The Yugur ethnic ethnic group has a population of 13,719 (in 2000), with 90% of them living in the South Yugur Autonomous County, and the rest in the Huangnibao area of Jiuquan in Gansu Province. (In Chinese, Yugur means wealth and stability).
The Yugur originated from the Huihe people who were nomads around the Erhui River during the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907). In the middle of 9th century, beset by snowstorms, feuds within the ruling group, and attacks from the Turkic Kirgiz, a group of Huihe migrated to the areas around Dunhuang, Zhangye and Wuwei in the Hexi Corridor - the most fertile area in central-western Gansu province. With the passage of time, they gradually developed into a new ethnic group, the Yugur.
For historical reasons, three different languages are spoken by the Yugur people: a Turkic branch of the Altaic language family (Raohul), which is used by those in the western part of the autonomous county; a Mongolian branch of the same language family (Engle), used by those in the eastern part of the county; and, the Chinese language, used by those in Huangnibao. They do not have their own characters, and instead, use Chinese characters.
The Yugur people believe in the Yellow Lamaism, their customs and habits similar to the Tibetans'.
Animal husbandry is the major industry of the Yugur people. Their staple diet is primarily wheat and rice though they also eat beef, mutton, pork, chicken, as well as camel-meat. Due to natural climatic conditions, fresh vegetables are rare, and the usual vegetables in their diet are potherbs and mushrooms. Consumption of 'milk tea's plays an important part in the Yugur people' daily life.
Yugur people are skilled at the plastic arts, weaving beautiful patterns on bags, carpets and harnesses. Vivid patterns of flowers, grass, insects, birds and domestic animals in harmonious colors are woven into women's collars, sleeves and cloth boots. Geometrical patterns made of coral beads, seashells, green and blue stone chips, and silk threads in bright colors, are used as hair decorations.
The Yugur costume has a unique style. The men usually wear a high-collared long gown buttoned on the left, a red-blue waistband and high boots. In summer and autumn, they also wear a white terai, or hat with a cylinder like flattop, and its edge bound with brocade. The women wear a green or blue high-collar gown, overlain with a bright waistcoat. Women also often wear a trumpet-shaped white felt hat with two black cords in the front, topped by red tassels. A woman of marriageable age combs her hair into many small braids which are tied up into three large ones. After marriage, two of the braids are thrown over the chest, and one over the back.
The Yugur People have a rich oral which includes legends, folk tales, proverbs and ballads. The folk songs feature uniquely simple, yet graceful tunes, and vivid lyrics.