Kyrgyz in China





Largest Religion

Main Language



In the 1950s the Kirgiz were granted status as one of China's official minority groups. The name Kirgiz means "44 lasses." The Kirgiz believe they are descended from 44 maidens. The Kirgiz in China still retain their tribal identities. "To this day one can distinguish the following tribes: Kipchak, Naiman, Taiyit, Kaisaik, Chongbash, Qielik, Kuqu, Salu, Salbash, Mengduzi, Mengguldar, Ketay, Buwu, and Sayak."

Kirgiz is a Turkic language. They used to have their own script, called the Yenisei script, until it was lost in the eighth century. No trace of it remains today. The Kirgiz language in China contains two dialects: Northern and Southern Kirgiz. Both dialects have the same vocabulary but employ different pronunciations.


In AD 751 the Chinese armies were defeated by the Arabs in a significant battle at Talas, in what is now Kyrgyzstan. One historian wrote, "This encounter was one of the most fateful battles in history. It marked the end of Chinese control over Central Asia. It also marked the beginning of Arab conquest of Central Asia. Soon the area was permanently converted to Islam." By the early 830s the Kirgiz had clashed with the Uygurs for control of Central Asia and defeated them. In 1944 the Chinese Nationalist government ordered the closure of many Kirgiz pasture lands, under the pretext of "border security." The Kirgiz, outraged at losing their livelihood, formed a government that gave birth to the Puli Revolution.


The Kirgiz have a famous epic, the Manas, that describes their past. The Manas is a virtual encyclopedia describing the customs, habits, and philosophies of the Kirgiz, as well as recording their struggle for independence and freedom. Most Kirgiz in China are involved with the production of carpets, horse gear, cloth, and wool.


In reality - although they are outwardly Muslims - most Kirgiz follow a form of shamanism and black magic, where power through seductive signs and wonders is exerted. Demonstrations of this evil power are often aired on public television in Kyrgyzstan. The Snake god, in particular, is held in great fear.


Swedish missionaries in Xinjiang listed 163 baptized believers by 1933, "mostly Uighers and Kirgiz, with some Chinese." In 1933 the missionaries were arrested and brought before Abdullah Khan, who "personally kicked and beat them. He threatened to kill them, claiming that their religious teaching was destroying the faith of many of his people." Most of the new Kirgiz believers were murdered. Those whose lives were spared were imprisoned for many years. There are just a few known believers among the Kirgiz in China today, although some ministries are focusing on them.

Profile Source:   Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  

Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2013-11-11
Video Links:
Greater Grace
People Name General Kyrgyz (Kerr-geez)
People Name in Country Kyrgyz
Population in China 233,000
World Population 4,737,000
Countries 12
Progress Scale 1.2
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Kara, Ke'erkezi, Kirghiz, Kirgiz
Affinity Bloc Turkic Peoples
People Cluster Kyrgyz
People Name General Kyrgyz (Kerr-geez)
Ethnic Code MSY41g
People ID 12933
Country China
Region Northeast Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 29  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Approximately 140,000 Kirgiz were counted in the 1990 Chinese census. In addition, 2.23 million Kirgiz live in their new homeland, Kyrgyzstan. Others live in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and in a small refugee community in Turkey. In China, 80% of the Kirgiz are located in more than 20 counties within the Kizilsuu Prefecture in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region..   Source:  Operation China, 2000
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
For Primary Language: Kyrgyz

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (1982-1987)
New Testament Yes   (1991-2005)
Complete Bible Yes   (1995-2004)
Audio Bible Online
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Bible-in-Your-Language Text / Printed Matter
God's Story Video Film / Video
Got Questions Ministry General
Jesus Film: view in Kyrgyz Film / Video
Kyrgyz Language Film Film / Video
Magdalena (Jesus Film Project) Film / Video
My Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime) Film / Video
Online New Testament (FCBH) Audio Recordings
Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project) Audio Recordings
Story of Jesus for Children (JF Project) Film / Video
Primary Religion: Islam
Religion Subdivision: Sunni

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.18 %)
0.20 %
Ethnic Religions
4.99 %
0.00 %
94.81 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
100.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Photo Source: Doc Kozzak   Creative Commons  
Map Source: Bethany World Prayer Center  
Video Source: Create International
Profile Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

Copyright © 2015 Joshua Project.  A ministry of Frontier Ventures.