Tujia people

The Tujia (Northern Tujia: Bifjixkhar/Bifzixkar, IPA: /bi˧˥ dʑi˥ kʰa˨˩/ /pi˧˥ tsi˥ kʰa˨˩/; Southern Tujia: Mongrzzir /mõ˨˩ dzi˨˩/; Chinese: 土家族; pinyin: Tǔjiāzú), with a total population of over 8 million, is the eighth-largest ethnic minority in the People's Republic of China. They live in the Wuling Mountains, straddling the common borders of Hunan, Hubei and Guizhou Provinces, and Chongqing Municipality.

The endonym Bizika means "native dwellers". In Chinese, Tujia means also "local", as distinguished from the Hakka (客家; Kèjiā) whose name implies wandering.[1]

Tujia girl apparel-1
Tujia girl in traditional dress
Total population
approx. 8 million
Regions with significant populations
Place - Tujia

(Hunan · Hubei · Guizhou · Chongqing)
Mandarin Chinese
Tujia language (traditional)
Predominantly Nuoism


Although there are different accounts of their origins, the Tujia may trace their history back over twelve centuries, and possibly beyond, to the ancient Ba people who occupied the area around modern-day Chongqing some 2,500 years ago. The Ba Kingdom reached the zenith of its power between 600 BC and 400 BC but was destroyed by the Qin in 316 BC. After being referred to by a long succession of different names in ancient documents, they appear in historical records as the Tujia from about 14th century onwards.

Ming and Qing Dynasties

The Tujia tusi chieftains reached the zenith of their power under the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), when they were accorded comparatively high status by the imperial court. They achieved this through their reputation as providers of fierce, highly disciplined fighting men, who were employed by the emperor to suppress revolts by other minorities. On numerous occasions, they helped defend China against outside invaders, such as the wokou ("Japanese" pirates) who ravaged the coast during the 16th century.

The Manchus invaded and conquered the Ming in 1644 and established the Great Qing Empire, known in China as the Qing Dynasty. Ever suspicious of local rulers, the Qing emperors always tried to replace Han officials with Manchu officials wherever they could. In the early 18th century, the Qing court finally felt secure enough to establish direct control over minority areas as well. This process, known as gaituguiliu (literally 'replace the local [ruler], return to mainstream [central rule]'), was carried out throughout south-west China gradually and, in general, peacefully. The court adopted a carrot-and-stick approach of lavish pensions for compliant chieftains, coupled with a huge show of military force on the borders of their territories.

Most of the Tujia areas returned to central control during the period 1728-1735. Whilst the Tujia peasantry probably preferred the measured rule of Qing officials to the arbitrary despotism of the Tujia chieftains whom they had replaced, many resented the attempts of the Qing court to impose national culture and customs on them. With the weakening of central Qing rule, numerous large-scale uprisings occurred culminating in the Taiping Rebellion which affected the area badly.

Recent history

Hubei - Yichang Village
Tujia village in current-day Yichang
Phoenix in Peony Flowers, Tujia people, China, cotton brocade - Sichuan Provincial Museum - Chengdu, China - DSC04733
Tujia brocade

Following the collapse of the Qing, the Tujia found themselves caught between various competing warlords. More and more land was given over to the cultivation of high-earning opium at the insistence of wealthy landlords, and banditry was rife. After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Tujia areas came under Communist control and banditry was rapidly eradicated. The Great Leap Forward led to mass famine in Tujia communities.

The Tujia were officially recognised as one of the 55 ethnic minorities in January 1957, and a number of autonomous prefectures and counties were subsequently established.

State Councillor Dai Bingguo, one of China's top officials on foreign policy, is the most prominent Tujia in the Chinese government.


Today, traditional Tujia customs can only be found in the most remote areas.

The Tujia are renowned for their singing and song composing abilities and for their tradition of the Baishou Dance (摆手舞), a 500-year-old collective dance which uses 70 ritual gestures to represent war, farming, hunting, courtship and other aspects of traditional life. They are also famous for their richly patterned brocade, known as xilankapu, a product that in earlier days regularly figured in their tribute payments to the Chinese court. For their spring festival they prepare handmade glutinous rice cakes called ciba cake. They gather round the fire to sing folk songs and eat grilled ciba.[2]

Regarding religion, most of the Tujia worship a white tiger totem, although some Tujia in western Hunan worship a turtle totem.


Tujia is a Sino-Tibetan language and is usually considered an isolate within this group, although it has grammatical and phonological similarities with Nuosu (though its vocabulary is very different).[3]

Today there are at most 70,000 native speakers of the Tujia language, most of whom live in the northern parts Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture in north-western Hunan Province.

The vast majority of the Tujia use varieties of Chinese, mainly Southwestern Mandarin; a few speak Hmongic languages. Few monolingual Tujia speakers remain; nearly all are bilingual in some dialect of Chinese. Children now learn Chinese from childhood and many young Tujia prefer to use Chinese when communicating among themselves. Among fluent Tujia speakers, Chinese borrowings, and even sentence structures, are more common.


By province

1 furong panorama 2012
Furong, an ancient town located in Yongshun County of Xiangxi, Hunan

The Fifth National Population Census of 2000 recorded 8,028,133 Tujia in China.

Provincial Distribution of the Tujia
Province Tujia Population % of Total
Hunan 2.639.534 32.88%
Hubei 2.177.409 27.12%
Guizhou 1.430.286 17.82%
Chongqing 1.424.352 17.74%
Guangdong 135.431 1.69%
Zhejiang 55.310 0.69%
Sichuan 41.246 0.51%
Fujian 29.046 0.36%
Other 95.519 1.19%

In Chongqing, Tujia make up 4.67% of the total population; in Hunan, 4.17%; in Guizhou, 4.06%; in Hubei, 3.66%; and in Guangdong, 0.16%.

By county

County-level distribution of the Tujia

(Only includes counties or county-equivalents containing >0.5% of China's Tujia population.)

Province Prefecture County Tujia Population % of China's Tujia Population
Chongqing Same Youyang 462,444 5.76%
Hunan Zhangjiajie Cili 399,906 4.98%
Hubei Enshi Lichuan 388,035 4.83%
Hunan Changde Shimen 387,480 4.83%
Guizhou Tongren Yanhe Tujia Autonomous County 383,499 4.78%
Chongqing same Shizhu 348,790 4.34%
Hunan Xiangxi Yongshun 342,570 4.27%
Hunan Zhangjiajie Yongding 319,330 3.98%
Guizhou Tongren Dejiang 300,432 3.74%
Hubei Enshi Xianfeng 276,394 3.44%
Hubei Enshi Enshi 270,753 3.37%
Chongqing same Qianjiang 261,327 3.26%
Hunan Zhangjiajie Sangzhi 260,092 3.24%
Hunan Xiangxi Longshan 251,007 3.13%
Guizhou Tongren Yinjiang 233,802 2.91%
Hubei Enshi Badong 212,424 2.65%
Hubei Yichang Changyang 211,129 2.63%
Chongqing same Xiushan 197,570 2.46%
Hubei Yichang Wufeng 174,546 2.17%
Hubei Enshi Jianshi 173,984 2.17%
Guizhou Tongren Sinan 160,089 1.99%
Hunan Xiangxi Baojing 148,291 1.85%
Hubei Enshi Hefeng 142,805 1.78%
Hubei Enshi Xuan'en 140,837 1.75%
Hunan Xiangxi Jishou 103,242 1.29%
Hunan Huaihua Yuanling 102,636 1.28%
Hubei Enshi Laifeng 93,471 1.16%
Guizhou Tongren Jiangkou 77,791 0.97%
Chongqing same Pengshui 74,591 0.93%
Guizhou Tongren Tongren 70,286 0.88%
Hunan Xiangxi Fenghuang 64,727 0.81%
Hunan Xiangxi Guzhang 47,162 0.59%
Guizhou Zunyi Wuchuan 46,253 0.58%
Hunan Huaihua Xupu 45,900 0.57%
Hunan Zhangjiajie Wulingyuan 41,910 0.52%
Hunan Xiangxi Luxi 40,643 0.51%
Other 771,985 9.62%


By county

Tujia profile in qingjiang gallery
Tujia Profile regions with significant populations in Qingjiang Gallery
County-level distribution of the Tujia

(Only includes counties or county-equivalents containing >1% of county population.)

By county/city Tujia % Tujia Total
Longwan district 1,24 2541 204935
Hubei province 3,66 2177409 59508870
Yichang city 10,26 425548 4149308
Xiling district 2,08 8876 427299
Wujiagang district 1,67 3068 184000
Dianjun district 2,20 1069 48612
Xiaoting district 1,56 824 52827
Changyang Tujia autonomous county 50,66 211129 416782
Wufeng Tujia autonomous county 84,77 174546 205897
Yidu city 3,47 13383 385779
Songzi city 1,08 9301 859941
Enshi Tujia Miao autonomous prefecture 45,00 1698703 3775190
Enshi city 35,83 270753 755725
Lichuan city 49,31 388035 786984
Jianshi county 34,08 173984 510555
Badong county 43,77 212424 485338
Xuan'en county 41,92 140837 335984
Xianfeng county 75,99 276394 363710
Laifeng county 29,51 93471 316707
Hefeng county 64,86 142805 220187
Shennongjia district 6,08 4758 78242
Hunan province 4,17 2639534 63274173
Changde city 7,07 405745 5740875
Wuling district 1,08 5508 509940
Shimen county 57,54 387480 673435
Zhangjiajie city 68,40 1021238 1493115
Yongding district 78,66 319330 405968
Wulingyuan district 87,76 41910 47755
Cili county 62,81 399906 636659
Sangzhi county 64,58 260092 402733
Huaihua city 3,49 162105 4639738
Hecheng district 1,50 5200 346522
Yuanling county 17,12 102636 599680
Xupu county 5,74 45900 798983
Zhijiang Dong autonomous county 1,63 5438 334229
Xiangxi Tujia Miao autonomous prefecture 41,12 1012997 2463617
Jishou city 35,08 103242 294297
Luxi county 15,82 40643 256869
Fenghuang county 18,82 64727 343878
Huahuan county 6,05 15355 253750
Baojing county 57,03 148291 260034
Guzhang county 39,56 47162 119202
Yongshun county 76,94 342570 445224
Longshan county 51,19 251007 490363
Sanshui city 1,41 6201 440119
Chongqing municipality 4,67 1424352 30512763
Districts under the municipality 3,00 291073 9691901
Wanzhou district 1,12 18390 1648870
Qianjiang district 59,07 261327 442385
Counties under the municipality 6,88 1132068 16460869
Fengdu county 1,43 11054 774054
Zhong county 1,36 12985 954075
Fengjie county 1,38 12021 871743
Shizhu Tujia autonomous county 71,93 348790 484876
Xiushan Tujia Miao autonomous county 38,93 197570 507522
Youyang Tujia Miao autonomous county 77,81 462444 594287
Pengshui Miao Tujia autonomous county 12,64 74591 590228
Xuanhan county 2,95 30891 1047230
Guizhou province 4,06 1430286 35247695
Nanming district 1,58 10896 687804
Yunyan district 1,21 8447 698988
Baiyun district 1,24 2319 187695
Zunyi city 1,54 100454 6543860
Daozhen Gelao Miao autonomous county 6,07 17404 286715
Wuchuan Gelao Miao autonomous county 11,98 46253 386164
Fenggang county 6,48 24005 370253
Yuqing county 1,63 4128 252965
Tongren prefecture 37,81 1248696 3302625
Tongren city 22,78 70286 308583
Jiangkou county 41,10 77791 189288
Yuping Dong autonomous county 1,29 1628 126462
Shiqian county 1,62 5425 334508
Sinan county 29,46 160089 543389
Yinjiang Tujia Miao autonomous county 69,74 233802 335263
Dejiang county 77,30 300432 388639
Yanhe Tujia autonomous county 80,85 383499 474331
Songtao Miao autonomous county 2,59 14190 547488
Wanshante district 2,84 1554 54674
Qiandongnan Miao Dong autonomous prefecture 1,03 39512 3844697
Zhenyuan county 5,04 11227 222766
Cengong county 10,40 19524 187734

Autonomous Areas Designated for Tujia

Province-level Division Name
Hunan Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture
Hubei Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture
Changyang Tujia Autonomous County
Wufeng Tujia Autonomous County
Chongqing Shizhu Tujia Autonomous County
Pengshui Miao and Tujia Autonomous County
Xiushan Tujia and Miao Autonomous County
Youyang Tujia and Miao Autonomous County
Qianjiang District (former Qianjiang Tujia and Miao Autonomous County)
Guizhou Yanhe Tujia Autonomous County
Yinjiang Tujia and Miao Autonomous County

Famous Tujia


  1. ^ 土家族族源 [Origins of the Tujia]. Xinhua.
  2. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-eObWLjzLs
  3. ^ Brief Introduction to the Tujia Language


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External links

Ba (state)

Ba (Chinese: 巴; pinyin: Bā; literally: 'a pictograph for "snake", linguistically meaning "cling" and "handle"') was an ancient state in eastern Sichuan, China. Its original capital was Yicheng (Enshi City), Hubei. Ba was conquered by Qin in 316 BC. The modern minority Tujia people trace some of their origins back to the people of Ba.Ba, often described as a loose confederation or a collection of chiefdoms, consisted of several loosely affiliated independent clans who recognised a king. The Ba clans were highly diverse, being composed of multiple ethnicities. Archaeological evidence shows that the Ba people relied primarily on fishing and hunting, with low levels of agriculture and no evidence of irrigation.

Cili County

Cili (simplified Chinese: 慈利县; traditional Chinese: 慈利縣; pinyin: Cílì Xiàn) is a county in Hunan Province, China under administration of the prefecture-level city of Zhangjiajie. Located in the north of Hunan and the east of Zhangjiajie, Cili County is bordered to the southeast by Taoyuan County, to the south and the southwest by Yongding District, to the west and the northwest by Sangzhi County, to the north and northeast by Shimen County. Cili is also the home of the Tujia people. The County has an area of 3,492 kilometres (2,170 mi) with 703,452 of registered population and roughly 613,000 permanent population (as of 2015). It is divided into 25 township-level divisions (November 27, 2015), its county seat is Lingyang Town (零阳镇).

Recently a tomb was discovered around Cili that was 2,200 years old. Among the items discovered was a bronze cooking vessel that contained fish. The tomb was that of an ancient senior official.

Dai Bingguo

Dai Bingguo (simplified Chinese: 戴秉国; traditional Chinese: 戴秉國; pinyin: Dài Bǐngguó; born March 31, 1941) is a Chinese politician and professional diplomat. Since 2008, Dai has emerged as one of the foremost and highest-ranking figures of Chinese foreign policy in the Hu Jintao administration. Currently, Dai is the Chairman of Jinan University.

A graduate of Sichuan University, majoring in Russian language, Dai was instrumental in the normalization of diplomatic relations between China and the Soviet Union. Between 1989 and 1991 Dai served as the Chinese ambassador to Hungary. He then served in a succession of roles in the Department of Foreign Affairs. He served as a State Councilor, director of general office of foreign affairs leadership group of CPC Central Committee, an office that acts as the primary foreign affairs organ of the Communist Party of China, and director of general office of National Security Leadership Group of the CPC Central Committee, in which he serves in the capacity as a national security advisor to the CPC General Secretary.

Furong Town

Furong (Chinese: 芙蓉; pinyin: Fúróng) is a town in Yongshun County, Xiangxi Prefecture, Hunan Province, China. The town, also advertised as Furong Ancient Town, is a tourist attraction in mountainous northwest Hunan, approximately halfway between the popular tourist destinations of Fenghuang County and Zhangjiajie. The town is well known for its scenic location, situated on cliffs above a waterfall that falls into the You River.

Furong was originally known as Wangcun, but was renamed following the success of the eponymous film, Hibiscus Town. The Tujia people were the original inhabitants of Wancun, and today Furong consists of a mix of Tujia and Han Chinese peoples.

Nuo folk religion

Nuo folk religion, or extendedly Chinese popular exorcistic religion, is a variant of Chinese folk religion with its own system of temples, rituals, orders of priests and gods, which is interethnic and practiced across central and southern China but is also intimately connected to the Tujia people. It arose as an exorcistic religious movement, which is the original meaning of nuó (simplified Chinese: 傩; traditional Chinese: 儺), and it spread even outside the boundaries of China exporting such practices in Japan and Korea. It has strong influences from Taoism.One of the most distinguishing characters of Nuo folk religion is its iconographic style, which represents the gods as wooden masks or heads. This is related to its own mythology, which traces the origin of Nuo to the two very first humans, who were unjustly killed by beheading and are since then worshipped as responsive divine ancestors. Nuo rituals began as efficacious methods to worship them, Lord Nuo and Lady Nuo. Since the 1980s Nuo folk religion has undergone a revitalisation in China, and today is a folk religion endorsed by the central government. Nuo priests are classified as 巫 wu (shamans) and their historical precursors were the 方相氏 fangxiangshi ("masters who assist the (astral) square").

Peng Sixun

Peng Sixun (Chinese: 彭司勛; 28 July 1919 – 9 December 2018) was a Chinese medicinal chemist.

A native of Baojing County, Peng was of Tujia descent. He graduated from the National College of Pharmacy in 1942, and completed a master's degree at Columbia University in 1950. Peng returned to teach at his alma mater, which had been renamed China Pharmaceutical University, and was elected to the Chinese Academy of Engineering in February 1996. Peng died at the age of 99 on 9 December 2018.

Ran Yunfei

Ran Yunfei (born 1965) is a Chinese writer and a high-profile democracy activist and blogger. He was arrested in late March 2011, shortly after the start of the 2011 Chinese pro-democracy protests, on charges of inciting subversion of state power. He was released in August 2011 and remains under residential surveillance. Ran expressed through social media that he converted to Christianity on October 31st, 2015. He has been attending a Bible study since 2013.

Shen Congwen

Shen Congwen (28 December 1902 – 10 May 1988), formerly romanized as Shen Ts'ung-wen, is considered to be one of the greatest modern Chinese writers, on par with Lu Xun. Regional culture and identity plays a much bigger role in his writing than that of other major early modern Chinese writers. He was known for combining the vernacular style with classical Chinese writing techniques. Shen is the most important of the "native soil" writers in modern Chinese literature.

He was slated to win the 1988 Nobel Prize in Literature, but died before he could be awarded the prize.

Shimen County

Shimen County (simplified Chinese: 石门县; traditional Chinese: 石門縣; pinyin: Shímén Xiàn) is a northernmost county of Hunan Province, China, it is under administration of the prefecture-level city of Changde.

Located on the northern margin of Hunan and the west of Changde, Shimen County is bordered to the south and southwest by Taoyuan, Zili and Sangzhi Counties, to the west by Hefeng County of Hubei, to the north by Wufeng County of Hubei, to the east by Songzi City of Hubei, Li and Linli Counties. Shimen is a mountainous county located on the Wuling Mountains, Mount Huping (壶瓶山) which, at 2,098.7 metres (6,885 ft) on the northwest of the county, is the highest point of Hunan. Shimen is also the home of the Tujia people, the descendant of Chinese ancient Ba People, the Tujia people shares 50.9% of the population in the county.The county has an area of 3,973 kilometres (2,469 mi) with 669,741 of registered population and 601,100 of permanent population (as of 2015). It is divided into 19 towns and townships, 5 units of State-owned farms (as of 2016).

Tan Qiwei

Tan Qiwei (born August 1954) is a Chinese politician of Tujia ethnic heritage. He was the Vice Mayor of Chongqing, then the Vice Chairman of the Chongqing People's Congress. He was dismissed from office in May 2014 and placed under investigation by the Communist Party's anti-corruption body.

Tou Chung-hua

Tou Chung-hua (Chinese: 庹宗華; pinyin: Tuǒ Zōnghuá; born 10 October 1962) is a Taiwanese actor. He won the 2005 Golden Bell Award for Best Actor.

Tujia language

The Tujia language (Northern Tujia: Bifzivsar, IPA: /pi˧˥ ʦi˥ sa˨˩/; Southern Tujia: Mongrzzirhof, IPA: /mõ˨˩ ʣi˨˩ ho˧˥/; Chinese: 土家语, pinyin: Tǔjiāyǔ) is a language spoken natively by the Tujia people in south-central China. It is unclassified within the Sino-Tibetan language family, due to pervasive influence from neighboring languages. There are two dialects, Northern and Southern. Both dialects are tonal languages with the tone contours of ˥ ˥˧ ˧˥ ˨˩. The northern dialect has 21 initials, whereas the southern dialect has 26 (with 5 additional aspirated initials). As for the finals, the northern dialect has 25 and the southern 30, 12 of which are used exclusively in loanwords from Chinese. Its verbs make a distinction of active and passive voices. Its pronouns distinguish the singular and plural numbers along with the basic and possessive cases. As of 2005, the number of speakers was estimated at roughly 70,000 for the northern dialect (of which merely ca. 100 are monolingual), and 1,500 for the southern dialect, out of an ethnic population of 8 million.

Waxiang people

The Waxiang people are an unrecognized ethnic group living along the Yuanjiang River in Hunan, China. They call themselves Huaxiang people (IPA::/wa33 ɕioŋ55/) and they speak Waxiang Chinese. Compared to the Han, Miao and Tujia people of the region, they are very different in terms of clothing, food, living, farming and other cultural norms.

Xiang Jingyu

Xiang Jingyu (Chinese: 向警予; pinyin: Xiàng Jǐngyǔ; Wade–Giles: Hsiang Ching-yü, 4 September 1895 – 1 May 1928), whose old name was Xiang Junxian, was one of the earliest female members of the Communist Party of China (CPC), widely regarded as a pioneer of the women’s movement of China.

Xu Qing

Xu Qing (Chinese: 许晴; born 22 January 1969), known also as Summer Qing, is a Chinese actress. She was accepted into the acting class of Beijing Film Academy in 1988 and graduated in 1992.

Yang Xia

Yang Xia (Chinese: 杨霞; born January 8, 1977 in Hunan) is a female Chinese weightlifter. She currently studies journalism at Hunan Normal University.

Yang Zhengwu

Yang Zhengwu (Chinese: 杨正午; born January 1941) is an ethnic Tujia Chinese politician. He was born in Longshan County, Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Hunan. He was Communist Party of China committee secretary of his home county (1978–1981), his home prefecture (1983–1990) and his home province (1998–2005). He was governor (1995–1998) and People's Congress Chairman (1999–2006) of his home province.

Zhao Shiyan

Zhao Shiyan (simplified Chinese: 赵世炎; traditional Chinese: 趙世炎; pinyin: Zhào Shìyán; 13 April 1901 in Youyang - 19 July 1927 in Shanghai) was a Chinese Communist martyr and former Chinese premier Li Peng's uncle.

In 1915, Zhao went to Beijing to study at the High School Affiliated to Beijing Normal University, majored in English. In 1919, he participated in the May Fourth Movement, China Youth Association. The following year, he went to France to study, co-founded the Communist Party of China. In 1922, Zhao Shiyan and Ho Chi Minh were invited to join the French Communist Party. In 1922, he went to the Soviet Union and studied at the Communist University of the Toilers of the East. In 1923, he was appointed as CPC Party Committee Chairman in Beijing. In the same year in December, he was appointed as Chairman of the Northern Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.

In 1926, Zhao was sent to Shanghai with Zhou Enlai to lead the workers' armed uprising during the Northern Expedition. On 12 April 1927, Chiang Kai-shek launched a coup against his communist allies and massacred them in Shanghai. Zhao went into hiding, but was arrested at his home on North Sichuan Road on 2 July. He was executed in Shanghai on 19 July.

Zhao's sister Zhao Juntao married Li Shuoxun. Their son, Li Peng served as China's premier from 1987 to 1998.

Zi River

The Zi River in Hunan, China, flows into the Yangtze River via Lake Dongting.

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