29. Chinese Nationalities (Tu Minority) -- Minorities by Descending Populations

Tu Gentleman Tu Lady Tu Couple
Tu Gentleman Tu lady Tu Couple

The Tu trace their origins to the thirteenth century. They speak a Mongolian language and are related to the Mongolians. They have two dialects and a rich oral literature. Originally pastoralists, they have practiced agriculture for several centuries. Most believe in lama Buddhism, but some still adhere to polytheistic beliefs. The Tu (Monguor) clans once served as frontier defenders for imperial China, which earned them limited local autonomy. The Tu are found in Qinghai and Gansu Provinces. They are part of the Altaic Mongol ethno linguistic group. The Tu ethnic group, with a population of about 191,624, is concentrated in the Minhe and Datong counties and the Huzhu Autonomous County in the eastern part of Qinghai Province. Others live sparsely in Ledu and Menyuan in Qinghai Province and in the Tianzhu Tibetan Autonomous County in Gansu Province. Most people believe that the Dus evolved from the Duguhun people in ancient times. During their long history, they formed their own unique group by absorbing members of the Han, Tibetan, Mongolian, and other neighboring tribes.

The Tu people have their own spoken language. Their language, which is comprised of three dialects, belongs to the Mongolian branch of the Altaic language family. The Tu people have no written minbet. Chinese and Tibetan minbets are in common use, although a new written system based on the Chinese Phonetic Alphabet was created for them in 1979.

In ancient times, the Tu people engaged in sheep ranching and other animal husbandry. In the late Yuan Dynasty and early Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), farming developed very quickly and the Tu people transitioned to farming with animal husbandry as a secondary form of livelihood. Major crops include wheat, highland barley, and potatoes.

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