkurgan County. Mineral resources include gold, iron, and copper.
Sound Bonus: Tajik Folk Song of Tajik-Uzbek & Bucharan Tradition "Ufar e-Barat". By Barno is Hakova.
The historic origins of the Tajik ethnic group can be traced to tribes speaking eastern Iranian Dialect who had settled in the eastern part of the Pamir Mountains more than twenty centuries ago.
During the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) a corridor from the Chinese Heartlands to the West was first opened by Han Emmissaries, eventually leading to the inclusion of Tashkurgan into the Han Empire. At the Time Taxkorgan was known as Puli.
Building on the success of the Great Wall first constructed by the Empire of Chi'In (Qin) the Han Dynasty sent emissaries to the North-Western Regions where Oasis Cities and Independant Kingdoms held valuable Treasures and Commodities. After much effort these missions and several military campaigns in competition with the Xiong-Nu Tribes of the North resulted in the establishment of the first trading route west to Parthia in the 2nd Century BC, The Birth of the Silk Road.
Soon after Kasghar City (60 BC) was conquered by Han Troops including the Tajik People into the Chinese Empire for the First Time.
Although Kashgar would become the last Bastion of Chinese Military Power, the Han exploits traced along the Silk Road much farther, in Time launching a Military Campaign against the City of Buchara (current day Uzbekistan) and establishing Han influence as far as the East Coast of the Caspian Sea.
Later during the Tang DynastyTashkurrgan was a border town, lying just within Parthia, of which it was a protectorate. Nearby Kashgar however fell under Tang Dynasty Rule. Inside the Tang Dynasty Empire members of the Tajik 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 a Persian (波利剌斯) Emperor (or Sultan) marrying a Chinese wife.
A Schematic Historic Map of Central Asia at around 100 BC, during the Time of the early Han Dynasty. The Pamir Mountains and Taxkorgan lie in a border area between Three Major Cultures: The Central Asian Cultures influenced by European Culture, The Indian and Indo-Scythian Cultures and the arriving Chinese. Not depicted on the Map, the Xiong-Nu, or Mongols have been temporarily defeated by the Han, eliminating their presence in the Taklamakan Desert and Tarim River Basin.
According to Chinese Historic Sources, in the 11th century, the nomadic Turkic tribes of the West referred to The Tribes of Central Asia that spoke an Iranian Language and where Muslims as "Tajiks". Henceforth the collection of Tribes with Iranian dialects eas henceforth named Tajiks.
During the wild years of the Yuan Dynasty Tashkurgan was incorporated into the Continent Wide Mongol Empire and resorted under the Chagatai Khanate. Mainly after the Death of Genghis Khan and return of peace to the Region, Tashkurgan and wider Xinjiang saw an influx of Islamic People, many of nomadic lifestyle move into Chinese Territory among which through the Pathways of the Ancient Silk Road.
At a later Time in history, from the 16Th Century until well within the 19Th Century, Tajik people who had lived in various areas on the other side of the PamirMountains gradually moved from the western Pamir Mountains westward to settle on the other side of the Wakhan Corridor, ending up in what today is Tashkurgan and Shache, Zepu, Yecheng and Pishan. Here the Tajik Groups merged further through inter-marriage and so formed the ancestors of the present-day Tajik ethnic group living in Western Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region in China.
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 !
In a Latest round of development a new trade-route and border crossing has opened with the Badakhshan Region across the border in Tajikistan. This new Tajik-China trade route was opened in 2004, and runs between from Khorog, the administrative center of Badakhshan province in southeastern Tajikistan, over a high-altitude plateau, through Kulma Pass and then down into China (P.R.C.), where it ends in the city of Kashgar, 700 kilometers away.
Until recently only a mere dirt track passing through the Mountains, this Trade Route is another section of the Ancient Silk Road that however had been closed for a long Time due to earlier historic tensions in the Region (China-USSR 1960's border problems, 1979 AD - 1988 AD Afghanistan War, early 1990's Tajik Civil War) as well as the extreme climates on this route. Because conditions are so tough at the Kulma border crossing – located on a mountain pass 4,400 meters high – the gateway only stays open 15 days out of every month, while from November through April it is closed altogether due to heavy snows.
Since re-opening of the Kulmar Pass the route has been so successful that Traders have already asked for a more permanent, around the clock opening of this vital transport road.
Reportedly in 2006 trade on the road already reached 400 million US dollars, creating numerous jobs both in Kashgar and Tashkurgan Tajik Autonomous County, but equally across the border in otherwise landlocked Tajikistan. Ever since economic and cultural contacts between Chinese Tajiks and their kinfolk across the border have been reinvigorated.
Although today the main flow of transport is from China into Tajikistan, delivering much wanted consumer goods, the new Road is essential for the
ailing economy of secluded Badakshan Province. Plagued by heavy weather throughout the winter season, the Badakshan Province is essentially cut of from its national Capital at Dushanbe and main route of supply for nearly 1/3 of the year, at which time Badakhshan could only be reached through a high pass on the mountainous border with Kyrgyzstan. The new road from China provides for an added alternative supply route much needed to stock up for the long hard winters.
In the summer season Badakshan sees an large flow of travelers moving back and forth across the border. Along the beforehand barren and lifeless route, hotels, cafés and warehouses which have sprung up catering to passersby on this revived road.
At this Time constructions in order to improve the quality of the Road are ongoing. Since 2007 AD the section running from Khorog to Murgab has been rebuilt to enable travel for larger vehicles. A Chinese Consulate has been opened in Khorog to enable local Tajiki's to acquire VISA easily without having to travel to the Tajikistan Capital at Dushanbe first.
TRAVEL TIPS FOR THE KASHGAR REGION AND TAJIK TERRITORIES: Please NOTE - Hotels in the Region are sparse. Especially home stays by Foreigners are discouraged by the State Government for reasons of NATIONAL SECURITY. In other words, The Chinese National Government prohibits foreigners living with local families unless they register with the police first.
In the past foreign travelers have smuggled unwanted goods (drugs and possibly arms) as well as trespassed on prohibited grounds. Travelers in the Region are advised to ind their path, not enter miltary and other prohibited area's, and if seeking home stay or shelter, to pay attention to the personal safety and circumstances of Families.
In practice, this doesn't mean that families won't take in travelers. In fact, some extra income may very well be welcome. The only problem is that seeking shelter is not easy. Be modest, polite and not too public and obvious about your inquiries and your chances at success may improve.
MIND YOU: Penalties for violating this kind of minor regulation are light, provided that the visitor in question is not engaged in smuggling, political journalism and affairs or trying to visit closed areas. In this case, the Traveler involved may be charged with criminal activities, terrorism and or spying, a national offence. Punishment for these offences is harsh and prison Terms are Lenghty. Please do not endanger local hosts with dangerous behavior or inquiries.
Logically, the regulations make it difficult to find host families as the Tajiks cannot set up hostel businesses without registering with the PSB and applying for a hoteliers license.