Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Pictures/Portraits of 56 Ethnic Minorities In China

Remember the Beijing Olympics opening ceremonies? And the 56 children wearing colorful costumes, representing China's 56 ethnic groups living in harmony together? And later finding out that all the kids were of the Han super-majority, pretending to be members of the minorities?

Well, there really are 56 ethnic groups. All 56 groups are beautifully captured in this comprehensive gallery. I don't pretend to know even a fraction of them. But here are the few I've heard of:
The Han comprise the vast majority of China's population. They are the Chinese people you think of when you think "Chinese people".

The Hui look "Chinese" but are Muslims. They have a trace of Arab blood from the good old days when Arabs lived in China as traders.

The Central Asian -stans (Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, etc.) are ethnic and geographic fictions created by the Soviet Union. So I don't really know what makes one a Kazakh in China. They may be those who fled Kazakhstan during one of Stalin's purges.



The Manchus conquered the Han Chinese and started the Qing dynasty before China became a republic in 1911. That movie, The Last Emperor, was about a Manchu honcho.

Mongols live in Inner Mongolia in China, whereas the country of Mongolia is considered Outer Mongolia. Shouldn't it be the other way around?

Russians fled to China during the Bolshevik Revolution. A lot of Russian Jews also fled to China during World War II.

Don't the Taiwanese belong to the nation of Taiwan?


Again, I thought the Muslim Tatars of Russia/U.S.S.R. was an ethnic fiction.

Docile and peace-loving Tibetans sit for a photo.

Docile, peace-loving, and always smiling Uyghurs sit for a photo.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why did you think most of the Soviet ethnic groups were "fictional"? Groups like the Tatars, Kazakhs, and Uzbeks have long histories that predate the USSR and even the Russian Empire, and it is ridiculously easy to find information about them.

Also, in regard the Taiwanese comment, you're aware that the People's Republic of China doesn't recognize Taiwan's independence, right? The "ethnic minorities" displayed there represent Taiwan's aboriginal tribes, who are distantly related to Indonesians, Malays, Filipinos, Hawaiians, and Maori among others in the same language family. While most of them live in Taiwan quite a few of them migrated to the mainland in the past hundred years.