The Dungan of Kyrgyzstan
The Dungan originated in the Kansu and Shensi provinces of northwestern China. Today, there are people from Kansu living in the mountains and valleys of Kyrgyzstan, and people from Shensi living in Kazakhstan. The Dungan arrived in Central Asia as poor peasants after their loss to the Chinese Emperor in the Dungan Revolt (1862-1877).
Culturally, the Dungan are Chinese; but their language is greatly influenced by Arabic, Persian, and Turkish. As a rule, many Dungan speak the Kyrgyz language in addition to their own, and the young people also speak Russian. Their language, Dungani, is Mandarin Chinese but uses the Cyrillic script and has only three tones instead of four.
The Dungan are a proud, hospitable, nationalistic, and conservative people. Although they have completely cut their ties to China, they refer to themselves as Hui-Zu, or "Chinese Muslims." Russians, however, use the term "Dungane" for them.
What are their lives like?
The Dungan are primarily farmers, growing rice and vegetables such as sugar beets. Many also raise dairy cattle. In addition, some are involved in growing opium. Farmers live on kolkhoz, or "collective (community) farms," with Dungan chairmen, doctors, and teachers. Very few live in the cities, but those few have found jobs as writers, linguists, historians, poets, and newspaper editors.
The Dungan are wealthy, having plenty of meat and vegetables and taking great pride in their gardens. They enjoy meals of fried vegetables, lamb, chicken, and oriental noodles, all lavishly seasoned with garlic and vinegar. Most still eat with chopsticks.
Dungan settlements are concentrated in the river valleys. Villages may contain two or more collective farms and have populations ranging from 6,000 to 11,000. Each village has a council that manages the farm. Farms, which are basically small cities, have electricity, running water, and gas for cooking. The Dungan who do not live on the collective farms live as extended family households in comfortable homes.
In each collective farm village, there are one or two schools, and all subjects are taught in Russian. Children may also receive instruction in Dungan for two hours a week. Each farm has day nurseries, general stores, a hospital, and a post office. Some also have tobacco factories, evening schools, dairies, bath houses, and machine repair shops.
The Dungan tend to be endogamous, meaning they marry within a certain specified group. The Dungan in Kyrgyzstan are less conservative than are those in Kazakhstan, permitting their girls to marry Dungan from any other place. The Dungan believe in having as many children as possible, with the average being eight. Practices such as polygamy (having multiple wives) and the payment of a bride-price were abolished in 1921.
The Dungan are famous for their hospitality and hold many ceremonies and banquets to preserve their former culture. They have elaborate and colorful observances of birthdays, weddings, and funerals. In addition, schools have museums to preserve other parts of their culture, such as embroidery, traditional clothing, silver jewelry, paper cuts of animals and flowers, and tools of olden days. However, many of the Dungan in Kyrgyzstan now wear Western style clothes.
What are their beliefs?
The Dungan in Kyrgyzstan are less committed to Islam than are those in Kazakhstan. They are 100% Hanafite Muslim. The older people strictly observe Islamic law, but the younger are indifferent to Islam, generally not turning to religion until the age of about 40. There are still village mosques run by elders. These clergymen receive an income from property taxes and the financial support of the faithful.
What are their needs?
There are no known Christians among the Dungan of Kyrgyzstan and no missions agencies currently targeting them. The Bible is available in their language, but people are needed to distribute the Word of God, as well as to begin house churches among the Dungan.
- Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to Kyrgyzstan and share Christ with the Dungan.
- Pray that the Holy Spirit will place a hunger for the Truth in the hearts of the Dungan.
- Ask God to open the spiritual ears of the Dungan as they listen to Christian radio broadcasts in their language.
- Pray that many Bibles will be distributed and many house churches planted among the Dungan.
- Ask God to save key leaders among the Dungan who will boldly declare the Gospel.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that have kept the Dungan bound for many generations.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the spiritual soil of Kyrgyzstan through worship and intercession.
- Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Dungan by the year 2000.
See also the following related group:
The Dungan of Kazakhstan.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Dungan
- Country: Kyrgyzstan
- Their language: Dungani
- Largest religion:
- Christians: 0%
- Church members: 0
- Scriptures in their own language: Bible
- Jesus Film in their own language: Available
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
- Mission agencies working among this people: 0
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 16,100 (40%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 25,100 (60%)
- Country: Kyrgyzstan
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 17
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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