The Baoan nationality 保安族 – 56 Nationalities in China


Chinese Name: 保安族

English Name: The Baoan nationality

Languages: Baoan language 保安语, Chinese 汉语

Total population: 2.0*104 (China mainland 2022)

Distribution: Linxia, Gansu

The Baoan nationality 保安族
The Baoan nationality 保安族

Brief introduction

The Baoan nationality 保安族 is one of the few ethnic groups in China, and their national language is Baoan. Due to the long-term contracts with the surrounding Han people 汉族 and Hui people 回族, there are many Chinese loanwords in the Baoan language, and Chinese is commonly used, which as a tool for social communication.

Historically, the rulers of successive dynasties did not recognize the Baoan people as a single ethnic group, until after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the “Baoan people” integrated into China’s multi-ethnic family as a nation.

The Baoan nationality 保安族
The Baoan nationality 保安族

The history of the Baoan nationality

Regarding the origin and formation of the Baoan people, a unified conclusion has not yet been formed because of the lack of historical data. But in history, the Baoan people have participated in the anti-feudal struggle of the Hui and Han peoples in the Linxia 临夏 area in different forms. They used axes and knives to fight heroically against the reactionaries to defend their legitimate rights.

The religion of the Baoan nationality

The Baoan people are one of the minority ethnic groups in China who believe in Islam. Islam has had a significant impact not only on the spiritual realm of the Baoan people but also on their politics, economy, culture and daily life, especially on the formation and national cohesion of the Baoan people. A distinctive feature of the religious beliefs of the Baoan people is that they worship in the same mosque regardless of sect, clan, or ethnicity.

Islamic Architecture - Mosque 伊斯兰教建筑-清真寺
Islamic Architecture – Mosque 伊斯兰教建筑-清真寺

The Cultures of the Baoan nationality

The costume of the Baoan nationality 保安族的服饰

Because the Baoan people used to live next to the Mongols 蒙古族, their clothing is similar to that of the Mongolian people. During the Qing Dynasty 清朝, after the Baoan people migrated to today’s Dahejiazhen 大河家镇 in Jishishan Bonan, Dongxiang and Salar Autonomous County 积石山保安族东乡族撒拉族自治县, Gansu Province, due to their close contact with the Hui and Han nationalities, the Baoan people’s clothing changed significantly to meet the needs for production and life.

Usually, men and women like to wear white or cyan toques and white shirts. During festivals, men usually wear top hats, black velvet robes, outer belts, waist knives, and high boots. Women wear knee-length gowns and coat dark waistcoats with lace trim.


Today, Baoan men usually wear white hats, white shirts, and grey trousers; when visiting relatives and friends or going out, they usually wear Zhongshan suits, military uniforms or jackets. Women would like to wear brightly coloured tops, trousers, jackets and waistcoats with lace inlays

The diet of the Baoan nationality 保安族的饮食

The daily diet of the Baoan people is mainly based on wheat, barley, corn, beans and other processed pasta. Drinking and smoking are not allowed by Baoan people. Moreover, the meat of the Baoan people is mainly beef and mutton, and they do not eat the meat of pigs, horses, donkeys, mules, etc. The Baoan people like stewed food, of which the full sheep feast is the most famous. In the past, there were few vegetables, but now they have a full range of varieties and a wide variety of patterns.

full sheep feast 全羊宴
full sheep feast 全羊宴

Baoan people like to drink tea. Before the founding of New China, they drank Fu tea 茯茶 and brew tea with a gaiwan 盖碗茶 more. After the founding of New China, they generally drank more Chunjian tea 春尖茶 from Yunnan. Usually “Sanxiang Tea” (with tea leaves, rock sugar, longan, red dates, raisins, dried almonds, etc.) is used to entertain guests.

The architecture of the Baoan nationality 保安族的建筑

In the past, the Baoan people lived in the same way as the Tibetans, mainly in earthen houses with civil and wooden structures. After migrating and settling in Gansu, the living patterns of Baoan families have also changed.

The roofs of each house are connected to ensure that if something goes wrong, people in the whole village can quickly get in touch by climbing on the roof without leaving the courtyard. This architectural model is a historical testimony to the mutual assistance and unity of the Baoan ethnic group during the war and turmoil. Today, a small number of such houses can still be seen, but more are exclusive single-family houses, usually tile houses.

The marriage of the Baoan nationality 保安族的婚姻

The marriage customs of the Baoan people are for men to marry women and monogamy. The ceremonies before marriage mainly include kissing, betrothal gifts and big gifts. When giving a big gift, among the Baoan people, there is also the custom of the woman’s relatives to invite the man’s gift-giver to have a meal, which is called “calling a guest”. The more customers you call, the more it can show that the woman has more family members and is united with each other.

After the woman accepts the gift, they agree on a date for the wedding. Weddings generally include procedures such as marrying, sending relatives, and making a feast. Most weddings are held on Fridays. According to the customs of the Baoan people, the bride does not eat the husband’s meal for three days, to show that the parents care for the daughter and that the daughter does not forget the kindness of the parents.

Baoan nationality (保安族)

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