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【Learn Chinese】The Two Smallest Chinese Ethnic Minorities
Last week we had a look at the three biggest ethnic minority groups in China. What about the two smallest?
Chinese Tatars (塔塔尔族 tǎtǎ’ěr zú) are the smallest of the 56 Chinese ethnic groups with a population of only around 3,556 (2020). Chinese Tatars live mainly in the cities of Yining, Tacheng and Ürümqi in Xinjiang.
The ancestors of Chinese Tatars are Volga Tatar tradesmen who mostly settled in Xinjiang and more recently Crimean Tatars who were sent into exile by Joseph Stalin in 1944.
Chinese Tatars speak an archaic variant of the Tatar language and use the Arabic variant of the Tatar alphabet. Chinese Tartars are mostly Sunni Muslims and Islam is the major component of Tatar culture.
Just ahead of the Tatars with a population in 2020 of 3,682 are the Lhoba (珞巴族 luòbā zú).
Lhoba refers to a diverse mix of Sino-Tibetan-speaking tribespeople who live in a region in southeastern Tibet called Pemako. Most people who have been designated as Lhoba don’t actually refer to themselves as this as they speak many different languages and don’t view themselves as a single ethnic group.
The Lhoba are made up of two main tribal groups: the Mishmi people (义都 yìdū), who speak the Idu Mishmi language, and the speakers of the Bokar dialect of Abo Tani.
The customs, dress and habits of the Lhoba people can vary widely depending on different clan members. However, due to their close proximity to the Tibetan people there is some Tibetan influence in their culture. For example, some tribes dress resembles that of the Tibetan people.