Tujia people

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Tujia
Tujia women.jpg
Tujia women wearing traditional costumes
Total population
approx. 8 million
Regions with significant populations
Place - Tujia.gif
 China
(Hunan · Hebei · Guizhou · Chongqing)
Languages
Mandarin Chinese
Tujia language (traditional)
Religion
Predominantly Nuoism

The Tujia (Tujia: Bizika; Chinese: 土家族; pinyin: Tǔjiāzú), with a total population of over 8 million, is the 6th largest ethnic minority in People's Republic of China. They live in Wuling Mountains, straddling the common borders of Hunan, Hubei and Guizhou Provinces, and Chongqing Municipality.

The endonym Bizika means "native dwellers". In Chinese, Tujia means also "local", as distinguished from the Hakka (Chinese: 客家, Kèjiā) whose name implies wandering.1

Origins

Although there are different accounts of their origins, the Tujia may trace their history back over twelve centuries, and possibly beyond, to the ancient Ba people who occupied the area around modern-day Chongqing some 2,500 years ago. The Ba Kingdom reached the zenith of its power between 600 BC and 400 BC but was destroyed by the Qin in 316 BC. After being referred to by a long succession of different names in ancient documents, they appear in historical records as the Tujia from about 14th century onwards. Recent DNA research indicates that the Tujia mixed with a European group, similar to modern Greeks, perhaps traders from the Silk Road. 2

Ming and Qing Dynasties

The Tujia tusi chieftains reached the zenith of their power under the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), when they were accorded comparatively high status by the imperial court. They achieved this through their reputation as providers of fierce, highly-disciplined fighting men, who were employed by the emperor to suppress revolts by other minorities. On numerous occasions, they also helped defend China against outside invaders, such as the wokou ("Japanese" pirates) who ravaged the coast during the 16th century.

The Manchus conquered China in 1644 and established the Qing Dynasty. Ever suspicious of local rulers, the Qing emperors always tried to replace Chinese officials with Manchu officials wherever they could. In the early 18th century, the Qing court finally felt secure enough to establish direct control over minority areas as well. This process, known as gaituguiliu (literally 'replace the local [ruler], return to mainstream [central rule]'), was carried out throughout south-west China gradually and, in general, peacefully. The court adopted a carrot-and-stick approach of lavish pensions for compliant chieftains, coupled with a huge show of military force on the borders of their territories.

Most of the Tujia areas returned to central control during the period 1728-1735. Whilst the Tujia peasantry probably preferred the measured rule of Qing officials to the arbitrary despotism of the Tujia chieftains whom they had replaced, many resented the attempts of the Qing court to impose national culture and customs on them. With the weakening of central Qing rule, numerous large-scale uprisings occurred. The Taiping Rebellion affected the area badly, and western imperialist aggression caused great economic hardship as cheap foreign goods flooded the region, with local products being bought up at rock-bottom prices.

Recent history

Tujia village in current-day Yichang

Following the collapse of the Qing Dynasty, the Tujia found themselves caught between various competing warlords. More and more land was given over to the cultivation of high-earning opium at the insistence of wealthy landlords, and banditry was rife. After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Tujia areas came under Communist control, and banditry was rapidly eradicated. The Great Leap Forward led to mass famine in Tujia communities.

The Tujia were officially recognised as one of the 55 ethnic minorities in January 1957, and a number of autonomous prefectures and counties were subsequently established.

State Councillor Dai Bingguo, one of China's top officials on foreign policy, is the most prominent Tujia in the Chinese government.

Culture

Today, traditional Tujia customs can only be found in the most remote areas.

The Tujia are renowned for their singing and song composing abilities and for their tradition of the Baishou Dance (摆手舞), a 500 year old collective dance which uses 70 ritual gestures to represent war, farming, hunting, courtship and other aspects of traditional life. They are also famous for their richly-patterned brocade, known as xilankapu, a product that in earlier days regularly figured in their tribute payments to the Chinese court.

Regarding religion, most of the Tujia worship a white tiger totem, although some Tujia in western Hunan worship a turtle totem.

Language

Tujia is a Tibeto-Burman language and is usually considered an isolate within this group, although it has grammatical and phonological similarities with Yi (though its vocabulary is very different).3

Today there are at most 70,000 speakers of the Tujia language, most of whom live in the northern parts Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture in north-western Hunan Province and in Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture in south Hubei Province.

The vast majority of the Tujia use a dialect of Chinese; a few speak a Miao language. Few monolingual Tujia speakers remain; nearly all are bilingual in some dialect of Chinese. Children now learn Chinese from childhood and many young Tujia prefer to use Chinese when communicating among themselves. Among fluent Tujia speakers, Chinese borrowings, and even sentence structures, are common.

Distribution

By province

Furong, an ancient town located in Yongshun County of Xiangxi, Hunan

The 2000 Chinese census recorded 8,028,133 Tujia in China.

Provincial Distribution of the Tujia
Province Tujia Population % of Total
Hunan 2.639.534 32.88%
Hubei 2.177.409 27.12%
Guizhou 1.430.286 17.82%
Chongqing 1.424.352 17.74%
Guangdong 135.431 1.69%
Zhejiang 55.310 0.69%
Sichuan 41.246 0.51%
Fujian 29.046 0.36%
Other 95.519 1.19%

In Chongqing, Tujia make up 4.67% of the total population; in Hunan, 4.17%; in Guizhou, 4.06%; in Hubei, 3.66%; and in Guangdong, 0.16%.

By county

County-level distribution of the Tujia

(Only includes counties or county-equivalents containing >0.5% of China's Tujia population.)

Province Prefecture County Tujia Population % of China's Tujia Population
Chongqing Same Youyang 462,444 5.76%
Hunan Zhangjiajie Cili 399,906 4.98%
Hubei Enshi Lichuan 388,035 4.83%
Hunan Changde Shimen 387,480 4.83%
Guizhou Tongren Yanhe Tujia Autonomous County 383,499 4.78%
Chongqing same Shizhu 348,790 4.34%
Hunan Xiangxi Yongshun 342,570 4.27%
Hunan Zhangjiajie Yongding 319,330 3.98%
Guizhou Tongren Dejiang 300,432 3.74%
Hubei Enshi Xianfeng 276,394 3.44%
Hubei Enshi Enshi 270,753 3.37%
Chongqing same Qianjiang 261,327 3.26%
Hunan Zhangjiajie Sangzhi 260,092 3.24%
Hunan Xiangxi Longshan 251,007 3.13%
Guizhou Tongren Yinjiang 233,802 2.91%
Hubei Enshi Badong 212,424 2.65%
Hubei Yichang Changyang 211,129 2.63%
Chongqing same Xiushan 197,570 2.46%
Hubei Yichang Wufeng 174,546 2.17%
Hubei Enshi Jianshi 173,984 2.17%
Guizhou Tongren Sinan 160,089 1.99%
Hunan Xiangxi Baojing 148,291 1.85%
Hubei Enshi Hefeng 142,805 1.78%
Hubei Enshi Xuan'en 140,837 1.75%
Hunan Xiangxi Jishou 103,242 1.29%
Hunan Huaihua Yuanling 102,636 1.28%
Hubei Enshi Laifeng 93,471 1.16%
Guizhou Tongren Jiangkou 77,791 0.97%
Chongqing same Pengshui 74,591 0.93%
Guizhou Tongren Tongren 70,286 0.88%
Hunan Xiangxi Fenghuang 64,727 0.81%
Hunan Xiangxi Guzhang 47,162 0.59%
Guizhou Zunyi Wuchuan 46,253 0.58%
Hunan Huaihua Xupu 45,900 0.57%
Hunan Zhangjiajie Wulingyuan 41,910 0.52%
Hunan Xiangxi Luxi 40,643 0.51%
Other 771,985 9.62%

Autonomous Areas Designated for Tujia

Province-level Division Name
Hunan Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture
Hubei Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture
Changyang Tujia Autonomous County
Wufeng Tujia Autonomous County
Chongqing Shizhu Tujia Autonomous County
Pengshui Miao and Tujia Autonomous County
Xiushan Tujia and Miao Autonomous County
Youyang Tujia and Miao Autonomous County
Qianjiang District (former Qianjiang Tujia and Miao Autonomous County)
Guizhou Yanhe Tujia Autonomous County
Yinjiang Tujia and Miao Autonomous County

See also

External links

Bibliography

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References