Dungan Folktales and Legends

by Kenneth J. Yin (Author)
©2021 Monographs XVIII, 426 Pages
Series: International Folkloristics, Volume 16


Dungan Folktales and Legends is a unique anthology that acquaints English-speaking readers with the rich and captivating folk stories of the Dungans, Chinese-speaking Muslims who fled Northwest China for Russian Central Asia after failure of the Dungan Revolt (1862–1877) against the Qing dynasty. The most comprehensive collection of Dungan folk narratives, available now in English for the first time, this volume features translations of oral narratives collected in the former Soviet Central Asian republics of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan in the twentieth century, and first published in Dunganskie narodnye skazki i predaniia (1977), which was edited by the internationally renowned Russian sinologist Boris L. Riftin and compiled by his prominent Dungan colleagues Makhmud A. Khasanov and Ilʹias I. Iusupov. The Dungan folk narrative tradition is a vibrant and fascinating tapestry of Chinese, Islamic, and various Central Asian cultural elements.
The present volume is comprised of a chapter introducing the Dungan tale and three chapters containing 78 folk stories organized in the following categories: wonder tales and animal tales; novelistic tales, folk anecdotes, and adventure stories; and legends, historical tales, and narratives. Also included are appendixes, a glossary, an index, the original notes to the texts, and translator’s notes aimed at an English-reading audience. This volume will be of interest to general readers, as well as students and scholars of folklore, ethnography, anthropology, comparative literature, Chinese studies, and Central Asian studies.
"The Russian-language edition of Dungan Folktales and Legends was a substantial contribution to comparative folklore studies when it first appeared in 1977. The book, based on several decades of field research, provided readers a glimpse into the complex tapestry of Dungan storytelling. Built upon several traditions, the tales of the Dungans merge multiple motifs and plots from the wide Eurasian folklore space. This most welcome translation will benefit not only folklorists and sinologists but also anyone with a liking for a good story."
—Aglaia Starostina, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences
"Dungan Folktales and Legends is a very refined work that represents the research carried out by Soviet sinologists. This is undoubtedly a must-read for those interested in Sinophone literature in general, as well as the folklore preserved among Sinophone Muslims. Additionally, this piece illustrates the complexity of interconnected and interrelated traditions found in Central Asia. The translation by Kenneth J. Yin is polished and careful: he truly manages to build a bridge between the English readership and the Central Asian Sinophone Muslims."
—Soledad Jiménez-Tovar, Professor of History, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas
"Kenneth J. Yin’s Dungan Folktales and Legends makes a very substantial contribution to the study of the culture and folklore of the Dungan people, whose unique position in the history of East Asian cultures and East Asian linguistics is increasingly recognized inside and outside of China. For a very long time, Dunganology has been a field dominated by outstanding Russian scholarship. More recently, immense progress has been made by students from the People’s Republic of China. Kenneth J. Yin shows an admirable ability to use all the most important available sources in the present volume, which makes Dungan literary sensibilities available to a broader international public."
—Christoph Harbsmeier, Professor Emeritus of Chinese, University of Oslo
"Dungan Folktales and Legends opens a new page in the English-language scholarship on the folklore and popular literature of the Chinese and their neighbors. Being a reader of these tales in Russian translation since the age of ten (they made a part of my collection of favorite Asian tales), I am delighted to learn that they are now available in a superb English translation, with the necessary introduction and comments, by Kenneth J. Yin. This collection also reflects the personal experience of Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Boris L. Riftin (1932–2012), who started to collect and study Dungan folklore in situ during his student years and continued to analyze it later from the perspective of an expert in Chinese folk literature. Many figures of Chinese traditional literature, some of them perhaps already known to English-speaking readers as Yu Boya, Han Xin, Su Qin, Xue Rengui, and the like, appear here in a new and often unusual guise."
—Rostislav Berezkin, Research Fellow, National Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies, Fudan University
"With his Dungan Folktales and Legends, Kenneth Yin contributes a valuable chapter to Dungan Studies by making available in English translation a substantial body of interesting folk tales of a people who, though small in number, offer important material for the study of Central Asian culture and literature. Expertly translated, the stories in this collection open our eyes to a broad and unexpected vista of human experience. Highly recommended for anyone who is engaged in the study of Sinitic language and literature."
—Victor H. Mair, Professor of Chinese Language and Literature, University of Pennsylvania
"Kenneth J. Yin’s Dungan Folktales and Legends is a most welcome and impressive anthology of oral narrative literature translations. With an elegant introduction chapter and erudite translator’s notes, this rich and well-chosen collection will make a much needed wealth of sources available for the study of Dungan culture and history in Central Asia."
—Talant Mawkanuli, Associate Teaching Professor and Director of Turkic and Central Eurasian Studies, University of Washington–Seattle

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Preface
  • Maps
  • The Distribution of Hui, Muslim Chinese, in China
  • The Distribution of Dungans in Central Asia
  • Note on Transliteration and Translation
  • 1 The Fictional World of the Dungan Tale
  • 2 Wonder Tales and Animal Tales
  • 1. Zhon Daje Shoots Pheasants
  • 2. The Red Bottle-Gourd
  • 3. Luosan, the Third Brother
  • 4. Zhon You Boils the Sea
  • 5. The Frogling
  • 6. Huaqior, the Speckled Bird
  • 7. Ponrˆir
  • 8. Ponwen
  • 9. Zhon Qianyou
  • 10. Jinhua, Golden Flower
  • 11. The Stepmother
  • 12. The Swallow
  • 13. The Two Brothers
  • 14. Good and Evil
  • 15. The Brothers
  • 16. The White Fox
  • 17. The Snake-Girl
  • 18. The Spider-Jin
  • 19. Jion Nge
  • 20. The Goldfish
  • 21. The Cannibal
  • 22. Xinchon
  • 23. The Sun’s Response
  • 24. Seven Wayfarers and a Dog
  • 25. The Old Hunter
  • 26. The Precious Stone
  • 27. Ishar
  • 28. Ma Yuanwai
  • 29. The Immortal Tieliguai
  • 30. The Insatiable Heart
  • 31. Fonxir
  • 32. The Shenxian-Immortal Sells Words
  • 33. An Indolent Dragon Spawns
  • 34. The Dragon Tablet
  • 35. The 17-Year-Old Mother with an 18-Year-Old Son
  • 36. The Golden Bird
  • 37. The White-Rabbit Girl
  • 38. Why the Magpie is Called Xiqio, the Bird of Joy
  • 39. Why a Dog Eats Middlings
  • 40. The Deer, the Wolf, and the Raven
  • 3 Novelistic Tales, Folk Anecdotes, and Adventure Stories
  • 41. Jin Mazi
  • 42. Binliar Mourns His Mother
  • 43. “There Is Radiance Without, but Emptiness Within”
  • 44. Wonair and Beinür
  • 45. Four Miscues
  • 46. How a Pauper Found Happiness
  • 47. A Quick-Witted Boy
  • 48. The Three Brothers
  • 49. The Wisdom of a Poor Girl
  • 50. Two Friends
  • 51. An Alluring Good
  • 52. Men the Fortuneteller
  • 53. The Pauper’s Son
  • 54. The Man Who Was Afraid of His Wife
  • 55. The Foolish Son-In-Law
  • 56. [How a Fool Tried to Catch Flies]
  • 57. [Rooster Eggs]
  • 58. The Seven Baldheads
  • 59. The Blind Man, the Baldhead, and the Sniveler
  • 60. [The Three Baldheads]
  • 61. The Mangy One
  • 62. The Mangy One and the Yuanwai
  • 63. What Goes Around Comes Around
  • 64. Li Yuanwai
  • 65. Huarjie
  • 66. Li Jiawon
  • 67. Shisan
  • 4 Legends, Historical Tales, and Narratives
  • 68. The Stranger
  • 69. Cooked Wheat Won’t Sprout
  • 70. Sou Qin
  • 71. Yu Beiya Breaks the Zither
  • 72. Han Xin, the Prince of Three Realms
  • 73. Guon Houaiy
  • 74. The Story of Xie Rˆengouy
  • 75. Huon Qianba
  • 76. Xie Kour
  • 77. Zhon Yan and Bei Yuloun
  • 78. Xuelisountan, “the Bringer of Coal during a Blizzard”
  • Appendix 1: Romanization of Dungan
  • Appendix 2: A Note about Timekeeping in Old China
  • Appendix 3: Information about the Storytellers
  • Appendix 4: Information about the Editor and Co-compilers of DNSP
  • Glossary
  • Index
  • Series index

←viii | ix→


This volume comprises an English translation, with my own annotations, of selected portions of the following source text, which will hereafter be referred to as DNSP:

Riftin, Boris Lʹvovich, ed. and trans. Dunganskie narodnye skazki i predaniia [Dungan folktales and legends]. 1st ed. Compiled and translated by Makhmud Akhmedovich Khasanov and Ilʹias Ismailovich Iusupov. Moscow: Glavnaia redaktsiia vostochnoi literatury izdatel′stva “Nauka,” 1977.

The present volume contains 73 folk narratives of the Dungans, the Sinophone Muslims of Central Asia (Figure 2), as well as five stories of the Hui, those Chinese-speaking Muslims in the Chinese homeland (Figure 1) from whom the Central Asian Dungans are descended (see Appendix 3 for details). The inclusion of the latter category of tales in DNSP points to the traditional use of the ethnonym “Dungan” in Russia and the West to refer in a broad sense to the Chinese-speaking Muslims or Hui people, as opposed to its use in a narrow sense to refer specifically to the Sinophone Muslims of Central Asia—that is, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and eastern Uzbekistan.1 It is evident that the term “Dungan” is ←ix | x→used throughout DNSP and hence throughout the present translation both in the broad sense and in the narrow sense, depending upon context.

Published as part of the series Skazki i mify narodov vostoka (Tales and myths of Eastern peoples), DNSP was a milestone of scholarship in Dungan literature and culture when it first appeared in 1977 and has been unmatched since. Under the general editorship of Boris L. Riftin, the work was one of his first major publications in a long and prolific career as a Russian sinologist (see Appendix 4 for details).

I have rendered here in English translation the introduction and 78 folk stories with accompanying notes that appear in DNSP. Chapter 1, “The Fictional World of the Dungan Tale” (Khudozhestnennyi mir dunganskoi skazki), provides a detailed overview of the Dungan folk narrative tradition. Reflecting their organization in DNSP, the folk narratives in the present volume are organized into three categories, based on the Aarne–Thompson tale type index. Chapter 2 contains 40 selections categorized as wonder tales and animal tales. Chapter 3 comprises 27 selections categorized as novelistic tales, folk anecdotes, and adventure stories. Finally, Chapter 4 contains 11 selections categorized as legends, historical tales, and narratives. The references to notes numbered separately for individual selections have been rendered as they appear in the source text, although the footnotes of the present volume, which include source notes as well as my own, are numbered consecutively throughout each chapter.

As this English-language edition is aimed at a broad readership with interest in Dungan narrative folklore, I have not translated the extensive back matter appearing in DNSP. This material includes the following: “Spisok sokrashchenii” (List of abbreviations), p. 402; “Istochniki i analiz siuzhetov dunganskikh skazok” (Sources and Analysis of the Plots of the Dungan Tales), pp. 403–505; “Siuzhety skazok, ne voshedshikh v sbornik” (The Plots of Tales That Have Not Been Included in the Anthology), pp. 506–518; “Svedeniia o rasskazchikakh” (Information about the Storytellers), pp. 519–525; “Bibliografiia” (Bibliography), pp. 526–534; “Ukazatel′ skazochnykh personazhei, realii i motivov” (Index of the Tales’ Personages, Realia, and Motifs), pp. 535–568; and “Svodnyi ukazatel′ siuzhetov” (Summary Index of Plots), pp. 569. Relevant portions of the List of Abbreviations and Bibliography in DNSP have been incorporated into the end-of-chapter bibliographies in the current edition, while a summary of Information about the Storytellers has been included in the appendixes of the current volume.

First and foremost, I would like to acknowledge the late Boris L. Riftin (1932–2012). I first corresponded with Professor Riftin in the summer of 2005 to discuss the possibility of publishing my English translation of the opening ←x | xi→tale to DNSP, and that translation would appear in print later that same year.2 At Professor Riftin’s encouragement, I also translated and published online his analysis of the tale plot (siuzhet) as it appeared in DNSP.3 Supporting my interest in the Dungan folk stories in DNSP, Professor Riftin would later send me photocopies of the original Dungan language typescripts and manuscripts of several of the tales that had been recorded in the field in Soviet Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. In one of my last email exchanges with Professor Riftin, he greeted me with the New Year 2012 and proudly announced the much-anticipated publication of a Chinese edition of Dungan folktales under his editorship.4 Throughout the years that I corresponded with Professor Riftin before his death in October 2012, I found him to be not only an indefatigable scholar but also a wonderfully supportive mentor and generous colleague.

Although I never met or corresponded with Makhmud A. Khasanov (1932–1977) or Ilʹias I. Iusupov (1930–2005), I would also like to acknowledge them for their contributions to DNSP as co-compilers. More information about Khasanov and Iusupov can be found in Appendix 4.

I am grateful to the City University of New York for a fellowship award that enabled me to complete the bulk of the manuscript for the present volume. I wish to express my sincerest thanks to the staff at Peter Lang Publishing for their guidance and knowledge: acquisitions editors Philip Dunshea and Meagan K. Simpson, series editor Wolfgang Mieder, production manager Jacqueline Pavlovic, and all unnamed individuals at Peter Lang Publishing who helped bring this book to completion. In addition, I extend my infinite gratitude to the many others who have offered helpful advice, suggestions, and support with respect to this project, including Ivo Spira, Victor H. Mair, Soledad Jiménez-Tovar, Olli Salmi, Ali A. Djon, Rostislav V. Berezkin, Mukhamed R. Madivan, Rakhima M. Ismaeva, Aglaia B. Starostina, Andrew B. Wachtel, and Christoph Harbsmeier.←xi | xii→

Finally, I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to Gera V. Iunisova, Riftin’s widow, and to Svetlana M. Anikeeva of Nauka–Vostochnaia Literatura for their generous permission to publish this English-language edition.

Kenneth J. Yin

1Juha A. Janhunen, “The First Linguistic Dictionary of Dungan,” review of Dungan–English Dictionary, by Olli Salmi, International Journal of Eurasian Linguistics 1 (2019): 357–360.

2See Kenneth J. Yin, trans., “Jondaje the Pheasant Hunter,” Esopus, no. 5 (Fall 2005): 80–93.

3See “Spisok trudov Riftina,” 633.

4See Boris L. Riftin [Li Fuqing, pseud.], ed., Donggan minjian gushi chuanshuo ji [Collection of Dungan folktales and legends] (Shanghai: Shanghai wenyi chubanshe (Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing House), 2011). Incidentally, Riftin writes (in Chinese) about our collaboration on p. 41 of the separately paginated introduction.

←xiv | xv→

Note on Transliteration and Translation

This book follows the system of Eesti Keele Instituudi kohanimeandmebass [Place Names Database of the Institute of the Estonian Language] developed in 1994 for the romanization of Dungan (see Appendix 1). The system is based on Hanyu Pinyin and hereafter abbreviated KNAB.

It should be noted that the Dungan names and terms in the Russian-language source text appear in re-cyrillicized forms using a Cyrillization system that does not utilize the five non-Russian symbols in the Dungan Cyrillic alphabet and more closely reflects principles of Russian pronunciation for the presumed purpose of increasing readability for a Russian-speaking audience. As such, I variously consulted the original Dungan language manuscripts of the stories when available or back-transliterated the names and terms into the Dungan Cyrillic before romanizing these elements using the KNAB system. In transliterating Dungan names, I have written the surname and given name as separate words when such could be reasonably discerned, thus providing greater clarity for English-speaking readers in following Hanyu Pinyin convention for the spelling of romanized names. This convention has largely been followed in the Russian Cyrillic transliteration of the Dungan names that appears in DNSP as well. For ←xv | xvi→example, the name of the protagonist in the opening tale is spelled “Zhon Daje” rather than “Zhondaje” since Zhon (Chi. 張 Zhang) can be identified as the surname.

Some explanation should be offered as to the Dungan dialect situation as it concerns the romanization of Dungan names and terms in this book. The KNAB system and available Dungan dictionaries consulted are uniformly based on the Gansu dialect of Dungan, which is spoken primarily in Kyrgyzstan and considered Standard Dungan. It should be noted, however, that several stories were recorded in the Shaanxi dialect spoken primarily in Kazakhstan (as indicated in the information about the narrators provided in Appendix 3), but the lack of reference materials for Shaanxi Dungan, coupled with the fact that several original Dungan manuscripts of the stories are no longer extant, precluded the possibility of a differential romanization reflecting the Shaanxi dialect as opposed to Standard Dungan, which is based on the Gansu dialect and is the basis for the KNAB system of romanization.

The book follows the Hanyu Pinyin system to romanize Chinese names and terms, which have been back-transliterated from their cyrillizations based on the Russian Palladius system for cyrillization of Chinese. I follow the Library of Congress system without the use of diacritics to transliterate Russian names and terms. The Library of Congress system is also used to romanize Arabic names and terms, except for Arabic words with commonly accepted English spellings, such as “salaam.” Korean name and terms are romanized based on the Revised Romanization of Korean released in 2000. Names and terms from other non-Western languages (e.g., the Iranian languages, Japanese, Mongolian, Monguor, Old Turkic, Persian, Sanskrit, and Uzbek) are transliterated in accordance with the prevalent practice in books.

To distinguish my translator’s notes from those of the original authors, I have interspersed and consecutively numbered my added notes with the original notes but have distinguished my notes from them by appending “—Trans.” at the end of the note or by enclosing the entire note, except the number, in square brackets. A translator’s comment added within an original note also appears between square brackets. A reference given in an original note to a numbered note to another selection thus refers to the order of the numbered note considered among only the original notes to the given selection.

All translations are my own unless otherwise indicated.

Abbreviations used for languages are as follows:

Ara. Arabic

Chi. Chinese←xvi | xvii→

Dng. Dungan

Eng. English

Per. Persian

Rus. Russian←xvii | xviii→

←xviii | 1→


The Fictional World of the Dungan Tale

←1 | 2→Collected in this volume is the narrative folklore of the Dungans. Researchers have yet to conclusively determine who they are as a people and where their history traces to. The origin of the very word “Dungan” is even unclear. Perhaps it is a distortion of the Turkic turgan—“those left behind,” “those waiting,” “those waiting to be counted.” Indeed, one old legend is well-known.

Genghis Khan (or Timur in another version) once led his troops through the pass of San-Tash (“abundance of stones”) and commanded each soldier to lay a stone down in a pile. Going through the pass on the way back, Genghis Khan told each soldier to take one stone out of this pile and put it in another pile that was much smaller than the first. Then one of the emirs—a commander of a troop of ten thousand men—cried out mournfully while pointing out the remnants of the first pile: “These are the ones that shall forever remain on the battlefields!” Genghis Khan looked menacingly at him and replied, nodding at the second pile: “Foremost are those that remain here.” Since then, it is claimed, the remaining soldiers—“turgan”—settled along the river valleys of Dzungaria and became the forefathers of the Dungans [20, 11–12].1 In another version, among Genghis Khan’s troops there were many Muslims from East Turkestan. Leaving the conquered China, he left his son there as the ruler and, with him, many Muslims, who received the nickname “turgans”—“those left behind” [13, 5].

Meanwhile, the Dungans call themselves “luohouaiyhouaiy”—“venerable Muslims.” And in this case the old storytellers tell a beautiful legend.

On the eighteenth day of the third moon in the second year of rule entitled Zhenguan (i.e., the year 628 according to the European calendar), the Chinese emperor Taizong saw a monster chasing him in a dream.2 It had already caught up with the emperor when suddenly a man in a turban and green robe appeared with a rosary in his hands. Approaching Taizong, he began reading a prayer. The monster soon began to fade, turning into a puddle of blood and disappearing altogether. Upon awakening at dawn, the emperor summoned the dignitaries ←2 | 3→and recounted this dream for them. Xü Mogoun (Xu Maogong in Chinese),3 the wise counselor to the emperor, divined by using eight trigrams and interpreted the sovereign’s dream: “The son of heaven was chased in the dream by his worst enemy, but he was saved by a turban-wearing friend, the western prophet Mahouaiyhouaiy—that is, Muhammad.”

Having consulted with the dignitaries, the emperor sent ambassadors to Muhammad with a letter that glorified in verse the faith of Muhammad. The ambassadors delivered the message and invited the prophet to China. He declined, but in order to affirm that the ambassadors had indeed visited him, made ablution and wiped his face. His image became imprinted on a towel, but later the image disappeared from the cloth so as not to give rise to the deification of the prophet. Instead of himself, Muhammad sent to China three thousand Arabs with the learned sages Gais, Wais, and Wangas4—his uncle on the maternal side—in charge. Rallying them, he said that on the way from Arabia to China they would encounter many hardships, but no matter what obstacles there might be, they must not perform miracles, or else death would await them.

The journey proved to be difficult indeed. When the Arabs reached Xingxingxia (in modern Xinjiang(?)5), there was no fuel anywhere. Everyone was tired and hungry and could not go any farther. At that time Gais put his foot under a pot in place of a log, and a fire was ignited, but Gais died then and there. Reaching the district of Huihuipu—already beyond the Great Wall of China, the Arabs found themselves without a drop of water—there was a terrible drought in China. The newcomers looked a long time for water and dug the ground, but ←3 | 4→to no avail. At that time Wais decided to sacrifice himself. He dug a small pit, and water appeared in it; the thirsty people rushed to drink, while Wais, having performed a miracle, died then and there. Only Wangas and the others managed to reach the Tang capital—the city of Chang’an in Shaanxi Province.

The Chinese emperor invited Wangas to the palace and took him to special quarters. One day while he was praying, the sovereign himself entered his room with his dignitaries, but Wangas proceeded with his prayer. When he finished, the emperor asked why Wangas did not interrupt the prayer when the emperor presented himself to him. “God is above all,” replied Wangas, “he is the creator of the world, and one must not talk to people without having finished the prayer.” At that time Taizong summoned a Buddhist monk and ordered him at once to perform prayer according to Buddhist and Muslim canon. Comparing them, the sovereign allegedly praised Wangas, who then explained the religious rites of Islam. Taizong was particularly interested in naizir—the ritual of ancestor worship. The emperor invited the Arabs to stay in China and sent three thousand Chinese to Arabia in exchange.

Before long, northern nomads attacked China. The emperor turned to Wangas for help, and the latter went to war with his three thousand Arabs. A lama who was in the nomad army sent a hailstorm upon the Arabs, but Wangas summoned a hurricane and he directed the hailstorm back onto the nomad troops. The Tang emperor thanked Wangas for the help and granted the Arabs more rights: under a new law, seven Chinese should be put to death for the killing of an Arab.

Yet it was difficult for the Arabs to live in China without wives, and they asked the emperor for permission to return to their native lands. Taizong, however, retained the Arabs but allowed them to marry Chinese women. He commanded that all the maidens and young widows appear at a fete in the imperial garden. When they arrived, the Arabs were invited to the garden to choose their brides. The Arabs chose wives for themselves, and some took two or three wives and began living with them. The parents of the maidens and women complained to the emperor about the Arabs, who had taken their daughters away, but he explained that the Chinese women had become the wives of the Arabs, and told the families to go see how they lived. The Chinese got food and gifts and went to visit their daughters. It turned out that they were living well, but the husbands did not understand their language. After some time, the Chinese women who had married the Arabs had children that learned to speak Chinese from their ←4 | 5→mothers, and by that time the Arabs themselves had mastered the Chinese language. So, it is said, a unique people—the Dungans6—emerged.

Thus, according to the legend the Dungans are descendants of Arab men and Chinese women—that is, affinity with the Chinese in language and culture, on the one hand, and religious affinity with the Muslim world, on the other hand, are underscored. The Dungans profess Sunni Islam of the Hanafi school [26, 244]. However, this legend is not supported by the historical evidence.

We turn now to scholarly research. There are many intriguing hypotheses, none of which can yet be considered definitively proven. Some scholars, such as the ethnographer G. G. Stratanovich, believe that the ancestors of the Dungans were part of the sedentary population of the once powerful Khitan Empire, which existed from the ninth to the twelfth century—specifically, the Manchurian ethnic groups. Others, such as the Dungan historian M. Sushanlo, put forward the hypothesis that the Tanguts played an important role in the formation of the Dungans. At present our only reliable information on the origin of the Dungans is the findings of anthropologists that have conducted detailed studies of the Dungans. In the words of Professor N. N. Cheboksarov, “for the Hui7 (with a general preponderance of the northern Chinese type) typical is the complex interweaving of Mongoloid, primarily of the Pacific Ocean, elements with Caucasoid admixtures belonging mainly to the Indo-Pamir group. This clearly reflects the complex ethnic history of the Hui, in which in addition to the Chinese (Han) groups the Iranian, the Turkic, and possibly Manchurian and Mongolian ones took part, as well as Arab and Malay ethnic components in the south” [205, 87]. It is plain to see that the findings of the anthropologists speak to the extreme complexity of the ethnic history of the Dungans, who lived scattered in different places in China, which allows ethnographers to speak of three groups of Hui: the most numerous northwestern, or simply northern, group, the members of which inhabit the northwestern provinces of China—Xinjiang, Qinghai, Gansu, Shaanxi, and areas of Beijing, Tianjin, and so on; the southeastern group, the members of which live in Shanghai, Guangdong, and other cities ←5 | 6→to the southeast of China; and the third group—the southwestern, the members of which live in the provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan in part, where they call themselves “pangtai” [see 25, 421–422]. In the ethnogenesis of this third group, a large part was played by the northern Hui who came to the southwestern regions of China in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries together with the Mongol troops.


XVIII, 426
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2021 (August)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2021. XVIII, 426 pp., 4 b/w ill., 4 color ill.

Biographical notes

Kenneth J. Yin (Author)

Kenneth J. Yin teaches at the City University of New York. His research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among others. He was educated at Cornell and Georgetown universities.


Title: Dungan Folktales and Legends
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