People & Culture
Introduction | Tribes |
Art & Craft | Music & Dance | Traditional Weddings | Festivals
Population and Distribution
The Tu ethnic group, with a population of 241,198(in 2000), is concentrated in the Minhe and Datong counties and the Huzhu Autonomous County in the eastern part of Qinghai Province. Others live sparsely in Ledu and Menyuan in Qinghai Province and in the Tianzhu Tibetan Autonomous County in Gansu Province.
The Tus call themselves "Mongguer", "Chahan Mongguer", and other names. There are different versions regarding the origin of the Tus, but most people believe that the Tus evolved from the Tuguhun people in ancient times. During their long history, they formed their own unique group by absorbing members of the Han, Tibetan, Mongolian, and other neighboring tribes.
The Tu people have their own spoken language. Their language, which is comprised of three dialects, belongs to the Mongolian branch of the Altaic language family. The Tu people have no written alphabet. Chinese and Tibetan alphabets are in common use, although a new written system based on the Chinese Phonetic Alphabet was created for them in 1979.
As a result of generations of close contact with the Tibetans and Mongolians, most Tus practice Tibetan Buddhism (Lamaism). Under the influence of the Han people, they also worship their ancestors and believe in the God of Wealth, the kitchen god, the door-god and others. The Family God is also revered in all households as the family protector.
In ancient times, the Tu people engaged in sheep ranching and other animal husbandry. In the late Yuan Dynasty and early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), farming developed very quickly and the Tu people transitioned to farming with animal husbandry as a secondary form of livelihood. Major crops include wheat, highland barley, and potatoes.
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