The Yellow Uighur of China
The Yellow Uighurs, more commonly known as the Yugurs, are largely Tibetan Buddhists. They originated from an ethnic group known as the Huiqu, who lived during the Tang dynasty (618-907). The Huiqu were nomads who gradually settled west of the Huanghe ("Yellow") River of north central China. There, they intermarried with people of other nationalities, and their decendants became known as the Yugurs. Today, most of them still live in the Sunan autonomous region and the Gansu province, which are both located in north central China.
The Yugurs speak several different languages within their own people group. Some speak a language related to the Turkic branch; others speak a language related to the Mongolian branch; and a third group speaks Chinese. As a result, about 30% of all Yugurs fall into each group. However, most of them are able to use Chinese as a common language.
What are their lives like?
During the time of their travels, all of the Yugurs were still involved in herding and hunting. Later, those who settled in the Gansu province began farming, giving up herding and hunting entirely. However, those who settled in the Sunan area retained their former way of life. The Yugurs who now live in the higher elevations raise Tibetan oxen, sheep, goats, and horses; while those at lower elevations raise Chinese oxen, camels, and a few sheep and goats.
The Yugurs have continued to live in tents. The tents are rectangular and have walls about one meter (three feet) high. The center is suppored by two meter (seven foot) high poles. The outside is covered in felt made from black yak hair.
Parents arrange marriages for their children when they turn 12 or 13 years old. By the time they are between the ages of 15 and 17, final marriage preparations are initiated. At the wedding feast, the couple eats a sheep's thigh, the bone of which is kept for several years. The new bride then moves in with her husband's family.
Yugur men typically wear long, high collar robes with buttons on the left, and red and blue waist bands. During the summer or autumn they wear round, flat-top white felt hats trimmed in silk. In the winter they wear fox fur hats and high leather boots. The women also wear long, high collar gowns that are either green or blue. The collars, cuffs, and front edges of the gowns are embroidered.
When a baby has its first birthday, an eleborate feast is held. Numerous guests are in attendance and each of them takes turns clipping the child's hair.
What are their beliefs?
The Yugurs were originally shamanists. Shamanism is the belief in an unseen world of many gods, demons, and ancestral spirits. Shamans (priests or priestesses) are depended on to cure the sick by magic, communicate with the gods, and control events.
Later, many Yugurs converted to Lamanistic Buddhism. Buddhists teach that right thinking, ritual sacrifices, and self-denial will enable the soul to reach nirvana (a state of eternal bliss) at death. They live in fear of their gods and constantly strive to appease them with religious chants, rituals, and sacrifices. They also believe that existence is a continuing cycle of death and rebirth (reincarnation).
Many Yugurs still practice ancestor worship. Ancestral spirits are thought to be very powerful, possessing the ability to help or to harm the living. The spirits are viewed with awe, fear, and respect. Worshippers offer them food, drink, incense, and prayers in hopes of receiving their blessings.
Today, more than half of the Yugurs are Buddhists, while the others still practice some form of shamanism.
What are their needs?
The quality of health care, housing, utilities, and education among the Yugurs is poor. Superstition abounds, and there is virtually no Christian witness among them. There are currently no scriptures, Christian films, or radio broadcasts in their native language, Sarig.
- Take authority over the spirits that have kept the Yugurs bound for many generations.
- Ask the Lord to thrust forth laborers into the ripe harvest fields of China.
- Pray that the Yugurs will grow weary of serving many gods and will begin seeking after the one true God.
- Ask God to raise up loving Chinese Christians who will share Christ with the Yellow Uighurs.
- Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into the Sarig language.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Yugurs toward Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
- Pray that God will open the hearts of China's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
- Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among the Yellow Uighurs by the year 2000.
See also the following related group:
the Uighur of China.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Yellow Uighur
- Country: China
- Their language: Sarig (Sarygh Ugur)
- Largest religion:
- Christian: <1%
- Church members: 1
- Scriptures in their own language: None
- Jesus Film in their own language: None
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
- Mission agencies working among this people: 0
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 900 (7%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 12,100 (93%)
- Country: China
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 42
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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