|Hui People in Traditional Costume|
The Hui ethnic group, with a total population of about 643,238 is one of China's largest minority groups. This group is mainly distributed in Ningxia, Gansu, Henan, Hebei, Qinghai, Shandong, Yunnan, Xinjiang, Liaoning and Anhui provinces. The largest residential area is the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. The 'Hui ethnic group' is the shortened form of 'Huihui ethnic group'. In the early years of the 13th century countless Islamite from Middle Asia, Persia and Arabia migrated voluntarily or compulsorily into China. This occurred when Mongolian troops made western expeditions. As artisans, tradesmen, scholars, officials and religious leaders, they spread to many parts of the country and settled down mainly to livestock breeding. These people, who are also called Huis or Huihuis because of their religious beliefs, were identical with Huihe people in Anxi in present Xinjiang and are part of the ancestors of today's Huis.
Chinese as their common language. During their long history, the Hui people, aided by the Han people, accumulated great wealth. This wealth changed Ningxia into a region of abundance. The Hui people specialize in trade. Traditional items of trade are jewelry, jade and bullion.
The Huis and the Hans wear very similar clothing. The major difference is their distinctive headgear. Men traditionally wear a white skullcap and the women often wear a veil, keeping their faces covered.
The religion of the Huis is Islam. Moslems pray and hold religion activities in a mosque. The mosque is also a symbol of Hui architecture. Islam has had a great impact on the political and economic systems of the Hui society. In daily life, an infant will to be given a Hui name by an imam soon after birth; an imam must witness wedding ceremonies; and, after death, the deceased must be cleaned with water, wrapped in a white cloth and buried promptly without a coffin in the presence of an imam who presides over the ceremony.
Rice and wheat are their staples, along with beef, mutton, chicken, fish and various vegetables. Other types of meat such as horse, donkey, mule, dog and other ferocious birds and animals, as well as animals, which have died, are forbidden. Pork is especially forbidden. Tea is their favorite drink. The Hui people in the northwestern of China are fond of Gai Wan Cha (tea in a bowl-shape cup), which consists of tea, crystal sugar, longan, medlar and date.
The main festivals of the Hui nationality are the Kaizhai Festival, Corban Festival and Almsgiving Festival.