Two Dungan Migrations: The Migrations of the Chinese Muslims from China to Russia

Svetlana Rimsky-Korsakoff Dyer

To Father Paul Serruys, who introduced me to the
Dungans and by doing so changed the course of my life


My first work on the Dungans 东干 was my MS theses, ‘The Dungan Dialect: An Introduction and Morphology’.[1] It was written during the years 1961 and 1962 while I was on a teaching fellowship at Georgetown University, Washington DC. My supervisor for this work was Father Paul Serruys.

In order to take up this fellowship, I received eighteen months’ leave from my teaching duties in the Department of Chinese, The Australian National University, and eventually I arrived in Washington to take up my new duties of teaching Chinese to American students and writing a thesis on a topic to be decided between Father Serruys and myself.

I will never forget that September day when I walked into my supervisor’s study for the first time, carrying several hundred file cards. I suggested to him that I would like to write a thesis on the structural analysis of four-character phrases 成语. Father Serruys’s reaction to this was:

Four-character phrases have been done before; you can work on them on rainy Sunday afternoons. For a long time I have been waiting for a student who knows Chinese and Russian to come along. I would like you to work on the Dungans.
‘The Dungans?’ I had never heard of them. ‘Who are they?’

Father Serryus produced a children’s textbook and told me to go home and look at it.

That evening I pondered over a Dungan school textbook. Everything in it was written in the Cyrillic script, yet it was Chinese! I could read and understand it. Thus began my involvement with the Dungans which has lasted until the present day.

Over the next 37 years, I worked on several research projects, but two-thirds of my work has been on the Dungans. It has always been a pleasure to write on this minority group, but in the beginning it was very difficult to obtain material for my research. While I was writing my thesis in Georgetown, we had only a few xeroxed sources on the Dungans: a Russian–Dungan dictionary, Hashimoto’s short bibliography, a few articles on the language, and some school textbooks. My letters written to the Dungan scholars in the Academy of Sciences in Frunze were never answered.

After completing my MS thesis, I returned to Australia. At Father Serruys’s suggestion, I published my first article on the Dungans in Monumenta Serica: ‘Soviet Dungan: The Chinese Language of Central Asia: Alphabet, Phonology, Morphology’. In 1966, while working at Indiana University in Bloomington, I started to write a doctoral thesis on the Dungan poet I͡asyr Shivaza. Again there was a lack of materials and the frustration of not being able to obtain books or any other information on Shivaza and the Dungans. Finally, because I had to return to Australia, I abandoned my work on Shivaza and wrote my doctorial thesis on the thirteenth-century Chinese textbook Lao Ch’i-ta 老乞大. The doctoral thesis and the book that evolved from it took several years to write and left me with no time to work on the Dungans. However, during those years I often thought of them, of those almost mythical people living in an inaccessible, faraway land.

The breakthrough came in 1977. During that year, I went to the Soviet Union for the first time, on a three-month exchange between The Australian National University and the Institute of Oriental Studies, Academy of Sciences, Moscow. I travelled three days by train from Moscow to Frunze and met my first Dungans at the railway station — several Dungan scholars welcomed me with bouquets of flowers. During the following three months, I was able not only to meet most of the Dungan scholars in the Academy of Sciences in Frunze and Alma-Ata, but was also allowed (which I believe was an exception and a unique experience for a Westerner under the Soviet regime) to stay in five Dungan kolkhozes in the Kirghiz SSR and Kazakh SSR.

After my return from Central Asia and Kazakhstan, I had enough material to publish a monograph (Soviet Dungan Kolkhozes in the Kirghiz SSR and the Kazakh SSR), and several articles (‘Soviet Dungan Nationalism: A Few Comments on Their Origin and Language’, ‘Soviet Dungan Version of a Legend on the Origin of the Chinese Muslims’, ‘Soviet Dungan Weddings: Symbolism and Traditions’, and ‘T’ang T’ai-tsung’s Dream: A Soviet Dungan Version of a Legend on the Origin of the Chinese Muslims’. With the material that I collected during this visit to the Dungans, I was also able to start once again on the book about Shivaza.

In 1985, when the book on Shivaza was completed, I visited the Dungans, on the same exchange, for the second time. The main purpose of this second visit was to have discussion sessions with Shivaza in order to fill in the gaps and to sort out all the queries in my manuscript on him. The irony of this visit was that as Shivaza gave me so much new material on his life and works, many photographs and copies of his writings, I spent the whole of 1986 recasting the book. (I would like to add here that according to Dungan custom, every discussion session in Shivaza’s home, regardless of the hour when we finished, was followed by a meal or a banquet; therefore, I had as many meals with Shivaza and his wife Salima as discussions with him.)

During the 1985 visit to the Dungans, besides working with Shivaza, I was also able to collect a fair amount of new material on some aspects of Dungan life and language. For instance, Dunlar Khakhaza, a young Dungan scholar, helped me to collect Dungan proverbs and Mukhame Imazov, a Dungan phonetician, helped me to decipher some of them. The Dungan collective farmers, on hearing ‘that crazy woman from faraway Australia who for some unknown reason is interested in us’ was back again, came to see me, always with bouquets of flowers and often with wedding photographs and books as gifts. For example, Roza Dzhinborova, a Shaanxi Dungan girl who was soon to be married, had several sessions with me and told me in great detail about the Shaanxi Dungan wedding customs, and Ali Dzhon, a young Dungan ethnographer, presented his article on Dungan names to me. I was invited to many Dungan banquets, including a festive event to celebrate the occasion when a Shaanxi Dungan baby was 40 days old. Between the two meals, which were served on that day, some Dungans gathered around me for a chat. Correcting and interrupting each other, they described Dungan funeral rites. Although I was unable to stay in the Dungan kolkhozes during this trip, I did manage to spend one day at the selo of Aleksandrovka, Shivaza’s birthplace.

When I had finished rewriting the book on Shivaza and had time to look through the material I had collected in 1985, I came to the conclusion that I had enough material for several articles. First, and with great pleasure, I wrote a monograph, Soviet Dungans in 1985: Birthdays, Weddings, Funerals and Kolkhoz Life, the value of which was that most of the information in it had never been published before as it was either personally witnessed by or related to me. After this monograph, I wrote an article on the Dungans’ surnames, personal names, and nicknames (which had undergone an interesting and unusual transformation since the Dungans left China).

All the above works were written in English. I have also written two works in Chinese: one about the Dungans’ ‘twelve-month songs’, and one on their riddles, tongue-twisters, doggerel, and proverbs.

I visited the Dungans two more times: in 1991, just before the collapse of the Soviet Union, and in 1993 (see ‘The Dungans in 1993’ in the Introduction). The work on Dungan embroidery was the outcome of the 1993 visit.

Several years ago, I received a very rare microfilm from Leningrad: a work written by V. T͡sibuzgin and A. Shmakov on the Dungans’ life in one settlement in 1897, about nineteen years after their arrival in Russia. This work included some riddles, proverbs, and anecdotes that were popular in this settlement. They were known at that time only in oral form.[2] Their eyewitness account of the life in a Dungan settlement was so fascinating that I decided to translate this work into English. (The work ‘Karakunuz: An Early Settlement of the Chinese Muslims in Russia’ incorporates this translation.) While doing the translation, I thought of the people: refugees from Gansu and Shaanxi provinces who endured the Qing government’s persecution and massacres, who revolted, were defeated, and braved the crossing of the formidable Tianshan 天山 mountains during a very harsh winter; and the Muslims in Xinjiang 新疆 who, in order to escape Manchu rule, left behind everything — their lands, houses, and possessions — and made the long and hazardous journey to settle in Russia. The story of these two migrations, which is unknown in the Western world, had to be told. And thus I started the tortuous task of tracing the Dungans’ movements through these two crossings. Not being a historian, I had reservations about embarking on this long journey together with these desperate, exhausted yet fearless people. My only consolation was that all the sources on their migrations were written either in Dungan or Russian by the Dungans themselves, or by Russian scholars in the Soviet Union, whose information came from the hard-to-obtain local archives of the Kirghiz SSR and Kazakh SSR. Perhaps this work will be of some interest to scholars familiar with the 1862–78 Muslim rebellions in north-west China, as my account is the continuation, the finale, of this event; or perhaps the narrative will appeal to romantics who are interested in the endurance of a small remnant of human beings who, against all odds, battled their fate, survived, and built a good new life in a faraway alien land. Being a romantic myself and a believer that it is rewarding to overcome hardships, I traced the route of the second migration myself. For my 1991 trip to the Dungans, I entered the Soviet Union from China. I spent three days and three nights on the train from Beijing to Urumqi, then two days by bus across Xinjiang to Yining 伊宁 (known to Dungans as Kul’ja), the starting point of the second migration. I was stuck in Yining for three days because of the Muslim New Year celebrations, but eventually paid nine US dollars for a bus ticket and got on a rickety bus together with 50 Uighurs. Because of the customs officials on the Chinese and the nearby Russian borders it took us the whole day to reach Panfilov. In Panfilov, some Uighurs offered to take me to Frunze on their bus (I paid six US dollars for 600km). Because of this trip, the route of the second migration is especially dear to my heart.

When one writes about the Dungans, one usually has to tell the reader who the Dungans are, where they live, and why they are in Central Asia and Kazakhstan; therefore, I have briefly mentioned the Dungan migrations in most of my works. This work will mainly centre on the actual migrations, on the routes and destinations, and, wherever possible, on the description of daily occurrences and special events. One naturally also wants to know what happened straight after the migrations. Were the Dungans happy? Did they cope? Thus I added one more chapter to this work on the early days in the Dungans’ new settlements.

Most probably this work will be my last on the Dungans. In the case of the Dungans, perhaps it is fitting to end with the beginning. In a sense, they have come full circle — they escaped from China, hated and turned their backs on her; they made a good life in their new location, and were happy under Soviet rule; they turned towards China after the fall of the Soviet Union, and, at the time of writing, there was a fervent religious revival, an interest in Chinese characters, and in their long-lost relatives in China. Many Dungans were planning trips to China and were even thinking of working there. And the routes these Dungans would have taken were the same that their grandparents took in 1877 or 1881–84. And the first destinations that they would reach are the same places from which they left over 100 years ago: either Kashgar or Panfilov. Naturally, there are some differences: they came to Russia on foot and now they will visit China by bus; they escaped to Russia because of economic and religious persecutions, and they told me that they go to China now only for a visit, to buy Chinese goods so that they can make some money, but that even if their life in Kyrgyzstan were to become worse, they would not ever migrate back to China.

Introduction and Evaluation of My Sources

This work is on the migrations of some Chinese Muslims to Russia. Therefore, the Muslim revolts in Shaanxi and Gansu (1861–73), the revolts in Turkestan (1864–78), and the establishment of Kashgaria and Xinjiang should all be briefly mentioned as these are the background and the beginning of the chain of events that caused the migrations. All the above events have been presented in numerous works and from several different angles: from the views of Western scholars and eyewitness accounts of the European travellers;[3] from official accounts of the Chinese communist government or scholars in China;[4] or from the works of Dungan and Russian scholars, which are written either in Russian or Dungan.[5] The main aim of this work is to use as much of the Dungan and Russian material as possible.

Duman is of the opinion that there are no good sources on the Muslim revolts in north-west China. He writes that, at best, there is a description of the military campaigns, but no explanation of the reasons that caused the revolts and the forces that motivated them. Also, there is no mention of the role that the Tsarist government played in suppressing the revolts and the relationship between the Russian government, the Chinese rulers, and the Muslim rebels.[6] It is true that most of the Chinese sources are mostly lengthy and detailed accounts of the military campaigns, pages and pages of dates, leaders’ names, place names, facts about the attacks, battles, victories and defeats.

One should mention here a book written in English in 1966 by a Chinese, Chu Wen-djang, The Moslem Rebellion in Northwest China 1862–1878: A Study of Government Minority Policy.[7] It is a lengthy and very informative work; it has an extensive bibliography of Chinese and Western sources, some maps, and a list of Chinese names and terms. But, as the subtitle suggests, the emphasis in this book is on the Manchu side, on (for instance) Zuo Zongtang’s 左宗棠 policies, his proposals, memorials and edicts to the court and on the court’s reactions.

Most of the above sources stop at the final defeat of the Muslim rebels in China; they do not discuss what happened after the defeat. Take Bo Yanhu 白彦虎 as an example. To the Dungans, Bo Yanhu is a national hero, a very important personality and a famous leader. Yet only very occasionally does one find a short reference to him, such as ‘only Bo Yanhu resisted the Qing army to the end, leading his men, he eventually entered Russia’.[8] Chu mentions Bo Yanhu only once and says a few words about him in a footnote, ‘Pai was one of the leaders of Shensi Moslems … [he] finally fled to Russia after Kashgar was taken’.[9] Where, when, and how did Bo Yanhu enter Russia? How many men were with him? Where did they settle in Russia? What happened to them? What happened to Bo Yanhu? The answers to all these questions can only be found in the Dungan and Russian sources. These sources quote oral accounts of the people who actually crossed the Tianshan mountains or moved from Kul’ja, and they also often draw on local archives. I have used six such sources in this work.

There are four important sources on the migrations. Poi͡arkov’s work is original and very interesting. Published in 1901, his is the earliest work on the history of the Dungans. He gives a very lengthy and detailed account of the events and incorporates historical facts, daily occurrences, and local information. This work has very few footnotes (which occasionally contain incomplete references) but contains very valuable eyewitness accounts.

Duman and Baranova’s works are scholarly. These two Russian scholars quote many references including archival material. Duman’s work (written in 1939) is mainly on Bo Yanhu. He occasionally quotes Poi͡arkov. The most valuable parts of his work are the reports and correspondence from the archives about the arrival of the Muslim rebels on Russian soil, and the requests by the Manchus and answers by the Russians concerning the handing back of Bo Yanhu to the Manchu authorities. This correspondence makes fascinating reading.

Baranova’s work (written in 1959) is only on the first half of the second migration, on the treaty between Russia and the Qing government, the official correspondence, the official policies, and the official process of moving the settlers from the Ili 伊犁 region. Her work is not on the Dungans alone, but on the migration of the ‘Muslim population of the Ili region’, and thus it includes the Uighurs and Kazakhs.

I͡usurov’s work (written in 1961) is clear and concise, a chronological and daily account of both migrations. This work is written by a Dungan historian, from the Dungan point of view, about the Dungans. It quotes eyewitness accounts and uses archival material; the author also quotes both Poi͡arkov and Duman. Before discussing the two important works that deal with life during and after the migrations and the first Dungan settlements, one should mention that the second half of I͡usurov’s work should also be placed with these two works, as it presents some specific facts such as that in 1887 the Karakunuz Dungans had 473 horses and 131 donkeys. It also deals with the colonial structure of Tsarist Russia; the power of the Dungan clergy; corrupt elections; the emergence of rich Dungans; and the administrative, political, and economic relationship between the Dungans and the Russian authorities, the Kirghiz, and the Kazakhs. In short, it is very much a communist work.

In contrast, T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov’s work (written in 1909) is a delightful eyewitness account of the everyday life of the Dungans about nineteen years after their arrival in Russia. This account is of one settlement in one specific year: 1897. T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov’s very interesting and detailed report on the Karakunuz Dungans includes:

  • a brief background of Chinese Muslims
  • a brief explanation of why Chinese Muslims rose against the Machus
  • the etymology of the word ‘Karakunuz’; a description of their houses, prayer-houses, religious practices, food, clothing (including a delightful description of what Dungan girls wore in their hair), appearance and behaviour (including the fact that they talked very loudly, that some smoked opium and gambled, some women had bound feet, and that the Dungans were prone to quarrels but were hard-working)
  • a description of the occupations of the Karakunuz Dungans (including a long description of the method they used to grow rice)
  • an account of Dungan musical instruments, medical practices, and dialect differences.

The work concludes with some samples of Dungan oral literature: fifteen riddles, two proverbs, and five anecdotes.[10]

And finally, there is M. Sushanlo’s work on the Dungans before the October Revolution (written in 1959).[11] Being a communist, Sushanlo, like I͡usurov, presents detailed information on the economy and agriculture of the whole area and covers the time from their arrival until the October Revolution. Among the valuable information is a description of the establishment of schools and how land was distributed; the work also dwells on ‘exploitation of the masses by capitalists and clergy’ and the ‘progress made under the communist regime’.

Unless specified otherwise, all the archival material used by Duman, Baranova, and I͡usurov is from the Central Archives of the Kazakh SSR. All the archives are given in the following Russian filing order: f. (font), d. (document), l. (file), str. (page). I quote the filing order in the following abbreviated form, thus archive f.21, d. no. 479, II. 75–76, str. 3 will be archive 21/479/75–76/3.

Only Duman and Chu Wen-djang give Chinese characters. Whenever possible, I have given Chinese characters in this work. If the characters are uncertain, I put a question mark after them. The characters are given only once, when a personal name, a place name, or a term is first mentioned.

All my main sources, with the exception of the work of Chu Wen-djang, are written in Russian. T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov’s work has been translated into English.[12] To my knowledge, none of the other works in Russian have been translated and all these six works are unlikely to be well known in the Western world.

Introduction: The Dungans Before and During the Soviet Period

The present-day Dungans, an ethnic minority of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, are the descendants of the Chinese Muslims who migrated to Russia over 100 years ago. They arrived in Russia in two distinct migrations.[13]

The term ‘Dungan’, a Russian term used by the Russians and by Dungans when they speak Russian, is not used in Dungan speech. In the past, when speaking in their own language, the Dungans referred to themselves as tşuŋ-i̭anȥɨŋ 中原人.[14] Later they started to call themselves xuɛi̭dzŭ 回族 (that is, Muslims). Since about 1960, they have referred to their language, in speech and more particularly in all publications, as xuɛi̭dzŭ i̭yi̭an 回族语言 (that is, Muslim language).

The Russian government assisted the newcomers and gave them land, and the Dungans settled in the locations that were allocated to them. These locations were mainly in the Chu valley of Kyrgyzstan and Kurdaĭ region of Kazakhstan, of which the two major centres were Pishpek (later changed to Frunze, now called Bishkek) and Verynĭ (now called Alma-Ata or Almaty) respectively. Life in these new locations resembled life in Chinese villages: for example, the Dungans wore Chinese clothes and ate Chinese food; they grew rice and Chinese vegetables; both girls and young women decorated their hair with a large number of ornaments; many Dungan women had bound feet; some Dungan men gambled and smoked opium; and various street hawkers offered their wares with special calls.

Depending on the place of origin of their ancestors in China and the location of their early settlements in Russia, Dungans were divided into two ethnographic groups: the Gansu Dungans, who speak the Gansu Dungan dialect; and the more conservative Shaanxi Dungans, who speak the Shaanxi Dungan dialect. The two groups differed slightly in language and customs. The Gansu Dungan dialect later became the official language of the Dungans, and all publications, including textbooks and the Dungan newspaper, were published in the Gansu dialect.

Most of the refugees and settlers who arrived in Russia were poor, illiterate peasant or small urban craftsmen. The mullahs knew the Arabic script of the Koran and a few Dungans could write Chinese characters, which they rendered badly with many mistakes.[15] At that time, they had stories, poems, legends, songs, proverbs, and riddles only in oral form. At first, the Arabic script was used briefly. The first Dungan alphabet was created in 1927 by several Dungan students who were studying at the Tartar Institute in Tashkent. This alphabet was based on the Latin alphabet because at that time the Kirghiz, Kazakhs, and other Turkic-speaking peoples were adopting the Latinised alphabet know as the New Turkic Alphabet. School textbooks and works on Dungan literature, including collections of poetry, were published in this alphabet. After 1939, the Cyrillic alphabet gradually replaced the various Latin alphabets of all the national minority languages in the Soviet Republics of Central Asia. The change from the Latin to the Cyrillic alphabet was delayed in some areas by the war and its aftermath, and the Dungans adopted the Cyrillic alphabet only in 1952. Their alphabet uses all the letters of the Cyrillic alphabet plus the additional five letters Ә, Җ, Ң, Ў, and Ү — 38 letters in all.[16] A very impressive number of works has been published in this alphabet, including a newspaper, school textbooks, dictionaries, novels, short stories, collections of poetry and proverbs, and books and articles on the Dungan language, literature, and history.

It is said that most of the Dungans, being poor, welcomed the October Revolution. After the revolution, they were organised into selos (large villages) and kolkhozes (collective farms). A kolkhoz and a selo did not have a one-to-one correlation; one kolkhoz could cover the area of several selos, or one selo could contain two or more kolkhozes. For example, both the selo of Aleksandrovka and the selo of Yrdyk had a kolkhoz called ‘Druzhba’: the kolkhoz ‘Komintern’ was in the selo of Masanchin; and the kolkhoz called ‘Okti͡abr’ was in the selo of Dzhalpak-Ti͡ube. One place might be better known and more often referred to because of its kolkhoz, while another place is referred to more often by the name of the selo. The kolkhozes flourished, mainly because the Dungans were hard-working and very knowledgeable farmers. The kolkhozes mainly planted sugar beet, but also produced other vegetables and dairy products, and kept cattle. Each Dungan family had about a quarter of a hectare of private land on which they kept sheep and cattle, and grew vegetables for their own use. They also grew such crops as garlic and tobacco for sale in the markets.

Each kolkhoz usually had a school, a day nursery, a hospital, and a club house used for social functions such as films, meetings, and dances. This club house was called dom kul’tury (palace of culture). Some of the kolkhozes had one or two shops.

The Dungans in these kolkhozes were mostly trilingual: they spoke Dungan at home and among themselves, and Russian and Kirghiz, or Russian and Kazakh elsewhere. All the subjects in the kolkhoz schools were taught in Russian. English and German were offered and taught two hours a week, and the Dungan language was taught for two to three hours a week.

The Dungans had very strict and simple views on marriage: all Dungans should marry Dungans. The ideal situation was for Dungan girls to marry Dungan young men; Gansu Dungan girls could marry Shaanxi Dungan young men, but Shaanxi Dungan families, which were more conservative, preferred their daughters to marry only Shaanxi Dungans. As for marrying other nationalities, Kirghiz and Kazakh husbands, being Muslims, were frowned upon but acceptable; Russian husbands were completely out of the question. Similar but less strict rules applied to Dungan young men in their choice of wives. These rules were observed less often in the cities. In the kolkhozes, some Dungans had Kazakh or Kirghiz wives, while in the cities a small number of Dungans had Russian wives. All these rules meant that all the Dungans, throughout all the Dungan settlements, were related to each other. With only some exceptions, the Dungans were on good terms with all the nationalities who lived near them, but the Dungans had the ability to ‘Dunganise’ people. People of different nationalities who either came into close contact with them or married them adopted Dungan food, customs, and even speech. The ‘Dunganisation’ in the kolkhozes was a fairly easy task as about 90 per cent of the population was Dungan and whoever married a Dungan, even if she was a city-bred Russian woman, ended up behaving like a Dungan.

The Dungans always had six to eight children per family. In 1979, there were 52,000 Dungans, and by 1985 there were 70,000.

A small number of Dungans settled in the cities. Some of these urban Dungans were school teachers, doctors, or scholars who worked in the Academy of Sciences in Bishkek and Alma-Ata. But the majority of the Dungans were farmers living and working in Dungan settlements.

Dungans have retained many things that they brought from China: embroidery, songs, legends, stories, wedding and funeral customs, and their speech, which is the earthy, colloquial speech of the Chinese countryside. Their clothes, and even more so their houses, have undergone changes, but they still have courtyards in their houses, they still have Chinese-type padded quilts, and they often sit, eat, and sleep on kangs 炕.[17] Their food and their cooking and eating habits have not changed at all. They still use chopsticks, and the names of their dishes and cooking terms are Chinese.

The Dungans in 1993

Many changes occurred after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Great changes occurred in the lives of Russians and the various nationalities in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, and particularly in the lives of the Dungans. Everybody in Russia and Central Asia seemed to agree that the changes were for the worse, and that their standard of living had gone down. To this, one can say that though the Dungans did not live as well as before, they did live better than the others. For example, during my last three visits — in 1977, 1985, and 1991 — the Dungans produced numerous lavish banquets of at least eighteen dishes on special occasions (though perhaps less so in 1991); but during my trip in 1993, although a sheep was killed in my honour on three occasions, there were many wonderful meals but no elaborate banquets. The times and the mood had changed.

While Russian pensioners, who, it seems, were the most serious victims of the collapse of the Soviet regime, were begging or selling their miserable possessions on the streets, starving, or committing suicide, Dungan old people were in a much better situation since they were cared for by large, extended families. However, Dungan scholars shared the same fate as scholars of other nationalities. As they were not able to survive on their pay, many Dungan scholars left (or were leaving in 1993) the universities and the Academy of Sciences in order to become street hawkers. They crossed the border into China, mainly to Kashgar or to Kul’ja, bought all sorts of shoddy Chinese merchandise and then sold it either on the street or at the markets. No books in the Dungan language or in Russian on the Dungans were published in the two years prior to 1993, and there was talk of the Dungan newspaper closing down.[18] The lack of funds and also the lack of interest in the newspaper among the Dungans reduced it to a pitiful state — it used to be published twice a week, then once a week, then once every two weeks, and finally once a month.

One should first mention the changes that affected everybody. The quality of life suffered, people earned less, and prices went up. There was more crime and corruption. Most people were happy that the names of many cities and streets had been changed, either to get away from the communist terms or to return to the original names.[19] Some people thought that things would get worse, others thought that they might eventually get better, but generally there was nostalgia for the days under communist rule, for the law and order, for the free apartments, free medical care, and free education. Besides such changes as instability and lack of funds, which affected everybody, there were some specific changes that affected only the Dungans.

The Dungan kolkhozes were at a crossroads. After the collapse of the Soviet regime, some kolkhozes decided to divide the land among the kolkhoz members and abolish the kolkhoz itself. This experiment was a failure. Some Dungan farmers went bankrupt owing to lack of funds, shortage of labour (people left and went to the cities, as it was more profitable to buy and sell than to work in the fields), and a lack of the heavy machinery that was available during the kolkhoz times. Therefore, as of 1993, most Dungan settlements still had kolkhozes but under different names. One of them, for example, was called ‘Soi͡uz kresti͡anskikh khoziaĭstv’ (Farmers’ Alliance) — an organisation in which the farmers worked as a team and from which tractors and other heavy machinery could be borrowed. As before, farmers still had their private plots and could also buy additional land. They could sell their produce from this land at the markets. The ‘buy and sell’ fever also caught up with Dungan farmers, but they usually only went to China to buy goods during times when there was nothing much to do in the fields. It also affected schools in the Dungan settlements. Dungan parents often went to Panfilov (which, being near the Chinese border, had a market of Chinese goods, and was a one or a two-day trip) or Kashgar (a horrendous five-day trip by truck over the mountains into China) to buy goods, and the elder children were left at home to look after the younger children and therefore did not attend school.

Another change was the revival of religion. While Russians were looking to meet their religious needs among local and overseas established religions and racketeering sects (obviously the Russian Orthodox Church was not giving them what they wanted), the Dungans were experiencing a fervent revival of the Muslim faith. Mosques were being built in every Dungan settlement; at the time of writing, Masanchin, for example, was building three mosques and Yrdyk was building one. Children were receiving religious instruction and there was even a religious boarding school for boys in Aleksandrovka. This school alarmed some Dungans as it taught nothing other than the Arabic alphabet (there is no textbook) and the Koran, and the boys were eventually sent to Alma-Ata to further their training to become mullahs. Only a small number of the boys in this religious school attended a normal school in the mornings, where they were taught the Russian language (later changed to Kirghiz), mathematics, chemistry, Dungan language and literature, and other standard subjects. They then attended the religious school in the afternoons.

Another alarming trend in the religious revival was the assortment of unoccupied elderly Dungans (I was told that in former times they used to lie drunk in the gutter) who spent all day at the mosque, gossiping between the five daily prayers. On the one hand these old people were teaching boys not to steal and to be polite; on the other hand they were propagating out-of-date ideas such as that girls must not be educated. When asked what would happen to an uneducated woman who had become a widow and had to support her children, their answer was, ‘Allah would provide’. One must add that while the mosques were trying to give young boys a religious education, other boys misbehaved at the discotheque on Saturday nights. At a Saturday-night dance in Aleksandrovka, for example, the drinking and brawling got so bad that the police were called in and future dances were cancelled (probably with the help of the mosque representatives).

The third change was the new trend among Dungans to look towards China. This was a major change considering that from their arrival in Russia the Dungans either ignored or hated China, and were content not to have anything to do with it. This attitude is understandable. During the Muslim revolts in China, the Dungans were massacred by the Han Chinese and Manchus, and were finally defeated by the Manchu armies; following the defeat, one group of Dungans escaped to Russia, the other group of Dungans migrated voluntarily to Russia because they were not satisfied with their life in the Ili region, both on economic and religious grounds. Once they had made a satisfactory new life in Russia there was no need to look back to China. The break in friendly relations between the Soviet Union and China also played a part in the Dungans’ negative attitude towards China. In addition, the borders between China and Soviet Central Asia were closed for many years. Another reason why the Dungans turned their backs on China was their nationalism; as a small ethnic minority, Dungans wanted to be regarded as an independent community, speaking their own language — hence their emphasis on ‘Dungan language’, ‘Dungan dialects’, ‘Dungan people’, ‘Dungan food’, and even ‘Dungan vinegar’. They would insist, for example, that an ordinary Chinese dish is a ‘Dungan dish’, and when informed that Chinese eat it everyday, would say, ‘You mean the Chinese eat our food?’

I felt the full impact of this attitude during my first trip in 1977, when the Dungans (one might add that it was mainly Dungan scholars, who should have known better) bewildered me by attacking my view that the Dungan language was Chinese. All sorts of arguments were used: the Dungans did not understand when Chinese was spoken; the Dungan language was written in the Cyrillic script and had Arabic and Russian loan words; the Dungans had lived in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan for over 100 years; and, to quote the Dungan linguist Mukhame Imazov, ‘a language is shaped by racial, economic, territorial, and psychological features, therefore, Dungan is an independent language’. In 1985, their attitude had softened considerably: They either kept quiet or, when I read some of Shivaza’s poems in Mandarin, said that they understood everything, but added, ‘How strange! Chinese sounds very similar to our language’. In 1991, they admitted that the Dungan language was Chinese and, in 1993, with blossoming trade and the revival of the Muslim faith, Dungans regarded Chinese Muslims (mainly from Xinjiang and also from Gansu and Shaanxi provinces) as ‘brothers’; most Dungans wanted to go to China, either to buy merchandise or to find long-lost relatives or to get a job ‘to earn a lot of money’. Some Dungans were actually learning Chinese characters and a husband and wife team were invited to come from China to teach Chinese characters in the Masanchin school. This new attitude was most pronounced in religious life. There were mullahs from Xinjiang in the Dungan mosques and the Dungan mullahs went on pilgrimages to China; and the Uighur skullcaps that the Dungans had worn ever since they arrived in Russia in order ‘to blend in with the rest of the population’ were now being discarded by the Dungans — by the mullahs, the farmers, and the little boys who attended the religious classes. In 1993, the smart thing to do was to wear the white hat worn by Muslims in China.

For many years under Soviet rule, all the Dungans were more or less equal. Their kolkhozes flourished and their life was very comfortable. In 1993 their life was less comfortable, but they already had two Dungan entrepreneur-millionaires. In 1993 all the subjects in the schools were still taught in Russian, but there was talk of the Russian language being abolished, not only for instruction, but also for communication in the streets and shops. (This had already happened in Uzbekistan. All the signs in the shops, for instance, were only Uzbek.) Many Russians in Central Asia, even those born in Central Asia with no ties to Russia, were being forced to leave. Their plight was pitiful. The Dungans, being Muslims, were able to stay. A small number of Dungans were worried that the Kirghiz or Kazakhs would take their land, but most of them comforted themselves by pointing out that there had not been any indication from the local authorities that the Dungans would have to leave. Among the Dungans with whom I talked in 1993, most of them wanted to go for a visit to China, but none of them wanted to return to live there permanently. They all said that Central Asia was their home.

Chapter One: The Dungan Role in the Muslim Rebellions in China, 1862–78

A Summary of the Two Migrations of the Chinese Muslims to Russia

The Dungans arrived in Russia in two separate migrations. The first migration (1877–78) was the direct outcome of the Muslim rebellions in north-west China (1862–78). It occurred after the final defeat of the Chinese Muslim rebels by the Qing army in Kashgaria. The historical background of the second migration is as follows. The Ili region was occupied by Russian troops from 1871–81. Russia returned this region to China after the signing of the Treaty of St Petersburg in 1881. One of the provisions of the treaty was that the Chinese Muslims of the Ili regions could either stay or migrate to Russia. They decided to migrate to Russia.

The first migration, that of the Chinese Muslims originally from Gansu and Shaanxi provinces, was a headlong flight. Chased by and fighting off the Manchu army, suffering from cold and hunger, the defeated rebels and their families crossed the Tianshan mountains in the middle of an exceptionally severe winter. Many of them died. They came in three compact groups. The first group, that of the Turfan rebels under the leadership of Ma Daren 马大人 (also known as Ma Dalaoye 马大老爷), went north-west. This group of refugees, about 1,000 people in all, eventually arrived and settled in Osh. The second group, that of the Gansu rebels from Didaozhou 狄道州, was led by Ahong Ayelaoren 阿訇阿爷老人. By the spring of 1878, 1,130 of them were settled in Yrdyk, a small village nine kilometres from Przheval’sk. The third group, the rebels from Shaanxi province, was led by one of the leaders of the Muslim rebellions, Bo Yanhu. The refugees in this group, 3,314 in all, settled in a small place called Karakunuz, eight kilometres from Tokmak.[20]

The second migration occurred under peaceful conditions, in warm weather and over a period of about three years. This was a gradual resettling of people who had time to decide whether they wanted to move, to harvest their crops and sell or pack their possessions. These settlers left in small groups and only some of them reached their appointed final destination (Sokuluk, 20km west of Frunze) while the others settled all along the 1,000km route. According to the Central Archives of the Kazakh SSR, the official number of Chinese Muslim settlers from Kul’ja was 4,682 people in all.[21]

The rough estimate of the total number of refugees and settlers who arrived in Russia during these two migrations is over 10,000 people.

These are the two migrations which are discussed in detail in Chapters Two and Three.

Life Before the Rebellions and the Reasons for the Migrations

Both of the migrations were the direct outcome of the living conditions of Chinese Muslims in China.

What caused some of the Muslims in China to revolt and what made the Muslim inhabitants of the Ili regions move? What were their living conditions and grievances? Generally speaking, this work only occasionally draws upon the well-documented and well-known explanations of the Chinese and European sources. These explanations have already been published elsewhere. One of the aims of this work is to present the material that is found in the archives of the Kirghiz SSR and Kazakh SSR. In addition, attempts are made throughout this work to present the views (often over-simplified and occasionally biased) of the Dungans themselves. The following translation from Russian, for example, is how the Dungan historian, Kh. I͡usurov, sums up the difficulties of the Chinese Muslims prior to the revolt and the migrations:

Chinese Muslims lived and are still living in many provinces of China. Those that concern us lived mainly in Shaanxi, Gansu, Shanxi, Hebei, and Xinjiang. The migrations in questions occurred in the seventies and eighties of the nineteenth century during the time when the Muslims in China lived under the rule of the Manchu government of the Qing dynasty. Three factors were against them: they were Muslims, peasants, and under Manchu rule. The various combinations of these three factors caused the Muslim revolts in China and were also the reasons why some of the Ili Muslims decided to leave China, even in peace time. Some of the reasons are as follows:
  1. Physically, the Muslims were often mistreated, abused, and even massacred in large numbers both by the Chinese and Manchus. The Qing government’s policy on all the national minority groups in China was that of oppression and extermination and of stirring up national hatred between the Chinese and the minority group.
  2. Financially, most of the Chinese Muslims, the majority of whom were peasants, were very poor. They had very little land, yet paid very high rent to landowners and high taxes to the government. The rich Manchu, Chinese, and Muslim landowners exploited them and the merchants and money-lenders cheated them. In addition, the people in China were burdened with the Qing government’s war expenses and foreign trade deficit. The Chinese Muslim peasants depended on their land and during a bad harvest or natural disaster many of them starved and some died.
  3. The Chinese Muslims not only struggled financially as poor peasants and were oppressed as a minority group but they were also persecuted because of their religion. The fact that their own clergy collaborated with the local authorities and were in league with the rich landowners made their life even more unbearable.

Lack of land and exploitation were the two main reasons why the first wave of Chinese Muslims, in search of a better life, migrated to Xinjiang in the second half of the eighteenth century, and these were the same reasons why groups of Chinese Muslims migrated from Xinjiang (Ili region) to Russia in the second half of the nineteenth century.[22]

The Chinese sources give the same views, and some add further reasons. Some of them are given below:

  1. Manchu rule was corrupt and its officials were ineffective.
  2. During the 300-year rule of the Qing dynasty, the most oppressed and ill-treated people were the Muslims.
  3. There were numerous unsuccessful Muslim revolts during that time, all of which were brutally suppressed by the Manchu government. The main reasons why these revolts could reach such proportions and last so long were the deep anti-Qing feeling among the Muslims and, with every defeat, the increased oppression, contempt, and ill-treatment of the Muslims by the Manchus, which in turn caused more revolts.
  4. The Taiping rebellion also influenced and motivated the Muslim revolts. The Taiping rebellions drew the Manchu forces away from the north-west area and caused the Manchu government, for the first time, to arm the Muslims as a measure of self-defence, however, when the Taiping army entered Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, the Muslims, though not joining forces with the Taipings, did not resist them either. Because of the Taiping rebellion, the people of the north-west area had to pay extra taxes on such things as their houses, land and fields, and this caused mass starvation and even some cases of cannibalism.[23]

Chu Wen-djang gives some solid facts about the rebellions:

The great Moslem rebellion in Northwest China in the sixties and seventies of the 19th century … lasted more than 15 years, spread from Shensi to Sinkiang, covering almost one fourth of China’s territory, and directly disturbed the life of more than 10,000,000 people. According to one source:
The population of Kansu was reduced from 15,000,000 to 1,000,000 … nine out of every ten Chinese were supposed to have been killed, and two out of every three Mohammedans … All the villages and farmsteads for miles and miles in all directions were in ruins, and the huge culturable hills were for the most part deserted.
Other contemporary writers confirmed this tragic story. For instance, Tso Tsung-t’ang reported in one of his memorials: ‘With the exception of the 2,000 or more Moslems who fled together with Pai Yen-hu, there are no more than 60,000 of the original 700,000 to 800,000 Shensi Moslems who have survived to be rehabilitated in Kansu.[24]

Bo Yanhu — The National Hero of the Dungans

The various accounts of the Muslim revolts in north-west China contain an overwhelming number of names, both of Manchu generals and Muslim leaders, but the Dungans in their account of these events mention only several names and honour only one — that of Bo Yanhu.[25]

Bo Yanhu is a national hero, a legendary figure among the Dungans. Songs and legends have been written or created in oral form about him by the Dungan people in Russia.[26] He is especially remembered in the settlement of Masanchin (formerly Karakunuz), where he and the people he led had settled. The people in Masanchin have a sense of history and there is a street named after him.

It is interesting to note that the Dungans usually refer to Bo Yanhu as ‘The great man’ 大人 (sometimes they call him ‘The great man Hu’ 虎 大人. Hu, meaning ‘tiger’, is the last character of his name; sometimes they even lovingly call him ‘The big tiger’ 大虎).

In China, Bo Yanhu is one of many occasionally mentioned leaders and is mainly known as the man who led a group of defeated Muslim rebels into Russia. Practically nothing is known in China about him after he crossed the Tianshan mountains,[27] and it seems that not much is known about him while he was in China either. Chu Wen-djang testifies to this in one of his footnotes to a memorandum sent by Zuo Zongtang in 1877. In the memorandum, Zuo writes that ‘Now, in northern Sinkiang, with the exception of Ili, we have recovered the whole area of Turfan. The only resisting groups left are some remnants under Pai Yen-hu along the western bank of K’ai-tu 开都河 River and some rebels in Kashgar. All the other cities have fallen into our lap …’ Chu Wen-djang’s footnote is quoted here:

There is very little biographical material on Pai. His name was mentioned here and there in the government documents in Fang-lüeh and Tso’s memorial. By these documents, Pai was one of the leaders of Shensi Moslems who fled from Shensi to Kansu, then to Hsining, then to Su-chou, then to Hami, then joined the forces of Yakoob Beg and finally fled to Russia after Kashgar was taken. He was cunning and attacked only when the government forces were weak, but never put up a real fight before a big army.[28]

The revolts lasted from 1862–78. Bo Yanhu was definitely not a central or important figure in the first six or seven years of the revolts. The Chinese sources mention him only in passing mostly as a leader of the rebels from Shaanxi who retreated to Gansu, then to Ningxia 宁夏, and eventually Russia. Occasionally, his name appears together with the names of other rebel leaders, for example, in connection with the attack on Guyuan 固原 or the retreat north to Datong 大通.[29] Bo Yanhu’s active struggle against the government was noted in the Chinese sources only in the middle of 1869, when, together with other Muslim leaders such as Yu Deyan 禹得彦 and Cui San 崔三, he retreated from Shaanxi.

Who then was Bo Yanhu? What do the Dungan and Russian scholars say about him? My main sources on him are Poi͡arkov (1901), Duman (1939), and I͡usurov (1961). Duman and I͡usurov’s works offer valuable information, but this information often comes from Poi͡arkov’s work, which contains a great deal of interesting and detailed information gathered after ‘thorough and lengthy interviews, mainly with the Dungans [who were together with Bo Yanhu in China] but also with the Russians who met Bo Yanhu [in Russia] and even from some Chinese who visited Russia at that time’.[30] I quote mainly from Poi͡arkov.

Some Dungans say that he was born in Beijing; others say that his birthplace was a small village by the name of Wanggecun 王閣村 (near Xi’an); some say that he was born in Xi’anfu 西安府; some think that he was from the city of Changguxiang where his father was mayor. The interesting fact is that this contradictory information was forwarded by his near relatives, including his son. Poi͡arkov thinks that one explanation for the contradiction is that Bo Yanhu was well-educated in classical Chinese; that he inherited his father’s extensive library of the Chinese classics and brought this library across the Tianshan mountains. Because of his unstable life for many years during the campaigns, portions of this library were lost or stolen, and what was left was stolen or destroyed after his death (he died in 1882, four years after he settled in Karakunuz). It is said that Bo Yanhu’s own memoirs of the revolts also disappeared after his death. Poi͡arkov tried but failed to find any traces of this library. however, some Dungans said that Bo Yanhu was a completely uneducated man.

Bo Yanhu’s son told Poi͡arkov that at the age of nineteen Bo was selected to administer one of the large and important sections of Beijing and that the was elected unanimously by the Beijing Muslim community.[31] On another occasion, Bo Yanhu’s son presented yet another contradictory fact — namely that his father had his own detachment at the age of fourteen or fifteen, which was involved in skirmishes with the Chinese many years before the beginning of the Muslim revolts in 1862.[32]

Poi͡arkov praises Bo Yanhu as a man with remarkable abilities and outstanding qualities who had a brilliant mind, native intelligence, and unshakeable willpower. He was extremely brave and resourceful. He was valued as a leader because of his energy, honesty, and fairness; he protected the weak, helped the poor, and comforted those who suffered injustice; he treated a poor worker and a rich and influential ahong in the same manner — this is how the Dungans present him in their songs. As he continuously demanded equality and justice for the Muslim community he was hated by the Chinese authorities. At first he tried to achieve results by legal means, but soon he changed his approach. He started to take vengeance on the Chinese authorities but he did this so skilfully that for a long time the Chinese did not realise that when, for example, a Chinese was drowned with a large stone tied around his neck, it was in fact the Muslim leader himself who had ordered this to be done. Here Poi͡arkov mentions that one of the characteristics of the Chinese Muslim ethnic group is their deep-seated sense of revenge.

Describing Bo Yanhu as a military leader, Poi͡arkov speculates that either the Manchu armies were weak or the Manchu generals were worthless; otherwise, how could Bo Yanhu nearly always win? Apparently during all the years of fighting, Bo Yanhu nearly always defeated armies that were three or four times the size of his own detachments. Here Poi͡arkov quotes V.P. Vasil’ev, whom he regards as ‘a famous professor and academic’. According to Vasil’ev’s account, Bo Yanhu killed 300,000 Chinese in the city of Ningxia 宁夏 and during the desperate defence of Suzhou 肃州.[33]

One of Bo Yanhu’s military tactics was to surprise and frighten the enemy by appearing where he was least expected. He was ruthless but also compassionate. For instance, he ordered his men not to harm Chinese women and children, and severely punished those who disobeyed his orders. Because the Chinese were exceedingly cruel to the Dungan women and children, Bo Yanhu thought constantly of their safety, sometimes even in mid-battle. He cared for and constantly planned how to house the old people, women and children safely, and how to provide them with enough food. This special trait in his character earned him deep respect, not only among his own people but also with his bitter enemies, the Chinese.

At every battle, Bo Yanhu was always ahead of his men, and this usually inspired them to fight better. He continually appeared where his men were in the most danger and often his appearance among the weakened and discouraged men was enough to enable them to win the battle.

According to his son, Bo Yanhu was wounded more than twenty times, but never took any notice when wounded, however gravely. Only once, near Xiningfu 西宁府, he was wounded so badly that he had to be put to bed. But, according to Poi͡arkov, even on that occasion, ‘though he was weak, half dead, exhausted from life-threatening bleeding, he went on directing the battle from his bed and, because of this, a major victory was won’.[34]

‘It is known’, writes Poi͡arkov, ‘that everything looks good on a remarkable and unusual person. Bo Yanhu had nine or ten scars [from previous wounds] criss-crossing his face in all directions and this did not disfigure his appearance. On the contrary, the scars enhanced his appearance and made him look manly and attractive. The scars suited his face. Not only the Dungans were of this opinion, but, on many occasions, Russians who knew him or met him for the first time also mentioned this fact.’[35]

The Dungans’ Versions of the Revolts

Numerous works have already described the 1862–78 revolts in China, giving a full account of the decisions taken, the attacks, and the battles. This work will only describe the eyewitness accounts given to Poi͡arkov by the Dungans who participated in the revolts, survived them and were, at the time of the accounts, living in Russia.

Poi͡arkov writes that in order to find out about the revolts that caused the Dungans to escape to Russia he asked a Dungan doctor, Li Kekui, to write down a short account of the events. Li’s account was then translated from Chinese into Russian by M.V. Stashkov. In addition, Poi͡arkov also gathered material from some of the rebel leaders and the Dungans who had participated in the revolts. All this information is presented here in order to give an insight into the Dungans’ experiences and their point of view. It should be noted that throughout these accounts the narrators never mention the word ‘Manchus’ and ‘Muslims’; they use the term ‘Chinese’ for both the Chinese and the Manchus and the term ‘Dungans’ for the Muslims in China and for those Chinese Muslims who escaped to Russia. It should also be mentioned here that the information given is, naturally, biased, often exaggerated, and not always correct, especially when a figure is given for how many perished or survived. But the information occasionally gives a level of detail that is not recorded elsewhere. Three more points should be mentioned before presenting the Dungans’ accounts of the events:

  1. As mentioned in the Preface, Chu Wen-djang’s work gives a comprehensive and detailed account of the revolts, but only of the Qing side. The accounts below are the other side of the picture.
  2. The following accounts give the impression that all Muslims voluntarily joined the revolts and that all the Muslims hated the Chinese. It should be clarified there that:
    1. not all of the Muslims were willing to rebel (some were peaceful, law-abiding people who had friendly relations with the government)
    2. many Muslims were killed by their fellow Muslims because they refused to co-operate, and
    3. in the army that fought the Muslims, there were proportionately more Muslims than Han Chinese or Manchus among the rank and file.[36]
  3. The following accounts will describe how much the Muslims suffered; therefore, the problems of the Manchu side should be touched upon here. The court and the various generals made many mistakes and many leaders were incompetent or corrupt. On many occasions, the soldiers were unpaid and not fed for long periods of time; some were forced to steal grain and some were cheated by their superiors. There were open riots and mass desertions among the government troops.[37]

Li Kekui’s account is as follows:[38]

The Taiping army (we [the Dungans] call them Changmo, 长毛 [Dungans pronounce mao as mo]) occupied Shaanxi province on the 25th day of the third moon of the first year of the Tongzhi 同治 reign [1862]. This army, consisting of 30,000 men, started to kill the Chinese and burn their houses and temples. The Dungans were very frightened. The government sent 2,000 men to Xi’anfu to fight the Taipings and there was a battle at the Hongguancun gorge. The Taipings did not touch the Dungan settlements and mosques. They also did not touch the Chinese who were Catholics nor the buildings that belonged to them. Because of this, the local Chinese authorities became suspicious and reported to the higher authorities that the Taipings and the Dungans were in collaboration. On the tenth of the fourth moon, the Chinese killed thirteen Dungan merchants, on the thirteenth they killed nineteen Dungans, on the thirteenth they killed three prominent merchants, and within the next few days several more Dungans were killed in various parts of Shaanxi province. When we saw and heard this we became very frightened. Our elders had a meeting and on the 22nd of the same month 100 Dungans were sent to complain to the emperor. When they reached Tongzhoufu 同州府, 78 of them were killed by the Chinese and it was a miracle that the rest survived.
On the 24th, the Chinese army arrived at the village Wanggecun in order to kill all the Dungans there [Wanggecun is situated near Dali 大荔]. There were about 1,000 families in the settlement and when we saw the Chinese army we decided to fight them. When they saw that they could not overcome us, they fled. At first, realising that we were under the control of the Chinese emperor, we did not dare to touch the Chinese. But on the very same day, just before sunset, the Chinese attacked the Dungans for the second time. This time, the Chinese army was much larger in number. We fought all night. The Dungan women and children were so frightened that they committed suicide by cutting their throats or by jumping into wells. On the 25th, the Dungans communicated with the other Dungan settlements, telling them to obtain weapons and to gather in one place. So we all gathered in one place and we felt safe. When the Chinese found out about this they asked for reinforcements. There was a battle on the nineteenth of the fifth moon and the Chinese killed most of the Dungans; there were not more than 2,000 of us left. Those who survived joined the Dungans in Weicheng. The leader of the Weicheng group was the mullah Mo Chegun. The leader of the Muslims located east of the Great Wall was Ma Yanying; Ma Shengyan 马生彦, a merchant, was the leader of the Wangdisha area; and the leader west of the Great Wall was Sun Yibao 孙义保. Another leader was Jing Laowu.
The emperor’s teacher, Zhang Fei 张芾 and one of our people, a Dungan by the name of Ma Bailing 马百龄, advised the emperor to stop the conflict between the Chinese and Muslims.[39] Zhang Fei spoke very pleasantly and sincerely for the Dungans, but in actual fact, while he was speaking he had in his possession a document from the emperor that stated there should be no Dungans left on Chinese soil. When we saw this document and the seal on it we understood that there was no place for us in China. We then killed Zhang Fei. Once we had killed him, we started to kill all the other Chinese. We flogged Ma Bailing in front of all the Dungans and then sent him back home to Xi’anfu, where he soon died. From that time on, we had fights with the Chinese every day. This lasted until the ninth month [of 1862]. During the ninth month, we moved to the northern mountains; we wandered about starving in that area for nearly a year. As there was nothing to eat there, we moved with our families and reached the city of Pingliang 平凉 where some of us Dungans were living. But soon the Chinese army reached us and we had to fight with them again; more than 1,000 Dungans, both men and women, were killed. The Chinese army was large and there was no way we could stop its advances, so we escaped during the night. After two days’ march, we reached Guyuan, where some Dungans were located. We looted and plundered along the way; we stole horses and donkeys from the Chinese.
After living for a short time in Guyuan we returned to our native places to see what had happened there. We lived peacefully there for one and a half years. Then we heard that Chinese troops were approaching and that they had new rifles. We went forward to met them. The first battle was near the district city of Zhiningxian and our leader was Bo Yanhu. There were only about 8,000 of us, but Bo Yanhu took with him only 5,000. We surrounded the city and Bo Yanhu was the first to climb a ladder to reach the top of the city wall. We followed his example. The Chinese were confused as they did not expect this and we gained a brilliant victory. Not many Chinese survived on this occasion and because of this we obtained a large amount of provisions, cattle, and property. Now that our situation had improved our spirits rose. We returned to Zuziwen area where we left our wives and children. We lived there for two years. This was in the province of Shaanxi, in the region of Xiningfu.
Then we heard that the Chinese army had arrived again in Zhiningxian; after repairing this fortress, they attacked us again. But Bo Yanhu made the right decisions and gave the right orders and the victory was ours completely. On this occasion we did not pursue the Chinese; their losses were already great — out of 10,000 men who attacked us, only half survived; we, however, lost only 300 men. Soon after this battle, General Zu Gunbao arrived in Lanzhou 兰州 with an army of 100 lian [companies]. When we saw such a large army we escaped to Jinjibao 金积堡. Because he had a large amount of provisions, we were drawn to Ma Hualong’s 马化龙 army as to a magnet. The Chinese army of 20,000 men attacked us again. We were in an extremely difficult position: the Yellow River blocked our way in front and the Chinese army approached from the rear. There was no other way but to fight. We fought desperately, with all our strength. We killed 10,000 Chinese and captured a great number of weapons and cattle. This was at the beginning of 1868.
We went back to Guyuan and lived there for eight to nine months. A Chinese official, Lei Qingcei [sic] invited some of the important Dungans and begged them to surrender. ‘I will give you flour and other edible products’, he said, and in actual fact, he gave us several hundreds poods [one pood equals 16.38kg] of flour. But there was poison in this flour and more than 300 of our people died. After this event we never trusted the Chinese again and we did not enter into any kind of discussion with them. Seeing that the situation was getting worse, a small group of us went to Jinjibao while the majority — about three-quarters of us — went to Hezhou 河州. Those who left from Jinjibao were pursued by the army of Zu Gunbao. Thinking that Bo Yanhu was in this group, Zu Gunbao overtook and surrounded them. There was nothing to eat and some of our people died of starvation but the majority were killed by the Chinese. At this time, one of our representatives, a Dungan by the name of You Yanlu, surrendered to the Chinese with 3,000 men from his detachment. He enticed his men to surrender with all sorts of empty promises. But the Chinese first of all killed Yu Yanlu himself and then most of his men. The few men who survived made their way towards Hezhou to join Bo Yanhu. Many Dungans from various regions and districts joined them along the way. The Chinese pursued them closely all the time and the Dungans were having a very difficult time. All of a sudden, Bo Yanhu appeared. They fought off the enemy seven times along the way, At this point, we had more troops than the Chinese and we killed 4,000 of them. Finally, we arrived at Hezhou.
Hezhou was a large city populated mostly by Dungans, about 100,000 of them, and also quite a large number of Chinese. The city was governed by a Dungan by the name of Ma Chanyou [this should be Ma Zhan’ao, 马占鳌] and with the arrival of Bo Yanhu we had complete control of the city. All the Dungans were armed with good rifles. When we arrived there, most of the environs were devastated. We lived there, in the city and the environs, for about six months.
During the second moon of 1871, General Zu Gunbao arrived with his army. There was a battle on the shores of Didao River 狄道河; Ma Zhan’ao was on one side of the river and Zu Gunbao on the other. Ma Zhan’ao did not leave the fortress but created gun-ports from which he shot at the enemy. Because of this no Dungans were killed; the Chinese, on the contrary, lost many lives and had to retreat. Another Dungan detachment approached the Chinese from the rear. But, at this stage, a misfortune happened to Ma Zhan’ao; the only explanation we can offer is that he lost his mind. After he had so decisively crushed the Chinese, one of the important Chinese high officials talked him into giving himself up to the Chinese. Many men from Ma Zhan’ao’s detachment followed his example, but not many of these traitors survived. When we heard that Ma Zhan’ao had gone over to the Chinese side, we fled towards the city of Hongfei. This city did not have any Dungans living in it, but this did not worry Bo Yanhu, because he had a detachment of about 40,000 men. Although we did have a major battle there, we did not lose many lives. What happened is that we chased the Chinese into the city and as there were not many of them we just walked past the city walls and they did not touch us. Soon after that the commander of the Chinese troops invited one of our distinguished members, Liu Ershifu 刘二师傅, to talk about reconciliation between the two hostile parties, but by then we did not trust our enemies any more.
From there we went to Ganzhou 甘州, a city in Gansu province. When we approached the city we were met by Chinese cavalry, but they did not attack us as there were so many of us. We stayed there for a while and managed to take away a large amount of provisions and cattle from the Chinese. After we had looted many expensive objects from the Chinese we left for Xiningfu. We went there because Bo Yanhu ordered us to go there in order to rescue our people in that area. However, when we arrived there the Chinese armies surrounded us. We fought five battles and the Chinese could not overcome us, but they overpowered us during the sixth battle. Many of us perished on that occasion. Torrents of human blood flowed on both sides.
At that time, Bo Yanhu summoned the commanders of all the Dungan units and said, ‘We’ll have to go to Kashgar and if we do not find peace there, we’ll go to Russia and we’ll beg the Russian Tsar to take us in’. And so we started on our journey.
The journey ahead of us was long and difficult. Both the people and the livestock had nothing to eat and we lost many people and livestock from starvation. People started to grumble. We directed our steps towards the city of Suzhou. Only Dungans were living in that city, but there were many Chinese people and Chinese troops in the environs. [As we approached the city we heard that] the Chinese army had surrounded the city intending to massacre all the Dungans in it. We left some of our people, including wives and children, at a settlement by the name of Tarwan, which is situated 40 li 里 from Suzhou. But the majority of us went forth to free the Dungans who were being besieged. There was a small battle, but we could not free the city. Though we could not overpower the Chinese, we did manage to rescue half of the Dungans who were in the city. We withdrew ten li from the city and spent the night there. At daybreak , the Chinese army of more than 15,000 men disturbed the peace and by the time the sun had only just risen we had already lost 7,000 people, and this number included women, old people, and children. The Chinese lost 2,000 men.
After this we went to the city of Jiayuguan 嘉峪关; we demolished it and moved on to the city of Sazhou [probably Suzhou]. As there was no food for either the people or the livestock, we stopped. We ate clover, tree bark, and grass that was not harmful to humans.
There were three detachments of Chinese in Sazhou. The three commanders were Hu Daren 胡大人, Ji Daren, and Ma Daren. Altogether, they had about 8,000 men. We had not strength to run away as we were starving and exhausted, so the only thing we could do was to fight. We fought for three days and though during this time neither side suffered great losses, we could not beat them and finally had to retreat. After a short rest, Bo Yanhu gave an order that all of us, without exceptions, had to surround the fortress of Sazhou. He ordered us to take the fortress no matter what it cost us. When we surrounded the fortress, the Chinese saw that they were in trouble and wanted to run, but Bo Yanhu placed very reliable guards at every gate. Whenever a Chinese approached a gate he was seized and killed. Two of the Chinese commanders somehow managed to disappear but we did capture the commander Hu. The two commanders who got away sent a message to us asking whether we had killed Commander Hu or not. We answered that we had not killed him. When the two commanders heard this they asked us to let him go and [said] that in return they would send us provisions and fodder. And this is exactly what happened. We let Commander Hu go and they actually sent us lots of provisions and fodder, which we distributed among our people, ordering them to use it carefully and thriftily. Once we had fortified our strength, we again entered into combat with our enemies and eventually chased them out of Sazhou. While we were capturing the city we killed more than 2,000 Chinese and lost more than 1,000 of our own men. A large amount of provisions was left behind by the Chinese and our people were triumphant. Fearing they would all be killed, the Chinese in all the large and small villages around Sazhou got very frightened; they left everything behind and ran away. We stayed in Sazhou for four months and managed to gather the harvest that had been sown by the Chinese.
Then we left for Hami 哈密. Hami was governed by a civil official, Wen Qisei [sic] and the Chinese armies were under Zhan Daren and Wei Tuling. These two commanders approached us with a detachment of 8,000 men. At first we could not decide what to do, but then we realised that in actual fact we had many men. Bo Yanhu ordered us to dig as many dugouts as possible during the night. Before daybreak the majority of us hid in the dugouts. The Chinese, thinking that there were not many of us, attacked us. In this way, we lured them into our midst. There was a terrific slaughter. We captured Wei Tuling; Zhan Daren was killed and we handed his body to Wei Tuling. More than 1,000 Chinese were killed in the battle. We captured more than 700 horses and lots of provisions. We were overjoyed.
At this time, Yakub Beg 阿古柏 invited us to join him, so we moved to Turfan 吐魯番 and joined his forces. On Yakub Beg’s orders we moved to Urumqi 乌鲁木齐 (also called Hongmiaozi 红庙子). We lived here for three years. Our main occupations during this time were agriculture and trade. Then, we heard that the Chinese were approaching us again. We heard rumours that the Chinese were killing Dungans in Jinjibao, Minzhou, Xining, and Hezhou and that half of the Dungans there were already dead. We also found out that the Chinese commander Liu Sho [Liu Jintang 刘锦棠] and General Jian [perhaps Jin Shun 金顺] were approaching Kashgar with large armies. When Bo Yanhu found out that the Chinese were heading towards Urumqi he sent a messenger to Yakub Beg asking for permission to fight the Chinese. Yakub Beg gave his permission and he himself also set out with his army against our common enemy. He even sent us his cavalry as reinforcements; however, we did not get any benefit from this as the cavalry just stood there and looked after their horses. Yakub Beg’s armies entered into battle with the Chinese armies. There was a major battle and we fought several times. We saw that Yakub Beg’s troops did not have the strength to overpower the Chinese, so we abandoned him and left for Kashgar. Not less than five to six thousand young and old Dungans were killed around Gungdi, which is situated fifteen to twenty versts [Russian miles; one verst is approx. 1.067km] from Urumqi. When the Dungan people heard this they became very frightened. Some Dungans ran to Toksun 托克逊, where they received the news that Manas 绥来 had been taken by the Chinese. It is not clear how many Dungans were killed there, but over 1,000 Dungans died there from fright and starvation. At this time, two Dungans who had run away from a Chinese camp told us that all the Dungans had been massacred by the Chinese in such places as Jinjibao, Manas, Guyuan, and Suzhou. Great fear came over us. Yakub Beg’s armies were completely defeated. Liu Jintang pursued both Yakub Beg’s armies and us and arrived at Kashgar in no time. He exterminated many people in this city, including the Dungans.
When Liu Jintang entered Kashgar, Yakub Beg was in the city of Korla 库尔勒. When he found out that the Chinese had occupied his domains he became very angry and sad. We do not know whether it was because of this or some other sorrow, but he drank poison and died. After Yakub Beg’s death, one section of his troops moved towards the direction of Andizhan [in Uzbekistan?] and another section joined Liu Jintang and pursued us. From Kashgar we fled to Russia.

Thus ends the narrative of the Dungan doctor Li Kekui.

Poi͡arkov also gives a collection of impressions and views of some of the other Dungans. He gathered his material from the Dungans who survived the revolts and were living in Russia. Occasionally, the sequence of the events in these narratives is confusing, perhaps owing to the fact that there were several informants. His account is presented below.[40]

The Dungans all stressed that they never had anything to do with the Taipings. They maintained that the Chinese, for no reason at all, started to oppress them. ‘Very often when the Chinese would meet two or three of our drivers [some Muslims in China were in the transport trade] along a road, they would cut off their heads with a knife, the sort of sharp knife that they used to cut clover. We always lived peacefully, we obeyed them in everything. We really do not know why they started to mistreat us.’
The Dungans also said that the main perpetrator who started the hostile relations between the Chinese and the Dungans was the emperor’s teacher Zhang Fei. It was Zhang Fe who convinced the emperor that the Dungans were ‘unreliable people and highly dangerous for the Chinese’.
When Zhang Fei governed the province of Xininfu, with the permission of the emperor he gave an order to the district authorities to kill, in one night, all the Dungans in that district. Poi͡arkov’s informant added that ‘this included women and children, and there were more than 20,000 of us’.
‘The river Youhe divides the city of Xiningfu; the Dungans lived on the right side of the river. When we heard of Zhang Fei’s order, several of our young people crossed the river to tell the rest of the Dungans about the imminent danger. The Dungans were thrown into a panic.
This is how the revolts started. In the next few years, the revolts swept through such cities as Tongzhoufu, Weinanxian 渭南县, Lintongxian 临潼县, Gaolingxian 高陵县, and Xianyangxian 咸阳县. [All these cities are in Shaanxi province, not far from Xi’an]. Many Dungans were living in these cities and we rose simultaneously and gathered in Xianyangxian. There were about 30,000 of us and our leaders were Song Bao [also known as Sui Bao] and Erhezu. This was during the second moon of the second year of the Tongzhi 同治 reign [1863], that is to say, a year after the beginning of the revolts.
When the Chinese found out that we had gathered in large numbers, they crossed the Youhe and started to kill us without discrimination and burn our houses in all the villages throughout the district of Xiningfu. Altogether, they attacked 48 Dungan villages in this area. Quite a number of male Dungans survived, but not one woman or child. We, in our turn, attacked many Chinese villages, but we did not touch their women or children. This killing on both sides lasted for about a year and mainly occurred in two districts, Changnanxian and Xianyangxian.
Though we had two leaders, Erhezu and Sui Bao, we did not pay any attention to them. We operated in small detachments and made surprise attacks on the enemy. During all this time, the fighting was among the common people; both sides reached such mutual bitterness that it was not safe for a Dungan or a Chinese to meet on a road or in a field because one of them had to be killed. These killings happened all the time and people behaved worse than animals. Because there was no possibility for us to work we survived on what we could loot. Finally, government troops arrived, about 100,000 men, led by General Shing Gunbao [sic]. At first we had minor skirmishes with them, but when our numbers reached 50,000, we had three major battles with the Chinese. A small number of the Chinese soldiers ran away and we killed the rest.
The first major battle was near the city of Lintongxian. The Chinese army, on their way from Peking, attacked us there for the first time. We lost about 3,000 men and the Chinese lost 30,000. We fought for three days, day and night. The reason why the Chinese had such heavy casualties was that they had very inconvenient and heavy weapons. One kind of weapon, for example, a slow-match rifle called tangchang, was about three arshins [one arshin equals 28 inches] long and needed two soldiers to carry it. We, on the other hand, were armed with lances, swords, and knives. Some of us were much worse off than our enemy; we tied knives to sticks. But when we won we always took the good weapons off the dead Chinese soldiers.
The second battle was by the Youhe River. What happened was that one night some Chinese crossed the river to our side to get some coal; we found out about this and attacked them. Though they were armed, we managed to kill all of them and throw their bodies into the river. Upon hearing that a battle was in progress, Shing Gongbao sent over half of his army. This army arrived at sunrise and attacked us. We fought desperately; we fought not only on the land but also on the water, on rafts, boats and barges. Many people perished on both sides. One could not drink the water in the river; what flowed in the river was not water, but blood. The weather was hot and the corpses on the ground and in the water contaminated the air and the water. We could not stay there, so we ran away from this area.
The third battle was near the city of Xianyangxian. We lost about 1,500 men there. After these three battles, the revolts grew in intensity and spread to the cities of Tongzhoufu and Fengxiangfu 凤翔府 [in Shaanxi]. Unfortunately, we could not combine our forces. Though at that time we were stronger than the Chinese, the Chinese killed many of us. The government sent their troops to all districts to put down all the revolts simultaneously. The only exception to this was the region of Xi’anfu, where the revolt died down of its own accord; since the hanging of Shing Gongbao, the Dungans of this area lived peacefully for about half a year.’

Poi͡arkov notes that all his Dungan informants divide their struggle against the Chinese into two periods: at first they fought with the Chinese common people and only later had desperate battles with the government troops. This order of events took place in every district and region where there were revolts.

‘In Tongzhoufu the Dungan leaders, Ma Yanying, Ma Shengyan, Jing Laowu, and Yang Wuzhi held a council of war and decided to combine their forces and act jointly. However, they did not decide who was going to be the principal leader. They had about 60,000 men, but these men were badly armed.
We defeated the first Chinese detachment that was sent to Tongzhoufu by the government and killed the Chinese general who was in charge. However, the second detachment sent by the Chinese was much better armed. It was led by General Duo. As the Chinese army had about 50,000 men it was extremely difficult for us to fight them. We fought with them for about six months, altogether about twenty times. About 7,000 Dungans were killed during this time. Seeing that the Dungans had no hope of winning, we sent word to the Dungans in Xiningfu for help. About 10,000 Dungans came from Xiningfu to help us, but, in spite of these reinforcements, we suffered defeat. After losing many men the Xiningfu Dungans returned home, and those of the Tongzhoufu Dungans who were still alive followed them. But the Chinese General Duo pursued us to Xiningfu. He crushed all the Dungan detachments at Xiningfu and we had to escape to the Fengxiang area. The main cities of this area, such as Baojixian 宝鸡县, Qishanxian [perhaps 岐山县], Lixian, and Chayanxian, were populated with Dungans who all rose in revolt. We arrived at that area and joined them. General Duo followed us and did great harm to us. Fortunately for us, he came across a small town by the name of Zhuwuzhujian, which had been taken by the Chamoza (the Kara-Kitays).[41] General Duo decided to take this city back and to punish the Chamozas. But the Chamozas had better weapons than the Chinese and one of their shots got General Duo in the eye and killed him. Although General Duo was dead, the Chinese army still surrounded the city, intending to force it to surrender. However, the Chamozas dug tunnels during the night and escaped from the city. The day before General Duo’s death, a Dungan leader, Erhuozu, went over to the Chinese side with his detachment. However, the poor fellow did not get any profit from this act as the Chinese executed him and most of his men; only about twenty or thirty of them managed to escape.
After General Duo’s death, three Chinese detachments, under the leadership of Lei Qingsai, Tuo Zhumu, and Cuo Zhumu, started to persecute the Dungans in Fengxiangfu. The Dungans, realising that they had no strength to fight, escaped into the next province, that is, into Gansu. At that time in Gansu, there were already many Dungans who had been fighting with the Chinese for a long time.
There are sixteen possible places to cross from Fengxiangfu to Gansu and there were Chinese armies all along the way and these armies were pursing us all the time. During that time we had no peace during day or night and we became very weak. We could not fight any more. Many of us died during this time, not so much by the hands of the Chinese as from starvation and cold. We were in despair: mothers abandoned their children; wives abandoned their husbands and vice versa. More than 20,000 of us perished. This was during the fourth year after the start of the revolts [1866].
In Gansu, the leader of the city of Pingliang was a Dungan by the name of Mu San; he had about 30,000 men under his control. The city of Guyuan was also led by a Dungan, Zhang Ahong 张阿訇, [the ahong by the surname of Zhang] and he had up to 20,000 men. In Jinjibao, the leader, a Dungan by the name of Ma Hualing [Ma Hualong], had about 30,000 men. Ma Hualing was elected to be the leader of all the Dungans in Gansu. In the city of Ningxia, the leader was Gui Zhujing, his assistant was Maza, and they had about fifty men. All of these above-mentioned people — all those who were able to carry weapons — gathered on the shores of the Yellow River near the city of Jinjibao. As mentioned above, the three Chinese generals were Lei Qingsai, Tuo Zhumu, and Cuo Zhumu.[42] They followed at our heels. Soon more forces joined them. Some Dungans say that there were as many as 500,000 Chinese troops there! But there were many Dungans, too. Some say that there were as many as 200,000 of us. For the next four months we fought continuously — every day and sometimes several times a day. We would have a rest and then we would start fighting again. Generally speaking, we lost about 6,000 people and the Chinese had 40 men left out of every 100 men. During this time, both the Chinese and the Dungans got hold of and started to use a new firearm [instead of knives and swords]. Ma Hualing’s people did not join the battles with the Chinese because as local inhabitants they knew the territory and it was their task to deliver provisions for us and fodder for our animals. Occasionally, it even happened that they were at the rear of the enemy’s lines. [Besides Ma Hualong’s army], all the other Dungans fought in small detachments or groups of 300 to 500 men. All these detachments fought simultaneously in different places but always some distance away from their camps. Some of us guarded the camps and watched that the enemy did not surround us. Our women and children were in a fortress about eight versts from the Yellow River. During the fourth month we started to overpower the Chinese and chased them from Jinjibao to Xiningfu. We killed many of them and obtained a great quantity of weapons and provisions. We had just started to chase them out of Xiningfu when the Chinese reinforcements arrived. Then the Chinese overpowered us and we had to retreat back to Jinjibao. Many Dungans were killed during this retreat. Then another wave of Chinese reinforcements arrived, led by Liu Sho. Though we entered into battle with them, we could not overpower them. Then another large Chinese army arrived, led by the Governor-General Zuo Gongbao, and we were surrounded on all sides. We fought desperately with all our might and we started to win, but we ran out of food; we had no provisions left, not even clover, which we often ate willingly. Our animals started to die from starvation. We became weak. Many of us were killed by the Chinese and many died of starvation. In addition to these misfortunes, our leaders started to fight among themselves. They did not think of us — out of whatever we managed to loot from the Chinese, our leaders took the best for themselves. We even thought of killing our main leader, Ma Hualing, but he fled and thus saved his life.
Things looked very bad for us. For the second time, we fled to Jinjibao and Hezhou, where there were many Dungans who had plenty of provisions. That was during the third moon of the seventh year since the start of the revolts [1869]. When we arrived in Jinjibao for the second time, Bo Yanhu was commanding a large detachment there, and made successful raids on the Chinese, causing them great harm. Besides, he had plenty of provisions, which, unlike the other Dungan leaders, he generously distributed among his men. Thus, most of the Dungans left their former leaders and joined Bo Yanhu.

Here ends the account given by the Dungans to Poi͡arkov.

The Conquest of Xinjiang — The Final Stages before the First Migration

The two accounts above do not talk much about the Muslim rebellions in Xinjiang and do not mention the final defeat of the Muslims in Kashgar. To make a smoother transition from the Muslim rebellions in Shaanxi and Gansu to the time the Muslim rebels left Kashgar and crossed the Tianshan mountains, which was to become their first migration into Russia, a few words must be said about the conquest of Xinjiang.

Chu Wen-djang gives a clear and detailed picture of Zuo Zongtang’s recovery of Xinjiang.[43] Some of the dates of the important events that give an overall picture are as follows:

The Muslim rebellions started in Shaanxi in 1862. Suzhou was taken by Zuo Zongtag in 1873 and this marked the end of the revolts in Shaanxi and Gansu.

The first Muslim revolts in Xinjiang occurred in June 1864 in Kucha. Chu Wen-djang writes that:

This touched off a chain of mutual massacres between the Chinese and the Moslems and soon spread to the large part of the area. The Manchu officials in charge of the affairs in Sinkiang proved to be no equal to the challenge. The Tartar city of Urumchi fell on October 3rd, 1864; Ili fell on March 8, 1866, and Tarbagatai followed the same fate on April 11, 1866. With the leading officials killed or taken flight, Sinkiang was in turmoil.
Buzurg Khan, a descendant of the former Khoja ruling house of Kashgar, came into Sinking from the neighbouring Khokand in January 1865. He made himself the king of Kashgar. Before long he was replaced by Yakoob Beg, his chief of staff. This new king expanded his kingdom into northern Sinkiang in 1870 and soon controlled Urumchi, Ch’ang-chi, Hu-t’u-pi, Sui-lai. Only Barkol, Hami, Ch’i-t’ai, Ku-ch’eng and Chi-mu-sa were still under the control of the Manchu government or the native Chinese.[44]

Ili was taken by the Muslim rebels on 8 March 1866; the Russians invaded it in the summer of 1871. Yakub Beg’s rebellions in Xinjiang lasted from 1865–78. For several years, the Manchu government was powerless to prevent revolts in Xinjiang. This was because the Manchus were busy establishing order in the inner provinces of China, including Shaanxi and Gansu. Only after the Muslim revolts in the inner part of China were completely subdued, and when most of the Muslim population were either massacred or scattered, did the Qing government direct their forces to Xinjiang. On 4 April 1875, Zuo Zongtang was appointed Imperial Commissioner in charge of the military affairs of Xinjiang, with Jin Shun 金顺 as his deputy. Zuo Zongtang moved into Xinjiang on 7 April 1876. Urumqi (which was occupied by the Muslims on 3 October 1864) was taken on 18 August 1876; Sui-lai (that is, Manas) was taken on 6 November of the same year. Zuo Zongtang had one victory after another. (In 1880, Zuo Zongtang was appointed the grand secretary and minister of the council of state in Beijing and Liu Jintang became the imperial commissioner in charge of military affairs in Xinjiang.)

In his memorial (mentioned above) sent on 26 July 1877, Zuo Zongtang mentioned that in northern Xinjiang (the whole area of Turfan, with the exception of Ili) had been recovered and that the only resisting groups left were some remnants under the Muslim leader Bo Yanhu along the western bank of the Kaidu River 开都河 and some rebels in Kashgar. This is a summary of the events that led to the final defeat of the Muslims at Kashgar.

As Bo Yanhu played an important role in the defeat of Kashgar, a few words must be said about his actions in Xinjiang.[45] In the autumn of 1872, after the crushing defeat of the Muslim rebels at Xiningfu and Datong, many Muslim leaders went over to the government’s side. Only Bo Yanhu, with the remnants of his detachment, held on, but had to retreat from Yong’an 永安 to Suzhou. But after Ma Si’s 马四 (also known as Ma Wenlu 马文禄) betrayal, Bo Yanhu, leading a detachment of about 7,000 men, retreated to Xinjiang. All along the way to Xinjiang, he had to fight off government troops, and when he reached Suzhou he was able to help the Muslims who were besieged inside the city, rescuing about half of them. In Hami, he defeated the local detachment, which consisted of about eight thousand men. He then made his base at Urumqi, where he lived for three years, until the beginning of the new military operations of the Manchus. He was still there in June of 1876.

According to Duman, Zuo Zongtang and Jin Shun had 180 battalions to fight the revolt and 9,000,000 ounces of silver were spent each year for this operation.

Jin Shun reached Gucheng 古城 (that is, Qitai or Khitai 奇台) in 1875 while Zuo Zongtang, sending Liu Jintang ahead, started from Lanzhou only in March 1876. By June 1876, Liu Jintang had reached Barkol and captured Gucheng. Liu Jintang and Jin Shun joined forces and the two armies moved slowly forward, meeting resistance on the way. At this stage, Bo Yanhu, with his detachment, joined Yakub Beg.[46] Yakub Beg ordered Bo Yanhu to defend Hongmiaozi. Later, Yakub Beg sent reinforcements who, however, halted 200 li from Urumqi, not daring to proceed further owing to the approaching Qing army.

Duman mentions an interesting fact here: he writes that although Yakub Beg regarded the Chinese Muslims as his vassals, collected monthly taxes from them and sent his troops to defend their cities from the Manchu armies, he nevertheless tried to present them in an unfavourable light at every opportunity. Thus in his letter of 27 November 1876 to General Kolpakovsky, the military governor of Semirech’e oblast’,[47] in describing his struggle with the Chinese Muslims, he presented them in the following way:

The Muslims have a bad and mean habit of plundering the Chinese and the inhabitants of other nationalities. For example, they came into my domain, killed many people and robbed the others. I chased these traitors with my army right to Urumqi and Turfan and subdued them. But as they are of the same faith as myself, I gave them back their land so that they could govern according to their own methods and rules. God had punished them for their hatred and actions by sending the Chinese upon them — before my arrival, the Chinese captured them and subjugated their territories, which were then under the subordination of Urumqi.

One can see from this letter that a stable and lasting alliance between the Chinese Muslims and the new feudal autocratic state of Yakub Beg was out of the question. However, the Muslims, and Bo Yanhu in particular, fought the Manchus side by side with Yakub Beg’s army. In Duman’s opinion, this was done because the Manchus were a common enemy from whom neither the Muslims nor Yakub Beg could expect mercy.

The Qing army took the cities of Gucheng, Urumqi, Changji 昌吉, and Hutubi 呼图壁 in August of 1876. It should be mentioned that although these cities in the eastern part of Turkestan were taken, the Muslim rebels always put up a good fight and only surrendered because of starvation. This happened in Manas, for instance, where the Muslims, although in great need of provisions, held the city for two years. They could perhaps have survived even longer if the Manchu military leaders had not announced an amnesty to the Muslim inhabitants if the city surrendered. The Manchus, however, did not keep their promise. Out of 2,000 Muslims, 1,500 were tortured to death.

There was savage devastation of the villages and farming land in the area. It seems that some moderating influence was exercised by a detachment of Chinese Muslims, fighting in the Chinese armies. This was known as the ‘Five Banner Cavalry Detachment’, and its commanders were personal friends of Bo Yanhu from earlier days in Shaanxi. These commanders also kept Bo Yanhu informed of Chinese movements.[48]

After the capture of such cities as Urumqi and Manas, the Qing armies moved south, attacking Turfan in February 1877. They defeated Yakub Beg at Dabancheng 达坂城 in April 1877, and on 16 May of the same year, the city of Turfan was taken. Bo Yanhu retreated to Tokesun, where considerable forces of Yakub Beg were concentrated. From then on, events moved faster, bringing the Qing army one new victory after another.

Soon after, Yakub Beg died at Korla. It is not clear whether he was poisoned by the ruler of Khotan, committed suicide or died of apoplexy. (According to the Dungan narrator, Li Kekui, Yakub Beg committed suicide, see above.) There followed a period of indecision and struggle for power. During this period, the Qing armies captured the cities on the road south with virtually no opposition except the guerrilla attacks of the Muslim rebels, who retreated before them.[49]

After the death of Yakub Beg, Bo Yanhu, under the order of Yakub Beg’s eldest son, Beg Kul-beg, defended the city of Korla. On 7 October 1877, the Qing army captured Karashar 喀喇沙尔, and on 9 October Korla was taken. At this point, Bo Yanhu was in Bugur (Karashar district). Liu Jintang, pursuing Bo Yanhu, reached Kucha on 19 October 1877. The Qing army captured Baicheng 拜城 on 21 October, Aksu 阿克苏 on 24 October, and Wushi 乌什 on 26 October, and were within 250 li of Kashgar.

The Qing armies moved towards Kashgar in three columns. The army of Huang Wanpeng 黄万鹏 started from Wushi and moved among the Kirghiz encampments. The army of Gui Xizhen 桂锡桢 started from Aksu and moved along the road that passed Bachu 巴楚; both detachments were under the command of Yu Enhu 余恩虎. On 17 December 1877, the armies led by Huang Wanpeng and Yu Enhu approached Kashgar. The garrison troops in Kashgar put up resistance but were forced to flee. Bo Yanhu was in Kashgar at that time, but could not resist an army that was much stronger than his. Leaving a small detachment to defend the city, he retreated with the rest of his people to Russia. Duman points out that Bo Yanhu fled Kashgar before December or November of 1877, because, according to the archives, the Tsarist authorities knew of his flight in October 1877. Kashgar was eventually taken in January 1878. The fall of Kashgar marked the end of the Muslim revolts in Xinjiang.

Chapter Two: The First Migration, 1877–78

A Short Description of the Three Groups that Crossed the Tianshan

The first migration was a headlong flight by defeated Chinese Muslim rebels and their families, before and after the fall of Kashgar. As the Manchu armies approached and eventually took Kashgar, the retreating Muslim rebels had nowhere else to retreat. In order to survive, they had to cross the formidable Tianshan mountains into Russia, and they did it during the exceptionally severe winter of 1877.[50]

Three groups of Muslim rebels crossed the Tianshan mountains that winter.

The first group, that of Turfan rebels under the leadership of Ma Daren, went north-west. Beg Kul-Beg, the eldest son of Yakub Beg, was at their head with his followers, while Ma Daren, the last to leave Kashgar, brought up the rear, pursued by Manchu troops. At the Russian border, he left behind a covering detachment who perished, but not before slowing down the enemy’s progress. Many refugees suffered from severe frostbite, and many died from starvation or were frozen to death. The Russian authorities of the Ferghana region were informed of the approaching Muslims and set up tents along the border to receive them, and Russian border patrols defended the exhausted people from bandits. The Russians set up feeding-stations along the way, and Russian doctors looked after the sick and the dying. The Kirghiz and Kazakhs also came to the rescue: they offered their horses and donkeys to the refugees, and dug the weakened ones out of the deep snow. This group of refugees, about one thousand people in all, finally arrived in Osh and were housed temporarily in Uzbek mosques.

The second group, that of Gansu rebels from Didaozhou, was led by Ahong Ayelaoren. This group separated from the group led by Bo Yanhu, and crossed the border by way of the tortuous mountain passes of Bedel, Ishtyk-Sashy, and Kishasu, losing half of its members, many of whom died in the violent snowstorms. This group arrived in Przheval’sk in November 1877. The local people took the newcomers into their dwellings. In the spring of 1878, the authorities of the Semirech’e oblast’ allotted to the refugees Yrdyk, a small locality near Przheval’sk, and 1,130 people settled there.

The third group who crossed the border were Chinese Muslims from Shaanxi province led by Bo Yanhu. After leaving Kashgar, this group, the largest of the three, fled towards the Chakmak Pass. The women, children, and older men walked in front, followed by the younger men; Bo Yanhu came last. The narrow path they had to take climbed up steep cliffs and dropped into deep valleys. On Bo Yanhu’s orders, the walked in single file, about 1.5m apart, but this did not prevent many from losing their footing and falling in to the deep gorges. Over 100 people perished during one snowstorm. There were many casualties before Bo Yanhu eventually led his party to the Russian frontier post of Naryn’ on 6 December 1877. There was no accommodation available at this small outpost, and the refugees slept in the snow around campfires while the Russian authorities decided what to do with them. Eventually they were offered the opportunity of becoming Russian subjects, and were ordered to hand over their weapons and to proceed to Tokmak. Again they climbed up mountain passes, and many starved or died in a snowstorm while crossing the Dolon Pass (3,030m above sea level). Some of the Kirghiz helped them, but in most cases they were treated with open hostility by the Russians and Kazakhs at the post-stations. They arrived in Tokmak on 27 December 1877, and some were accommodated in about a hundred huts or dugouts. The Tokmak citizens not only refused to help the new arrivals, but even inflated the prices of the provisions they sold them. Only in the spring of the following year was Karakunuz, eight kilometres from Tokmak, allocated to the refugees. According to the Central State Archives of the Kirghiz SSR, 3,314 people settled there.[51] The Dungans called this settlement Inpan (Yingpan 营盘, ‘a camp’).[52]

All three groups suffered the same hardships and occasional hostile reception from the local population but the sources mainly describe the fate of Bo Yanhu’s group. Two accounts of this group are given below. First, the eyewitness account of the Dungan doctor Li Kekui cited above. Poi͡arkov’s description, which follows, was compiled from eyewitness accounts of Dungans who survived the crossing and talked to him in Russia and also from the impressions of Russians who witnessed the arrival of the Dungans.

Li Kekui’s Description of the Crossing of Tianshan [53]

From Kashgar we fled to Russia along the road towards Naryn’. Our enemy overtook us when we were at the Chakmak Gorge. The weather was very cold; the gorge was extremely narrow and there was nowhere for us to turn. In this place alone the Chinese killed three-quarters of the Dungans, including the people from Kashgar. Some people even maintain that about nine-tenths of the escapees [that is, the Dungans] perished here. We, the Dungans, were in front, Yakub Beg’s troops were behind us, and the Chinese were behind them. There was nothing to eat. There was a great deal of plundering; we looted whenever we could. We rode [in other accounts the Dungans were on foot] day and night without rest. Many perished from cold and starvation during this period. And Liu Jintang was right behind us; he pursued us right to the Russian border. There was lots of snow on the Tash-Rabat Pass; many perished there during a bad snowstorm. Those who were wounded in the Chakmak skirmish with the Chinese were now groaning loudly. Some Kirghiz collected our women, children, and old people who had fallen behind because they were too weak to walk. These kind Kirghiz picked the poor creatures up along the way and delivered them back to us. By doing this, they saved many lives. But there were also Kirghiz who took advantage of our difficulties and kept our wives and children. These wives and children were left behind forever; we never saw them again.
On 27 December 1877, we arrived at the fortified settlement Naryn’. Our weapons were taken away from us. We had a rest and felt better. We were alive owing to the mercy of the Great Russian Tsar.

Poi͡arkov’s Description of the Crossing of Tianshan and the Arrival of Bo Yanhu’s Group [54]

Poi͡arkov spends the first six pages of his work describing the exceptionally harsh winter of 1877. He gives a long and vivid description of it, which, according to the locals, was the worst in living memory. Poi͡arkov describes how the people and their animals starved in the freezing snowstorms and how they were cut off in the faraway mountains. It is a very poetic and touching description, which has the following ending:

The nomads [the Kirghiz], finding themselves in this hopeless and painful situation, could only weep, pray, and curse. But it was useless. It was as if the weather in its formidable and grim grandeur, triumphed over and mocked the helplessness of these pitiful and insignificant victims, as if it craved for their tears, prayers, and curses! But not only the Kirghiz had such a wretched time during that fatal winter of 1877. There were many other unfortunate sufferers.

Towards evening, one day at the end of December [writes Poi͡arkov] — many Dungans even mention the actual dates of 27th or 28th — of that unlucky (but, fortunately for many, now almost ending) year of 1877 a group of people arrived completely unexpectedly at the fort of Naryn’. Buried up to the waist in snow, the group consisted of people of both sexes and various ages, from breast-fed infants to old people of eighty. It is impossible now to determine their number as no reliable and exact information is to be found anywhere. Some Dungans say that there were at least 6,000 people, some named a much higher number; still others suggested a much lower number. If one is to take an average figure, there were probably about 3,500–4,000 people of both sexes. The new arrivals were truly in a dreadful state. Many had frostbitten hands and feet; the lucky ones had frostbite only on their faces and ears. Some had festering wounds on top of old wounds, and judging by the shapes of the wounds, these were inflicted by a variety of weapons. Some had covered their wounds with dirty rags, but the wounds of most of them were uncovered.

The clothes, both of men and women, were almost identical in style, cut and colour. Everybody wore Chinese-style cotton-padded gowns and wide cotton-padded trousers tightly bandaged with strips of cloth around the ankles. The footwear, depending less on the means than on the resourcefulness and ingenuity of the individual, was more diverse. Some wore Chinese-style shoes; some had socks sewn together from pieces of sheepskin with fur on the inside; some, with frostbitten toes showing, had wrapped their feet with rags; some only had wooden soles tied to their feet with rope or twists of horsehair; and some had no footwear at all.

The majority of the arrivals came on foot, as there were not enough horses or oxen even for those women, children, and weakened old men who were too exhausted and frozen to walk.

Frozen and worn out from hunger, the newcomers could barely walk. Some of them, using their last ounce of strength, made a few steps and fell into the deep soft snow, never to get up again. The rest walked past, not even glancing at the fallen — they were used to this sight. Some of the exhausted mothers had no strength to hold the half-frozen infants in their arms and often did not even notice when the infant dropped to the ground from their stiff arms.

Terror and despair were written on all their faces and the streets of the remote and sparsely inhabited fort of Naryn’ were all of a sudden filled with the wails of a thousand voices. Looking at these people, it was hard to comprehend the amount of suffering and deprivation that they had endured. Only extreme cruelty could have caused a group of people to cross the heights of the Tianshan at such an inappropriate season.

The passes through the Tianshan are free of snow only in the summer and then only for a very short time; for the rest of the time, for about eight to nine months, they are covered with deep snow. One row of majestic peaks is followed by another row of peaks that are even higher. The eerie silence in these mountains is broken only by howling winds and the muted sound of the mountain streams far below. It is surprising that anybody could survive there and indeed many Dungans did perish. Over 100 men and women, for example, not including children, perished in a raging snowstorm at the Tash-Rabat Pass, which is 3,500m above sea level. The survivors of the whole journey reminisced [to Poi͡arkov] that frequently they thought that all of them would die, buried forever under the blanket of soft snow. There were many moments when several thousand people stood there numb with cold and hunger, unable to move, and it was only owing to the presence and resourcefulness of their leader, Bo Yanhu, that they survived. The energy and courage of one man saved thousands of people.

By the evening of the first day, the sounds of talking and crying had gradually quietened. Trees were chopped down from the nearby mountains and fires were lit. People warmed themselves around the fires and started to cook their simple evening meal. They ate finely chopped tree bark peeled off the trees that had been felled for the fires. Some of the arrivals, both young and old, could not wait for the tree bark to cook, but gnawed at the uncooked bark with great pleasure. They were happy with even that.[55]

The local authorities of Naryn’ were taken completely by surprise at the arrival of these people. They did not know that the Dungans were coming and were surprised that anybody could reach them in such severe cold weather. As for the local population, they knew nothing about the Dungans and had never even heard the word ‘Dungan’, which was also pronounced by some as ‘Tungan’ or ‘Tengen’. The local authorities were put in a very difficult position with the arrival of these unexpected guests; therefore, it was decided to send, post-haste, a djigit [a skillful horseman] to the then chief district town of Tokmak. A message was sent to the district head of Tokmak requesting instructions as to what the Naryn’ authorities were supposed to do with these people who called themselves Tungans or Tengens. While this was done, the Dungans lived in Naryn’ in the open and ate whatever they could get. One must add here that, during this fairly short period of waiting, the local Russians and the Sarts who were tradesmen used this event very profitably by selling ‘bread’ [Poi͡arkov uses this word often, to refer sometimes to bread but often to wheat, wheat flour, or simply food] to the hungry refugees at exorbitant prices.

The answer from Tokmak finally arrived. The instructions from the district head were that in order to become Russian citizens the Dungans were to give up all their weapons, hence a large number of weapons and the valuable objects the Dungans brought ended up in private Russian hands. There were other formalities, all of which the Dungans fulfilled willingly. As Naryn’ was a very small settlement and could not support the newcomers, the Dungans were ordered to proceed to Tokmak. All that reminded the local inhabitants of the Dungans’ stay were the stripped trees, the bark of which the Dungans had eaten. Some Russians and Sarts also bragged openly for a long time after the Dungans had left about how they had skilfully used this event and appropriated possessions from the Dungans.

The crossing from Naryn’ to Tokmak was also a very difficult one for the Dungans. As mentioned above, the winter that year was very harsh and there was a lot of snow. The Dungans, again, had to walk through a high mountainous region. The path through the gorges was narrow and winding, with many steep slopes and precipices, all covered with a layer of deep snow. At the time of the Dungans’ journey, there was only one path from Naryn’ to Kutemaldov, which was used mainly by pack animals; the post-road came much later. Throughout the whole distance of 160 versts there was not one post-station; this meant that one could not obtain any provisions along the way. Though the distance between Naryn’ and Tokmak was comparatively short, many Dungans died along the way. They had a particularly hard time crossing the Dolon Pass. Here, as on the Tash-Rabat Pass, they encountered a snowstorm. Many died at this Pass. Nearer to Tokmak, the Dungans passed three or four post-stations that were kept by the Semirech’e Cossacks [perhaps Poi͡arkov means Kazakhs]. Poi͡arkov admits that the few individuals in these remote and desolate post-stations (which, furthermore, were as far as twenty versts apart from each other) could do little to help the thousands of refugees who descended on them. But he sadly points out that not one of these Cossacks offered help or shelter even to one frozen and hungry woman or child. Not one of the Cossacks who bought provisions from the Kirghiz for next to nothing, who had barns full of food and who were, like the Dungans, Muslims, gave a piece of bread to a Dungan child.

‘I have asked’ [writes Poi͡arkov] ‘many times and at length about this and I have always received the same answer. These Cossacks lived well and were prosperous mainly by exploiting the good-natured native population, and not one of them was touched by the wretched people who walked past them. One of the post-station keepers, sitting by a samovar in his warm and comfortable room, related to me, with a completely clear conscience, the following story: “One day I entered my cow enclosure and found a Dungan woman there. She was leaning against a cow and had placed her baby against its head. The cow was so still; it was licking the baby. There were tears in the woman’s eyes. I ordered the coachmen to throw the woman out of the enclosure. She didn’t want to go; she was crying. As the coachmen dragged the woman out, the cow followed her, licking the baby. It was nearly nightfall; it took the coachmen quite an effort to drag the woman out onto the road. Next day we found her and the baby not far from the station; both were frozen to death. We kicked many of them out of our enclosures and stables,” my narrator added with complete indifference, “of course they never dared to enter the house.” “Why did you push them out? Why begrudge them the cow enclosures and stables which are used for the horses?” I asked. “Well,” he said, “it was less trouble that way; why should we feel sorry for them … the bloody dogs.”

These were some of the first Russians the Dungans encountered. All of them threw the Dungans out of their enclosures and stables with incomprehensible cruelty and fury. They threw them back onto the road and later, in most cases, found them frozen to death there. For some time, these corpses lay all along the post-road. Later on, the local authorities ordered the Kirghiz to bury them.

The leader of the group, Bo Yanhu, arrived in Tokmak several hours before the rest of his people. The Russians who saw him on that day describe him as of medium stature and muscular build. He had several wounds on his face, which, strangely enough, did not disfigure his appearance, but added a distinctive and wild beauty to his face. His appearance, movements, and the way he walked all showed self-reliance and dignity. His small, slightly slanted eyes shone with intelligence and observation. His behaviour and manners were completely Chinese. [Naturally, he could not speak Russian.] The district head of Tokmak who received Bo Yanhu had great difficulty in communicating with him, but once the district head understood the horrendous plight that the Dungans were in, he immediately sent several carts to meet them as they approached. Some carts were filled with bread and some were to carry those who were too weak to walk. This was the first kindness that the Dungans received from the Russians.

The Dungans arrived in Tokmak in the first half of January 1878. It was a feast day and the service was just over in the small local church. The first group of Dungans appeared on the street just when the Russians were leaving the church. That day, as on all the previous occasions, the Russians who were living in this remote corner of the earth so far from their homeland had prayed fervently and sincerely, and were now walking quietly and happily home. Poi͡arkov writes here that the sight of several thousand hungry, ragged, and frozen people did not touch their hearts. The wails of the mothers and children who were stiff with cold did not arouse pity or compassion in the hearts of the Russians who had just prayed in church. Not one of them gave the Dungans a piece of bread. Not one of them let even one frozen Dungan into their warm home. On the contrary, the ‘bread’ [probably wheat flour] that used to be seven to eleven copecks a pood increased to two, even three roubles a pood. In this area, this was an unheard-of price. The request by the local authorities for the peasants to lower the price was met with a refusal. Not only that: when the local authorities bypassed the peasants to buy wheat, the peasants refused to let them use their mills. The authorities had to find other means to grind the wheat. The active helpers of the authorities in this case happened to be the Kirghiz and the Tartars. They not only assisted the authorities but donated a great amount of their own wheat. The Sarts gave very little assistance.

While the local authorities were doing their best to cope with these problems of buying and grinding wheat, the Dungans might have died from starvation during the first few days after their arrival. What saved them was the fact that they had started to sell the valuable objects in their possession. Some of these valuable objects were their own, but most were looted from their much-hated enemy, the Chinese. All of a sudden, greed spread like wildfire among the residents of Tokmak, especially among the Russians. Everybody wanted to obtain a quick and easy profit. The Sarts followed the example of the Russians but behaved with more restraint. Poi͡arkov is especially ashamed that a small group of the local Russian intelligentsia also joined in this shameful foray of getting something for almost nothing. Minor Russian officials were even worse. All the local residents thought it perfectly acceptable and perfectly legal to give the Dungans a small loaf of bread or a cup of flour for a silk gown, a piece of camphor, a silver bracelet or a gold ornament. The greater the difference in value the more they bragged about it. Knowing that they would never again in their lives make such profitable deals, everybody was possessed with unquenchable, shameless greed. The sight of the living corpses did not worry a soul. The Dungans did not even bargain because they were dying from hunger. Yet all of these local residents had barns filled with provisions of all kinds.

In spite of the above problems, the Dungans were very happy and pleased with life on their first evening in Tokmak. ‘They sat around brightly burning campfires and one could hear their animated chatter and even occasional laughter. These people looked very unusual and picturesque in the light of the flames — the children had small plaits on their shaved heads and wore little dirty caps of various colours, the adults wore unusual clothes and the men had long plaits down their backs.

Everybody felt relaxed as they were sure that their dreadful ordeal was over. Only one man did not join the festivities but sat deep in thought by the fire, his six- or seven-year-old son on his knees, taking no notice of what was happening around him. This man was Bo Yanhu. One does not know what he was thinking and feeling, but judging by the expression on his face, suggests Poi͡arkov, his thoughts were unhappy and troubled ones. Perhaps he guessed that soon he would have to give up the absolute power that he had had for so long over his people. Perhaps he was thinking of the recent past and was sorry that he was unable to inflict a more cruel revenge on his bitter enemies, the Chinese. Or perhaps he was worried for the future of his people. It was he who had brought them to Russia; he loved them deeply and would have given his life for them. It was he who had pointed out to them that the only way to survive was to go to Russia and ask the Russian authorities for protection. The Dungans believed in him and willingly followed him, and as he was responsible for them he might have been asking himself the fatal question: what will happen to them now?

The Dungans were happy. After a hot meal, they fell into a deep sleep around the campfires. The Russians of Tokmak were also very happy. They had had such an unexpectedly profitable day. Their consciences were clear. There was a party going on in one of the houses, attended by all the local representatives and intelligentsia. It was a successful party: there was plenty to eat and even more to drink. People got easily bored in these border regions and a card table was set up. Several players immediately started to gamble. The small fry crowded around the table, gazing greedily at the bank’s big pile of money. By midnight, the play reached very high stakes. The whole table was piled with bank notes of large and small denominations among which lay some of the Dungans’ valuable objects: two women’s hair ornaments, a thick silver bracelet and a gold brooch. The new owners, who had given some food to the Dungans for these things, lost them at the gambling table. The faces of the reckless players got redder and redder; their eyes shone with evil, feverish light; the atmosphere was charged with distrust and anger; there were stupid jokes, ambiguous witticisms and disjointed drunken speeches which often became threats; the evening eventually ended with a “big scandal” [probably a fight]. The guests staggered home in a drunken state at daybreak just as the Dungans, strengthened by the hot dinner and the peaceful sleep, woke up refreshed and in good spirits.[56]

As soon as the Dungans arrived in Tokmak, the district head reported their arrival to Gerasim Alekseevich Kolpakovsky, the Governor of the Semirech’e oblast’. However, Kolpakovsky already knew about their arrival as he had followed the Muslim revolts in China and the movements of the Chinese Muslims after their defeat. He also knew of Bo Yanhu and his role in the flight across the Tianshan mountains.

Poi͡arkov spends several pages praising Kolpakovsky. According to Poi͡arkov, Kolpakovsky was a talented man of great intellect, strong will, tireless energy and broad initiative who had done a great deal for the settlement and colonisation of the whole region during his long rule, and it was owing to Kolpakovsky’s efforts that the Semirech’e oblast’ had developed and flourished. He was not only a military man but an excellent administrator. He arrived in Semirech’e as a young man and fell in love with the region. Very early on he realised that in order to keep the newly colonised region firmly under the Russian rule it was necessary to fill it with as many Russians as possible. According to Poi͡arkov, he did an excellent job with the settlement program; for instance, he not only knew every new settler but also all the details of each household, such as the number of cattle and the size of the landholding.

Poi͡arkov states that Kolpakovsky’s opinion of the Dungans was that they were very active and hard-working people, excellent farmers and good vegetable growers, that they were of undemanding nature and abstemious lifestyle [being Muslims, they did not drink alcohol, though some of them smoked opium]. Kolpakovsky was of the opinion that they would make excellent settlers. He was one of the very few people who also thought that the new arrivals would enrich the cultural life of the region. Poi͡arkov points out that later developments proved Kolpakovsky right in all his assessments.

In view of these comments about Kolpakovsky, it is not surprising that he arrived in Tokmak to meet the Dungans five or six days after their arrival. He wanted to start the process of assistance as soon as possible. Upon hearing how the Dungans were treated on their first day in Tokmak, Kolpakovsky was extremely angry and reprimanded the citizens of Tokmak and the farmers. Thinking that perhaps there was a misunderstanding between the farmers and the local authorities, Kolpakovsky decided to address all the farmers himself and called a meeting. At the meeting, he presented the plight of the Dungans to the farmers and asked them to lower the price of ‘bread’. The farmers whispered among themselves for a while and answered that they were willing to lower the price by two roubles [Poi͡arkov points out that they had previously raised the price by three roubles]. Kolpakovsky answered that this price was too high and stressed that the Dungans were in a disastrous situation and desperately needed help; he reminded the farmers that not so long ago they too had arrived there in an impoverished condition; he also promised the farmers that the Dungans would repay them as soon as they were settled and doing well. The farmers answered that they could not lower the price more than two roubles. Once again, Kolpakovsky calmly begged the farmers and once again the farmers refused; saddened, full of anger and indignation, he left the meeting.

It is quite clear that Poi͡arkov was saddened by this event. He writes: ‘The facts described above are lamentable and deplorable, but as they are true, we cannot ignore them. It is a fact that on many occasions the Russian population of this region mistreated the indigenous people.’[57] (He spends the next five pages on how the Russians mistreated the Kirghiz.)

Duman presents a slightly different version of Kolpakovsky’s opinion of the Dungans. He writes that on 13 February 1878, Kolpakovsky sent a report to the governor-general of Turkestan in which he informed him of the arrival in Tokmak and Issykul’ districts of two groups of Dungans who had escaped from Kashgar. The leader of the first group, wrote Kolpakovsky, was Bo Yanhu, who presented himself to Kolpakovsky in the city of Vernyĭ [present-day Alma-Ata] and begged Kolpakovsky not to hand him over to the Manchus as they would definitely kill him. In his report, Kolpakovsky supported Bo Yanhu’s request, pointing out that without Muhammed Ai͡ub’s [Bo Yanhu’s Muslim name] help it would be impossible to control the Dungans owing to their dikiĭ nrav (savage [unsociable] disposition).[58]

The Correspondence Concerning the Handing over of Bo Yanhu

In my own interviews with them, the old Soviet Dungans loved to tell me the story of how Liu Jintang’s army pursued Bo Yanhu to the Russian border. Apparently, the Russian border guards knew that a group of refugees were fleeing towards the border, and had orders to let them in. When the refugees arrived at the border, the Russian guards hurried them across. Shortly afterwards, the Qing army arrived and wanted to follow the refugees. The Russian guards stopped them, saying, ‘Stop! Go Back! This is Russian territory. You cannot cross the border.’ According to the story, upon hearing this, Liu Jintang was furious. We do not know if the story is true, as in his letter to Kolpakovsky (see below), Liu Jintang mentions that a detachment he sent was met by several hundred Kirghiz on horseback at the fortress of Chakmak. Upon finding out that Bo Yanhu had passed that way and was now under Russian protection, the detachment retreated peacefully. However, in Li Kekui’s description of the events (see above) he mentions that the Manchu army overtook the Dungans at the fortress of Chakmak and there was a battle there, and that Liu Jintang pursued them right to the Russian border.

But the Qing authorities were indeed furious. They had gained a full victory over the Muslim rebels in north-west China and in Xinjiang; the only thorn in their side were those who had escaped to Russia, who had to be returned to China at any cost and punished severely.

It should be noted here that although Bo Yanhu was not a central figure in the first six or seven years of the rebellion in north-west China, his fame gradually grew. The Qing government could overlook the fact that he participated in the sieges of various cities in north-west China, but they could hardly ignore his rise to prominence after the rebellion in the north-west was subdued and all the existing Muslim rebel leaders either were killed or surrendered. In Xinjiang, he joined Yakub Beg and fought the Manchu armies right until 1877. He became a bitter enemy of the Qing government, and his escape into Russia made him a wanted man, a rebel to be captured dead or alive. The Qing government demanded his return in correspondence with the Russian authorities from October 1877 to April 1882.[59] These demands and Kolpakovsky’s answers, full of threats and diplomatic insinuations (translated below) make exceedingly interesting reading.

It should also be noted here that the Russians refused to hand Bo Yanhu and several other Muslim leaders over to the Chinese. Duman is of the opinion that the reasons for this were not humanitarian but political, one of them being that the Russian government did not want to offend the Kirghiz, Kazakhs, and other Muslim nationalities in recently colonised Central Asia. He reinforces his view by quoting a section of the second report (the first report, date 13 February 1878, has been mentioned above) from Kolpakovsky to Konstantin Petrovich von Kaufmann, Governor-General of Turkestan, in which he discussed the handing over of Bo Yanhu.

A report from Kolpakovsky to the Governor-General of Turkestan, von Kaufmann, 21 February 1878.[60] The love of mankind alone compels us against taking such a step — a step which might compromise our government in the eyes of the native population which has been entrusted to the care of Your Excellency the Governor-General. Thousands of Dungans fought for a just cause and tried, with weapons in their hands, to obtain recognition of their human rights from the Sons of the Celestial Empire. They have sought shelter with us, on our territory and from our White Tsar from the cruelty and violence of the Chinese government.
This man [that is, Bo Yanhu] is neither a criminal nor a monster and has violated neither religious rules nor human rights. He is a political criminal [sic] whom we have a right not to hand over.

As expected, the Manchus were determined to get Bo Yanhu and some of the other Muslim rebel leaders back. Their first letter arrived in February 1878, written by Liu Jintang and addressed to General Kolpakovsky. The tone of the letter was extremely impertinent and contained repeated threats.

Duman obtained this letter (and all the other letters mentioned below) from the Central Archives of the Kazakh SSR. The letter was translated from Manchu into Russian by a man called Borodin, a clerk in the office of the War Governor of the Semirech’e oblast’. Duman also had a copy of this letter in the original Chinese. He mentions that the Russian translation, compared with the Chinese original, contains a number of inaccuracies, especially when Manchu or Chinese names were rendered into Russian. Bo Yanhu’s name, for instance, is written in the letter in one place as Boi͡ankhu, in another place as Boi͡an’khu, and in the third place as Boi͡ankho. What is far worse is that the name Jintang was translated as Zongtang and, as the surname Liu was omitted in the translation, this caused the Russians to assume that the letter was written by Zuo Zongtang and not Liu Jintang. This explains why Kolpakovsky’s answer was addressed to Zuo Zongtang. Duman gives the full version of the Russian translation as this was the version read by Kolpakovsky. I have given a full translation of the letter omitting only the superficial parts and using Jintang and Bo Yanhu throughout. Liu Jintang repeats his request several times, presumably because he regarded the request as very urgent.

The letter from Liu Jintang to Kolpakovsky, February 1878, translated by Borodin.[61]
During the second year of Guangxu’s reign, I, Jintang, led my armies beyond the Great Wall in order to pursue the bandits who are our subjects. During the next two years, I covered more than 10,000 li to the north and west and captured several hundred large and small cities. I established order among the people. I massacred 100,000 bandits and captured countless large and small weapons, including the guns used during the sieges of the fortresses.
Your merchants, as usual, are visiting our region. I, Jintang, have nothing much to say to you — I will say only one thing to Your Worship. The leader of the bandits of our Empire, Bo Yanhu, had many men. While pursuing them, I, Jintang, killed those who had to be killed and subdued those who wanted peace. Those who were left were not fit to revolt; they were either old or unable to resist. Upon hearing that my armies were approaching, they fled in order to save their lives, well before my arrival. I did not capture even one of them because they went under your protection. In the eleventh month of last year I sent a detachment after Bo Yanhu which was met by hundreds of Kirghiz on horseback at the fortress of Chakmak. They informed my detachment that they were Russian subjects and that Bo Yanhu had gone under your protection. As I thought that the two Empires have been at peace since ancient times and that Bo Yanhu and his men would be captured and returned to us, I stopped my armies since, according to the treaty which was established long ago, our enemies are also your enemies and both sides should hand enemies over. Thus I waited, expecting that you would capture them and send them back, but to this day you have not done so. Why you have not done so, I do not know. Meanwhile, I have received information that you have taken their weapons away and have settled them in a place of your choice. If you will send back the leader of the bandits, Bo Yanhu, then there will be no further discussion. In preparation for this, I am sending my men to you. When they arrive, capture Bo Yanhu, tie him up, and send him back. If you do this, I will be pleased and when I report this to the Great Khan [that is, the Qing emperor], he too will be pleased. But if you do not return Bo Yanhu, I, Jintang, following the orders of the Great Khan, will come and pursue the thief Bo Yanhu wherever he goes. All our efforts are concentrated on Bo Yanhu and if you do not hand him over, I, Jintang, with all my armies, will attack Naryn’. No matter where Bo Yanhu should be, I will find him and take him. Neither you nor the people under you should have any other plans and I, Jintang, am informing you about this beforehand. If I am obliged to attack you, do not blame me for this. I, Jintang, am living in Kashgar. It is about 2000 li to the foot of the Great Khan’s throne. In order that my report should be in good time and not late, I have set for you a time limit of fifty days and have sent my men. They must definitely return with your answer during these fifty days.
If you do observe our friendly relationship, then you will hand over the thieves; and if you do not hand over the bandits, then after you have discussed this issue with the important people concerned, give us your final answer. Depending on what the answer is, we will act accordingly. This issue is important and urgent. The worst of the bandits have gone with Bo Yanhu. These bandits are Ma Lianhu, Hei Baocai 黑宝才, Suo Laosan 索老三, Zhang Wanbao 张万宝, and Ma Dagezi 马大个子. In addition, Ma Zhuang 马壮, a Sart by the name Beg Kuli Beg and a Dungan who was with them by the name of Ma Zhenwei 马振威 also escaped in the tenth month of last year.[62] These are very bad people and our worst enemies. Wherever we capture them, we will kill them. If Your Worship will capture and hand over Bo Yanhu and the above-mentioned bandits, wherever they are, we will be pleased. The Sart by the name of Beg Kuli Beg has also gone under your protection; give us detailed information about him.

In Kolpakovsky’s answer to this letter, he mentioned that he had never heard of this Bo Yanhu and did not know what role he had played in the revolts. In actual fact, Kolpakovsky knew of Bo Yanhu well before the defeat of the Dungans in China and had already met him in Russia. Due to the mistake made in the translation of Liu Jintang’s letter into Russian, Kolpakovsky’s answer is addressed to Zuo Zongtang.

Kolpakovsky’s answer, addressed to Zuo Zongtang, 6 March 1878.[63]
The other day, some unknown Sart arrived from Kashgar with letters for me and for the commander-in-chief of all the armies in the Turkestan region, His Excellency the Adjutant-General von Kaufmann.
After taking the letter from this unknown person and reading it, I was extremely surprised by its contents.
In an arrogant, insistent and impertinent manner you are demanding that I should hand over the Dungans, some unknown Bo Yanhu and various other Dungan representatives. In order for me to do this, you have set a time limit of fifty days. As if this is not enough, your dare to conclude your rude communication with a ludicrous threat that your armies will enter our territory. You obviously do not realise that you are dealing with representatives of a state which is a mighty and just power in the eyes of the whole world, and that every hostile step on your part will be a dangerous step for you and for the region controlled by you.
As for the present case, you, of all people, cannot rely on the treaty that exists between our two states concerning the handing over of criminals. The people who have arrived in our domain are not criminals but up to 5,000 members of poor Dungan families who were seeking safety from the atrocities of your armies. The wave of Dungans who have arrived here were in a pitiful state, hungry and robbed. They begged us for permission to shelter here from mass extermination.
Who these Dungans are and who their leader is — I do not know. Human kindness made us offer them help and the head of the region gave permission to offer them shelter and assistance. The necessary sum of money for this has already been allocated by permission of His Majesty, the Emperor himself. These Dungans, therefore, have been taken under the patronage of the Russian Emperor; they will remain on our territory and no claims of yours will be acted on by me without the instructions from the authorities above.
This is my answer: await a more imposing answer from the head representative of the Turkestan region.

The correspondence concerning Bo Yanhu did not end here. The next letter arrived three months after Kolpakovsky’s answer. It was in Manchu and was translated into Russian. The tone of this letter was quite different from Liu Jintang’s communication.

A letter to Kolpakovsky, the military governor of the Semirech’e oblast’ from General Jin, the commander of the armies of the Ili region, 16 June 1878. Translated by Afanas’ev.[64]
After inquiring after your health, I state that Bo Yanhu,[65] also known as Dahu, is one of the well-known rebels and traitors of our state. After we exterminated the rebels during the winter of last year, he escaped into your territory and, on your orders, has been settled in Tokmak. Because of this, Liu, who is in charge of the armies in the south, has ordered a Dungan elder, Mamut, to deliver a document to you. Venerable Governor, in your letter, you mention, by the way, that you do not know whether these people are rebels or not and that you only know that the people escaped because of oppression, and that because of this you have given them shelter. Now, in a communication from the Commander-in-Chief, Zuo Zongtang, it is stated that you, venerable governor, gave Bo Yanhu help and shelter because you did not know that he was a rebel; but now you do know who he is, therefore you must return him to us and by doing this you will strengthen the friendship between the two states.
It is stated in the treaty that if a Russian citizen will wilfully live in or escape into the territory of the Great Qing State, then the officials of the above-mentioned state are obliged to find him and return him to Russia. The same rule applies to Russia. In addition, in the clause on trade in Kul’ja and Chuguchak Tarbagatai, it is stated that the criminals of both sides should be exchanged and not held back, and they should be captured immediately and handed over to the appropriate authorities. As Bo Yanhu has already been received by you and settled in Tokmak, you, Venerable Governor, in the name of the long-standing friendship between our two states, should have returned him long ago. Now, as we are sending the corps Commander [提督, Provincial Commander-in-Chief] Yin Huating 殷华廷, the Chief Regimental Commander [参将, Lieutenant Colonel] Jie Hongliang 价洪亮 and the Candidate Commissary of Zhili province [补用直隶知州] Li Zisen 李滋森 on a mission to negotiate the handing over of the Kul’ja area to us (a separate letter concerning this is forthcoming), I beg you, Venerable Governor, to hand over the above-mentioned rebel, Bo Yanhu to them. We sincerely hope that as regards fulfilling this request, we will receive a favourable answer.

Here ends the first stage of the correspondence concerning the handing over of Bo Yanhu.

The next stage uses different methods. In trying to give more weight to their arguments, the Qing government accuses Bo Yanhu of numerous robberies that occurred in the Ili valley, pointing out that Bo Yanhu, sometimes himself and sometimes by sending his companions-in-arms, organised plundering raids on merchants’ caravans, military units and military sentry points. Duman is of the opinion that in order to hasten the Tsarist government’s agreement, the Qing authorities tried to turn Bo Yanhu and his companions-in-arms into ‘highway knights’ [sic] and robbers. However, they were not successful in this attempt.

In answer to the numerous letters from the commander of the Ili region, General Jin, Kolpakovsky’s answer in October 1878 was that:[66]

  1. The Dungans who arrived from Kashgar are settled in Karakunuz and engaged in peaceful farming.
  2. The people carrying on the robberies are Muslims from the Suidong area of the Ili region and therefore under the Manchus’ jurisdiction and not under his, Kolpakovsky’s, care; thus Jin himself should take measures to deal with the problem and he, Kolpakovsky, has nothing to do with what happens in Chinese territory.
  3. In order to have peace at the border, he, Kolpakovsky, is taking the measure of capturing all the Dungans in the Ili region who have no definite occupation in agriculture or trade and deporting them to the inland region that is entrusted to his care.

The fact that the Russians declined all responsibility concerning the robberies conducted by the Dungans and refused to hand over Bo Yanhu by no means hindered the Tsarist authorities in friendly dealings with the Manchu generals. The Russians, for instance, actively helped the Manchus to suppress new attempts at revolts by the Muslims in the Ili region and at the border of Semirech’e oblast’. A report from Kolpakovsky verifies this.

Kolpakovsky’s report to the governor-general of Turkestan, Kaufmann, 18 December 1878.[67]
The plundering raids (which, by the way, are not that many), the unwarranted absences from the appointed places of settlement and the crimes committed on the caravans at the border areas have brought the trouble-making and uncontrollable immigrants to my notice. I have given orders to the district heads and to the commander of the armies in the Kul’ja area to watch the behaviour of the Dungans and to capture those of them who are wandering around the borders with no obvious aim and to transport them back to the appointed settlements of Karakunuz and Karakol. As for the criminals, we must try them in court. During my inspection of the region in October of this year, I gave strict orders to the local authorities to watch very carefully over the above-mentioned types of Dungans and also those Dungans who are unreliable in general. We have to do this until we have received final instructions concerning their fate. As the local authorities cannot guarantee law and order while these unreliable people are in the settlements, I have demanded a list of names of those who are under suspicion so that I can ask your Excellency’s permission to get these people further inland, away from the Chinese border, thus taking away from them the opportunity to absent themselves from Russia in order to carry out, in one way or the other, their age-old struggle against the inhabitants of the Great Qing Empire.
In order that our administration can help the Chinese to establish peace in their territory, I have made a suggestion to the commander of the armies of the Ili region that he should secretly find out in which areas of the borders the Dungan gangs who are giving the Chinese so much trouble are located. I have also asked what measures Colonel Vartmann could offer to establish peace by means of destroying the Dungan gangs in the border region.
In answer to Your Excellency’s question on how to punish the Dungans who rob or go to China illegally, I want to state categorically that I have done all I can. As for more drastic measures to hold these restless Dungans at the place of their settlement, I think that all the bad Dungans should be sent by administrative order to Siberia or to the inner districts of Turkestan region. The swiftness and severity of the punishment will instil fear in the rest of the Dungan population.

In this report, Kolpakovsky is of the opinion that the Dungans went back to China in order to carry on revolts against the Manchus. T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov think that the Dungans went in order to find their relatives whom they lost either during the revolts or when they escaped from Kashgar.[68]

One can deduce from Kolpakovsky’s report that the Russians were very willing to help the Manchus suppress the Muslim revolts. Therefore, the fact that the Russians took the Dungan refugees in and also refused to hand any of them back shows that this was a calculated act to pacify any fears that the newly conquered Central Asian population might feel towards the Russian autocracy.

A letter from a very prominent Russian merchant, Kaminsky, confirms this view. Kaminsky had signed a contract with Zuo Zongtang to deliver a large assignment of ‘bread’ to the Manchu army. One could say that by doing this he contributed to the success of the suppression of the Muslim revolts. Duman writes that, judging by the archival material, one can see that the local Tsarist military authorities always tended to take Kaminsky’s opinions into consideration.

A secret letter from a prominent Russian merchant, Kaminsky, to Kolpakovsky, 5 March 1878.[69]
If we handed Bo Yanhu over we would commit the same sins against the Central Asian Muslims as the Manchus. Handing Bo Yanhu over would make the Central Asian Muslims hate us in the same way as they now hate the Chinese. Not only that, all the bitterness and hatred of the people who rebelled in China would be directed towards us. In giving in to the dying Manchu government we would become enemies with some of the people in China whom, in our own interest, we should not ignore.

After the Russians repeatedly refused to hand Bo Yanhu over, the Manchus changed their tactics. They sent emissaries to Russia to get Bo Yanhu’s head. This new development and what should be done about it is discussed in the following letter.

A letter from Kolpakovsky to the head of the Tokmak district, 27 November 1878.[70]
There are rumours in the city of Vernyĭ that while Daren [大人, the honourable great man] Muhammed Ai͡ub [Bo Yanhu] and his people were staying here one of his men, Khoza by name, visited the Chinese officials in the city and discussed something with them. Many people suspect that their negotiations were about handing over the Daren’s head. As Khoza did visit the Chinese officials, the above rumours are probably true. I inform Your Highness of this news and suggest that you warn Bo Yanhu of this imminent dastardly deed. I am also asking you to inform me of what sort of person this Khoza is, and whether it would be advisable to remove him from the settlement of Karakunuz, maybe to Sergiopol’ or some other distant place.

The information that a Dungan by the name of Khoza was plotting with the Manchu officials came from a man by the name of Abgyrakul’. This is known from a secret official communication of 23 November 1878 from the head of the section of Kul’ja affairs, Pantusov, to the officer of special commissions, the titular counsellor von Gerk.[71]

The Manchus’ persistent and continuous demands for Bo Yanhu continued for about three more years. Finally, the Tsarist authorities could not stand the importunate behaviour of the Manchu officials any longer and decided to end all the claims with an official declaration that Bo Yanhu was under arrest. In actual fact, this was not true.

We know of this declaration from a report by a Chinese high official to the Qing emperor. The report was written in Manchu; Duman presents the Russian translation:

A report to the Guangxu emperor from a high official.[72]
On 25th of the sixth moon [20 July 1881] our Ministry of Foreign Affairs received an edict from the emperor written on 17th of the fourth moon [14 May 1881]. The edict is about a discussion with the Russian authorities on handing over for execution the leader of the Dungan hordes and rebels, Bo Yanhu, who has escaped Liu Jintang’s pursuit.
Although this issue was not mentioned during the signing of the treaty between Russia and the Grand Duke Jiang and Liu Jintang, it must be discussed and cannot be left unresolved. Because of this, the Grand Duke Jiang sent a telegram during the second moon [February or March] asking for instructions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as to whether he should discuss Bo Yanhu and how it should be done. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs answered the Grand Duke Jiang that this matter should be resolved when opportunity arises and that Liu Jintang should be informed of the outcome.
In view of this answer, on the 28th of the seventh moon, I requested the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to hand over Bo Yanhu. I set a time limit for them and I also insisted on a precise and decisive answer. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has answered in the following way:
The criminal Bo Yanhu is not liable for condemnation. Although the Russian government does have an aversion to its criminals, it does not abandon them. Like all other countries, Russia protects its criminals. As for Bo Yanhu, he, together with his comrades-in-arms, has crossed the Russian border in order to save himself and to escape the claims that the Qing armies had on him. Once he crossed the border he stopped all his dissipated deeds.
As the Chinese government knows all about Bo Yanhu’s activities, it will probably agree with our decision to place Bo Yanhu under guard and keep a strict watch over him. Thus, the border of the Great Qing state will be peaceful and such actions as were committed by Bo Yanhu will never happen again. The Great Qing government should be pleased with our decision.
Before I went to Russia for the exchange of the treaties, I wrote to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the beginning of the seventh moon of this year. I requested that the handing over of Bo Yanhu should be included in the treaty, but I did not receive an answer.
I have not lost hope of getting Bo Yanhu back, but meanwhile I have to reconcile myself to the arrangements made by the Russian government, which, as they state in their answer, have been decided according to regulations. That Bo Yanhu is under guard is a fact, and because of this, peace will return to the border area.
Now that I have come to this conclusion I feel that Liu Jintang should be informed about this new development, and he should await orders from the highest authorities.

Bo Yanhu’s Life and Death in Central Asia

Thus, Bo Yanhu and the people who came with him settled in Karakunuz, which the Dungans called Inpan. In 1965, by the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Kazakh SSR, in honour of the 80th birthday of the Turkestan civil war hero, M. Masanchin, the selo Karakunuz was renamed selo Masanchin.[73] However, the Dungans often refer to this settlement even now as Inpan. The word ‘Inpan’ gradually became a magical and romantic symbol for the Dungans. It is often used in speech, in literature and in poetry. To different people it means different things. It might mean ‘home’, ‘roots’, ‘original settlement’, ‘freedom’, and the ‘hardship of former days’. In the Dungan poet I͡asyr Shivaza’s narrative poem ‘In Our Inpan’, the word ‘Inpan’ means ‘happiness’ and ‘the good life’.

Along with the crossing of the Tianshan and the settlement called Inpan, Bo Yanhu is often mentioned in Dungan songs and legends. When I visited the Dungans for the first time in 1977, while some Dungan collective farms (such as the kolkhoz Okti͡abr’ in the selo of Dzhalpak Ti͡ube) projected an atmosphere of progress, the selo of Masanchin had an aura of history. People here took time to talk of the past; they were proud of the fact that the selo was one of the original settlements. A street in the selo, for example, was named after Bo Yanhu. ‘Next year [1978],’ they told me, ‘will be exactly 100 years since Bo Yanhu and our forefathers arrived here. We are going to celebrate the centenary.’ There was talk of erecting a monument for Bo Yanhu, and of perhaps building a small museum that could depict how the Dungans crossed the Tianshan and how they lived there in the beginning.

Although Bo Yanhu is a popular hero among the Dungans, it seems that not all the Dungans liked him in those early days. He was neither successful nor popular in Karakunuz.

In the beginning, the arrangement was that Bo Yanhu represented the people he brought to Russia, and the local authorities allocated a person from the military personnel in Tokmak to help him administer Karakunuz. This arrangement did not last long and soon a volost’ (a small rural district) head was selected to take Bo Yanhu’s place. An account of how and why Bo Yanhu lost his administrative post is given below.

All the Dungans who settled in Russia needed land. The land that was given to them was often virgin or barren land because the best land was already in the hands of the Kirghiz or Kazakhs. The new arrivals in Karakunuz were very soon divided into several groups. There were mullahs, who had power; there were Bo Yanhu’s companions-in-arms (who also had power and were protected by Bo Yanhu); there were the rich Dungans, whom the Soviet scholars refer to as kulaks; and there were the poor Dungans who ended up working as hired hands for the rich Dungans and Bo Yanhu’s companions-in-arms. The companions-in-arms, relying on Bo Yanhu’s fame and prestige, received the best land. The rich Dungans were desperately in need of land and resented the fact that the companions-in-arms had the first choice of land. There was a struggle between the rich Dungans and the companions-in-arms. Bo Yanhu was naturally dragged into this struggle. The conflict divided the Karakunuz Dungans into two groups: the I͡akshi group were Bo Yanhu’s companions-in-arms (and therefore for him) and the I͡aman group were the rich Dungans (against Bo Yanhu). T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov explain in their work that the terms i͡akshi and i͡aman are Turkic words for ‘good’ and ‘bad’. They write that the Dungans told them the following story about the origin of the division. Some Dungans lodged a complaint about their leader Bo Yanhu. When the district head arrived in Karakunuz to investigate the complaint, he was met by a large crowd of Dungans. They divided into two groups: one group accusing Bo Yanhu and calling out that he was bad, and the other group defending him and shouting out that he was good. This division later led to many ‘bloody dramas’. T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov were of the opinion that the Dungans were hard-working and honest, but also hot-tempered and vengeful. They wrote that these two groups hated each other so much that they travelled from Karakunuz to Tokmak by different roads in order not to meet each other, and would not eat from the same pot even when living under the same roof.[74]

The I͡aman group won. This is how Bo Yanhu lost his administrative post and his authority over the Karakunuz Dungans.

There is another side to the background of the I͡aman and I͡akshi groups. The Dungans are of the Sunni sect and the Hanifi school of law. After their arrival in Russia they continued to practise their religion. The Karakunuz Dungans, for instance, hired mullahs and organised prayer-houses where they prayed and where the boys received religious instructions. In those early days, the Dungan women kept strictly to the Shari’a law. Some Dungans belonged to the Old Sect 旧教 and some to the New Sect 新教; the I͡aman group was supported by the mullahs of the New Sect. Thus, the I͡akshi and I͡aman groups, which were created because Bo Yanhu allowed his companions-in-arms to grab the best land, sided with the two above-mentioned religious groups, each following the religious practices of the New Sect or the Old Sect as practised in China. At funerals, for example, the I͡akshi group took their shoes off while the I͡aman group did not; during the 40-day mourning period, the male relatives of the I͡akshi group wore special white caps and white belts and the women wore white shoes and white kerchiefs on their heads, while the mourners of the I͡aman group did not; the I͡akshi group killed an animal as a sacrifice straight after a death and had a meal on the day of the funeral, while the I͡aman group killed an animal as a sacrifice and had a meal after the deceased was buried.[75]

The sectarian struggle between the I͡akshi and I͡aman groups worsened to such a degree that in 1898 the I͡akshi group petitioned the State Senate for a new settlement location, hence the creation of the nearby selo of Shor-T͡iube in 1902. Thus, the I͡aman group stayed in Karakunuz and the I͡akshi group moved to Shor-T͡iube. The distance between the two settlements was five kilometres. The animosity between these two groups continued to flare up at intervals throughout the October Revolution right up to the time of the completion of the collectivisation of agriculture in Kirghizia and Kazakhstan.[76]

There are two versions of the account of where Bo Yanhu died and what happened after he was buried: the historical version and the popular version. The Dungan historian, Sushanlo, for example, writes that after Bo Yanhu’s arrival in Russia, a price of 200,000 ounces of silver was offered by the Manchus for his head and that the Generals Zuo Zongtang and Liu Jintang demanded from the Russian authorities of Semirech’e the extradition of Bo Yanhu, either dead or alive. Sushanlo writes:

After settling in the city of Pishpek, Bo Yanhu became ill in 1879. At the beginning of July 1882, his health became worse and he died on 26 July 1882. He was buried three kilometres from Pishpek. The guards watched his grave for one month, but on the day after they were removed, the grave was dug up [by somebody who wanted to hand him or his head over to the Manchus] and a wooden dummy [which his companions-in-arms had buried as a decoy], which was thrown out of the grave, lay next to it. Bo Yanhu’s friends and companions-in-arms buried him secretly in Tokmak. The whereabouts of the grave of this famous champion of the Dungan people is still unknown today.[77]

There were people who wanted to dig him out of his grave. According to Poi͡arkov, the price for Bo Yanhu, dead or alive, or for his head alone was 200,000 ounces of silver, which was about 400,000 Russian silver roubles.[78]

The popular version of where Bo Yanhu was buried is still circulating among the Dungans: in 1977, during a conversation with the collective farmers of the selo of Masanchin, I was told that on the day after Bo Yanhu’s burial, the Dungans found his grave had been opened. Whoever did this had been disappointed, however; knowing what would happen, the Dungans had actually buried their leader somewhere else. The location was never revealed, and unfortunately the secret died with those who buried him and now no-one knows where his grave is. However, in 1985, during discussions with the Dungan poet I͡asyr Shivaza, he told me that he knew where Bo Yanhu was buried. He said that when Bo Yanhu died in Karakunuz, the Dungans buried a wooden dummy in his grave; they brought Bo Yanhu’s body to Pishpek and buried it in the yard of the house where Bo Yanhu’s son was living. Shivaza told me the location of this house. I located this site in present-day Dzerzhinsky Avenue, one of the most beautiful boulevards of Bishkek, and found a large government building standing on the block where Bo Yanhu’s son lived.

The Fate of the Other Two Groups

As seen above, much has been written, both by Russian and Dungan scholars, on Bo Yanhu’s group. Much is known among the Dungans about his life and death in Russia and about the settlement called Inpan (or Karakunuz). As already noted, Bo Yanhu has become a legend and a national hero among the Dungans and Inpan has acquired a symbolic, nearly mystical image. In comparison, not much is written or known about the other two groups. One can venture several reason for this. Bo Yanhu is better known than the leaders of the other two groups; his group was larger than the other two and therefore was more able to develop its identity; Bo Yanhu’s group, together with the Dungans from the second migration, was in Semirech’e, which was the centre of all the Dungan activities and communities; the Osh group had blended in with the Uzbeks and in later years was not regarded as a group; the Yrdyk group stayed as a group and formed a very traditional and conservative Dungan group, but because of its distant locality, was always at the fringe of the Dungan activities.[79]

The Osh Group

This group, that of the rebels from the Turfan area, was led by Ma Daren. He was the last to leave Kashgar. At the beginning of the flight, the leaders of all three groups followed the same route but eventually Ma Daren led his people towards the Ferghana valley.

Ma Daren’s son, Bakhavetdin Mamedaliev,[80] described his father’s retreat in the following way.

They left in a hurry and eventually arrived at Min èl (Ming Yol) — which literally means ‘one thousand roads’ and was the crossroads leading to various points of the Russian border. Because they were afraid that they would be overtaken by the enemy, they separated. Some families went one way, Ma Daren and his troops went another way, and some of his people, who were completely unprotected, went past Ergesh-Tash and Terek-Dawan towards Osh. While retreating, Ma Daren slowed down the enemy which was pursuing him by leaving behind covering detachments. Most of these detachments were exterminated by the Manchus. Very soon after his people had branched off on different routes, Ma Daren realised that his family and his possessions had gone with the unprotected group. He then changed his direction and tried to catch up. By the time he caught up with them, all their possessions had been plundered by robbers and many young women had been dragged into the mountains by them and were never seen again. Ma Daren moved with his group to the Ergesh-Tash Pass.

Upon receiving the news that a group of Chinese Muslims was approaching the Russian border, the local authorities of Ferghana started to prepare to receive these refugees.

Ma Daren’s son believes the Russians knew that a large number of refugees were approaching, and they prepared huts along the border to receive them. Russian garrisons helped the refugees to fight off robbers and did not let the pursuing Manchu army into Russia. Most of the refugees had terrible frostbite. Many could not walk and were frozen to death. They had left children behind all along the way as there was no food to feed them and nothing to wrap them up in. The Russians organised feeding-stations at Sufa-Kuran and in other places. The Dungans were given hot soup and lepèshki (thick flat round cakes made of wheat flour). The sick and frozen refugees were transported by horses and donkeys; Russian doctors gave help on the spot and later in infirmaries.[81]

The Kirghiz and Uzbeks lent their horses and donkeys willingly. They dragged the weakened Dungan women and children out of the deep snow. Many Dungans were saved by the local authorities and the local population of the Ferghana region.

Eventually, the Ferghana authorities directed Ma Daren’s group to Osh. This group consisted of about 1,000 people. The news of their arrival was received in Tashkent on 19 December 1877. In this report, it was said that Beg Kuli Beg (who was in Ma Daren’s group) had arrived in Osh on 17 December; that 3,000 Uighurs and some Chinese Muslims were expected; and that though some of the refugees had turned to the Chakmak Pass toward Semirech’e and some to Sarykol towards Badakhshan, these groups, if they were not frozen to death, were likely to change direction and also proceed to Osh.[82]

However, this prediction was wrong: the refugees who went towards Chakmak Pass eventually reached Semirech’e.

An interesting phenomenon happened to the Osh group in later years, which proves that strength and preservation of identity lies in the unity of at least a fairly large number of people. According to the Dungans, the 1,000 people who arrived in Osh were mainly males. They took Uzbek women as wives. Unlike the other groups, who seemed to convert the women they married into Dungans no matter what their nationality (even the Russian women who married Dungans use chopsticks, cook Dungan food, and speak the language), the Dungans in Osh adopted the customs of their Uzbek wives. They started to use Uzbek tools for agriculture and there were not enough of them to form the Dungan kolkhozes that were so popular with the other two groups. Eventually, they blended into the Uzbek community and lost their Dungan identity to such an extent that they even forgot some Dungan words that are used every day, such as ‘shoes’ or ‘hoe’. The 1979 Soviet census gives an accurate picture of the distribution of the Dungans in Central Asia and Kazakhstan. It records that 26,661 Dungans were living in the Kirghiz SSR, 22,491 were living in the Kazakh SSR, and around 3,000 in the Uzbek SSR.

The Yrdyk Group

As with the Osh group, not much is known or written about the Yrdyk group. Perhaps this is because only 1,130 people reached Yrdyk, or perhaps it is because Yrdyk (located near Przheval’sk, which is at the eastern tip of lake Issyk-Kul’) is in a remote location and far removed from Semirech’e — the centre and the heart of the Dungan community. But, unlike the Osh group, the Yrdyk group were and still are a very traditional and tightly knit community. I was fortunate to stay with the Yrdyk Dungans in 1991 and 1993 and I will use the information I collected on these occasions both here and in Chapter Four.

The leader of this group (that of Gansu rebels from Didaozhou area) was Ahong Ayelaoren, a religious leader. His Arabic name was I͡usup. During my stay in Yrdyk in 1991, I met his grandson, Kharsan Malikovich I͡usupov.[83] According to the grandson and some elderly Dungans in Yrdyk, Ahong Ayelaoren was a handsome man of middle height. He spoke little, but was a very good leader. While he led his people across the mountains, he had a special gift for knowing which route to take and what place was suitable to set up camp. If he said there was water at a place, the Dungans found water there. His family was from Didaozhou. His wife came with him to Russia, and later they had six sons. The wife returned to China for a visit in 1900, but was unable to come back to Yrdyk and died in China. Ahong Ayelaoren died in Yrdyk aged 50 and is buried there (see the description of his tomb in Chapter Four, in the section entitled ‘Cemeteries’). The grandson did not know where the rest of his grandfather’s family were. He had heard that some of them were living in Xinjiang.

This group of Chinese Muslims separated from Bo Yanhu’s group and fled towards the mountain passes Bedel, Ishtyk-Sashy and Kishasu. It took them one day and one night to cross the Bedel Pass. Half of the group perished there, dying of cold, of hunger, from a violent snowstorm, and from falling off slippery rocks into the ravine below. Those who survived were saved by the Kirghiz, who picked them up along the way and took them into their homes.

According to I͡usurov, this group arrived at Przheval’sk at the beginning of November 1877.[84] However, the Yrdyk Dungans told me that the refugees arrived at Przheval’sk in the late summer (they had arrived at their destination well before Bo Yanhu’s group reached Naryn’). When they saw Przheval’sk down below, they stopped high up in the mountains and sent a messenger below to ask if they could come down and settle in that area. They waited in the mountains for two months for an answer from St Petersburg. The answer came at last, notifying the Dungans that they could stay and that they were allowed to pick a location for their settlement. Kirghiz and Uighurs went into the mountains to welcome the Dungans and bring them to Przheval’sk. Some Dungans stayed on in Przheval’sk but the majority of the refugees decided to settle in their own community. The city of Przheval’sk was situated in a gorge, and the Dungans selected the next gorge for their settlement. They were very satisfied with the location of their choice, with mountains on one side and a large lake (which is full of minerals) not very far away on the other side. There was a river there, formed by the melted snow that rushed down the mountains, which they later dug and harnessed for agriculture. Later every house had a canal running past its front gate. They picked the location for the settlement in the valley away from the mountains to avoid the wind coming down from the gullies between the mountains. The original name for this place was Marinovka; it was seven kilometres from the city of Przheval’sk and near the southern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul’. Later it became known as Yrdyk. According to Dungans, Yrdyk is the Kirghiz pronunciation of the Dungan name. At present, there is disagreement among the Dungans on what exactly the Dungan name was. Some Yrdyk Dungans told me that it was called Ɛr-to-xo 二道河 (the second river) and some said it was Ɛr-to-gu 二道沟 (the second gorge, lit. the second ditch); according to Dungan reckoning, Przheval’sk was situated in the first gorge and had a river that was the first river. The soil in Yrdyk area was good, and there was plenty of water, thus the Dungans also referred to the place as Tşin-p’an-iↄn-i̭y 金盘养鱼 (lit. a golden plate where one can breed fish — that is, a fertile basin where one can also breed fish).

The Yrdyk Dungans have remained a united community until now. Those who come from Yrdyk are very proud of this fact and of Yrdyk itself. Many Yrdyk Dungans told me that they are quite different from the other Dungans: that they are more cultured and refined; that they have kept up all the old customs and are more traditional: and that they are more polite and speak in a lower voice than the others. Perhaps the Yrdyk Dungans are right; T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov wrote that:

the [Karakunuz] Dungans, like Chinese, are very loud people. On hearing several Dungans talk, a person who is not used to their manner of speech would definitely think that they were having a fight. In actual fact these Dungans are having a very loud but absolutely peaceful chat.[85]

I had the impression that the Yrdyk Dungans were a happy and satisfied group of people, very hospitable and busy with all sorts of celebrations. But they were conservative; for example, a girl who had been married only a year and just had a baby was divorced by her husband and had to come back to live with her parents. The parents behaved as if they were in deep mourning and regarded this event as a shameful calamity. The girl was isolated from the rest of the community; with her head permanently lowered, she was not allowed to talk even to friends who came to visit. This happened in 1993. When I was leaving the settlement, an old Dungan lady gave me five roubles as ‘bon voyage’ money. I have not come across this custom anywhere else.

Chapter 3: The Second Migration, 1881–84

The second migration was quite different in character to the first. The first migration was a headlong, panic-stricken flight of the defeated Muslim rebels who turned into refugees. The ‘migrants’ or ‘settlers’ of the second migration, on the other hand, had several choices: they could decide when to move (in warmer weather , for instance, or after the harvest); and they could decide what to sell and what to take with them. There was fighting, starvation, and suffering during the first migration. Many lives were lost. The second migration occurred in peaceful conditions and was organised in a fairly orderly fashion. The first migration was the direct outcome of the defeat of the last Muslim rebels at Kashgar; the second occurred when the Ili region was handed back by the Russians to the Chinese.[86]

Two sources are used for this chapter. One source is on the question of the migration of the Muslim population (Uighurs, Kazakhs, and Chinese Muslims) from the Ili region to Semirech’e in 1881–83. This work was published in 1959 by a Russian scholar, I͡u. Baranova. The other source is on the actual migration of the Chinese Muslims to the territory of Kirghiz and Kazakhstan (Semirech’e oblast’). This work was published in 1961 by a Dungan historian, Kh. I͡usurov. Both works are written in Russian but are quite different and actually complement each other. Baranova’s work is very scholarly and uses archival material extensively. She mainly concentrates on the treaty between Tsarist Russia and the Qing government, on the official correspondence, the official policies and the decision to move the settlers from the Ili region. As she is writing about the Uighurs and Kazakhs as well as the Chinese Muslims, the last play only a small part in her work. She does not discuss how the Chinese Muslims reached Russia or where and how they settled. Though written two years later, I͡usurov does not mention Baranova’s work, but he too quotes some archival material. The strength of his work is that it is written by a Dungan on the Dungans, and contains some material gathered among the old Dungans. While Baranova concentrates on the first part of the migration, I͡usurov’s work is a vivid description, from the Dungan point of view, of the second part of the migration; for instance, of how and why the Dungans selected Sokuluk, their final destination; of their long journey; and of the settlements these newcomers created.[87]

The First Part of the Migration — The Arrangements

As mentioned above, the second migration took place when the Ili region was handed back by the Russians to the Chinese. A brief description of this event follows. The Muslim rebels were approaching the Ili region. Before Ili fell, the Manchu government repeatedly requested the Russians to give aid to the garrison in Ili, but the Russians did nothing. As soon as the rebels occupied Ili, the Russians announced that they would send an expeditionary force ‘to recover Ili for China’. The Russian troops occupied the Ili region in 1871. From the Russian point of view, this was largely a defensive measure against the expansion of Yakub Beg. The Russians claimed that they would return the area to China as soon as China could maintain order there. Hence, as long as Chinese forces could not reach Ili, the Russian troops believed that they had an excuse for staying there. It was Zuo Zongtang’s victories over the Muslims in Xinjian that made it possible for the Chinese government to negotiate the return of Ili.[88]

Thus, the Ili region was under the jurisdiction of the Russian governor-general of Turkestan until 1881. Russia renamed Ili as Kul’ja and insisted that its own control over the Ili valley was temporary, and promising the world to return the valley when China was able to reassert power in the area.

Once the Qing government had consolidated its authority after the defeat of the Muslim revolts in north-west China and Kashgaria, it started to demand that Russia should hand back the occupied territory. The negotiations about the return of the region to China started in 1879 when a Chinese representative was sent to St Petersburg in January of that year, with England and France assisting in the negotiations.[89] As a result of these negotiations, the Tsarist government started to consider the question of what to do about the Muslim population, which consisted of Uighurs, Kazakhs, and Chinese Muslims, living at that time in the Ili region. Most of these people had been involved in the Muslim revolts or had actively joined the forces who wanted to overthrow the Qing government. Even before the negotiations, fearing the Qing government’s repression and persecution, the Muslim population had been asking for Russia’s intercession and protection. It must be said here that compared to the time when they were under Qing rule before the Russian occupation, they were treated much better than the Russians during the Russian occupation. Knowing how difficult it was to live under Manchu rule and how ruthlessly the Muslims were exterminated during the revolts, it is quite natural that the Muslim population of the Ili region was fearful they they would again be under the jurisdiction of the Manchus.

The first treaty, the Treaty of Livadii͡a, was signed between Russia and China on 20 September 1879. It can be divided into four main sections:

  1. Clauses I–VI dealt with various questions concerning the return of the Ili region to China.
  2. Clauses VII–IX dealt with questions of defining the borders between Russia and Xinjiang.
  3. The most important parts of the treaty, clauses X–XVI, dealt with trade. According to the previous treaties between Russia and China, Russia had the right to maintain consulates in the cities of Kul’ja (Yining), Chuguchak, and Kashgar in Xinjiang and Urga (Ulan Bator) in Mongolia. Now a few other cities were added: Suzhou in Gansu, Khobdo 科布多 and Uliasutai 马里雅苏台 in Mongolia and Hami, Turfan, Urumqi, and Gucheng in Xinjiang.

    In addition to having consulates in these cities, the Russian citizens there had the right to trade without paying taxes and to build their own houses, shops, and warehouses on land allocated to them by the local authorities.

    Russian merchants could bring their goods across the border, through the cities of Suzhou and Kalgan 张家口, as far as Tianjin 天津 and Hankou 汉口and sell them there. The goods the Russian merchants bought in China were transported to Russia by the same route.

  4. Clause XVII dealt with problems concerning cross-border raids by Kazakh gangs in the border regions.[90]

In short, the Livadii͡a treaty definitely favoured Russia.

It was stated clearly in the treaty that after the handover, the Manchus must not persecute the Muslims of the Ili region for their involvement in the Muslim revolts, and that the Uighurs, Kazakhs, and Chinese Muslims of the Ili region had the right to take Russian citizenship and migrate to Russia within a period of one year.[91]

This generous assistance offered by the Tsarist government to the Ili Muslims was not for any humanitarian motives. It was a political move to consolidate Russian power in the newly acquired regions of Kirghizstan and Kazakhstan and to present Russia in a good light in front of the local population, who were all Muslims. It should be mentioned here that, on the one hand, in order to facilitate the settlement of the new arrivals, Russia kept one-third of the formerly occupied territory (namely the area of the Tekes River valley and the Muzart Pass) but, on the other hand, tried to accept as few settlers as possible. In short, as seen from the discussion below, the Qing government tried not to let the migrants leave and the Russian government tried not to let them into their domain.

Baranova gives some examples of Russian attitudes to the migrants. One is that of an official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I͡a. Shishmarev, who was sent to Kul’ja to deal with the handing over the Ili region. He wrote in January of 1880 to the Governor-General of Turkestan, von Kaufmann, that ‘soon we will start to influence the local population to remain with the Chinese’.[92]

There were political and economic reasons why the Russian discouraged the Ili Muslims from migrating to Russia. Considering the important strategic position of the Semirech’e oblast’ and the weakness of its borders, the Tsarist government thought that a large increase in the Muslim population of the area was undesirable and even dangerous. The Tsarist government was interested in settling Russians in Semirech’e, especially in the border regions with China, as it did not trust the nomad population of that region. Economically, it was desirable to introduce farming communities among the nomads. As for the areas of the Ili territory that the Russians were to receive after the Livadii͡a treaty, these were important for defence and thus were intended for the settlement of Russians and Cossacks.

However, the Qing government refused to ratify the Livadii͡a treaty; therefore, the question of the Ili region and especially that of Russian trade with China had to be discussed again. A new treaty, the Treaty of St Petersburg,was signed on 12 February 1881. The St Petersburg treaty was similar to the Livadii͡a treaty and again definitely favoured Russian political and economic expansion in Central Asia. However, the Tsarist government was forced to concede some points regarding the Ili region. I͡usurov writes that Russia was able to retain the land between the Bolkhodzhir and the Khorgos and Kal’dzhat Rivers; therefore, from 12 February 1881, the Khorgos River became the dividing line between China and Russia.[93] There were other changes in the new treaty. For example, new Russian consulates were to be opened in the cities of Kul’ja, Chuguchak, Kashgar, Urga, Suzhou, and Turfan; China had to pay Russia 9,000,000 roubles to cover the expense of occupying the Ili region and as compensation to the Russian citizens who suffered losses inflicted upon them by the Chinese authorities and citizens. Baranova thinks that this was an outrageous demand, and points out that after Russia occupied the Ili region in 1871, the Tsarist government not only confiscated the public properties of the local government but also demanded and received 50,000 roubles from the local population in order to cover the expenses incurred by Russia during the period of occupation. Another interesting fact mentioned by Baranova is that in publications in Russia, such as the article ‘On the Kul’ja Region and its Handing Over’ in the journal Épokha (October 1886), the occupation of the Kul’ja region by the Russians was presented as an extremely unprofitable undertaking. In fact, according to the archival material, the profit made by Russia during and after the occupation exceeded their expenses. The Russian army that arrived in Kul’ja, for example, did not incur any additional expenditure because if they had not been in Kul’ja they would have had to be maintained in Borokhudzir.[94]

According to the new St Petersburg treaty, China received 2803.11 square kilometres of the Ili region and Russia only 569.98 square kilometres. Russia retained only a narrow strip of land along the western border between the Usek and Khorgos Rivers. Now that Russia had less land it felt even more reluctant to take in a large number of Muslim people from Ili into its own territory.

As seen from the correspondence quoted below, Russia did not want the Ili Muslims to migrate either before or after the signing of the St Petersburg treaty.

In March of 1880, when the Russian government realised that the Livadii͡a treaty was likely to be rejected by the Qing government and that in the new treaty Russia would lose the whole or most of the Ili region, the Governor-General of Turkestan, von Kaufmann, wrote to the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kul’ja. I͡a Shishmarev:

We must use all our power to persuade the Muslim population to stay where they are. The Semirech’e area cannot accommodate more than 2,000 new families. Besides, at the beginning, the new settlers would have to be fed at the expense of the public coffers. This would be extremely difficult, especially as the Semirech’e area is often short of food.[95]

Two years later (at the beginning of 1882), in his report to the head of the armed forces, Kolpakovsky wrote:

It is imperative to prevent the population of the Ili region from an ill-considered migration into Russian territory. There are several reasons for this:
  1. A migration of a large number of Ili Kazakhs will have a ruinous effect on the Kazakhs [in Semirech’e] who are Russian citizens. The Semirech’e Kazakhs are already suffering from the Russian occupation of their land. After the Russian occupation of the Ili region, some of them moved into the Ili region and enjoyed a large territory for their nomadic lifestyle, but now, due to the St Petersburg treaty, they have lost these territories.
  2. We want as many Russians in the Semirech’e area as possible. The Uighurs and Dungans who will migrate to Semirech’e will occupy all the remaining land which is suitable for agriculture and this will hinder further Russian colonisation.
  3. If we let all the local population of the Ili region migrate, we will be giving back to the Chinese a territory with no population. This would not please them. By doing this, we would put China into a difficult position of long duration in terms of supply of provisions, administration and support of the army. As we know from previous experience, when the Chinese are annoyed they usually restrict our trade. And this is the trade that, with the help of the favourable trade conditions agreed upon in the new treaty, we were hoping to develop.[96]

Thus, the Russian government was in a great quandary. On the one hand, the Qing government’s refusal to sign the Livadii͡a treaty had already caused a diplomatic conflict that nearly led to war during the period of 1880–81. Taking a large number of people away from the Ili region and handing over to the Chinese an empty area would have offended the Chinese. As relations between the two states were already strained, the Russians did not want to further antagonise the Chinese. On the other hand, Russia had promised the Muslim population of Ili to resettle them. Not to keep the promise would have undermined Russian authority and prestige. To solve this problem, the Russian authorities tried their best to discourage the Muslims from resettling and to encourage the Qing government to offer favourable conditions to the Muslim population so that they would decide to stay.

The only group of people that the Russians were quite willing to accept were the Chinese Muslims. There were only around 6,000 Chinese Muslims living in the Ili region compared to more than 50,000 Uighurs and up to 10,000 yourtas (tents, a measure of nomadic Kazakh families).[97] Because the Chinese Muslims of Shaanxi, Gansu, and Xinjiang had been persecuted so severely and massacred during the Muslim revolts, the Russians decided that in helping the Chinese Muslims of Ili, they would be favourably looked upon by all the Chinese Muslims in China, and also by the Kazakhs and the rest of the local Muslim population of occupied Central Asia.

Eventually, the Russians started procedures for resettlement. In the summer of 1881, the Russian authorities of the Ili region announced to the local population the conditions of the St Petersburg treaty, and from August to December a special committee made a survey of how many people wanted to resettle and become Russian citizens. The survey showed that about 100,000 people, most of them Uighurs, intended to migrate to Russia, including 11,365 Uighur families, 1,308 Chinese Muslim families, and most of the Kazakhs of the region.[98]

Even before the completion of the Russian survey, the Qing authorities announced an amnesty for those who had participated in the Muslim revolts, and also urged everybody to stay in their present locations and continue in their present occupations.

This attitude caused some of the Muslims who had originally intended to move to change their minds. Thus, by February of 1882, there remained 11,068 Uighur families and 1,055 Chinese Muslim families who still wanted to move; at that stage, the survey of Kazakhs had not yet been completed but the records already showed that up to 10,000 families wanted to move.[99]

The next step in resettlement was for the Russian authorities to choose the locations where the newcomers would be settled. The general rule was to settle the newcomers as far from the border as possible. The Russians intended to settle the Semirech’e Kazakh army divisions and Russian settlers along a narrow strip of the border-land between the Usek and Khorgos Rivers, which they had retained in Ili. Only a very small number of local Muslims were allowed to settle across the border on this narrow strip of land; these were the inhabitants of the city of Kul’ja, mainly craftsmen or coal miners, and to a lesser degree farmers, all of whom were allowed to live near the border in order to serve the Russian army and the Russian inhabitants. At the beginning, on 12 January 1882, only 2,000 families (1,500 Uighur and 500 Chinese Muslim families) were given permission to live there. In June of the same year, the number was increased by another 1,500 families.[100]

As for the locations where each nationality was to be settled, the Russian government decided on the following arrangement. The Chinese Muslims were to settle in the Tokmak district of the Semirech’e oblast’ where there was vacant land that could be irrigated and that they could cultivate immediately after their arrival.

On 13 January 1882, Kolpakovsky received a special telegram from the Department of Asian Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs instructing him to move the Chinese Muslims out of the Ili region before the arrival of the Qing army, which was supposed to arrive in April.[101] Following the instructions in the telegram, on 22 January, Kolpakovsky ordered Major-General Frede to move the Chinese Muslims before the others, stressing with urgency that the move should be completed before the spring of 1882.[102]

As for the Uighurs who intended to migrate, it was estimated that more than 9,000 families wanted to settle in Russia.[103] Initially, these families were to be settled on the unirrigated land along the shores of the Chilik, Ili, and Turgen Rivers. This plan was delayed because the frontier administration asked for 450,000 roubles from the Tsarist government for the construction of irrigation works in these areas but in October 1881 the government allocated only 50,000 roubles. Kolpakovsky had to inform the Uighurs who wanted to migrate that they had to construct the irrigation works themselves. Thus, in the spring of 1882 the Uighurs only sent some of their representatives to survey the area while the rest of them had to remain in their original locations in order to sow crops.[104] They could only consider migrating after the harvest.

Baranova maintains that the frontier administration put the full burden of the irrigation works on the shoulders of the migrants not only to save money and to avoid the responsibility of a famine before the first harvest could be gathered in the newly settled areas, but also to reduce the number of people who wanted to migrate.

The question of the resettlement of the Ili Kazakhs was even more complicated. These Kazakhs were nomads, scattered all over the Ili region. As mentioned above, initially, all the Ili Kazakhs (about 10,000 yourtas) decided to migrate to Russia. One factor that made the question of the resettlement of the Kazakhs more complicated was that since the Russian occupation of the Ili region in 1871, many Kazakhs who lived on the Russian side, because of poor pastures, had wandered over to the Ili region in search of better ones. Now, the Kazakhs had to return to Russian territory. Their return did not in itself produce any problems — all that they had to do was to squeeze back into the Vernyĭ and Issyk-Kul’ districts. The problem was how to fit the Kazakhs from Ili in. The administration of the Semirech’e oblast’ (which covered Vernyĭ, Issyk-Kul’, Kopal, and Tokmak districts) thought that only about ٥,000 yourtas could be fitted into the area. This figure was only half of the number of Ili Kazakhs who wanted to resettle.[105] Knowing this, Kolpakovsky tried to ease the situation as early as December 1881 when he turned to the Governor-General of Western Siberia, G.V. Meshcherinov, for help, requesting that Western Siberia accept the second half of the Kazakh settlers (consisting of 4,000 yourtas).[106] Meshcherinov answered that he could only accommodate 3000 yourtas among his own local Kazakhs and only in groups of 50, 100, and 200 yourtas.[107]

In January 1882, Kolpakovsky ‘in order to dissuade the people in the Ili region from migrating,’[108] gave an order to commissar Frede to inform the residents of the Ili area of three conditions concerning their resettlement. These conditions also applied to the Chinese Muslims of the area, and were as follows:

  1. The Russian government will not give the people of the Ili region who want to settle in Russia any financial assistance.
  2. Except for the Kazakhs, the new settlers will be enlisted into military service, either in the regular army or the Semirech’e Kazakh army.
  3. The children of the new settlers must be taught the Russian written and spoken language. Thus, every school in the new settlements must have a teacher of the Russian language, to be financially supported by the parents of the school children.

All those who wanted to settle in Russia had to sign a document that they would accept these conditions.

If the Russians thought that these conditions would put the settlers off migrating or decrease their numbers they were very much mistaken. Major-General Frede reported to Kolpakovsky on 7 February 1882 that not only did everybody accept the conditions without a single objection but they accepted the conditions about the schools and joining the army with pleasure. ‘However’, wrote Frede,

there are rumours now that the declaration of the conditions has caused some residents of the city of Kul’ja and the South Section [that is, the settlements along the left bank of the Ili River] to decide to stay. They say that the inhabitants of the Kaĭnakskai͡a volost’ [a rural district along the left bank of the Ili River that consisted of about 1,248 Uighur families] are all going to stay. A number of Chinese Muslims might also remain.[109]

In reducing the number of settlers, the Russians had one more hope — that the Qing government would be successful in convincing the Muslim farming population (that is, the Uighurs and Chinese Muslims) to remain in the Ili region.

In February 1882, a representative of the Qing government, Shengtai, came to Kul’ja to discuss the takeover. After his arrival, he not only started to discuss these matters with the Russian authorities, but, straight after his arrival, he hastily granted an amnesty to the people who were involved in the revolts and urged all the population of Ili not to migrate. In his discussion with the local population, Shengtai was accompanied by a convoy of 300 people, most of whom were residents of the Ili region.[110] Neither Shengtai’s own visit nor the fact that his convoy consisted of local people produced the desired results. On 14 February 1882, at a meeting in the Kul’ja mosque, after listening to proclamations urging them not to be frightened of the Qing army and to remain, the inhabitants of Ili declared once again that they wanted to go to Russia and become Russian citizens.[111]

But the talks went on. Those who decided to stay were ‘not only rewarded with promises of all sorts of future blessings but were actually given money’. The names of those who decided to remain were entered into special lists and they were given ‘protection documents’. All these promises were especially popular among the inhabitants of the left bank of the Ili River and in the city of Kul’ja. There were rumours that up to 1,000 people there were talked out of moving.[112] The number of those who were wavering also increased. However, the Qing government made a grave mistake. During the first half of March 1882, straight after the takeover, the Qing authorities displayed in Kul’ja square the instruments used for torture during corporal punishment.[113] After that, the number of Ili inhabitants who wanted to remain drastically decreased. The Qing government continued its verbal campaign of promising to give money and grant all sorts of privileges to those who chose to remain. They had good reasons to be in a hurry and to persist, because the time of the spring sowing was approaching and they needed the harvest from this sowing to maintain the army detachments that were to arrive in the April of 1882.

Around 20 March, Shengtai approached the Russian authorities of those Uighur rural districts in which the majority of people intended to migrate. He requested the Russian authorities to send to him the representatives of these places for talks. In his request, he also indicated that the Russian authorities would not be welcome at these talks. The Russians were more than willing to comply with this request. During the talks, Shengtai begged the Uighur representatives ‘to persuade people to remain’, promising that every family who remained would get 25 roubles (that is, ten liang — ounces — of silver), two oxen and five hu 斛 of wheat.[114] This type of propaganda was also conducted in the settlements where the Chinese Muslims were living, and it was said that Qing authorities managed to dissuade 150 Chinese Muslim families from moving.

On 23 March, Shengtai made another speech to the Uighurs and the Chinese Muslims. He urged all the peasants ‘to start work in the fields immediately’ as ‘the snow has melted, the spring is here, and it is time to sow the crops’, promising that the poor families ‘will be given livestock and seeds’.[115]

In April 1882, the Qing army detachment of more than 10,000 men entered the Ili region. In order to detain the Uighurs and the Chinese Muslims who wanted to migrate, the Manchus straight away issued a proclamation informing the Uighurs and the Chinese Muslims that they could keep, and had full right over, the land they had acquired during the revolts and the Russian occupation.[116]

While reporting about all these activities of the Qing authorities to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kolpakovsky wrote in a telegram of 23 March 1882: ‘I think that we should do all we can to help the Chinese to convince the people to remain. I regard the mass migration of over 100,000 Ili inhabitants into the Semirech’e region as harmful to us, both economically and politically.’[117]

A month later, in April 1882, in answer to Major-General Frede’s report that the Qing authorities ‘are trying, openly and secretly, to influence the inhabitants of the Ili region not to migrate into our domain,’ Kolpakovsky wrote again that ‘as for attracting people to migrate, I regard this as harmful, both for the settlers and for us’. In addition, Kolpakovsky also requested Frede to explain to the Qing authorities that ‘they should feel free to discourage the inhabitants of the Ili region from migrating into our territory’.[118]

In spite of the Russian and Qing authorities’ wishes, by the beginning of spring of 1882, it became quite clear that a number of the Ili inhabitants were very firm in their decision to move to Semirech’e and to become Russian citizens. If by the middle of February 1882 there were 12,123 Uighur and Chinese Muslim families (and about 10,000 Kazakh yourtas) who wanted to migrate,[119] by May of the same year, the number of the Uighurs and Chinese Muslims had increased to 12,876 families.[120]

As mentioned above, the migration came to a temporary halt in the autumn of 1881. Only 101 Uighur families (altogether 341 people) and fourteen Chinese Muslim families migrated before this date.[121] Because the majority of the Uighurs and Chinese Muslims wanted to migrate before the arrival of the Qing army (and therefore as soon as possible), the migration was renewed as early as February 1882. In the case of the Uighurs, because they had to irrigate their new land themselves after the migration, this had to be done during the spring–summer months of 1882. The indispensable condition for their move was that they had to bring enough grain to last each person for two years. Because their first crop could not be sown in the new locations earlier than the spring of 1883, those who did not have a two-year supply of grain in the spring of 1882 had to remain and sow their land in Ili. They could not move until the autumn of 1882, after the harvest. As for the Chinese Muslims, because the Tsarist government wanted to move them ahead of the others, they were even allowed to move without the obligatory supply of grain, which, in the case of the other groups, had to be enough to sustain them until the next harvest in their new location.

Thus the Chinese Muslims and some of the well-off Uighur families started to migrate in the early spring of 1882. The supplies of grain were to be transported ahead of the settlers. Following Major-General Frede’s orders, permission to migrate was given only to those who had paid the relevant taxes.[122]

The haste with which these migrations were conducted caused the settlers to suffer great financial loss. They had to sell their houses, outbuildings and fields of clover in a great hurry. Some had to sell their surplus grain for almost nothing. Many Chinese Muslims were ruined by the move.

However, the Uighurs had a lucky break. Because of an unexpected abundance of water in Semirech’e during the spring of 1882 the Uighur settlers were able to sow their new land straight after their arrival and before the completion of the necessary irrigation works. This abundance of water lasted until the end of April.[123] Because of this, the Russian administration was no longer worried that the new arrivals would starve and therefore gave permission to all the Uighurs who wanted to move during the spring to migrate.[124]

By the end of April, 5,000 Uighur and Chinese Muslim families had migrated and by the end of May the number had grown to 6,549 families.[125] According to the estimate of the Russian administration, 6,327 families who wanted to migrate were still left in the Ili region. In the summer of 1882, during the height of work in the fields, the resettlement program came to a temporary halt. It started again in the autumn of 1882. The Ili region had a poor harvest, and the Russian administration’s concerns about the transportation of this harvest to Semirech’s had been resolved by itself.[126] However, owing to the bad harvest, some of the comparatively poor Uighur and Chinese Muslim families were not able to migrate.

Generally speaking, the migration of the Uighurs and Chinese Muslims was accomplished between the autumn of 1882 and the early spring of 1883. However, small groups of settlers continued to walk over the border until the beginning of 1884. By 1884, altogether 9,572 Uighur families (45,073 people) and 1,147 Chinese Muslim families (4,682 people) had migrated to Semirech’e. There were 2,565 Uighur and 365 Chinese Muslim families still living in the Ili region.[127]

Only about 5,000 yourtas of the Ili Kazakhs migrated to Semirech’e and became Russian citizens. This number was much smaller than originally anticipated. As for the Kazakhs who were already Russian citizens and who moved from Semirech’e to Ili in 1871 and stayed there during the Russian occupation, they also went back to Vernyĭ and Issyk-Kul’ districts.

Altogether, the Russians accepted 70,000 Uighurs, Chinese Muslims, and Kazakhs.[128] This meant that in a very short period of time the Ili region lost half of its workforce, which consisted mainly of farmers; this had a devastating effect on the economy of the region, especially as all the settlers took their cattle and their grain supplies with them, and also destroyed their buildings and chopped down their trees before they left. The fields in Ili stood bare with no-one to plough and sow them.

The Qing authorities tried to salvage the situation. They moved some Uighurs from the Kashgar area and some Chinese peasants from the inner provinces to Ili and they encouraged the personnel of the military bases in Ili and demobilised soldiers to work in the fields.[129] The Qing authorities also gave more land to the Uighurs and the Chinese Muslims who stayed behind. In 1884, for example, some Uighurs in Ili received grain for sowing and 1,300 oxen to be used for ploughing and other agricultural work from the government.[130]

In spite of the Qing authorities’ efforts to salvage the situation, the effects of so many people leaving the area were felt right until the end of the nineteenth century and even at the beginning of the twentieth century. For example, while at the end of the seventies and the beginning of the eighties (that is, before the migration), the Ili region produced more than 400,000 poods of various cereal crops,[131] production fell drastically after the migration: in 1885, about 130,000 poods of cereal crops were harvested; in 1886, there 280,000 poods; in 1888 about 187,000 poods; in 1899 about 207,000 poods; and in 1900 over 370,000 poods of grain.[132]

The Semirech’e oblast’, on the other hand, where all the newcomers settled, flourished. The new settlers not only fed themselves but also fed the Russian troops, which, owing to the Tsarist government policy, were numerous. The production of grain increased rapidly: in 1871, 74,740 chetvert’s of grain were produced;[133] in 1878, this increased to 98,840; in 1882 to 149,114; in 1883 to 181,758; and in 1884 to 188,451 chetvert’s.[134] Because of the increase in grain production, from 1883 on, the newcomers were regarded in a different light. No-one regarded them as a burden any more. Newspapers and official correspondence started to report that the migration was a good thing, both politically and economically.[135]

Baranova stresses in her work that the Russian authorities were very reluctant to accept the new migrants. I͡usurov, in his work (see below), emphasises how much the Chinese Muslims wanted to migrate to Russia and that the Russian authorities very much wanted them as new settlers.

The Second Part of the Migration — The Move

As seen from this discussion, the Chinese Muslims and the Uighurs had the choice of either staying in the Ili region or moving to Semirech’e. I͡usurov quotes a Dungan by the name of Losu (probably 老四), a former inhabitant of Suidong city:

We started to feel that our houses were looking at us as if we were strangers and saying to us: ‘Leave! Otherwise, bad things will happen to you!’ The leaves of the thatched roof of the barn rustled, and I became frightened. I felt as if a bucket of cold water had been poured over me. I quickly went outside. A crowd of Chinese Muslims were standing in the street. They were whispering among themselves and I heard one of them say: ‘Let us become Russian citizens’.

Everywhere people were discussing the handover of Kul’ja. The Qing government urged people to be calm. The Russian government appointed Commissar-Major [sic] Frede to deal with the handover. Even before his arrival, however, the Chinese Muslims and Uighurs declared to the local government that they intended to leave. They also submitted a petition, the Russian translation of which is given by I͡usurov in an abbreviated form:

This is a petition from the ahongs, xianglaos 乡老 (mosque elders) and all the Chinese Muslims of the nine Ili cities.
Our deepest respects to the governor-general of the great Russian state.
From the records in your possession you must know of the oppression, financial ruin and acts of violence which we have suffered at the hands of the Chinese officials.
At present, in the seventh month, all the Chinese Muslims have gathered together and are handing in this petition which states that we do not want to be under Chinese rule. Therefore, we want to submit ourselves to the great sovereign of the Russian state.[136]

Most of the Chinese Muslims were thinking of moving. In the first half of 1881 alone, there were 1,308 applications. When the Qing authorities realised that a large number of the inhabitants of Ili intended to move, they issued a proclamation in the name of the Qing emperor. I͡usurov presents a small portion of the proclamation: ‘It is the Emperor’s pleasure not to make you answerable for your actions in the past so that you can start a new life and enjoy your properties and live happily in the future’.[137]

The Tsarist government handed Kul’ja to the Chinese on 18 March 1882. Until 10 March 1883, which was the official date of the end of the resettlement program, the Russian administration and army remained in the area.

I͡usurov writes that the Tsarist government was very much in favour of having the Chinese Muslims as new settlers. Politically, these new settlers ‘would make trustworthy and loyal subjects because they hated the Manchus’. Economically, they were regarded as ‘a valuable addition to the Semirech’e oblast’ because they were experienced farmers’.[138]

The following is an example of what a Russian official thought of the Chinese Muslims:

They will make a good military force for us in the future. They are physically strong, healthy and intelligent. When faced with danger, they do not know what fear is; in addition, they are dashing horse riders. Placed under a good commander, given good weapons, and trained in a Russian military school, these people will be formidable opponents of our enemies.[139]

Although the Chinese Muslims wanted to move to Semirech’e, there was practically no free land for them there. The best land was already taken by the Russian settlers and the Semirech’e Kazakhs. What was left for the Chinese Muslims were lands with little water or swamps, and even those were in a short supply.

On 20 June 1881, the governor-general of Turkestan sent a telegram giving permission to the Chinese Muslims to send representatives to inspect the land. The locations they were allowed to look at were along the Chilik River, the lands on the right side of the Ili River, and any other land that could be irrigated. On 10 June, in an additional telegram, it was recommended that if they could not find suitable land in the above-mentioned nearby locations, they could go further and inspect the land along the Chu (formerly Itkichu) and Merke Rivers, and even as far as Aulie-Ata (the present city of Dzhambul).[140]

The Chinese Muslims selected Ma Cong, Marshal Liu Chir [sic], Marshall Ba, and others. The local authorities appointed Lieutenant-Colonel Izrazt͡sov to accompany these representatives. The group left Kul’ja on 3 July 1881. They inspected all the land between Kul’dzhat and the Kara-Balta River and selected the locations for the settlements, finishing their inspection by the end of July.

Ma Cong, the volost’ representative of the Chinese Muslims, took it upon himself to select land. Unfortunately, as he was inexperienced in agriculture, he made a grave mistake. The inspection of the Chu valley was very brief and it was done in July when there was an abundance of water from the melting snow. The representatives were favourably impressed with this abundance of water and thought that, as there was so much water, they would be able in future to irrigate the fields by digging aryks (irrigation ditches) and drawing water from the Chu River. Not realising that the area was very dry when the snow was not melting, they selected two locations for resettlement — Sokuluk and Aksu.[141]

While the Chinese Muslim representatives were inspecting the resettlement locations, preparations were being made in Kul’ja for the departure. A special committee was created to make a list of the 1,308 Chinese Muslim families who decided to migrate. I͡usurov quotes in full an archive document that describes the preparations before the move:

Those who intended to migrate spent the winter of 1881–82 preparing for the move. They sold their personal possessions for practically nothing. They could not sell their orchards, fields and houses as there was nobody to buy them; thus they abandoned these and took with them only the wooden parts of their houses. These they transported to Khorgos 霍尔果斯 [a border town about 150km away] where they placed them on rafts to be transported down the Ili River. They also sold their surplus grain, repaired the old arabas [a kind of bullock cart] and acquired some new ones, and bought up as many Russian-type carts and draught and pack animals as they could. They also transported some of their grain supplies to Khorgos and Usek.[142]

Tradesmen and profiteers took advantage of this and raised the prices for carts and pack animals many times over. There were no buyers for their possessions, grain or houses, and so these were either sold for practically nothing to the people who remained or simply given away.

Preparations for the move were made in a great hurry. The settlers left in groups at different times. The first to leave were the rich and relatively well-off families. Frightened that they would be stopped by the Manchu authorities and lose their possessions, the rich Chinese Muslims bought carts and horses well ahead of the time of departure. The Russian authorities assisted their move. Major Frede, for example, informed the governor of the Semirech’e oblast’ on 17 September 1881 that fourteen Chinese Muslim families had left China: ‘This group consists mainly of the richest and most influential residents of Suidong. They have taken with them all their possessions and money.’ Frede requested the governor of Semirech’e to do all he could to assist this group to reach their destination, which was the Chu River.[143] This group, under the leadership of Ahong Kheĭshir, eventually arrived safely in Sokuluk. It should be added here that the rich Chinese Muslims, like Ma Cong and others, brought with them rice for planting and this is how rice cultivation was introduced to Russian Central Asia.[144]

After this, further crossings of the border ceased temporarily because of the extremely cold winter. In the spring, those Chinese Muslims who were already in Sokuluk realised that there was practically no water for irrigation. When the Chinese Muslims who were still in Ili, the majority of whom were poor peasants, heard about this, they refused to move there. The other factor that stopped them was the distance to Sokuluk, which was about 900 versts (over 1,000 km); they did not have the means for such a long journey. Because of all those obstacles, they requested the Tsarist authorities extend the period for the move by two years. Their request was refused.

In order to hasten the move, the governor-general of Turkestan gave the Chinese Muslims permission to move temporarily to locations 80–100 versts from the Chinese border. Some Chinese Muslims were to be settled between the Khorgos and Usek Rivers and the others were to be settled in other locations.

In the second half of February 1882, 60 well-off families left the city of Suidong and the village of Qingshuihezi 清水河子 under the leadership of Lin Tuohong.[145] Once the floating ice on the Ili River had melted, the migration resumed in full force. On 20 March, 586 families numbering 2,457 people crossed the border on 914 arabas. The rest of the settlers followed on arabas and other carts, horses and donkeys. ‘From the end of March, throughout the whole of April and may 1882, the road from the Chinese border, through Zaĭt͡sevo, which is on the bank of Chilik, to Vernyĭ and then to Pishkek was crowded with Chinese Muslim and Taranchi migrants.’[146]

Having very little money, many of these settlers either settled permanently or stopped temporarily along the way in order to earn money so that they could resume their journey. Because the local authorities did not allow this, the Dungans petitioned the governor of Semirech’e. They wrote in one of their petitions that:

since March 1882, because we are extremely poor, we have been living in various locations along the way in order to earn money with the sole aim of continuing our journey. We request to be allowed to stay in these locations for the duration of one year in order to earn enough money to buy horses so that we can then reach the settlement of Sokuluk.’[147]

In another petition, they wrote that ‘living at present in the city of Vernyĭ, we have suffered deprivation and therefore decided to move to Sokuluk’.[148]

The governor of Semirech’e’s answer to all the petitions was that if the Dungans wanted to live permanently in Vernyĭ they had to register and join the petty bourgeois class of the city, and that if they intended to stay in Vernyĭ temporarily they needed to obtain residence visas from the local authorities. This caused those Dungans who had no means to move to Sokuluk to become petty bourgeoisie. Because the local authorities followed the governor’s orders strictly, the Dungans who did not register were moved on.

With the permission of the governor of Turkestan, a group of Dungans settled between the Khorgos and Usek Rivers. Later, a large number of Dungans and also some Uighurs (all of whom had originally intended to go to the Tokmak and Vernyĭ areas) joined this group. Their reason for temporarily staying in the Khorgos area was to sow and gather one harvest before moving on.[149] Thus, many Dungans and Uighurs settled on the left bank of the Usek River, 85–90km from the Ili River. This settlement eventually became the city of Dzharkent (now known as Panfilov).[150]

Thus, after the first group of settlers who went straight to Sokuluk, not many other Dungans actually reached the destination that was originally decided upon. For instance, out of 1,308 families who migrated during the summer of 1882, only 350 families reached the Tokmak district, and only 200 settled in Sokuluk; the rest decided to stay in Pishpek. One hundred and fifty families settled in Vernyĭ; about 100 joined the Uighurs who settled in Chilik and Turgen; and more than 500 families stayed with the Uighurs at Usek and Khorgos.[151] A small party of Dungans left Sokuluk and reached the city of Aulie-Ata, which is located in the Syr-Dar’in region (the present Dzhambul region of Kazakhstan). Most of the people in this party settled outside the city at a place called Sanlak. Later on, some of the Dungans from Osh and Przheval’sk migrated to Aulie-Ata. They created their own settlement eight kilometres outside the city, which was called Dzhalpak-Ti͡ube (also known as selo Dunganovka).

The third group of migrants was the last because Russia, according to the treaty with China, had to finish the resettlement program and remove her troops from Kul’ja by March 1883. The governor of the Semirech’e oblast’ reported on 29 March 1883 that:

up to the present time, about 70,000 Taranchis, Chinese Muslims, and Kirkhiz from Kul’ja have settled here. Most of these settlers would be regarded as very poor in their former places of residence. The move caused them great financial difficulty. Some of them were so poor that they could not even reach their final destinations.[152]

Though the official resettlement program was finished, some Chinese Muslims and Uighurs crossed the border later on, when they had saved enough money. These people were not regarded as Russian citizens. Once they crossed the border, they united into one small group and moved slowly towards Semirech’e.

Once the resettlement program came to an end, both the Chinese and Russian authorities tried to stop any new migrants from crossing the border. If a person did manage to cross, the Russians caught him and returned him to China. However, the measures taken to stop the migrants were not effective as the border was open and anybody could cross it saying that they were going to Russia to visit relatives, and their possessions would then be transported over the border secretly. I͡usurov quotes a Dungan by the name of Abdullin Maakhung, who was one of those who migrated later. According to Maakhung, people settled in various locations where they had relatives who had arrived earlier. Financially, the latecomers were better off as they had had the opportunity to sell their houses, orchards, and possessions without haste and could use this money to buy horses, carts, and various goods. In 1883, there 1,347 Dungans in the city of Dzharkent; by 1884, the number had grown to 1,866, out of which 887 were males.[153] Thus, after the official closing of the resettlement program, the number of Dungans increased there by 334 people. I͡usurov adds that the Tsarist government was against the Dungans arriving and settling in small groups because ‘due to their unstable character and thievish habits, they could not be left alone with supervision’.[154]

In 1883, 349 Dungans settled in the Vernyĭ district, and in 1884 this group moved to the right bank of the Ili River at the Kzyl-Dzhigdaĭ of the Chiliĭ volost’. Eighty-five Dungan families, consisting altogether of 323 people, settled in Baltabaĭ in the Karasu region; seven families, consisting of 26 people, settled in Alekseevka; 50 families, consisting of 280 people, settled in Karam volost’; and 92 families, consisting of 349 people, settled in Karasu volost’.

As for the cities, in Vernyĭ, the Dungans chose the north-western section. Altogether, 146 families, consisting of 494 people, settled there and formed a separate Dungan sloboda (suburb). Two hundred and eight families, consisting of 644 people, settled in the western section of Pishkek. A special Dungan sloboda was also formed there.

As for their original destination, Sokuluk, 318 families, consisting of 1,705 people, settled there.[155]

Two Dungan selos were formed in Aulie-Atin uezd (district) consisting altogether of 600 people.

By 1884, the official figure for the Dungan migrants from the Ili region was only 1,147 families, consisting of 4,682 people (2,439 males and 2,243 females).[156] I͡usurov thinks this estimate is much too low, as many latecomers, being Chinese citizens, concealed their presence from the authorities and were not registered. He think that well over 10,000 Dungans arrived in Russia during the first migration from north-western China and the second migration from the Ili region.[157]

Chapter Four
After the Migrations: Life in the Early Dungan Settlements


In this chapter, I have limited the description of all aspects of the Dungan life to the early period, from the time they arrived in Russia (1877–84) to the end of the nineteenth century.

The area in which the Dungans of both migrations settled was in Russian Central Asia and Kazakhstan, both of which were under Russian rule. With the exception of the Osh Dungans of Uzbekistan and the Yrdyk Dungans, who were at the far end of Kirghizstan, the majority of the Dungans settled in the area that usually referred to as Semirech’e (which means ‘the area of the seven rivers’), the official title of which was Semirechenskai͡a oblast’. This Russian administrative title covered northern Kirghizstan and southern Kazakhstan. It was under the rule of the governor-general of Turkestan.

The reasons why the Dungans migrated and why they decided to settle where they did have been discussed in Chapters Two and Three. Certain factors played a role in the allocation of the new locations for settlement. Apart from the selection of Sokuluk, which occurred before the actual migration, the Dungans had little say in where they could settle. The Russian authorities gave them land. It was unfortunate for the Dungans that by the time they arrived the best land was already occupied by rich Russian landowners and those Kazakhs who were in the service of the Russian government. Thus, the rest of the Kazakhs and the Kirghiz, not to mention the new arrivals, were left with mountainous slopes or barren sands. The Kazakhs and the Kirghiz were nomads and they could at least move around in search of better pastures; the Dungans, however, were sedentary farmers and most of the land they received was not suitable for farming.[158]

Enumeration and Locations of the New Settlements

Several general comments should be made about the locations for the settlements.

  1. The Dungans settled in compact groups. Those that came from a certain location settled as a group in the new location. Thus, generally speaking, the Dungans from Shaanxi settled in Karakunuz and Shor-Ti͡ube; the Dungans from Gansu settled in Yrdyk; and the Dungans from the Ili region settled in Sokuluk. Their close-knit relationships, cemented by intermarriage, meant that whether building a house, sharing work in the fields or during a period of misfortune, they always helped each other.
  2. Each group had a leader. The rebel leaders of the first migration, being historical figures, are better known than the leaders of the second migration, who were usually simply prominent members of that group. The Dungans followed and obeyed their leaders.
  3. The criteria for selecting the land: most of the land was allocated to the Dungans by the local authorities, and thus the Dungans did not have very much say in where they could settle. Besides, by the time the Dungans arrived in Russian Central Asia all the best land was already taken. But they naturally tried to choose the land best suited for agriculture; a good supply of water was very important. In addition, they always chose a location near a town. The reason for this was that the Dungan settlers were either farmers or artisans and they needed a nearby market to sell their products.
  4. The Dungans renamed their new settlements. The places that were either selected by the Dungans or allocated to them had Russian names as well as either Kirghiz or Kazakh names, depending on the location. The Dungans gave these places their own names. Thus, selo Nilokaevskoe, which was called Karakunuz by the local people, was called I̭iŋp’an by the Dungans and selo Mariinskoe was called Ɛrtogu by the Dungans. (The Kirghiz pronounced Ɛrtogu as Yrdyk.) Another example is selo Shor-Ti͡ube. As mentioned above, Karakunuz had two hostile groups: I͡aman and I͡akshi.[159] Eventually the I͡akshi group petitioned for a new settlement. This new settlement was called Shor-Ti͡ube. The Dungans who moved there dug a new canal to irrigate their fields and called their new settlement Çiŋtş’y 新渠 (New Canal). In the cities, such as Pishpek, Przheval’sk, Vernyĭ, and Aulie-Ata, the Dungans settled in compact groups. The Russians called all these Dungan suburbs ‘Dunganovka’, meaning ‘a village where the Dungans live’, something like ‘Dunganville’, by the Russians. The Dungans, naturally had their own names for all their settlements and the sections of the city where they lived. For example, the Pishpek Dungans referred to the suburb where they lived as Xεli̭an.[160] They also had their own street names, such as Liufu xoŋdzɨ 柳树行子 (Willow Street).
  5. At present, very few Dungans are living in the cities. This was not the case in the early days. Dzhon mentions that in 1891, one-third of the population of Pishpek was Dungan and, as the majority of the Pishpek population were market-gardeners, the Dungans, being excellent farmers, played an important role in the development of the city. For instance, they helped to dig a network of irrigation canals in the city, and sold rice and vegetables at very competitive prices; it was owing to them that the prices for all sorts of products were lowered in Pishpek.[161]

The Early Days in the Dungan Settlements

The Rural Dungan Settlements

The Osh Dungans [162]

The Dungans arrived in Osh in the winter of 1877. In the spring of the following year, they asked the local authorities for land, and were offered plots in the Alaĭ-Gil’chinskai͡a valley. Being experienced farmers, they refused to accept this land; the area was mountainous, it had long winters and short summers, and it was suitable only for growing barley. The Dungans asked for land near Osh, where they could plant not only wheat but also cotton, rice, and vegetables. Ma Daren’s son, Bakhavetdin, recalls that because the authorities refused to give the Dungans this land, the Dungans wrote a petition to St Petersburg, but they did not receive an answer. While they were waiting for the answer, the time for sowing passed and they were left with no land and no harvest. The new arrivals then had to find other means for survival. Osh at that time was a small town and there was no work to be found there. Many Dungans scattered all over the Ferghana valley in search of work. Some worked as hired hands for rich landowners; some worked in sweet shops making halva; some tried their hand at being artisans, for instance repairing china or shoes; some worked as cooks in eating-houses and some made and sold Dungan national food. The rich Dungans bought houses in Osh and started to trade. Ma Daren, according to his son, ceased to be the leader of the group and became a physician of Chinese medicine.

Being hard-working and enterprising people, the Dungans settled in their new location fairly quickly. Because they were not allocated land, they leased land from the local rich landowners, mainly in the Karasu region. In the beginning, they moved to this region in the summer and returned to Osh in the winter; later, they settled more permanently in the Karasu region and built houses and dug an irrigation canal there.

This group of Dungans were only allocated land after the October Revolution. When collectivisation came into force, they created a cotton-growing kolkhoz by the name of Kyzyk-Shark. Eventually, this kolkhoz became one of the best kolkhozes in south Kirghizstan.

The Yrdyk Dungans [163]

The Dungans arrived in Przheval’sk during the winter of 1877 and were allocated land in the spring of the following year. They received 6,300 desi͡atinas of land, of which 4,000 desi͡atinas were suitable for agriculture.[164] The Dungans asked for ten desi͡atinas for each male but received only six because the land in the Przheval’sk area was already taken by the settlers from Russia. In later years, when the Dungan population increased, the Dungans in Yrdyk suffered from a shortage of land.

The treasury gave the Dungans 28,000 roubles for the construction of houses in the settlement. Those of the new arrivals who had private means and those who were not allocated land stayed in Przheval’sk, settling in the western section of the city. Some of these city Dungans engaged in small-scale trade, some became artisans and some leased land from the Cossacks for market gardening. The very poor Dungans worked as hired hands for the local rich landowners. In the beginning, there were altogether 619 Dungans in Przheval’sk.[165]

After the Yrdyk Dungans received the land they started to work on it straight away. They had a very small number of livestock: 169 horses, 27 donkeys, eight mules, and five camels.[166] They had neither ploughs nor any other tools. They had to borrow tools, seeds, and draught animals from the rich Russian landowners and Kirghiz. They then planted wheat, potatoes, and cabbages. After sowing, they dug an irrigation canal and only after this did they start to build their houses. They used stones for the foundations, mud bricks for the walls, wood for the window frames, doors, and the frame of the house, and reeds for the roof. By 1885, seven years after their arrival, the Dungans had built 233 houses and one mosque.[167] In that year, there were altogether 1,158 Dungans in Yrkyk and Przheval’sk, out of whom 29 people were literate and 19 were ahongs.[168]

After the October Revolution, the kolkhoz Tɨi̭shɨŋ 得胜 (Victory) was created in Yrdyk, and became one of the best kolkhozes in the Issyk-Kul’ region.

The Karakunuz Dungans

The arrival of a group of Shaanxi Dungans in Tokmak and their first night there has been described in the section entitled ‘Po͡iarkov’s Description of the Crossing of the Tianshan and the Arrival of Bo Yanhu’s Group’, in Chapter Two.

Po͡iarkov also gives an interesting description of how this group settled in Karakunuz.[169] He writes that in the beginning, the Dungans of this group stayed about two versts south-west of the Little Tokmak. About 80 to 90 yurts were set up for them. Three or four families were placed in each yurt. But as there were not enough yurts to accommodate all of them, some Dungans built themselves huts out of reeds or dug dugouts on the slopes of a nearby deep ravine. Po͡iarkov writes that when he visited the area on an archaeological survey in 1885, some of these dugouts were still there, and some even still had ashes in them. Po͡iarkov sadly remarks that these dugouts resembled more of an animal’s burrow than a place where a human being could live. He adds that the Dungans lived in these holes throughout the bitterly cold winter months. The Dungans who were showing Po͡iarkov the area also pointed out to him a nearby cemetery where those who died during that period were buried.

The Dungans were allocated land in the spring of 1878. At first, the authorities wanted to give them land located about ten to twelve versts from the Big Tokmak, near the famous ancient tower of Burana. But, after inspecting the land, the Dungans refused to accept it as there was no water there. Then the local authorities offered and the Dungans accepted land near the southern foothills of Zailiĭskiĭ Alatau. This land was on the right of the Chu River, about seven to eight versts from the Big Tokmak. The settlement was built along the mountain river, which flowed into the Chu River. This mountain river and the settlement were both called Karakunuz, which, according to Poi͡arkov, means ‘black beetle’.[170]

A few words should be added here about the name ‘Karakunuz’, because there are several interesting versions of how it originated. T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov, like Po͡iarkov, were of the opinion that it was a Kirghiz name meaning ‘black beetle’, as kara means ‘black’ and kunuz means ‘beetle’. They write that ‘one can conclude that the place received such a strange name because of the abundance of black beetles that one sees there in spring and summer. In fact, one encounters a rather large number of black beetles of various sizes all along the post-road between Vernyĭ and Tokmak.’ Stratanovich gives a different explanation as to why this settlement was called Karakunuz. According to him, the name originated at the time when the Dungans lived in mud huts and male Dungans wore black. When visited by the Kirghiz or Kazakhs, the male Dungans would appear in the black national dress at the entrance of their mud huts looking ‘just like beetles’.[171]

The majority of the new arrivals settled in Karakunuz, but a small number also settled in Tokmak and Pishpek.

The treasury allocated 28,000 roubles each for Karakunuz and Yrdyk. This money was for building houses and for buying cattle, tools, and seed. Some of the seed was given to the Dungans by the local Kirghiz people.

When the spring came, the new arrivals in Karakunuz started to work ‘amicably and energetically’ on the land. They sowed wheat and other crops such as corn.[172] In I͡usurov’s description of the Karakunuz Dungans, he mentions that they also sowed such vegetables as potatoes, cabbages, onions, radishes, red peppers, beans, and wild garlic, which became so popular that it was eventually referred to as ‘Karakunuz garlic’. In the beginning, they did not sow rice because they did not have enough rice to sow or sufficient means to cultivate this labour-intensive crop. They did find suitable land to sow rice on the right-hand side of the Chu River, but it was twelve versts from the settlement and they could not transport the draught animals to plough the land there. I͡usurov does mention that, according to the district head Narbut, the Dungans started to plant rice in the following year, 1888.[173]

To continue with Poi͡arkov’s account, as soon as the wheat and corn were planted, the Dungans started to build houses and to work on their vegetable gardens. By the end of the summer, all the houses were built and each property was surrounded by a mud-brick wall. The houses were in typical Chinese style.

Bo Yanhu set a very good example for his group. He worked ‘strenuously and meticulously’ both at home, in the vegetable garden, and in the fields. In the beginning, he still acted as the leader of the group. He had to investigate and judge all their complaints and quarrels and, according to Poi͡arkov (and also T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov), there were many of these. But Bo Yanhu’s authority was limited. For instance, on at least one occasion, he wanted to chop off the head of one offender, but the local authorities forbade him to carry out this punishment.[174]

I͡usurov mentions that when the local authorities suggested that the Dungans plant karagach (Central Asian elm) along the streets of the new settlement, Bo Yanhu was against this, pointing out that its seeds would get into the vegetable gardens and the seedlings would have to be continuously weeded out. Following his advice, only poplars and willows were planted along the streets of Karakunuz.[175]

I͡usurov also writes that, like the Yrdyk Dungans, the Karakunuz Dungans were always suffering from a shortage of land. This shortage was felt right from the beginning — by the time the Dungans had sown their first crops, there was no space for the settlement, and it was decided to build the settlement nearer to the foothills.

By 1887, the Karakunuz Dungans had 473 horses and 131 donkeys but no other livestock.[176] With the 20,000 roubles they received from the treasury, they bought livestock, agricultural implements, and seeds. The sum given to them was not enough. The local Kirghiz gave them some seed and they themselves made ploughs and harrows from wood.

The first houses they built were temporary dwellings. Proper houses were built around 1880–82. (In 1961, when I͡usurov wrote his description of Karakunuz, Bo Yanhu’s house was still partially standing and his grandson, Dzhabur Baĭ Imamov, was living in it.[177] ‘Baĭ’ is an alternative pronunciation of ‘Bo’.)

The first harvest in Karakunuz was a relatively good one; it enabled the Dungans not only to feed themselves but also to save some seeds for the next spring. But after four or five years, the realised that they did not have enough land. Back in 1882, the district authorities had decided that each male settler should get ten desi͡atinas of land. The arrangement was that the settlers had to pay rent on this land. It was decided that, in the beginning, the rent was to be paid as soon as the newcomer had settled and, later on, the settler had to pay tax according to the amount of profit he made from this land. It was stated in the report of the local district official, Lieutenant Colonel Pushchin, to the military governor of the Semirech’e oblast’ that each Dungan male was to be given ten desi͡atinas of land, but after a rough survey conducted in the Karakunuz area, it was decided that each male would receive only seven or eight desi͡atinas.[178]

The land allocated to the Karakunuz Dungans was divided in the following way: 54 desi͡atinas and 40 square ságènes were for the settlement;[179] 4,139 desi͡atinas and 3,211 square ságènes were for ploughing; 7,639 desi͡atinas and 2,216 square ságènes was for fallow land; 532 desi͡atinas and 890 square ságènes were for land on which hay was produced; and 409 desi͡atinas and 1,000 square ságènes were for common pastures. Altogether, this came to 12,855 desi͡atinas and 2014 square ságènes. Then there were 53 desi͡atinas and 200 square ságènes of useless land such as swamps and marshes; 90 desi͡atinas and 2,262 square ságènes were allocated for paths between the fields; 15 desi͡atinas and 1,500 square ságènes were for the cemetery; rivers and irrigation canals occupied 141 desi͡atinas and 297 square ságènes; and 729 desi͡atinas and 540 square ságènes were land with outcrops of rocks. This came to 10,306 desi͡atinas and 1,799 square ságènes altogether.[180] As seen from this archive document, the arable land for every Dungan male actually came to three desi͡atinas per person.

The shortage of land was made even more acute by the following factor. As described in ‘Bo Yanhu’s Life and Death in Central Asia’, in Chapter Two, Bo Yanhu’s companions-in-arms (I͡usurov refers to them in Russian transcription as i͡uanfaĭ, that is, yuanshuai 元帅, a commander), using their former prestigious positions in his regiment, acquired as much land as they could and, in addition, appropriated the best land.

This phenomenon of rebel leaders acquiring more land than their share and appropriating the best land occurred in all other Dungan settlements as well, and the acute shortage of land caused the number of Karakunuz Dungans and Dungans in the cities of Tokmak, Pishpek, and Vernyĭ to increase and the number of Dungans in the settlements to decrease. For example, in those early days, the Dungan population in Vernyĭ increased from 411 to 799 and the number of Dungans in Karakunuz decreased from over 3,300 to 2,639 people.[181]

In 1885, 65 babies were born in Karakunuz. During that period, Karakunuz had 46 people who were literate, 36 clergy, several mosques and prayer-houses, and one school, which had one class and was for boys only. The aim of this school was to teach the Russian language to the children of the rich Dungans.[182]

After the October Revolution, a kolkhoz by the name of Komintern was created in Karakunuz, and it eventually became one of the biggest kolkhozes in the Kurdaĭ raĭon of the Dzhambul oblast’, in the Kazakh SSR.

The Sokuluk Dungans

Unlike the Dungans of the first migration (who escaped death by crossing the formidable Tianshan mountains in the middle of winter), the Dungans who came from the Ili region had had time to negotiate and discuss their move and, to a certain degree, to sell their houses and possessions and select the most suitable time of year for their journey. As mentioned in Chapter Three, the Dungans sent representatives who selected Sokuluk and Aksu as locations for settlement. For various reasons, many Dungans settled along the route. Those who finally arrived in Sokuluk realised that the area had no water and requested permission to move to Aksu; the local authorities refused this request because, by then, Aksu was already occupied by settlers from Russia.

In the spring of 1882, the Sokuluk Dungans decided to sow wheat, but because the land was completely unsuitable for agriculture owing to the lack of water, some arable land that belonged to the local Kirghiz was allotted to them.[183] Normally, rice fields are covered with water, but the Sokuluk Dungans had to plant rice in fields that had no irrigation and they had to water the fields continuously. The first harvest consisted of 1,000 poods of wheat and 400 poods of other grains, including two poods of rice.

After the harvest, the Dungans started to build houses. The local authorities gave them permission to settle on both sides of the highway. On one side of the highway, in the centre of the settlement, a space was left for a square. Thus, at least in the beginning, the houses in Sokuluk were built in two long rows along the highway. This arrangement made Sokuluk quite different from other Dungan settlements, which were square in shape and subdivided into blocks (see ‘The Layout of the Early Settlements’ below). The wood for constructing the houses came from nearby mountains and was transported by two-wheeled carts pulled by a pair of oxen. By the winter of 1882, more than half of the Sokuluk Dungans had built houses. These were the well-off Dungans; the poor built themselves mud huts.[184]

More and more settlers arrived in Sokuluk. These were mainly the poor Dungans who, not having any means to survive, applied, through their leader Ma Cong, for financial assistance. Ma Cong informed the local authorities that 260 Dungan families had arrived in Sokuluk and requested the treasury to allocate 5,000 roubles for their food and accommodation.[185] The local authorities allocated to the new arrivals 4,434 poods of wheat from the public reserve and loaned them 8,757 poods of wheat at a costs of 3,081 roubles, 78 copecks.

According to the archives, Sokuluk had 333 Dungan families, out of which 250 families tilled the soil, 50 families were in the carrying trade, ten families were in small business, and 25 families were unskilled labourers. The Sokuluk inhabitants had 256 horses, 257 cattle (mainly bullocks), 198 sheep, and three donkeys.[186]

In the spring of 1883, the Dungans started work on the irrigation canal. They wanted to use the water from the Chu River to irrigate the downstream lands near Sokuluk and Aksu in order to plant rice. They asked the local authorities for a canal specialist but were not given one. Thus, three Dungans played an important role in this project. Their leader, Ma Cong, managed to get financial assistance from the local authorities; Ma Da xianlao (Ma Ta çiↄŋlo in Dungan, 马大乡老, the honourable mosque elder Ma) acted as an engineer; and Ba Yuanshuai (Pa įyanfε in Dungan, Ba 元帅, Commander Ba) worked as a water technician. Neither of the above-mentioned Dungans had had any training, but both had a lot of experience. The local authorities allocated 2,912 roubles for the project. The canal began at the Chu River, five versts above the Konstantinovskai͡a station, crossed the Karasu and Alaarcha Rivers and joined the Sokuluk River. By 1884, the length of the canal was 11.5 versts.

According to I͡usurov, thousands of people dug the canal. The work was difficult but progressed very quickly; the Dungan songwriter, Wusan (probably 吴三) even wrote a song about the work on the first Dungan irrigation canal in Kirgizstan.

The canal enabled the Dungans to enlarge the sowing area. In 1883, they sowed 65,000 poods of grain, which included 2,375 poods of rice. By this time, each Dungan male in Sokuluk had six to seven desi͡atinas of land and was much better off compared to the Dungan males in Yrdyk and Karakunuz. By the end of 1884, all the Sokuluk inhabitants finally had houses, and they had also built a mosque. The settlement officially became a Dungan selo and had 1,705 inhabitants, including 13 clergy and 22 people who were literate.[187]

During the Soviet period, Sokuluk, which was officially known as selo of Aleksandrovka, contained a large Dungan kolkhoz by the name of ‘Druzhba’ (‘Friendship’), which mainly produced sugar beet and other vegetables, and grain.

The Urban Dungans

The settlement of the Dungan communities in the cities developed in a different way from the rural Dungan settlements. While the Dungans who settled outside the cities lived in their own settlements, the city Dungans, who were very different in language and customs from the other city dwellers, lived as completely separate ethnic communities.

The Dzharkent Dungans

Some of the Dungan and Uighur settlers who crossed the border settled temporarily on the left bank of the Khorgos River. They ploughed the land there and gathered the harvest before moving to Dzharkent. Generally speaking, the local authorities thought that these new arrivals would make good frontier inhabitants.

The Dungans and Uighurs received blocks of land in the city for building their houses. They had also received land for agriculture in a place called Besh-Aral, which was situated seven to eight versts from the city. The reason for this inconvenient arrangement was that the land in Besh-Aral was a swamp and houses could not be built there.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, Dzharkent was a small but busy semi-military frontier town. It had wide, straight streets, planted on both sides with rows of poplars. The Russians lived in the upper part of the city and the Dungans and Uighurs in the lower part. In 1883, besides Dungans and Uighurs, there were 2,122 inhabitants, 1,387 of whom were soldiers.[188]

The Dungans received very little financial help to start their new life in Dzharkent — only about 500 roubles.[189] Because they had to bring wood for the construction of their houses from a long distance, the building of the houses took a long time and was completed only in 1886.

In the spring of 1883, the Dungans asked the local authorities to allocate them some land north of the city, but they were given land 28 versts south-west of the city. The land was on the right side of the Usek River, in the districts of Aral, Ak Ti͡ube, and Karim-Agach, which were all situated in the lowlands of the Ili valley. Most of this land consisted of salt-marshes and only 20 desi͡atinas of land could be used to cultivate rice. The rest of the 1,180 desi͡atinas were not cultivated.[190] Officially, however, the Dungans received 1,200 desi͡atinas of land, each receiving 1.4 desi͡atinas. Because of this shortage of land, the Dungans had a meeting in December 1883 and wrote a petition in which they wanted to relinquish the land allocated to them and to be given some other land.[191] Their request was refused and they were forced to work on the original land once again. They harvested 10,035 poods of wheat, 3,514 poods of barley, 2,625 poods of oats, 1,871 poods of rice, 560 poods of peas, and 725 poods of flax.[192]

After this harvest, the Dungans definitely came to the conclusion that the land allocated to them was of very inferior quality. Once again they requested more suitable land and once again they did not receive a satisfactory answer. The local authorities pointed out that there was no other available land and suggested that the only way to solve this difficult situation was for the Dungans to be registered as city dwellers of the lower middle class.

In the following years, fewer and fewer Dungans were engaged in agriculture and more and more of them ran vegetable markets, sold fruit from their orchards or went into trade. Nearly every Dungan in Dzharkent had a large vegetable garden and an orchard. Those who went into trade usually ran eating-houses or inns; some were carriers, often using bullock-carts for transport; and some produced vinegar, vermicelli, or starch. These Dungans were registered as urban lower middle class, but the majority of the Dungans were still registered as peasants.

According to the statistics of the Semirech’e oblast’ administration, the number of Dzharkent Dungans reached 1,768 in 1885. Out of this number, two were mullahs and four were literate. As only 39 babies were born in 1885 and 82 Dungans died that year, the main growth of the Dungans was due to new waves of Chinese Muslims who were continuously arriving from Ili.[193]

The Vernyĭ Dungans

The first Dungans who appeared in Vernyĭ were twenty families of Shaanxi Dungans who moved from Karakunuz. They registered themselves as city dwellers in order to obtain land from the town council so that they could build houses. Eventually, their houses were built in the north-western section of the city.

Next came 115 Dungan families from the Ili region. Their settlement in Vernyĭ was accidental as they were actually on their way from Ili to Sokuluk but had to stop at Vernyĭ to sow and harvest enough wheat to be able to continue their journey. These Ili Dungans joined the Shaanxi Dungans from Karakunuz and also registered themselves as city dwellers.

The third group of Dungans that settled in Vernyĭ were about 60 families from Sokuluk who moved to Vernyĭ voluntarily.[194]

According to the figures of the Semirech’e oblast’ administration, there were 397 Dungan families (altogether 1,332 individuals) by the end of 1883.[195] They formed two distinct groups, each having their own mosque. The group that came originally from Ili was called the Kul’ja group and the group consisting of Dungans from Shaanxi was called the Tokmak group.

In the beginning, the Dungans in Vernyĭ were mainly occupied in the production of bricks and in the carrying trade; some sold vegetables from their vegetable gardens and some were engaged in small-scale trade. Only much later did they turn to agriculture; and when they did, they could only lease the land as they were classifed as city dwellers. One archive document states that the Dungans tried to change their status to village dwellers in order to obtain land but were refused because ‘they are lower middle class, and as petty bourgeois, they are not supposed to get land from the treasury’.[196]

During the Soviet period, the area which the Dungans used to lease became a Dungan kolkhoz by the name of Zari͡a Vostoka (‘Dawn of the East’).

The Pishpek Dungans

The Dungan community in Pishpek was formed in the same way as in Vernyĭ. In 1882, 150 families of the Dungans who were going from Ili to Sokuluk stopped temporarily in Pishpek and then decided to stay there permanently. The local authorities registered them as city dwellers and gave them a section of land in the western part of the city upon which to build houses. Another 59 families settled there in the same way in 1883. At that time, there were 649 Dungans living in Pishpek. The authorities gave them 2,000 roubles to build houses and permitted them to chop down trees in the mountains for the construction.[197] By the end of 1884, most of the settlers had built their houses.

At the beginning of 1885, 76 Dungan families were tilling the land or had vegetable markets, 36 families were carriers, 26 families were engaged in small-scale business, and 72 families were labourers.[198] There were three people who were literate and seven mullahs. Those who tilled the land leased it from rich Kirghiz.

To sum up, both rural and urban Dungans settled in their new locations well, the main reasons for this being that they were hard-working people; that the Russian government released them from the land tax during the first three to five years (depending on the location); and that the Kazakhs, Kirghiz, and Russians helped them to settle.

I͡usurov concludes his chapter on the Dungan settlements in Kirghizstan and Kazakhstan by saying that Dungans played a definite role in the development of the economy in Semirech’e, both in farming and in various artisan trades.[199]

The Settlers’ Ties with China

As seen above, the Dungans, being hard-working and enterprising, managed to settle fairly well into their new locations. Because of the ill-treatment, persecution, and massacres of the Muslim population in China, they turned their back on their old country, but they naturally missed the relatives whom they had left behind.

The borders between China and the Soviet Union were closed for many years and the Dungans were completely isolated. Their hatred for China and their isolation caused them to become extremely nationalistic. Eventually, the Dungans prospered; they were happy and settled and had no need to look back into the past with longing. As an emigrant community outside China, in their attempt to preserve their national identity, they became extremely conservative and nationalistic, wishing to be regarded as an independent community, speaking an independent language. (In 1977, as noted above, they even told me that the Dungan language is completely different to Chinese.)[200]

But all this came much later. In the beginning, just after their arrival in Central Asia, the Dungans crossed the border frequently. This is what T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov write about the trips to China of the Dungans who had settled in Karakunuz:

Dungan men in Karakunuz shave their heads and wear the usual Muslim skullcaps … Dungans do not have pigtails, except when a Dungan has to go to China secretly in order to find his relatives. In such cases, the pigtail gives a Dungan of Russian citizenship an opportunity to travel safely in China, as it is difficult to distinguish them from the Dungans who are Chinese citizens, who, without exception, have pigtails and wear Chinese clothes. Preparation for such an excursion needs time and caution. A Dungan who is planning to go to China grows a pigtail for three or four years, and at the same time must take great care to conceal his intentions from the local authorities, who do not allow Dungans to cross the border. When the pigtail is long enough, the traveller secretly crosses the border, puts on Chinese clothes and then wanders freely in the Great Qing State trying to locate the people whom he has come to find. When he achieves his goal, the Dungan then poses as a Chinese citizen and obtains anidentity card from the Chinese authorities and a visa from the consulate. Pretending that he is a Chinese merchant, he travels back to Russia. In this way, he returns safely to Karakunuz. However, we have been told that the Dungans in Przheval’sk all have pigtails.[201]

The New Settlements

The Layout of the Early Settlements

Because the Dungans came to Russian Central Asia in two migrations and from two different directions, some of the Dungan settlements were separated from each other by several tens and even hundreds of kilometres. They were usually near a main highway that connected the various cities of Kirghistan and Kazakhstan. Often they were quite near the cities. For example, the selo Zari͡a Vostoka (‘Eastern Dawn’) was on the outskirts of Vernyĭ; selo Aleksandrovka was situated twenty kilometres from the city of Pishpek on the highway that connected Pishpek with Dzhambul, Talas, Chimkent, and eventually Tashkent; selo Karakunuz was situated eight kilometres from the city of Tokmak; selo Yrdyk was situated on the southern shore of lake Issyk-Kul’, seven kilometres from the city of Przheval’sk; and selo Kyzyl-Shark was situated along the Pishpek-Osh highway, several kilometres from the city of Osh.

The basis of a settlement was a foŋ 坊 (a subdivision of a city, which Dzhon translates as ‘a square shape, a city block’). From now on, it will be referred to as a block. A settlement had straight streets running from east to west and from south to north, thus diving a settlement into blocks. Each block contained four of what Dzhon refers to as usad’ba (family estate), which from now on will be referred to as ‘a household’. A mud-brick wall (tatşiↄŋ 大墙) was constructed around each block.

Inside the block, the inner walls divided the block into four squares, each square being a household (see Figure 1). The position of the gates of the households created very quiet streets, which had only long rows of walls. It should also be noted that the windows, doors, and gates never faced west because Mecca and Medina were in the west. The Dungans also believed that the house should face south because the warm south wind would bring happiness and prosperity to the family. Each household had within its walls not only the house and the courtyard but also a vegetable garden and the outer buildings such as toilets and sheds. Occasionally, one family had a whole block, but in such cases the family was a very large one including parents and the families of several sons. Such blocks were referred to as, for instance, Ma tşia foŋ ‘the block belonging to the Ma family’. But normally a block contained four families; and often these families were related to each other.

Four blocks with four households in each.
Figure 1:
Four blocks with four households in each.
1=mud-brick wall; 2=courtyard; 3=vegetable garden.
The illustration is taken from Dzhon, p.20.
Selo Masanchin (formerly Karakunuz).
Figure 2:
Selo Masanchin (formerly Karakunuz). Each square is a block.

The block was usually of a standard size: around 150 metres in length and width. The standard size of the block was due to the fact that the land was allocated by the authorities and the Dungans were not allowed to take as much land as they wanted. Thus the Dungan settlements with their straight streets and square blocks were quite different from the Russian settlements and the settlements of the neighbouring local population. The local people were nomads and their settlements were often built following the contours of the land, while the Russian settlements usually stretched along the highway.[202] All the early Dungan settlements were of the square block type. However, later on, especially after the October Revolution, the newly formed settlements were often built along highways.

A Dungan settlement was usually divided into sections. Dzhon gives selo Milianfan as an example. This settlement was divided into three sections: the eastern, the western, and the centre. Each of these three sections was further divided into smaller sections. The mosque was situated in the central section. Dzhon notes that the four directions of north, east, south, and west were not used in the division of a Dungan settlement; şoŋmiar 上面儿 (above) and xamiar 下面儿 (below) were used instead. Therefore, in selo Aleksandrovka, for instance, people referred to the south side as soşie şoŋmiar (soşie is the Dungan version of the Russian word shosse ‘highway’), which means ‘the area above the highway’. They referred to the north side as soşie xamiar, which means ‘the area below the highway’. All the Dungan settlements used ‘above’ and ‘below’ in their divisions.

The Houses in the New Settlements

Though in the past the Chinese Muslims in the Ili regions lived among the Uighurs and both groups of Dungans who arrived in Russia lived near the Kirghiz, Kazakhs and Russians, the Dungans were influenced by these other groups only in some minor aspects. Intermarriage between the Dungans and these groups was rare. Thus the Dungans preserved their culture and customs; for example, they ate with chopsticks and spoke Chinese, and their wedding customs were those that were performed during the Qing dynasty 100 years earlier. However, many Dungans spoke one or even several of the languages spoken by the people that surrounded them. Only the Dungans who settled in the Osh area lost their identity. They took Uzbek wives, adopted Uzbek agricultural tools, built Uzbek-style houses and even started to use many Uzbek words in their speech. Their blending in with the Uzbeks was due to the fact that they were a small group, not large enough to preserve their identity.

Thus the first houses built by the new settlers (except the Osh group) were all of the Chinese style. There was practically no difference between the houses built by the Dungans who came from Gansu and Shaanxi provinces and the Dungans who came from the Ili region, as the Chinese Muslims in Ili were originally also from Gansu and Shaanxi. Dzhon writes that a number of Chinese Muslims in Gansu and Shaanxi migrated to the Ili region in the 18th and 19th centuries.[203] Therefore, the houses built in Karakunuz and Yrdyk by the Dungans who came from Gansu and Shaanxi provinces were of the same type and structure as the houses built in Aleksandrovka and the city of Pishpek by the Dungans who came from the Ili region. Neither was there much difference between the houses built by rich and poor Dungans. Dzhon explains this as owing to the fact that in the beginning, most of the new settlers were more or less of the same social class, and the division between rich and poor Dungans occurred gradually in the next 35–39 years.[204] The houses of the richer Dungans could be larger, the materials used could be of better quality, more skilled workmen could have been hired and the furniture in the house could be more expensive, but the style and the layout was still the same. Occasionally, there were slight differences between the houses of the rich and poor: the rich tended to build the kitchen (xuǝfoŋ 火房) away from the house, while the poor often had kitchen, living room (k’ifoŋ 客房), and bedroom (fifoŋ 睡房) all in one room. In addition, the courtyards of the rich Dungans were larger and were often divided into ‘inner’ and the ‘outer’ sections and their houses were often built with posts and a frame construction, while the poor Dungans would build their houses with mud bricks without posts or frame.

Later on, the rich Dungans started to build Russian-style houses with rooms parallel to each other instead of in one long row. Ceilings, roof beams, and windows with glass panels appeared only after the beginning of the twentieth century.[205]

When I visited the Dungans in 1977, 1985, 1991, and 1993, my general impression of their houses in the kolkhozes and later (when the kolkhozes were abolished) in the settlements was that most of them were of Chinese style. They had main gates, a courtyard, and kangs (koŋ). I have described them in several of my works;[206] some Dungan scholars have also given excellent, detailed, and illustrated descriptions of Dungan houses in the early period and present day.[207] This present work only describes the Dungans’ houses during the first twenty years after their arrival in Russia.

The Layout of the Houses

The first houses built by the Dungans were made from mud bricks. They usually had two or three rooms in a row, an earthen floor, and a rush roof; only very occasionally was there a wooden ceiling. There was a garden and a vegetable garden, a separate kitchen, and often such buildings as storage barns, tool sheds, and even a small mill.

There was a rule that within the first two years of receiving the land the owner of this land had to build a wall along the boundary of his property; he also had to dig a ditch between this wall and the street and plant two rows of trees along the street.

The houses usually faced south. Often the house (tafoŋ 大房, the main house) and the kitchen faced each other. The kitchen often had an awning (p’ɨŋ 棚), and the area beneath it was used as a summer kitchen. The Dungans cooked in the house or in an outer building during the cold Central Asian winters. Both the summer kitchen and the winter kitchen had a stove (kuǝt’u 锅头).

The enclosed land was divided into several sections: a yard, a vegetable garden, and sometimes a small orchard where the owner planted several fruit trees or grape vines. The most popular fruit tree was peach, which was sometimes even planted in the yard. The Dungans often sold dried peaches, together with dried apricots and raisins, at the market.

The yard was divided into two sections: the ‘outer yard’ (wε i̭yan 外院) and the ‘inner yard’ (li i̭yan 里院). Each section had its own function: the outer yard had housing for the livestock and poultry and other household buildings; the inner yard had flower beds and the summer kitchen, where the meals were cooked and eaten under the awning. The doors of the house and store-rooms (ts’oŋfoŋ 仓房) led into the inner yard.[208]

All the buildings were usually built against the mud-brick outer walls of the estate, with only the summer kitchen often being placed in the middle of the yard or against the wall that divided the yard and the vegetable garden. The whole estate compound had a secluded, inward-looking character with only one entrance — the gates.

The Dungans had many rites and superstitions concerning selecting the site and building of a house.[209]

The Exterior of the Houses [210]

The first houses that the Dungans built were around ten metres long and five metres wide. Often they had only one room (i̭itşi̭an foŋdzɨ 一间房子), sometimes they had two rooms (liↄŋtşi̭an foŋdzɨ 两间房子) and rarely they had three (santşi̭an foŋdzɨ 三间房子). All the rooms were in one long row (t’otşi̭an foŋdzɨ 套间房子). The rooms were connected by doorways that often had no doors but a curtain (mɨŋli̭andzɨ, 门帘), and each room had a door opening onto the porch (t’εi̭andzɨ 太阳子) that ran the whole length of the house. The house had a heated kang (ʐǝ 热炕), and a hole was made in the back wall of the house for the kang’s chimney pipe.

The first houses built by the Dungans often had no foundations. Strings tied on pegs marked the boundaries of the house and very thick mud mixed with straw was laid along the line of the strings. When the first tier of mud, which was 50–60cm high, was somewhat dry, then the second tier was added. Altogether, five tiers of mud were laid in this fashion, one on top of the other. The standard height of a tier was around 37–40cm. The thickness of the wall gradually narrowed with each tier. At its base, the first tier was 51cm thick, and the fifth tier on top was 26cm thick. The mud was piled in such a way that the inner side of the wall was straight and the outer side of the wall sloped slightly. The standard size of these houses was 8x4x2m, and the house usually had two rooms, the smaller of which was used as a kitchen and had a fireplace with a cooking stove in it.

The frame of a traditional Dungan house.
Figure 3:
The frame of a traditional Dungan house.
This illustration is from Dzhon, p.76.

The rooms in this type of house did not have ceilings. The houses had gable roofs. One main wooden beam ran the whole length of the house, and some houses also had several lower beams. The cross-beams (tş’yanliↄn 穿梁) sloped down from the main beam to the walls of the house (see Figure 3). Wooden posts were occasionally used to support the roof; note that the joinery did not require nails. The roof was then covered first with mats made from reed, then with a thin layer of straw and then with a paste made of adobe. One type of paste was made from lime, ash from burned reeds, and a treacle made from grapes.

The windows consisted of wooden frames and wooden trellis work pasted over with paper. The richer Dungans occasionally had a square piece of glass in the middle of the framework; glass windows came much later.

The Interior of the Houses

Figures 4A and 4B are illustrations of a Dungan house interior.[211] The most important thing in a Dungan house was the kang. The kang was definitely the centre of the Dungan family life, as it was where the family slept, sat, ate, and rested. Visitors were received and entertained here; important family matters concerning, for example, weddings and funerals, were discussed and decided here, and prayers and wedding and funeral customs were performed on the kang. The kang had a place for persons who were specially honoured, which was referred to as şoŋk’oŋ, şoŋk’or, or şoŋk’oŋdzɨ 上炕, 上炕儿, 上炕子. The kang was where the women did their sewing and embroidery, where old people dozed, and where children played games. Occasionally, the kang was also used for drying rice. Naturally, when the kang was heated in the winter it was even more popular, especially with the elderly people and children. The kang was always very large, usually occupying a third of a room. Large families had several kangs in several rooms. The early kangs had chimneys in the wall of the house and were heated from the outside, the flue (ko’ŋ tuŋni̭an 炕洞眼) usually being on the porch. Straw, reed, and rice husks (tokǝdzǝɨ 稻壳子) were used as fuel; pushed into the flue and lit, the fuel did not burn but smouldered. In the beginning, the kangs were used for heating the house, and as a place to sleep and sit; later, a stove for cooking (kuǝt’u, xuǝlu 锅头, 火炉) was added.

The interior of a traditional Dungan house.
Figure 4A:
The interior of a traditional Dungan house.
This illustration is from Dzhon, p.102.
Plan of traditional Dungan house.
Figure 4B:
Plan of traditional Dungan house.
I=Bedroom (1=kang; 2=stove; 3=kang table; 4=pile of folded quilts)
II=Kitchen (5= table for food preparation; 6=stove; 7=storage chest for flour)
III=Room for visitors (8=display table; 9=pile of folded quilts; 10=kang; 11=stove)

Because of the importance of the kang, every Dungan family tried to make it as decorative as possible. First of all, the kang was covered with a mat made from reeds (çipadzɨ 席笆子). The mat was then covered with a felt rug (tşan 毡). Usually, the kang occupied the width of the room, thus, it had walls on three sides and one edge. The walls around the kang were covered with a length of material 70–80cm wide (k’oŋwidzɨ 炕帏子). The side opposite the edge of the kang, which was for important guests, was covered with a thick padded silk mat (wudzɨ 褥子). These silk mats were always very decorative. For very important or respected people, several silk mats were placed one on top of the other. Cylindrical cushions (tşɨŋt’u 枕头) were placed under the arms of the guests for comfort. These cushions were embroidered with symbols for good luck, and they were also used by members of the family at night. When not in use, the padded quilts (pɨi̭wo 被窝) and the thick mats were folded and piled on top of the other, with the pillows on top, on one or both sides of the kang. The bedding could also be kept in a cabinet (p’ukε kui̭ 铺盖柜) that had many drawers in which embroidery was also kept. These cabinets were sometimes lacquered or carved, with good-luck symbols incorporated in the carving. The cabinets were usually 40–50cm in height and depth and 2–2.5m in length. Not every family had a cabinet, but every Dungan family had a trunk (çiↄŋdzɨ 箱子).

During the day, a low kang-table (k’oŋ tşuodzɨ 炕桌子) often stood on the kang. Most of these tables were square, though the Dzharkent Dungans had rectangular tables and the Osh Dungans occasionally had round tables, which were copied from the Uzbeks. The height of these tables was about 26–30cm. Occasionally, they were placed on the floor, and low benches (pantɨndzɨ 板凳子) would be paced on each side.

The Dungans liked to place a special table near the kang. Because their best china was always displayed on these tables, they were called ‘display tables’ (pεtşi̭axuǝti tşuodzɨ or pεtşuodzɨ, 摆家伙的桌子,摆桌子). The china was displayed in a formal arrangement. For example, wide-rimmed rice bowls were placed upside down in a row with another row of inverted bowls balanced on top. Another popular ornament was artificial flowers in a vase. Often the table had a three-leaved mirror, which reflected the display. If there was no mirror, the wall behind the table was usually decorated with prints, family photographs in a frame or religious lithographs. Popular themes for the prints were flowers in a vase or an eagle. Sometimes, a paçi̭antşuodzɨ 八仙桌子 (a table for eight immortals) was used instead of the display table. This was a normal-height square dining table for eight people, which was used for eating on festive occasions, such as weddings. When it was used for banquets (çi 席), four benches, each seating two guests, were placed on four sides of the table. These tables could be lacquered but more often they were finished with hot vegetable oil in which ground red pepper had been boiled. The oil was poured on the surface of the wood and rubbed in with a cloth. Finished in this fashion, the wood acquired a pale-red shade. Other wooden objects, such as chopsticks (k’uεdzɨ 筷子) and wooden covers for the cooking pot (kuǝkε 锅盖) were treated in the same manner. To restore the beautiful pale-red colour on objects that had become dirty or darkened in colour, the housewife would scrape off the grime with a knife and then wash the object in boiling water.

The tables were sometimes decorated with copper or gilt nails, the heads of which protruded above the surface of the wood. More often, however, the furniture was decorated with carving; the most popular motifs being birds, animals, pomegranates, and bunches of grapes.

In the kitchen, there was usually a massive wooden table for the preparation of food (nanpan).[212] Other common pieces of furniture in the kitchen were a chest for storing flour (mi̭ankui̭ 面柜), and baskets made of reed mats for keeping such products as rice, dried peas, and corn. Pickled vegetables were kept in earthen jars (ts’ε t’andzɨ 菜坛子), and drinking water was kept in large earthen jars (ta wa koŋ 大瓦缸) or bottle-gourds (fixŭlŭ 水葫芦). One wall of the kitchen had a niche (iↄwar 凹弯儿) fitted with shelves (tşia pandzɨ 夹板子) for dishes.

Every Dungan home had a special place for ablution (fitşiↄdzɨ 水角子, lit. water corner). This corner was arranged in the following way. A pit of more than 40cm was dug in the corner of the room and paved with baked bricks, with loose boards then placed on top. The whole area was enclosed with either a curtain made from dark-coloured material or a mat made of reeds. A bottle-gourd containing water was hung on a string above the pit.

For lighting, the Dungans initially used a container filled with oil and a wick; oil lamps with glass shades came much later.

Gates [213]

The Dungans, like the Chinese, refer to the gate into the estate compound as mɨŋ (‘a gate, a door’ 门). These gates were of several kinds. The most common type was called mɨŋlur (a gate with a roof 门阁子), consisting of two massive double gates with a roof above, usually carved ornamental beams above the gates (Figure 5).[ This type of gate was especially popular with the Tokmak and Yrdyk Dungans. Another type of gate was called tamɨŋ (‘the main door’ 大门); this was usually a main gate with a side gate (εrmɨŋ 耳门) next to it. In the very early days, this type of gate occasionally had three gates, with the centre gate twice as wide as the two side gates. The centre gate had two leaves opening into the yard. The side gates were often wicket gates (p’iŋfɨŋmɨŋ屏风门). The wicket gate on the left (if one looked at it from the street) was used by women and the wicket gate on the right was used by men.

Roofed gate. From Dzhon, following p.32.
Figure 5:
Roofed gate. From Dzhon, following p.32.

Functional Buildings [214]

Some Dungan houses had one or several of the following outer buildings, some of which were often simple sheds or lean-to constructions: a place where oil was pressed (iufoŋ 油房); a place where sweets were made (t’oŋfoŋ 糖房); a place where vinegar was made (ts’ufoŋ 醋房); a place where flour was ground (fɨŋfoŋ 粉房); and a place for husking grain (ni̭anfoŋ 碾房).

Animals played an important part in the life of the Dungans. There were stables for the horses (matşuan 马圈), cowsheds (niutşuan 牛圈), sheep pens (iↄŋtşuan 羊圈), and hen coops (tşitşuan 鸡圈).

These sheds were usually built in the yard along one of the mud-brick walls. They were frequently just simple awnings or lean-to roofs covered with reeds, and were open to the yard. The divisions between the sheds were often of mud bricks or wooden planks. Feed for the animals was also kept under the lean-to roofs. During the day, in the summer and when the weather was good, cattle were kept in the open stalls. The hen coops were usually quite a distance from the cattle sheds.

The sheds for the animals, the barns and the toilet were never built near the house. The house, which consisted (as noted above) of a row of several rooms, could have two additions: a store-room for food might be added to one end of the house and a cellar (ts’ɛtşiↄ 菜窖) dug next to the house. The cellars were one metre deep, with a roof made of reeds covered with adobe paste. Salted, pickled, and fresh vegetables were kept in the cellar. The bottom of the cellar was covered with dried reeds, and the vegetables were placed on top of the reeds then covered first with hay and then with earth. Preserved in this way, the fresh vegetables never froze or wilted and were fresh till the following spring.

Flowers [215]

The Dungans always had flower beds (xuat’iandzɨ 花田子) near the house, which were neatly bordered with reed stalks in a diamond-shaped low fence. This was done in the following way: three reed stalks were tied together with a willow strip and stuck into the ground, the two outer stalks were then bent 45 degrees in opposite directions. The bunches of stalks were placed at a distance of ten centimetres from each other.

It was the women’s job to plant, water, and look after the flowers, and Dungan women liked to decorate their hair with fragrant flowers.

Some of the flowers that were popular with the Dungans were nasturtiums (tşiŋsɨli̭an 金丝莲), dahlias (iↄŋmotan 洋牡丹), peonies (fɜie 芍药), daisies (iↄŋtşyxuar 洋菊花儿), lilies of the valley (mi̭lianxuar 玫莲花儿), snapdragons (t’ŭdzɨ xuar 兔子花儿), tulips (pidzɨ xuar 鼻子花儿), and chrysanthemums (tşiui̭yetşy 九月菊).

Flowers were also planted near the awning, which served as a roof for the summer kitchen where the Dungans spent a great deal of time cooking, eating, and resting. The most popular plants here were climbers such as bottle-gourds or special Dungan cucumbers, which grew to 70cm in length (t’i̭an xuoŋkua 甜黄瓜). These plants climbed up a lattice made of reeds and up the awning, protecting the summer kitchen from the sun. Some climbers were for a purely decorative purpose, but the bottle-gourd had many functions: it was used as a ladle (mafǝdzɨ 麻匙子), or as a container for keeping vinegar, oil, water, or dry products. Cucumbers were stewed, pickled in vinegars or used in salads (sɨŋts’εi 生菜).

Summer Kitchens [216]

The summer kitchen was usually built against the wall that divided the yard from the vegetable garden. This wall, which was called tş’yanyş’iↄ 圈墙, was made from mud bricks, twigs, or even reeds. A gate in the wall that led into the vegetable garden was usually referred to as xu mɨŋdzɨ 後门子 (the back door). The summer kitchen had a sloping lean-to awning supported by posts (tşŭdzɨ 柱子). Because of this awning, which kept the kitchen cool, the summer kitchen was called either liↄŋp’ɨŋ 凉棚 (cool awning) or p’ɨŋp’ɨŋdzɨ 棚棚 (awning).

The summer kitchen often had two clay-covered brick stoves and a wooden kang, which was usually covered with a mat. When the kang was made of clay-covered bricks, it was called k’oŋk’oŋdzɨ 炕炕子. When the nights were hot, the kang was often used as a bed, in which case a mosquito net was provided. A kang-table was placed on the kang and this was where the Dungans liked to sit to drink tea, chat and eat their meals in the cool shade. In the summer months, the summer kitchen was the most important family gathering place, the centre of the Dungan life. Every Dungan family had a summer kitchen.

Vegetable Gardens [217]

The Dungans were excellent farmers and were very fond of growing vegetables. Dzhon writes that in the early days, everybody planted potatoes, carrots, capsicums, Chinese chives (tşiuts’ɛ 韭菜), onions, garlic, and several varieties of cabbage, beans, and eggplant. The Dungans could not live without green vegetables, and while waiting for them to grow, they ate clover and other types of grass. In the spring, the first green vegetable to appear on the Dungan dining table was Chinese chives, and because of this, the Dungans were especially partial to them.

The vegetable garden was a very important part of the Dungan life, especially as income was derived from the sale of surplus vegetables at the market.

The vegetable garden was ploughed during the late autumn, the frost sweetened the soil during the winter, and then the beds were dug again during the early spring. Chicken manure was used as fertiliser (filiↄ 肥料). The Dungans also regarded the addition of an old demolished mud wall (t’ŭ tş’iↄŋ 土墙) into the soil as a good fertiliser.

Marketplaces and Street Hawkers

Every Dungan settlement had a small market, usually located in the centre of the settlement, at a crossroads or on some busy thoroughfare. The markets were originally formed because the Dungans had surplus produce, mainly vegetables or fruit (especially melons) from their orchards, fields, and vegetable gardens. They wheeled these to markets on carts and sold them directly from the carts. Thus in the beginning the street was lined on both sides not with stalls but with carts.[218]

Before the arrival of the Dungans, fruit and vegetables were sold by the Russians. As the Dungans’ prices were much lower, however, all the market trade soon passed into their hands. For well over 100 years, from their arrival until today, the Dungans have supplied produce for the markets throughout Central Asia.

Gradually, small eating places and small shops appeared in the markets. For several decades, Dungan restaurants (kuandzɨ 馆子) were very popular not only among the Dungans but also among the Russians and all the other local inhabitants. The restaurants and the privately owned shops all disappeared during the communist regime. The inns (ti̭an 店), which were popular in the beginning, have also disappeared. Sushanlo mentions that the settlements of Karakunuz, Shor-Ti͡ube, Yrdyk, and Dzhalpak-Ti͡ube all had well-known eating places that served Dungan food, and that Dungan food was very popular among the Russians, Kirghiz, and Kazakhs.[219]

But buying and selling was not done only at the markets. Hawkers and peddlers walked all over the settlement selling their wares. T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov’s eyewitness account of life in Karakunuz in 1897 describes a street scene in the settlement in the following way:

Street life in Karakunuz is quite different from that of non-Dungan villages. The morning has hardly begun when the calls of various hawkers offering their products can be heard along the streets. The seller of meat calls out ‘zhou’ [ʐu 肉); the seller of melon seeds — which Dungans eat instead of our sunflower seeds — calls out ‘gua t͡szyr’ [kuadzɨr 瓜子儿]; the man who sells the little fried bread rolls in the shape of oblong twists, calls out ‘ma-khua-èr [maxuar 麻花儿]; the sellers of radishes and other vegetables call out ‘mèĭ-lo-bu laĭ, mèĭ tsaĭ’ [mε luǝpu lɛ, mɛ ts’ɛ 买萝卜来,买菜, ‘Come and buy radishes, buy vegetables’]; the seller of watermelons calls out ‘t͡si͡an-gua-lèĭ’ [tşi̭an kua lɛ 捡瓜来, ‘Come and select melons’]; the man who sells apples calls out ‘cheng-sa-go t͡sza’ [tş’ɨŋ sa kuǝdza 称啥果子, ‘What apples do you want to weigh?’]; and the vendor of vinegar calls out ‘dao- t͡su-lèĭ’ [to ts’ŭ lɛ, 倒醋来, ‘Come and get (lit. pour) vinegar’]. Karakunuz grapes, which are a bit sour, are also offered; in a good season, they are sold for not more than three copecks a funt [pound]. Peddlers selling various small manufactured goods and haberdashery such as small mirrors and cotton material, thread, needles, and buttons, appear slightly later in the day. These peddlers are called khu-lang-t͡sza or chzhuan-dèr-di.[220] Each has his own rattle, and the inhabitants of Karakunuz recognise by the rattle’s sound what sort of wares the approaching peddler is selling.[221]


T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov’s description of life in Karakunuz in 1897 is probably the earliest eyewitness record of a Dungan settlement. They mention that Karakunuz had 4,000 inhabitants and that the settlement had prayer-houses but no mosques (prayer-houses are discussed below in the section ‘Education and Religion in the Early Settlements’); thus at first there were only prayer-houses in the new settlements and the mosques came later. Dzhon, for example, mentions that in the 1930s, the selo Karakunuz had 3,864 inhabitants and 47 mosques (, lipεsɨ 寺, 礼拜寺).[222] Dzhon writes that in the beginning each section of the settlement had its own mosque. This was usually a small mosque (çiↄ sɨ 小寺). Besides being a place of worship, these mosques were also places where certain objects could be hired. The Dungans usually conducted their weddings and funerals on a large scale and always invited many relatives and guests. When they held these feasts or religious ceremonies, they hired from the mosque such objects as tables, benches, large steamers (luŋ 笼) for cooking a large amount of food, plates and dishes, and chopsticks. Only the parishioners of that mosque had the right to hire these objects. A traveller who was a Muslim — a pilgrim on his way to Mecca for instance —could always find food and lodgings at a mosque. During troubled times, the mosque actually mobilised the inhabitants and organised them into detachments.

The mosques were built with community-raised funds. They were usually square in shape and had a covered porch on the eastern, northern, and southern sides. The main entrance was on the eastern side, but the northern and southern sides could have side doors. Occasionally, the western side also had a door, but this door was not used for entering or leaving the mosque; during funerals, the bier with the corpse on it was placed on the street outside this western door.[223] While the funeral rites and the prayers were performed, this door was left open.

The floor of the mosque was covered either with felt rugs (tşan 毡) or carpets (t’an 毯). Naturally, shoes were removed at the entrance. The western section of the mosque was for conducting the service. The minbar from which the ahong addressed the parishioners was to the right. The walls of the mosque were decorated with religious paintings and writings from the Koran written in stylised Arabic script. The woodwork was carved with symbolic signs.

The mosque stood in a yard, which contained functional buildings such as a place for ablution, storehouses, and the living quarters of the gatekeeper.

A large mosque (ta sɨ 大寺) usually had a building where the children had religious instruction.

Although the three mosques discussed below were built at the beginning of the twentieth century and therefore are out of the range this work (which ends at the end of the nineteenth), I have chosen to mention them because they are the earliest important mosques. These three mosques are closely connected with the early history of the Dungan people and the Dungans are very proud of them.

All three mosques were built with community funds.[224] They were built by the Chinese master builder Zhou Si 周四, whom the Dungans invited from Peking along with 30 Chinese and Chinese Muslim master-craftsmen, including woodcarvers, stonemasons, and roofers.

The first of the three mosques were built in Dzharkent. It took four years to build and was finished in 1906. It was built in the traditional Chinese style with, for instance, a minaret built as a Chinese six-sided pagoda; the two top floors have a Chinese-styled roof with tilted-up corners. This mosque still stands. When I visited it in 1991, the whole compound was surrounded by a wall.

After finishing the mosque in Dzharkent, Zhou Si and his master-craftsmen were invited to built two more mosques — one in the city of Przheval’sk and another in the nearby Dungan settlement, Yrdyk. The work on the mosque in Przheval’sk started in 1907 and was finished at the end of 1910. The materials used were spruce trees from the Tianshan mountains and local poplars. It too was built in traditional Chinese style. For example, it has 44 pillars and a Chinese-style roof, and was painted in three colours: red, green, and yellow (the roof of the mosque was green, the pillars were red, and two colours were used to paint the carvings on the wood — grapes, pomegranates, pears, and peaches were painted green and the mythological birds and animals such as dragons and phoenix were painted yellow). The mosque in Przheval’sk is still being used today.

After finishing the mosque in Przheval’sk, Zhou Si and his team started on the mosque in Yrdyk in 1911. It was completed early in 1916. Unfortunately, this mosque was burned down almost immediately, destroyed by Tsarist detachments during the suppression of the 1916 revolt in Kirghizstan. This was a revolt of the Kirghiz people, but the Dungans also participated. All that is left of the mosque now is the stone drums that were the base of the wooden pillars.

When I was in Yrdyk, the Dungans told me several versions of the story of the 1916 revolt. One version was that the Dungans received an order from the Russian authorities to go and work in Naryn’, but they did not want to go and therefore rebelled. Another version was that the revolt was a nationalist movement against the Russians, and that, because of it, some Dungans went back to China. Later, some of them came back.

The talented Zhou Si and his master-craftsmen became popular figures among the Dungans, and there are even legends and songs about them. All that is known about Zhou is that he did not have a right hand, but managed to work very well with his left hand. There is a rumour among the Dungans that after his return to China, Zhou Si was executed by the Qing government because his buildings were similar to those in the Qing imperial palace. Obviously, the Dungans wanted to believe that their three mosques looked like buildings in the Qing imperial palace. However, if Zhou Si returned to China after the completion of the mosque in Yrdyk in 1916, the Qing dynasty had already come to an end and it is not very probable that the new republic in China would have wanted to execute him.

Cemeteries [225]

Every early Dungan settlement had at least one cemetery, but more often had two. One interesting fact is that before planning a new settlement, the Dungans first chose a suitable place for a cemetery. If at all possible, a forest-covered slope was selected as a location for the future cemetery as it was easier to dig the ground there.

Dungan cemeteries had no tombstones or monuments. Each grave was covered with a mound of earth. The cemeteries had (and still have) a forlorn and neglected look as the weeds were not supposed to be disturbed. To identify a grave a peach tree (t’ofu 桃树) or an apricot tree (xɨŋfu 杏树) was often planted on top of the mound. Another way to identify a grave was to scatter broken pieces of pottery on top of the mound.

Only in very special cases, when the deceased was very much respected or a very important figure in the Dungan community, a mazar (a holy man’s tomb, a shrine) was built over the grave. Only one such shrine from the early days exists today.

The grave of Ahong Ayelaoren (the leader of a group of Gansu rebels from Didaozhou who settled them in Yrdyk) had a shrine. I visited his grave in 1991; it was originally situated next to the mosque that was burned down in 1916, and now it is in the grounds of the new school. The area around the grave was enclosed by a mud-brick wall with a green-painted gate. There were waist-high weeds everywhere. The shrine (a small hut) had an iron roof, also painted green. There was only one entrance (south facing) to the hut, and there was a clean white curtain across the doorway. Inside, there was a mound of earth covered with a clean sheet. The feet of the deceased under the mound of earth were nearest to the entrance, and a large stone marked his head, with a scroll written in Arabic above it. Because the sheet covered the stone and the whole mound I had an eerie feeling that a large man was lying under the sheet. The whole place looked as if it was well looked after. In the early days, the gatekeeper’s accommodation was next to the shrine. As all of Ayelaoren’s relatives were buried near him, the whole area was a family plot.

Dzhon was told that a shrine was also built over the grave of Ma Daren, the leader of the Turfan rebels who settled his group in Osh. He was buried in the Osh cemetery but the location of the grave is unknown.

The City Settlements [226]

The majority of the Dungans lived in the Dungan settlements, but a small proportion of them settled in the cities of Pishpek, Przheval’sk, Verynĭ, and Aulie-Ata.

Dzhon writes that the city settlements were very similar to the rural ones. The city settlements, for example, were also divided into foŋs (blocks) and had straight and wide streets. Dzhon writes that one can still trace parts of the original Dungan settlement in present-day Bishkek. Originally, the Pishpek Dungan settlement had eleven streets running from south to north and nine streets running west to east. There was a market in the centre (where the Kirghiz National University stands now). There was a mosque and a square next to it (at the corner of present-day Belinsky street and Lenin’s Avenue (now renamed Avenue Chu). The cemetery was west of the city.

According to the 1892 census, the Dungan city settlement in Pishpek had 180 households and two mosques. This number included the Shaanxi Dungans, who lived in a separate section from the majority of the Dungans (who were Gansu Dungans). Each group had their own mosque and the two groups tried not to intermarry.

Dzhon quotes from Galit͡skiĭ’s work that 28 rich Dungans had 35 mills for husking rice, six oil presses, and one starch-producing enterprise. Six of these rich Dungans owned thirteen of the above-mentioned enterprises and seven of them employed twelve workmen each. These workmen were either Kirghiz, Dungans, or Uighurs.[227]

The Occupations of the New Settlers


Farming was the main livelihood for most of the Chinese Muslims who crossed the border in the two migrations. Some of the new arrivals did not receive any land, and those who were given land received only a small amount, and often of inferior quality. It was owing to the skill, patience, and perseverance of the Dungans that they made a success of farming.

There were rich and poor families among the arrivals, and this division intensified in the new locations. According to I͡usurov, the rich often managed to get more than their share of land, which, in addition, was of better quality. They could also exploit the poor Dungans. The local authorities were corrupt and the rich Dungans often bribed them. The poor, on the other hand, often had to pay more taxes. The rich could also hire additional land from the Kirghiz. On one occasion, for example, the poor Dungans in the Dzharkent area petitioned that the land accumulated by the rich Dungans should be divided among the poor Dungans. Their petition was unsuccessful.[228] In addition, the rich had money to set up all sorts of enterprises, such as oil presses and flour mills.

With time, the gap between rich and poor became greater. At one stage, 29.7% of the Semirech’e Dungans did not have land. This forced the poor rural Dungans to leave their settlements in order to search for work in the cities as hired hands or tradesmen. Later it was recorded that 51.6% of the Dungans did not have land. The number of city Dungans grew: I͡usurov mentions that at the beginning of 1884 there were more than 400 Dungans in Verynĭ, but by the end of 1885 the Dungan population increased to 800 people; in Karakunuz there were about 3,000 Dungans at the beginning of 1884, but by the end of 1885, in spite of the fact that about 60 babies were born each year, there were only 2,639 people.[229]

The local weather, the condition of the soil, the geographical situation of the locality and the practical skills of the newcomers all played a role in what could be done with the land. Generally speaking, the Dungans of the Pishpek area cultivated rice; those of the Przheval’sk area concentrated mainly on opium and various leguminous crops; and the Dungans of the Vernyĭ and Dzharkent areas developed market gardening.[230] Thus the Dungans introduced rice into Central Asia and developed the cultivation of linseed oil, market gardening, and melon growing. Owing to the economy of the local population and the weakness of the barter system, however, these products could rarely be sold locally. The Dungans had to sell their products to Xinjiang and to the markets in Tashkent and Ferhana valley. Thus, in 1884, the Dungans started to send rice from the Pishpek area to Kul’ja, and vegetables to the cities of the Ili region. By 1884, there were 9,152 Dungans living in the Dzharkent, Tokmak, and Przheval’sk areas; 21% of these Dungans were living in the cities.[231] However, even the richer Dungans in the cities, who belonged to the lower middle class and were usually merchants, rented several hundred desi͡atinas of land for producing industrial crops, mainly grain and rice. These rich city dwellers usually obtained the best land.

The Importance of Water in Farming [232]

Water played a very important role in the life of the Dungans. When they selected the sites for their first settlements in Russia, water was always the most important factor in their decision. Dzhon gives three examples of this:

  1. Bo Yanhu refused to settle south of Tokmak but chose to settle with is people in Karakunuz because there was a river there.
  2. The Osh group of Dungans refused land in Alaĭ-Gul’chin valley because there was no water there.
  3. One of the Dungan leaders, Ma Tuε-xuε [sic], complained that the selection of Sokuluk for settlement was a big mistake as there was no water there.

In short, the presence of water perhaps meant even more to the Dungans than whether or not the soil was fertile. This is because, especially in the beginning, they mainly planted rice.

Central Asia has many snow-covered peaks, and the mountain rivers that flow down from these peaks have exceptionally clear and clean water. In the beginning, the Dungans used these mountain rivers for drinking and also for irrigation. One of their first tasks after arrival was to dig aryks (canals) to bring the water nearer to their settlements. The aryks eventually irrigated the fields and also ran along most of the settlement streets. The Dungans usually drew water for drinking into containers early in the morning. This water had to last them the whole day as, during the rest of the day, the water in the aryks was used to wash clothes and vegetables; it was also used as drinking water for cattle and other animals. Dzhon mentions an interesting fact here. In large settlements there was sometimes a man responsible to keep one aryk clean all day so it could be used the whole day as drinking water. The example he gives is of the Dungan settlement in the city of Pishpek, where a specially appointed man looked after the aryk that ran along Kli͡uchevai͡a (lit. spring water) Street (this street was renamed Belinsky Street after the revolution). Anybody who used this aryk for any other purpose than as drinking water was punished with a fine.[233]

Some Dungan settlements, selo Aleksandrovka for example, also had wells. These wells were usually located in the street and were dug by men of several families who lived near each other. However, if one family dug a well, it was located within the walls of their household compound. The mouth of a well had a cover, and the water was brought up either by a sweep (wεkan 外杆) or a pully with handles on both sides (luludzɨ 轳轳子).

The Dungans had two different categories for water: ‘dead water’ (sɨ fi 死水), that is, stagnant water; and ‘living water’ (xuε fi 活水), that is, ‘running water’. The water in lakes and ponds was regarded as ‘dead water’, and being unclean, it could not be used for drinking. The Dungans used ‘living water’ for drinking and cooking, usually either boiling it first or letting it stand so that the sediment settled at the bottom of the container. ‘Living water’ was divided into three categories: water from a spring (tş’yan fi 泉水), water from a well (tşiŋ fi 井水), and water from a river (xǝ fi 河水). The Dungans regarded spring water as best because it came out of the ground and could not be contaminated in any way. The second best was water from a well; it was not as good as spring water as it was not running water and could be contaminated by dead insects, frogs, or mice. If these were found in a well, the water could only be used again after 40 buckets of water had been drawn from it. If a dead cat or dog was found in the well, then the water could only be used again after a thorough cleansing. A specialist in digging and cleansing wells (ta tşiŋ rɨŋ 打井人) was invited for this purpose. The cleansing of the well was an important event. On the day when the well was consecrated, a mullah was invited to say prayers and a meal was served. River water was regarded as inferior to spring and well water because it could be contaminated by all sorts of objects, such as drains, animals, and waterfowl.

The use of river and aryk water was responsible for some widespread diseases, such as trachoma. Dzhon writes that in 1884, there was an epidemic of diphtheria in the whole of the Semirech’e oblast’, which reached its height in June and then again in October and November. In the whole area, 488 people were sick and 196 of them died. The Dungan settlement of Karakunuz was the worst hit: 120 people were sick and 98 died.

The Main Crops


The Dungan settlers from Ili brought rice with them, and were the first to introduce the cultivation of rice into Central Asia. The Dzharkent Dungans, being right across the border from Ili, started to plant rice as early as 1883. The Dungans in the Vernyĭ area started to plant rice in 1894. T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov have a very interesting and detailed account of how the Karakunuz Dungans cultivated rice around 1897.[234]

The scale of rice cultivation increased with time. The Dungans of the whole Semirech’e oblast’, for example, harvested 800 desi͡atinas of rice in 1883; in 1908, the Dungans of the Pishpek area alone produced 3,500 desi͡atinas of rice and the Dungans of the whole Semirech’e oblast’ produced 5,000 desi͡atinas of rice.[235]


Not all of the Dungans cultivated rice. The Yrdyk Dungans, for example, were the pioneers of the cultivation of what I͡usurov refers to as the ‘medicinal poppy’.[236] It is known from T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov’s work that around the year 1897 many Karakunuz Dungans smoked opium, and that ‘large areas of the Karakunuz fields are sown with opium poppies to cater to the habit of smoking opium brought by the Dungans from China’.[237] More details about opium smoking are given in the section ‘The Behaviour of the New Settlers’ below.

Flax, Leguminous Crops, and Linseed Oil

Besides opium, the Yrdyk Dungans also produced flax, leguminous crops, and linseed oil. They were the main producers of linseed oil in Central Asia and many Dungan merchants in Przheval’sk became rich by selling linseed oil to various cities in the area and even to Tashkent and Xinjiang.[238]

Market Gardening and Melon Growing

While the Pishpek Dungans were famous for producing rice, the Dungans of Dzharkent and Vernyĭ were famous for their market gardening and melon growing. Before the arrival of the Dungans, the Russians produced and supplied all the vegetables in the area, at relatively high prices. The Dungans not only improved the quantity and the quality of the vegetables but also lowered the prices. They produced such fruit and vegetables as cabbages, onions, garlic, beans and peas, peppers, eggplant, beetroot, carrots, dill, chives, aniseed, pumpkins, cucumbers, muskmelons and watermelons. Eventually, they even took over from the Russians the production of vegetables they did not eat themselves, such as potatoes and tomatoes. The Dungans in the Pishpek area started to plant potatoes in 1885; Dungans in other areas, such as the Yrdyk Dungans, started to plant them a few years later.

Other Occupations of the New Settlers

T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov give a very clear picture of most of the other occupations that were popular with the Karakunuz Dungans. Their account can also be applied to other settlements.

When the Dungans are not occupied with agriculture, some of them take up the carrier trade, and many become merchants. One finds carpenters, blacksmiths, silversmiths, and horse doctors among the Dungans. Some of them run eating-houses in Tokmak in which one can get tea and a Dungan meal very cheaply. Some run factories that produce linseed or colza oil, vermicelli made of pea flour, or sweets made of rice or millet. Some work at water mills. A few repair china, skilfully joining the broken pieces with copper clips.[239]

T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov also mention vendors of various goods (see above).

Other scholars, such as I͡usurov and Dzhon, have also written about Dungan occupations. Dzhon, for instance, writes that the former inhabitants of such cities as Vernyĭ, Pishpek, Przheval’sk, and Dzharkent well remember the Dungan peddlers, and mentions the term xuloŋdzɨ for pedlars. Another term for them was tantandsɨti 担担子的 (a person who carries merchandise on both sides of a pole over the shoulder). Dungan pedlars used either a pole or a small push-cart. Some of them sold needles, thread, and Chinese medicine, and some sold snacks such as liↄŋ mi̭an 凉面 (cold noodles) or liↄŋ fɨŋ 凉粉 (cold vermicelli). These were usually served with a spicy sauce. As noted above, all peddlers used a rattle to let people know that they were approaching. Dungan food was also sold at stalls and these had an awning, long tables and long benches.[240]

I͡usurov writes that some Dungans produced bricks and that some were mobilised into the Russian army where, according to him, they were treated badly by the Russian officers and were cruelly punished for the smallest insubordination. Those Dungans who came from rich families and who spoke Russian managed to reach the lowest of the officers’ ranks. Some Dungans escaped back to China in order to avoid being enlisted in the Russian army.[241]

Education and Religion in the Early Settlements

The Dungans are of the Sunni sect and Hanafi school of law. Right from the beginning of their settlement in Russia, they were proud that they were more orthodox and devout Muslims than their neighbours, the Kirghiz and Kazakhs. The Dungans were settled farmers while the Kirghiz and Kazakhs were pastoral nomads; in addition, the Dungans’ religious culture reflected certain old Chinese traditions.

This is what T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov write about the religious practices of the settlers:

Some Dungans, following the example of other Muslims, go on pilgrimage to Mecca. They observe the same religious holidays and celebrate the same special feast days as other Muslims. They are fairly strict in observing the thirty-day urazu fast. During this fast, every day at sunset one can hear along the streets of Karakunuz the characteristic proclamation: ‘Kailë t͡szèĭ-lë’ [K’εli dzεli 开了斋了] (lit., ‘the fast is opened’, that is, ‘break the fast’). The callers are usually schoolboys who are ordered by mullahs to perform this duty. Unlike such of their neighbours as Sarts, Kirghiz, and Tatars, the Karakunuz Dungans do not eat horse meat, and, like the Chinese, neither do they drink any kind of milk. Like all other Muslims, they do not eat pork. Every week they worship on Friday. The most important and solemn days for Dungans are Uraza aidi and Kurbang, the New Year holiday Alfa, and the festive days of Bèĭrat. Besides the holy days, the Dungans also observe the general Muslim feast days.[242]

The head of a mosque was called ahong (a Chinese term, from Persian ‘akhund’; the term ‘mullah’ is used only very occasionally by the Dungans). The mosques are governed by a group of people including the ahong, the mosque elders, and some respected members of the laity.

The Chinese Muslim refugees and migrants who crossed the Russian border were mostly poor peasants or urban small craftsmen and tradesmen. They came in large families (tatşia 大家), even clans (foŋ 房). These families, some of which had up to 70 members, settled together occupying whole sections of a settlement. Each clan had its own rules and customs, a mullah, and a prayer-house with or without religious instruction classes for their children.

In describing Karakunuz, a twenty-year-old settlement, T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov mention the prayer-houses:

There are several prayer-houses for the performance of religious rites, and each prayer-house has a privately hired mullah. There are neither official mosques nor officially appointed mullahs in Karakunuz. What usually happens is that several Dungan families, who do not necessarily live near each other but who are drawn together because they like each other, build a prayer-house with their own money and then invite a suitable mullah. This prayer-house is used only by members of these families. The mullahs’ livelihood is paid for by their parishioners. The mullahs perform the religious services and also teach the Dungan children the religious principles of Islam in the schools that are located in nearly every prayer-house. The number of pupils varies: one school might have 25 boys and another not more than three. The boys study in the school for about eight years.[243]

Other scholars also mention prayer-houses and religious schools.

Dzhon, for instance, writes that only the large mosques had religious schools attached to them and that the children in these religious schools learned to write the Arabic alphabet and to read the Koran. According to him, both boys and girls attended the classes but were housed in different buildings. The instructor for the boys was called sɨfu 师傅 and the woman who taught the girls was referred to as a sɨniↄŋ 师娘. A man could never instruct girls.[244]

I͡usurov mentions that in 1885 there were 36 mullahs in Karakunuz, several mosques and prayer-houses, and even one (Russian-Dungan) school for boys consisting of just one class.[245]

Sushanlo writes that before the October Revolution, the education of the Dungans throughout the whole of the Semirech’e oblast’ was of very low quality. In 1890, for example, the mullahs taught 295 Dungan children in the Dungan settlements, and by 1914 this number had only increased to 460. The teaching was conducted in Arabic — a language unknown to the children, and the main method of teaching was the memorisation of incomprehensible words and phrases from the Islamic canons. This religious teaching was done in the mosques or prayer-houses. Karakunuz, for example, had more than 50 religious schools. On the slightest provocation, severe corporal punishment was meted out in these schools. Some of the representatives of the Dungan people, sensing that the religious schools were a hindrance to better education, started to build, with their own money, schools in which the children were able to receive a secular education and also (which was very important) to learn the Russian language. A school of this kind was built in Karakunuz in 1884. It was privately funded by the inhabitants of Karakunuz and cost 9,905.76 roubles. Similar schools were later established in other Semirech’e settlements. The teaching in these schools was conducted in Russian by Russian teachers. The Dungan mullahs were against these Russian schools and tried to stop Dungan children from attending them. Because of this, although no more than 60 Dungan children attended the Russian schools in 1897, by 1914 this number had diminished to only 40 pupils. In any case, only the children of the rich Dungans and a few Russians attended these Russian–Dungan schools. Sushanlo mentions that T͡sibuzgin was a teacher in a Russian–Dungan school in Karakunuz, and that he compiled a practical textbook for this school together with a Dungan fellow-teacher, Chzhèbur Mat͡szinan.[246]

It is interesting to note here that T͡sibuzgin does not mention the Russian–Dungan school in Karakunuz, and, as seen from the above quote, only describes religious classes in the prayer-houses. He also writes that there are no Russians in Karakunuz.

While still in China, the Chinese Muslims who eventually settled in Russia belonged to either the Old Sect or the New Sect. This division caused the Dungans who settled in Russia to divide into two hostile religious cliques, known as I͡akshi and I͡aman. (See above, Chapter Two).

Lifestyle in the New Settlement

Food of the Early Settlers

The Chinese Muslims who arrived in Central Asia naturally used chopsticks and did not eat pork. Their favourite meat was lamb, followed by beef and chicken. They had already stopped using soy sauce while still in China, as it was rumoured that the Chinese who produced soy sauce used pork bones. This is what T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov wrote about the food in Karakunuz around 1897:

Dungan food is very distinctive and mainly consists of noodles made of wheat or pea flour served with meat cut into small pieces and spiced with such ingredients as chilli, onion, garlic, vinegar, salt, radish, and cucumber … They also eat rice, but they never offer it to guests, as they regard this as improper. Dungan food is very tasty and of great variety. Many Russians like Dungan meals … Guests are served two, four, nine, ten, or thirteen dishes; any other number is unacceptable to Dungans. Tea and a variety of sweets are served before and after meals. The Dungans use many and various hot and spicy ingredients in their food; they especially like vinegar, chillies, onions, and garlic … Chzhèng-mu [tşɨm>ǝmǝ 蒸馍馍] — small, round, plain rolls [dumplings] that are steamed in special cylindrical wooden containers placed over pots of boiling water — are always served at every Dungan meal. Dungans are very fond of boiled young sweet corn, and this is sold, already cooked, very cheaply: one can get three or four cobs for one copeck.[247]

Eventually, the above-mentioned two, four, nine, or thirteen dishes for guests became banquets consisting of nine, eighteen, 24, 36, or 48 dishes. The Shaanxi Dungans retained a thirteen-dish banquet. These dishes were arranged in three rows extending the length of a long rectangular table. All the above numbers, except the thirteen dishes served by the Shaanxi Dungans, are divisible by three and therefore can be arranged in three rows. Generally speaking, Dungan meals can be divided into three kinds:

  1. A simple meal served to guests straight after their arrival, which is followed by another more elaborate meal in one or two hours’ time. A simple meal consists of a single dish of besh barmak, pilaf, steamed dumplings stuffed with minced lamb (iↄŋᶎu bodzɨ 羊肉包子), or noodles in soup (t’oŋfan 汤饭).
  2. The most common meal for guests, a festive and traditional meal, is called ‘four dishes’ (sɨ p’an 四盘). The general idea is to serve two vegetable dishes and two meat dishes, but in actual fact, the Dungans, who are extremely hospitable people, always serve more than four dishes. This meal is usually served in the afternoon, at the end of the guest’s visit, and it must be concluded before sunset.
  3. The banquet, called çi 席. One interesting fact about banquets is that they can be a mi̭andzɨ çi 面子席 (a [social] face banquet), where the festive food fills only the top of the bowl while the bottom of the bowl is filled with stewed potatoes or cabbage (which I thought were delicious, but was urged not to eat) and a şɨ çɨ 实席 (a solid banquet), where the bowls are filled completely with festive food.

With all meals, whether snack or a banquet, ‘tea and sweets’ are always served before and afterwards. This ‘tea and sweets’ is one of the most interesting and endearing features of a Dungan meal. The tea is served in wide-rimmed bowls and it is regarded as polite to pour only a little amount of tea into the guest’s bowl at a time and to add a little more at frequent intervals. When the tea is served, the table is absolutely covered with dishes, saucers, bowls, and plates of dried fruits, raisins, nuts, honey, chocolates, candies, biscuits, and occasionally peaches, apples, and grapes. At the beginning of a meal, these are often followed, when in season, by muskmelon and watermelon.[248]

Clothes Worn by the Early Settlers

This is what T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov write about the clothes of the new settlers in Karakunuz:

Dungan clothes are very distinctive. Both men and women wear Chinese-style shoes called khaĭ [鞋]. Women, like men, wear trousers, which are always red, and Chinese-style long and short gowns. Generally speaking, Dungan clothes are very similar to Chinese clothes, although the former are losing their national character. Many Dungans have already substituted the soft, heelless Tatar ichigi [Chinese Asian knee boots] and even Russian boots for their shoes and are also wearing [Central Asian] behmets, kamzols [quilted jackets], and khalats [oriental robes]. Dungan men in Karakunuz shave their heads and wear the usual Muslim skullcaps, fur hats, quilted down-filled grey-coloured hats with black borders, or wide-brimmed Chinese straw hats. In the summer, they simply tie a piece of white cloth around their heads … the [Karakunuz] Dungans do not have pigtails … However, we have been told that the Dungans in Przhelav’sk all have pigtails.
Dungan maidens plait their hair into pigtails, while the Dungan women, like Chinese women, arrange their hair in beautiful and bouffant coiffures. Both the girls and young women decorate their hair with a large amount of ornaments: a variety of bright-coloured real or artificial flowers; silver combs of a special design; and artificial butterflies with small silver bells attached to them … Many Dungan women have Chinese-style mutilated feet … Dungan women and girls wear earrings and bracelets. As with the Chinese, white is the colour of mourning, and Dungans of both sexes wear clothes made of white material at funerals. Generally speaking, Dungans think that white looks good on old people and that red looks good on young people. During bad or rainy weather, Dungans tie small wooden planks to their feet, with spikes on the bottom, These are called ni-dit͡sza (ni meaning ‘mud’ and dit͡sza meaning ‘shoe sole’ [nitidza 泥底子]. In winter, Dungans wear earmuffs that are made of cloth and sometimes lined with fur. During the hot weather, Dungans are very fond of using fans and flyswats, the latter looking like short horsetails. Quite a few Dungans wear large Chinese-style glasses. Another object of interest they wear is the Chinese pocket purse called uĭdut͡sza [i̭ytŭdza 鱼肚子, fish stomach]. Embroidered with various Chinese motifs, this pocket looks like a purse and is worn by Dungans over the stomach. The women and girls all like to dress up in brightly coloured garments; the most popular colours are red, green, and yellow.[249]

Conclusion: The New Settlers

Relationship of the New Settlers with China and Central Asia

In the beginning, the lifestyle of the Dungans in their new settlements was the same as in the villages and cities that they had just left in China. If one goes through T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov’s description of the lifestyle in Karakunuz, one sees that twenty years after their arrival in Russian Central Asia, the Dungans’ life was still very much the life they had led in China. Naturally, they spoke Chinese; they also followed Chinese customs and traditions; they ate Chinese food and used chopsticks; men had long pigtails and some women had bound feet; their houses had courtyards and they ate, sat, and slept on kangs; they gambled and smoked opium; they grew rice; they played Chinese musical instruments; they wore Chinese clothes; they enjoyed the oral literature that they had brought from China; and they celebrated their weddings and performed their funerary and religious rites in the same way as their forefathers, the Chinese Muslims, had done for many years in China.

After the October Revolution, some aspects of life in the settlements did change: the Dungans became communists; collective farms were established; and religion was suppressed. But during the first 30 years after their migrations, the Dungans were influenced by Russian and Central Asian culture only in some minor points. Though the Dungans adopted the Russian balalaika and played it very skilfully, they found the Russian language difficult to learn and only a few of them could read, write, and speak it. However, according to T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov, many Dungans spoke Kirghiz tolerably well.[250] On the one hand, living in close-knit communities, many Dungans could get by with speaking only Dungan, but on the other hand, they could not live long in Central Asia without learning the Russian, Kirghiz, or Kazakh languages. The authorities did establish schools where Russian was taught (T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov were teachers in such a school), but many Dungans did not want to send their children to the Russian schools.

The Dungans built their houses in the Chinese style, but slowly they, especially the rich Dungans, adopted iron roofs and glass instead of papered wooden lattices for the windows. From around the beginning of this century, they, and again mainly the rich Dungans, started to use kerosene lamps instead of oil lamps. Dungan women resisted any change in their clothing (some women bound their feet as late as 1948), but Dungan men adopted Russian and Central Asian hats, jackets, and boots.[251]

The Dungans, in turn, have also had some influence on the people who lived near them. They introduced the cultivation of rice, garlic, flat-leafed chives (tşiuts’ɛ 韭菜), capsicum, and opium. They also introduced the method of planting vegetables in beds arranged in a long row.[252] Because the Dungans were experienced farmers, their contribution to agriculture in Central Asia was enormous; because their vegetables were superior and cheap, soon after their arrival they had a monopoly on selling vegetables at the markets. The local population liked Dungan food, and Dungan eating places were very popular. These eating places disappeared after the October Revolution as they were private enterprises.

Besides delicious food and advancement in agriculture, the Dungans brought to Central Asia many other interesting things. They were illiterate when they came but they brought with them a rich oral literature that included legends, stories, anecdotes, proverbs, and songs. They also introduced Chinese music, embroidery, and paper-cutting. While Dungans of both sexes played Chinese musical instruments (such as xutş’iŋdzɨ 胡琴子; sançi̭andzɨ 三弦子; ɛrxudzɨ 二胡子, and iↄŋtş’iŋ 洋琴), only Dungan women did embroidery and paper-cutting. Both these skills were acquired during childhood. ‘Skillful hands’ were one of the requirements when a family was selecting a future daughter-in-law. An interesting fact about the paper-cutting is that very sharp small scissors were used and the cutting of the lacy pattern or a picture was usually done from top to bottom and from left to right. If the pattern was especially intricate, the cutting was then done from the centre. The Kazakhs, Kirghiz, Uzbeks, Tatars, and Russians admired the Dungan’s intricate and skillful embroidery and paper-cuts and also Dungan jewellery. This jewellery was mainly made from gold or silver; the most popular pieces were necklaces, bracelets, and ornaments for the hair.[253] Dungan brides always had many ornaments in their elaborate coiffures and also large ornaments hanging from a chain around their necks.

The Behaviour of the New Settlers

Again, T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov’s eyewitness account of the Dungans’ behaviour is the most detailed:

Dungans do not like to stay in Karakunuz for too long without a break. They visit Big Tokmak fairly often. Nearly every morning a long string of Dungan carts heads for Tokmak … Dungans regard Tokmak as a kind of club: they drink tea there, eat noodles, smoke opium, play cards, set up quail fights, and chat loudly about the issues of the day. This is where they conclude their business deals, pick up news, and share their impressions, returning to Karakunuz after midday.
In their free time, the Karakunuz Dungans play cards recklessly. The cards they use are Chinese and are very unusual, being long and narrow; the full pack has eighty-four cards. Among Dungans one meets singers who sing and play the balalaika skilfully.
Large areas of the Karakunuz fields are sown with opium poppies to cater to the habit of smoking opium brought by the Dungans from China … Many Dungans asked us whether Russians have any sort of medicine to cure the habit of opium smoking … There is an interesting Dungan song about opium smokers that describes the severe consequences of the ruinous habit, and it is said that users of opium get very angry when it is sung their presence. This song was published in the Semirech’e Regional Gazette in 1897. There is no doubt that opium undermines the Dungans’ health and shortens their lives. However, we did meet a 110-year-old opium smoker in Karakunuz.
The Dungans are extremely dirty people. Probably because of this, they have widespread skin and eye diseases.[254]

Generally speaking, the Russians were of a good opinion of the new settlers. I͡usurov quotes three Russians who wrote about that area. A. Kaul’bars writes that ‘the Dungans make a very pleasant impression on people. They are clever and energetic, they have a happy disposition and do not lack courage; and they are frank and truthful. In addition, they are very hospitable.[255] V. Vyshkol’skiĭ writes that ‘the distinguishing features of the Dungans are that they are hard-working, they do not drink, they are enterprising and absolutely honest’.[256] Poi͡arkov writes that ‘their most valuable quality is that they fulfil, honestly and accurately, any kind of errand, commission or obligation which is entrusted to them. However, in turn, they demand the same from others and would not give in or concede even in a very small matter or transaction.’ Poi͡arkov also wrote that it was owing to the Dungans that ‘the prices for basic products and provisions, and even luxury items, have become much lower since their arrival’.[257]






Author’s Note

This article was originally written after my last visit to the Dungans, in 1993. In the Introduction, I describe the situation of the Dungans at that time but have not attempted to update these observations, despite the fact that much has undoubtedly changed in almost 30 years.


Svetlana Rimsky-Korsakoff Dyer
Australian Centre on China in the World
Australian National University



1 There are three conventions of romanisation adopted in this paper. Modern names and the bibliography are transcribed in Pinyin without tonal markers, which is also the current standard for transcribing place names in Taiwan. For conventionalised names, such as Taipei and Tamsui, I retain them as is. Historical names are transcribed in Peh-oe-ji — the romanisation of Hokkien developed by British and American missionaries in the late nineteenth century. This transcription represents the Taiwanese pronunciation of historical names. For Japanese names, I adopt Hepburn romanisation.

2 Eduard B. Vermeer, ‘Population and Ecology along the Frontier in Qing China,’ in eds Mark Elvin and Liu Ts’ui-jung, Sediments of Time: Environment and Society in Chinese History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p.256.

3 Shiba Yoshinobu 斯波義信, ‘Environment Versus Water Control: The Case of the Southern Hangzhou Bay Area from the Mid-Tang Through the Qing,’ in Elvin and Liu, Sediments of Time, pp.161–64.

4 Liu Yu-chia 劉育嘉, ‘Qing dai taibei pendi de shuili kaifa’ 清代臺北盆地的水利開發, Taiwan wenxian 臺灣文獻 47.3 (1996): 193–214. Huang Wen-juan 黃雯娟, ‘Qing dai taibei pendi de shuili shiye 清代臺北盆地的水利事業, Taiwan wenxian 臺灣文獻 49.3 (1998): 147–69.

5 Li Chung-hsin 李宗信, Ku Ya-wen 顧雅文 and Chuang Yung-chung 莊永忠, ‘Shuili zhixu de xingcheng yu beng jie: shiba zhi ershi shiji chuqi liugongjun zhi bianqian’ 水利秩序的形成與崩解:十八至二十世紀初期瑠公圳之變, in ed. Huang Fu-san 黃富三, Hai, he yu taiwan juluo bianqian: bijiao guandian 海、河與臺灣聚落變遷:比較觀點 (Taipei: Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica, 2009), pp.145–228. However, it is necessary to point out that the authors greatly relied on the 1900s map and the official surveys conducted at the beginning of the twentieth century which limits their accuracy on the discussion about the historical landscape before 1900.

6 Hattori Hideo 服部英雄, Chimē no rekishi-gaku 地名の歴史学 (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 2000), pp.4–5.

7 Wang Shih-ching 王世慶, ‘Taibei Antaitang zhi jiapu yu guwenshu’ 臺北安泰堂之家譜與古文書, Taibei wenxian 臺北文獻 47/48 (1979): 45.

8 Carstairs Douglas, Chinese-English Dictionary of the Vernacular or Spoken Language of Amoy (London: Trübner, 1873), s.v. ‘oan’, p.348.

9 Liu Liangbi 劉良璧, Chongxiu Fujian Taiwan fu zhi 重修福建臺灣府志 (Taipei: Taiwan Yinhang, 1961), p.80.

10 ‘Liugong-chun shi yu fushu guwenshu 瑠公圳史與附屬古文書’ (unpublished manuscript), pp.18–21. This manuscript is kept by Taipei City Archives (Taibeishi wenxian weiyuanhui 臺北市文獻委員會). It is a Chinese translation from a Japanese version; the Japanese original has not yet been discovered.

11 Huang Qian 黃謙, ‘Cheng-Po-Hoe-Im-Biau-Go增補彙音妙悟, in ed. Ang Uijin 洪惟仁, Quanzhou fangyan yunshu sanzhong 泉州方言韻書三種 (Taipei: Wuling, 1993).

12 Ibid., s.v. ‘oan’ 灣 (‘bay’) and 淵 (‘abyss’), p.164.

13 ‘Cheng-Po-Hoe-Im’ 增補彙音, in ed. Ang Uijin 洪惟仁, Zhangzhou fangyan yunshu sanzhong 漳州方言韻書三種 (Taipei: Wuling, 1993), s.v. ‘oan’ 灣.

14 Jos Gommans and Rob van Diessen, Grote Atlas van de Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (Voorburg: Atlas Maior, 2010), Vol.7, pp.238–39.

15 Ibid., p.239.

16 Ang Kaim 翁佳音, Da Taibei gu ditu kaoshi 大臺北古地圖考釋 (Taipei: Daoxiang, 2006), pp.56–57.

17 Keerdekoe, ‘Corte beschrijvingh wegens,’ in Ang Kaim, Da Taibei gu ditu kaoshi 大臺北古地圖考釋 (Taipei: Daoxiang, 2006), p.182.

18 Leonard Blussé et al., eds., De Dagregisters van Het Kasteel Zeelandia, Taiwan, 1629–1662 (Den Haag: Instituut voor Nederlandse Geschiedenis, 1995), Vol.3, p.492, 508; Thomas Pedel and Pieter Elsevier, ‘Missive from Captain Thomas Pedel, Merchant Pieter Elsevier, c.s., to Governor Cornelis Caesar. Quelang, 17 May 1655,’ in eds Leonard Blussé and Natalie Everts, The Formosan Encounter: Notes on Formosa’s Aboriginal Society: A Selection of Documents from Dutch Archival Sources (Taipei: Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines, 2010), Vol.4, pp.52–59. I translate Dutch ‘koopman’ ‘factor’ rather than ‘merchant’ as the editors did to emphasise that this position is an employee of the VOC and differentiate it from a private merchant who also frequented Formosa in this period.

19 Blussé et al. eds., De Dagregisters van Het Kasteel Zeelandia, Taiwan, 1629–1662, Vol.3, p.509.

20 Cornelis Caesar, ‘Missive Governor Cornelis Caesar to Merchant Pieter Elsevier. Tayouan, 30 May 1655,’ in Blussé and Everts, The Formosan Encounter, pp.60-65.

21 Pieter Elsevier, ‘Missive Merchant Pieter Elsevier to Governor Cornelis Caesar. Tamsuy 30 June, 1655,’ in ibid., pp.66–81.

22 Caesar, ‘Missive Governor Cornelis Caesar to Merchant Pieter Elsevier. Tayouan, 30 May 1655,’ p.63.

23 Marc Kooijmans and Judith Ellen Oosterling, VOC-Glossarium: Verklaringen van Termen, Verzameld uit de Rijks Geschiedkundige Publicatiën, die Betrekking Hebben op de Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (Den Haag: Instituut voor Nederlandse Geschiedenis, 2000), s.v. ‘mijl’.

24 Elsevier, ‘Missive Merchant Pieter Elsevier to Governor Cornelis Caesar. Tamsuy 30 June, 1655,’ pp.75–76.

25 The surveyed map of 1940 is also retrievable from the Center for GIS, RCHSS, Academia Sinica, ‘Taibei-shi bainian lishi ditu’ 臺北市百年歷史地圖, online at <>.

26 Tāi-ka-la̍p-hō Siōng-pi-thâu Tōa-an Ryōsō sōkai hantei no ken hōkoku 大加蚋堡上坡頭、大安兩庄庄界判定ノ件報告, 4241–279, pp.6–7, Taiwan sōtoku-fu gongwen leizuan shuweihua dang’an 臺灣總督府公文類纂數位化檔案.

27 Ch’en Kuo-tung 陳國棟, ‘ ‘‘Jun gong jiangshou” yu qingling shiqi taiwan de famu wenti, 1683–1875’ 「軍工匠首」與清領時期臺灣的伐木問題,1683–1875, Renwen ji Shehuikexue jikan 人文及社會科學集刊 7.1 (1995): 125–35. For the local consumption of forest resources, see the discussion in Ch’en Kuo-tung 陳國棟, ‘Nonreclamation Deforestation in Taiwan, c. 1600–1976,’ in eds Elvin and Liu, Sediments of Time, pp.707–12. See also Liu Ts’ui-jung 劉翠溶, ‘Han Migration and the Settlement of Taiwan: The Onset of Environmental Change,’ in Elvin and Liu, Sediments of Time, pp.198–99.

28 The Chinese characters of Kun-kong-khiⁿ marked on the 1900s map alternatively suggest that kong is represented by the character of ‘merit’ 功 rather than that of ‘work’ 工. This is a common alternative because the character of ‘merit’, making kun-kong become ‘military merit’ 軍功, looks more favourable to ordinary people.

29 Some pools are recorded by the 1900s map Taiwan Hōzu and the 1939 map of Kōkyō Pi-chun liugong-chun kumiai 公共埤圳瑠公圳組合. Both are retrievable from the Center for GIS, RCHSS, Academia Sinica, ‘Taibei-shi bainian lishi ditu’ 臺北市百年歷史地圖, online at <>.

30 Tāi-ka-la̍p-hō Siōng-pi-thâu Tōa-an ryōsō sōkai hantei no ken hōkoku 大加蚋堡上坡頭、大安兩庄庄界判定ノ件報告, 4241–279, pp.9–10.

31 Taiwan yinhang jingji yanjiu-shi 臺灣銀行經濟研究室 ed., Qingdai Taiwan dazu diaochashu 清代臺灣大租調查書 (Taipei: Taiwan Yinhang, 1963), pp.853–54

32 Zheng Yongxi 鄭用錫, Tamsui-ting zhi gao 淡水廳志稿 (Nantou-shi: Taiwan-sheng wenxian weiyuanhui 臺灣省文獻委員會, 2006), p.29.

33 Lin wanchuan 林萬傳, ‘Da’an Poxin Linzhai Ji Qi Renwu’ 大安坡心林宅及其人物, Taibei wenxian 臺北文獻 73 (1985), p.190; Lin Wanchuan 林萬傳 ed., ‘Da’anqu Qilao Zuotanhui Jilu’ 大安區耆老座談會紀錄 Taibei wenxian 臺北文獻 89 (1989): 17.

34 Chung-hsin 李宗信 et al., ‘Shuili zhixu de xingcheng yu beng jie: shiba zhi ershi shiji chuqi liugongjun zhi bianqian,’ p.178.

35 The date is converted to the Gregorian calendar. The original date is the 29th day of the 12th month, the 20th year of Guangxu 光緒二十年十二月二十九日.

36 The stele was re-erected recently next to the local temple worshipped by the people of Tiòng-lūn 中崙, one of the five downstream villages.

37 Tāi-ka-la̍p-hō Siōng-pi-thâu Tōa-an ryōsō sōkai hantei no ken hōkoku大加蚋堡上坡頭、大安兩庄庄界判定ノ件報告, 4241–279, pp.16–18.

38 Ibid., pp.11–12.

39 Ibid., pp.2–3.

40 Tāi-ka-la̍p-hō Tōa-an-pi-sō sōkai no ken 大加蚋堡大安陂庄界ノ件, 4241–280, Taiwan Sōtoku-fu Gongwen leizuan shuweihua dang’an 臺灣總督府公文類纂數位化檔案.

41 Li Chung-hsin 李宗信, Liugong Da Chun 瑠公大圳 (Taipei: Yushan she, 2014), pp.107–16.

42 ‘Taihoku-chō Kaikonchi gyōshuken nintei’ 臺北廳開墾地業主權認定, 5710–711, Taiwan Sōtoku-fu gongwen leizuan shuweihua dang’an 臺灣總督府公文類纂數位化檔案, pp.100–101.

43 The process of urbanisation is recorded by published maps of Taipei City from 1950 to 1980. More than twenty maps and aerial photos are viewable online in ‘Taibei-shi bainian lishi ditu’ 臺北市百年歷史地. Center for GIS, RCHSS, Academia Sinica, ‘Taibei-shi Bainian Lishi Ditu’臺北市百年歷史地圖, <>.

44 Hsu Cheng-kuang 徐正光, Taibei kejia jielu shi: tonghua pian 臺北客家街路史:通化篇 (Taipei: Taibei-shi Zhengfu Minzheng Ju 臺北市政府民政局, 1998).

45 ‘Nian wu xiang paishui fanghong gong-cheng wangong’ 廿五項排水防洪工程完工, Lianhe bao 聯合報 United Daily News, 2 September 1983.

46 Yakub Beg proclaimed himself the leader of Eastern Turkestan. In 1868, the whole of Kashgaria was unified by him. In 1872, he defeated the Muslim sultan state in Urumqi (which had existed since 1864) and created a large Muslim state in Xinjiang.

47 The Semirech’e oblast or administrative division covered northern Kyrgyzstan and southern Kazakhstan.

48 Dyer, ‘The Dungan Dialect’, pp.15–16.

49 Ibid., p.16.

50 Three sources are used for this chapter. Poi͡arkov (1901), pp.1–10, 47–60; Duman (1939), pp.39–54; and I͡usurov (1961), pp.10–23.

51 I͡usurov, p.19, n.1, archive of Kirghiz SSR, font of miscellaneous affairs/19/1.

52 The short introductory decription of the three groups above is taken mainly from my work ‘The Dungans: Some Aspects of the Culture of Chinese Muslims in the Soviet Union’, a paper presented at ‘The Legacy of Islam in China: An International Symposium in Memory of Joseph F. Fletcher. Harvard University, 14–16 April 1989, pp.2–4.

53 Poi͡arkov, pp.36–37.

54 Poi͡arkov, pp.1–10, 47–60. I have tried to give an accurate translation of Poi͡arkov’s description, omitting only the places where his style is too emotional and florid but including all the essential details.

55 This is from Poi͡arkov, pp.1–10, 49–60.

56 The description of their first evening in Tokmak is from Poi͡arkov, pp.54–56.

57 Poi͡arkov, p.61.

58 Duman, pp.39–40 and p.40, n.2, archive 21/333/7–8.

59 This correspondence, obtained from the Central Archives of the Kazakh SSR is presented in Duman’s work, see pp.39–54. I͡usurov also quotes some of these letters, see pp.10–23.

60 Archive 21/333/9-10.

61 Archive 21/479.

62 Duman (p.43, n.6) notes that Beg Kuli Beg was the son of Yakub Beg, and that he killed his brother after Yakub Beg’s death.

63 Archive 21/479/75–76, Duman, pp.44–45.

64 Archive 21/480/55–56.

65 Duman, p.46, n.1, mentions that in the Chinese text of the letter ‘Bo Yanhu’ is written as 白燕虎 instead of the usual 彦虎.

66 Jin’s letters are found in archive 21/480/296/300, 297/301, 298/302, 398/415, 399/417. Kolpakovsky’s answer is in archive 21/480/363–66.

67 Archive 21/479/547/1–2.

68 T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov’s comments on this matter are presented in full in Chapter Four.

69 Archive 21/479/308/1.

70 Archive 21/479/470–71.

71 Duman, p.50, and n.3, archive 21/479/471.

72 Archive 21/191/13–15.

73 A Dungan historian wrote a book on Mas-anchin in 1967, see I.I. I͡usurov, Kolkhoznoe selo Masanchin.

74 T͡sibuzgin, pp.9–10.

75 Taken from my work Soviet Dungans in 1985: Birthdays, Weddings, Funerals and Kolkhoz Life (Taipei: Center for Chinese Studies, 1991), pp.81–82, which uses information from M. Sushanlo, Dungane, pp.270–72.

76 Most works on the history of the Dungans mention the I͡akshi and I͡aman groups. See, for instance, works mentioned in the previous two footnotes and I͡usurov, pp.53–56.

77 M. Sushanlo, Dungange Semirech’i͡a: Doo-kti͡abr’skiĭ period (istoricheskiĭ ocherk) (Frunze: Izdatel’stvo AN Kirgizskoĭ SSR, 1959), p.17.

78 Poi͡arkov, p.25.

79 A short account of these two groups has already been given at the beginning of this chapter. Most of the information on the Osh group below is taken from I͡usupov, pp.11–13.

80 For a discussion on how the Chinese surname Ma has transformed to Mamedaliev, see my work ‘The Surnames, Personal Names and Nicknames of the Dungans, the Chinese Muslims in the Soviet Union,’ Chinese Studies 9 (1991): 127–79.

81 This description is quoted by I͡usurov (p.12) from Zapiski Instituta ètnografii An SSSR 1946, at p.4.

82 This report is quoted by I͡usurov (p.11) from the Central Archives of the Uzbek SSR 61/1/67.

83 Ahong Ayelaoren’s Arabic name, I͡usup, later became the family’s surname and a Russian surname-ending was attached to it, hence I͡usupov (I͡usupova for women). These conversions are discussed in my work on Dungan surnames, see n.76.

84 I͡usurov, p.13

85 T͡sibuzgin, p.13.

86 A slightly fuller comparison of the two migrations can be found at the beginning of Chapter One.

87 Both Baranova and I͡usurov refer to the Chinese Muslims, before and after the migration, as Dungans, whereas I draw a line at the border: those in China are referred to as Chinese Muslims, and once they cross the border they become Dungans. I do this mainly because the term ‘Dungan’ is not used in China. Both works are discussed in the preface and are mentioned in the bibliography. The archive material used by them is from Central Archive of the Kazakh SSR., which will be cited throughout this chapter as ‘archive’.

88 Chu Wen-djang, p.168, n.16.

89 Baranova, p.32; I͡usurov, p.24.

90 Baranova, p.36, n.14. The cross-border raids were made by gangs of Kazakhs on other tribes or Russian inhabitants. Usually, these gangs stole animals and possessions, but occasionally they also killed people.

91 Ibid., n.15. Barnova quotes archive 64/1/4852/2 and clause II of the Livadii͡a treaty.

92 Baranova, p.38, n.19, archive 64/1/4854/31.

93 I͡usurov, p.24.

94 Baranova, p.40, n.26.

95 Ibid., p.41, n.29, archive 64/1/4854/50–51.

96 Ibid., n.31, archive 64/1/4861/86.

97 Ibid., p.42, n.35, archive 64/1/4861/84.

98 Ibid., p.43, n.36, archive 64/1/4861/25.

99 Ibid., n.37, archive 64/1/4861/84.

100 Ibid., p.43–44, n.41, archive 44/7/67/8; n.44, 64/1/84861/85.

101 Ibid., p.44, n.42, archive 64/1/4863/178.

102 Ibid., p.43, n.36, archive 64/1/4861/63.

103 Ibid., p.44, n.36, archive 64/1/4861/85.

104 Ibid., p.46, n.36, archive 64/1/4861/76–77.

105 Ibid., p.45, n.50, archive 64/1/4921/11.

106 Ibid., n.51, archive 64/1/4861/26.

107 Ibid., n.52, archive 64/1/4861/256–57.

108 Ibid., p.46, n.53, archive 64/1/4863/31.

109 Ibid., n.57, archive 64/1/4861/102.

110 Ibid., p.47, n.58, archive 64/1/4863/140; n.59, 4861/83.

111 Ibid., n.60, archive 64/1/4863/161–62.

112 Ibid., n.61, archive 64/1/4861/149.

113 Ibid., n.62, archive 64/1/4863/312.

114 Ibid., n.64, archive 64/1/4861/133. A hu is a dry measure used in former times in China, originally equal to 10 dou 斗, later 5 dou (one dou = 1 decalitre or peck).

115 Ibid., p.48, n.65, archive 64/1/4861/175–76.

116 Ibid., n.66, archive 64/1/5027/43.

117 Ibid., n.67, archive 64/1/4861/135.

118 Ibid., n.68, archive 64/1/4861/207–208.

119 Ibid., n.69, archive 64/1/4861/84.

120 Ibid., n.70, archive 64/1/4861/230.

121 Ibid., p.49, n.72, archive 64/1/4861/72–73.

122 Ibid., n.74, archive 64/1/4861/82.

123 Ibid., n.76, archive 64/1/4863/313.

124 Ibid., n.77, archive 64/1/4863/313.

125 Ibid., p.50, n.65, archive 64/1/4861/175–76.

126 Ibid., n.81, archive 64/1/4861/282; n.82, archive 64/1/4861/232.

127 Ibid., nn.83, 84, Baranova’s figures come from M.N. Kabirov, Pereselenie iliĭskix uigurov v Sermirech’e (Alma-Ata: Akademiia Nauk Kazakhskoi SSR, 1951), p.82.

128 Ibid., p.51, n.89, archive 64/1/4943/6; 44/7/67/55–56.

129 Ibid., nn.92–95, archive 64/1/4860/86; 5027/10–11; 4954/75, 83.

130 Ibid., n.96, archive 64/1/4953/2.

131 Ibid., n.97, archive 64/1/5027/7.

132 Ibid., p.52, nn.98–102, archive 64/1/5027/7 and 45; 4954/110 and 154.

133 Chetvert’ is a Russian measure for grain. On p.52, n.104, Baranova writes that, depending on the type of grain, the weight of a chetvert’ fluctuated from five to eight poods.

134 Ibid., n.105, this information comes from archive 64/1/175/6.

135 Ibid., n.106, archive 44/7/67/57–59. Baranova mentions Major-General Frede’s letter of 10 June 1884 and several other sources.

136 I͡usurov, p.25, n.1, archive 21/1/181/200.

137 Ibid., p.26, n.1, archive 21/1/700/176.

138 Ibid., nn.3 and 4, Central Archive of the Uzbek SSR 1/88 and III/22/2.

139 Ibid., p.27, n.2, I͡usurov quotes I.V. Selitskii, Izvetii͡a obshchesta arkheologii i ètnografii, 20, n.6 (1904): 824.

140 Ibid., nn.3 and 4, archive 44/1/67/1.

141 The original Russian name for Sokuluk was Sukhoĭ lug; the Kirghiz could only pronounce it as Sokuluk, thus it became known as Sokuluk. If the Chinese Muslim representatives had known Russian, they would have realised that Sukhoĭ lug meant ‘Dry Meadow’ and was thus named because it had no water.

142 I͡usurov, p.28, n.1, archive 44/1/67/16–19.

143 Ibid., p.29, n.2, archive 21/702/119.

144 T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov, in their account of the life in one of the first settlements, Karakunuz, give a full description of how the Dungans planted rice (pp.8–9). Rice cultivation flourished. When the Dungan kolkhozes were established, they produced mainly rice and only later (because of centralisation) started to produce sugar beet on a large scale and also some vegetables, milk and beef cattle.

145 Qingshuihezi is located between Kul’ja and the Khoros Port. It is now a busy market town; coming from Urumqi, for example, the traveller stops here on the way to Yining or the border.

146 I͡usurov, p.30, n.2, archive 44/1/67/19. Taranchis are the Uighurs of Kashgar, Turfan, and Taran.

147 Ibid., n.3, archive 44/7/24/183.

148 Ibid., n.5, archive 44/7/24/60.

149 Ibid., p.31, n.1, archive 44/67/67/33.

150 Panfilov is very near Khorgos and is the first town that one reaches after crossing the border.

151 I͡usurov, p.31, n.2, archive 44/67/26.

152 Ibid., p.32, n.1, archive 64/1/78/6.

153 Ibid., p.33, n.2, archive 44/23/279.

154 Ibid., n.3, archive 44/9/221/464.

155 Ibid., p.34, n.1, archive 44/20, 23, 24.

156 Ibid., n.2, archive 44/67/27.

157 Ibid., p.34.

158 I͡usurov, p.36. In this chapter, besides T͡sibuzgin, Sushanlo, Dungane Semirech’ia and I͡usurov, I have also used A.A. Dzhon, Material’nai͡a kul’tura dungan: Poselenie, usad’ba, zhilishche (konet͡s XIX–XX v.). Unless otherwise stated, the archives mentioned in this chapter are from the Central Archive of the Kazakh SSR.

159 The reason why the Dungans called Yrdyk either Ɛrtoxo or Ɛrtogu is discussed in Chapter Two, as are the I͡akshi and I͡aman groups.

160 Xεli̭an in Mandarin could be hailian or xie-lian. No appropriate characters for this term could be found. If it is pronounced xielian, then perhaps it is the Dungans’ way of pronouncing the Russian term for a ‘village, a settlement’ — selenie.

161 Dzhon, p.44.

162 The material for this section is from I͡usurov, pp.36–37.

163 Ibid., pp.38–39.

164 Desi͡atina is a measure of area, approximately one hectare.

165 I͡usurov, p.38, n.2, archive 44/9/48.

166 Ibid., n.3, archive 44/221/110.

167 Ibid., p.39, n.2, archive 44/23/177.

168 Ibid., n.4, archive 44/20/127.

169 Poi͡arkov, pp.66–68.

170 Poi͡arkov, p.68.

171 T͡sibuzgin, p.3. The English translation is from Rimsky-Korsakoff Dyer, ‘Karakunuz’, p.25; G.G. Stratanovich, ‘Dungane,’ in ed. S.P. Tovstov et al., Narody Sredeneĭ Azii I Kazakhstana, Vol.2 (Moscow: Izdatel’stvo AN SSSR: 1963), pp.530–31.

172 Poi͡arkov. p.68.

173 I͡usurov, pp.40–41.

174 Poi͡arkov, p.69. See also T͡sibuzgin, pp.9–10.

175 I͡usurov, p.41, n.4, archive, font of miscellaneous affairs /19/4 and 5.

176 Ibid., p.40, n.3, archive 44/221/333.

177 Ibid., p.41.

178 Ibid., p.42, n.2, archive 40/10/219/21.

179 Sazhen’, also known as ságène, was a Russian measure of length. One ságène equals 2.13m One desi͡atina had 2,400 square sazhen’s.

180I͡usurov, p.42, n.3, archive 40/10/119/49, 50, 51.

181 Ibid., p.43, nn.1 and 2, archives 44/20/78 and 44/2/78.

182 Ibid., n.3, archives 44/23/115, 168; n.4, archive 44/20/190 and n.5 Central Archive of the Kirghiz SSR, font of miscellaneous affairs/19/3.

183 Ibid., p.43, n.6, archive 44/67/19.

184 Ibid., p.44, n.1, archive 44/67/19.

185 Ibid., n.2, archive 44/66/19–26.

186 Ibid., nn.3 and 4, archive 44/24/273 and 44/67/26.

187 Ibid., p.46, n.1, archive 44/2L/232.

188 For this description of Dzharkent, I͡usurov quotes Grum-Grzhimaĭlo, Opisanie puteshestvii͡a v Zapadnyĭ Kitaĭ (St Petersburg: Tipografiia S.M. Nikolaeva, 1896–1907), Vol.1, p.2.

189 I͡usurov, p.47, n.1, archive 44/67/27.

190 Ibid., n.2, archive 1/456/5–6.

191 Ibid., n.3, archive 44/8/966/4–5.

192 Ibid., n.4, archive 44/8/719/17.

193 Ibid., p.48, n.2, archive 44/8/23/15.

194 Ibid., p.49, nn.1 and 2, archive 44/67/26 and 44/6/24/196.

195 Ibid., n.4, archive 44/464/27, 29.

196 Ibid., n.6, archive of the Uzbek SSR, minutes of public meeting no.88 (1910).

197 Ibid., p.50, n.1, archive 44/24/27.

198 Ibid., n.3, archive 44/24/273.

199 Ibid., p.51.

200 For more information about Dungan nationalism see my work ‘Soviet Dungan Nationalism: A Few Comments on Their Origin and Language,’ Monumenta Serica 33 (1977–78): 349–62, especially p.356.

201 T͡sibuzgin, pp.6–7. The English translation is taken from Rimsky-Korsakoff Dyer, ‘Karakunuz’, p.253.

202 Dzhon, p.19.

203 Ibid., p.96.

204 Ibid., pp.99–100.

205 Ibid., pp.98–99, 133.

206 See Rimsky-Korsakoff Dyer, Soviet Dungan Kolkhozes, pp.75–88 and the illustrations in Rimsky-Korsakoff Dyer, Soviet Dungans in 1985, pp.104–116.

207 See L.T. Shinlo, Kul’tura I byt sovetskikh dungan, pp.49–63; Sushanlo, Dungane, pp.120–50 and the whole of Dzhon’s work.

208 Dzhon, p.51.

209 See Rimsky-Korsakoff Dyer, ‘The Superstitions and Beliefs of the Early Chinese Muslims in Russian Central Asia,’ Monumenta Serica 48 (2000): 429–43.

210 The material for this section is taken mainly from Dzhon, pp.90–112.

211 The material for this section is taken mainly from Dzhon, pp.101–105, 109–112.

212 The only characters I can suggest for this term are 难搬, lit. ‘difficult to move’.

213 The material for this section is taken mainly from Dzhon, pp.52–53.

214 The material for this section is taken mainly from Dzhon, pp.54, 54–57.

215 The material for this section is taken mainly from Dzhon, pp.57–58.

216 The material for this section is taken mainly from Dzhon, pp.58–59.

217 The material for this section is taken mainly from Dzhon, pp.59.

218 Dzhon, p.35.

219 Sushanlo, Dungane (istoriko-ètnografich-eskiĭ ocherk) (Frunze: Izdatel’stvo ‘Ilim’, 1971), p.131.

220 Both of these are colloquial terms and do not appear in Dungan dictionaries. Khu-lang-t͡sza (xŭlondza) could be number of things, including perhaps ‘a wanderer who calls out’ 呼浪子, while chzhuan-dèr-di (dzuan tirti) is probably ‘a maker of shoe soles’ 钻底儿的.

221 T͡sibuzgin, p.14. The English translation is taken from Rimsky-Korsakoff Dyer, ‘Karakunuz’, pp.258–59. The transliterations in quotation marks are T͡sibuzgin and Shmakov’s transliterations of Dungan words into Russian. The transliterations in square brackets are mine. The Dungans refer to ‘apple’ as kuǝdza 果子; ‘fruit’ in Dungan is tş’iŋxuǝ or kot’i̭an, assuming that kuǝ, ko, and xuǝ all stand for 果, than the Chinese characters for ‘fruit’ could be 青果 and 果甜.

222 The material in the next few paragraphs (until the discussion of the the three famous mosques) is from Dzhon, pp.30–32.

223 My Dungan informants described the bier as ‘a length of material stretched between two poles which have short, twenty-centimetre-long legs so that the stretcher can be set down on the ground’. For different Dungan descriptions and terms used for the bier, see Rimsky-Korsakoff Dyer, Soviet Dungans in 1985, p.88.

224 The information on the three mosques is taken from Sushanlo, Dungane Semirech’i͡a, pp.92-93; Sushanlo, Dungane, pp.127–31 and Dzhon, pp.32, 34. The information in the three works is more or less the same, but Sushanlo, Dungane (pp.128, 129) has a ground plan and a photograph of the mosque in Przheval’sk and Dzhon’s work (see the illustrationgs following p.32) has one photograph each of the mosques in Przheval’sk and Dzharkent.

225 The material for this section is taken mainly from Dzhon, pp.29–30. Some information is from my notes written during my visit to Yrdyk in 1991.

226 The material for this section is taken mainly from Dzhon, pp.26, 42–44.

227 Dzhon, p.43. The quote is from V. I͡a. Galit͡skiĭ, Istorii͡a goroda Pishpeka (Frunze: Izdatel’stvo Ilim, 1980), p.54.

228 I͡usurov, p.56, see also pp.57–62.

229 Ibid., p.59.

230 Sushanlo, Dungane Semirech’i͡a, p.46.

231 Ibid., p.46.

232 The material for this section is taken mainly from Dzhon, pp.36–39.

233 While travelling in Central Asia, I was always impressed by how cold the water was in these rivers and aryks, not only in the mountains, but also in the numerous aryks that ran along the settlement and city streets. I have very fond memories of picnics in the mountains when we cooled bottles of champagne and whole watermelons in the streams. Even in the summer, the water in these streams and even in the aryks in the cities was so cold that one could not keep one’s hand in it for more than a few seconds.

234 T͡sibuzgin, pp.8–9. The English translation is in Rimsky-Korsakoff Dyer, ‘Karakunuz’, pp.254–55.

235 I͡usurov, p.42. In n.3 he writes that he has obtained these figures from K.K. Palen. Oroshenie Turkestana (St Petersburg: Senatskaia tip, 1910), p.278.

236 I͡usurov, p.43.

237 T͡sibuzgin, p.11. The English translation is taken from Rimsky-Korsakoff Dyer, ‘Karakunuz’, pp.256–57.

238 I͡usurov, p.43.

239 T͡sibuzgin, p.9. The English translation is taken from Rimsky-Korsakoff Dyer, ‘Karakunuz’, p.255.

240 Dzhon, pp.35–36.

241 I͡usurov, pp.49, 63–65.

242 T͡sibuzgin, p.4. The English translation is taken from Rimsky-Korsakoff Dyer, ‘Karakunuz’, p.251.

243 Ibid.

244 Dzhon, pp.31–32.

245 I͡usurov, p.43.

246 Sushanlo, Duungane Semirech’i͡a, pp.77–79.

247 T͡sibuzgin, p.5–6. The English translation is taken from Rimsky-Korsakoff Dyer, ‘Karakunuz’, p.252.

248 The description of the three kinds of meals is taken from my observations when I visited the Dungans in 1977. See Rimsky-Korsakoff Dyer, Soviet Dungan Kolkhozes, pp.62–70. Several Dungan scholars give a detailed description of the Dungan food in their works: Shinlo, Kul’tura, pp.75–80 and Sushanlo, Dungane, pp.150–69. These two works were written in 1965 and 1971 respectively.

249 T͡sibuzgin, pp.6–8. The English translation is taken from T͡sibuzgin, p.4. The English translation is taken from Rimsky-Korsakoff Dyer, ‘Karakunuz’, p.252–54.

250 T͡sibuzgin, pp.11, 13–14.

251 Sushanlo, Dungane Semirech’i͡a, pp.93–94.

252 I͡usurov, p.58.

253 The above information is taken from Sushanlo, Dungane Semirech’i͡a, pp.83–91. See also Svetlana Rimsky-Korsakoff Dyer, ‘The Embroidery of the Dungans: The Central Asian Chinese Muslims’. For samples of some of the early proverbs, riddles, and anecdotes, see T͡sibuzgin, pp.15–23. An English translation of these proverbs, riddles, and anecdotes is in Rimsky-Korsakoff Dyer, ‘Karakunuz’, pp.260–67. See also my two works ‘Sulian Donggan minzu yuyan xianzhuang ji qi shieryue ge’ and ‘Zhongyaxiya Donggan minzu de miyu, raokouling, shunkouliu ji yanyu’, which discuss the twelve-month songs and riddles, tongue-twisters, doggerel, and proverbs.

254 T͡sibuzgin, pp.10–13. The English translation is taken from T͡sibuzgin, p.4. The English translation is taken from Rimsky-Korsakoff Dyer, ‘Karakunuz’, p.256–58.

255 I͡usurov, p.51, n.1. I͡usurov quote D. Kaul’bars, ‘Zametki o Kul’dzhinskom krae,’ Material dli͡a statistiki Tyrk. Krai͡a (1874), Pt.3, p.126.

256 Ibid., n.2. I͡usurov quotes V. Vyshkol’skiĭ, Voennyĭ medit͡sinskiĭ zhurnal 10 (1985): 161.

257 Ibid., nn.3 and 4. I͡usurov quotes Poi͡arkov, pp.174 and 73.