ETHNONYMS: Tadjik, Tadzik
China's 33,538 (1990) Tajik represent less than 1 percent of all Tajik people. The majority live in Tajikistan. In China, most live in the Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County, which is located in the eastern Pamir Mountains in the Xinjiang Uigur Autonomous Region, where they make up the majority of the population. The rest are scattered over several counties in southern Xinjiang. The Tajik language belongs to the eastern division of the Iranian Branch of the Indo-European Family; most Tajik also speak Sarikol, and a few speak Wakhan. The Uigur script is used to write Tajik. Many younger Tajik speak and write Han as well.
Tajik live in compact villages located at high elevations. The houses are made of wood, sod, and stone and have very thick walls and flat roofs. The flat roofs ensure that the houses will be covered by snow in the winter, and so reduce the amount of fuel needed to heat them. The inside perimeter of the house is lined with kangs (raised heated adobe platforms), which are used for sitting and sleeping. Most families have also a separate animal shed and a cooking building; some larger households also have a guest house and cart shed. All of a family's buildings are surrounded by a stone wall.
The Tajik follow the seasons in their economic activities. They plant highland barley, wheat, and a few other crops in the spring, and in the early summer move their herds of sheep, horses, yaks, and camels to highland pastures. They remain there, living in felt tents or mud huts, until it is time to return in the fall to harvest their crops.
The Tajik live in three-generation households, with the oldest male serving as head of the household. With the exception of a small percentage of marriages to Uigur and Kirgiz people, who are culturally very closely related to the Tajik, Tajik people do not marry non-Tajik people. Parents arrange their children's marriages, which not infrequently took place as early as 7 years of age prior to 1949. There is a bride-price, which includes gold, silver, animals, and clothing. Women have no rights to inherit.
The Tajik converted to Islam in the tenth century. Originally Sunni Muslims, the Tajik in the eighteenth century converted to the Ismail branch of the Shiite sect. As members of the Ismail branch, the Tajik have no mosques, but instead meet weekly for prayer. Pre-Islamic religion exists synchretically; the Tajik maintain animistic beliefs, using amulets to fight the evil spirits that they believe inhabit various natural objects. The amulets are bits of paper with writing by a pir (Islamic priest) on them, and are carried in a box or cloth and worn as a necklace. Tajik funerary customs generally follow Islamic practice.
See also Tajiks in Part One ,
Ma Yin, ed. (1989). Chinas Minority Nationalities, 178-184. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press.
National Minorities Questions Editorial Panel (1985). Questions and Answers about China's Minority Nationalities. Beijing: New World Press.
Schwarz, Henry G. (1984). The Minorities of Northern China: A Survey. Bellingham: Western Washington University Press.