Salar in China

Joshua Project has identified the Salar only in China






Largest Religion

Main Language



Although the Salar hold the distinction of being one of China's official nationalities, they are very similar to the Uygurs of Xinjiang. Their language is virtually the same as Uygur. One expert lists Salar as a Uygur dialect, and notes that "The main difference between the Salar and the Uygurs of Xinjiang is geographical."

The majority of the Salar can speak their language, which is part of the Turkic family. Because the Salar live at the crossroads of several great civilizations, many are bilingual or multilingual in Chinese, Uygur, and Amdo Tibetan. A 1960 study found 7% of the Salar vocabulary was Persian-Arabic, in addition to a few Mongolian and Tibetan loanwords.


The Salar have a colorful tale of their history. They say they originated in the famous city of Sarmarkand, located in today's Uzbekistan. In the eleventh century a tribe known as the Salor fled persecution in their homeland. They were forced to migrate across the mountains of Central Asia. Not knowing where they were going, the Salar strapped a Qur'an to a camel's head and asked Allah to guide them to wherever he wanted them to settle. After many months of travel, a Salar Imam had a vivid dream of a beautiful waterfall. The next day the travelers came to the same waterfall. The camel stopped to drink and turned into a large white stone. Taking it as a divine sign, the tribe stopped there and began to build a community. In 1781 the Qing armies crushed a Salar uprising. The Salar suffered massive losses. As many as 40% of their entire population were obliterated in the battle.


Divorce is a simple procedure for the Salar. The husband merely announces, "I don't want you any longer," and the woman leaves the home. She is free to marry again.


The Salar were reportedly converted to Islam as recently as 1750 by Muhammed Amin. By the early 1980s, the Salar worshiped in 73 mosques throughout Xunhua County. Many more mosques have been opened in recent years. Although they have lived beside Tibetans for centuries, the Salar have resisted all pressure to convert to Tibetan Buddhism.


Before 1949 few missionaries reached out to the Salar. In the 1920s an appeal was made for "workers to give their whole time to the Salar." Ralph Covell laments, "Missionaries talked about the Salar but the rigors of a harsh climate, and a demanding geographical environment [meant] only a few were prepared for the necessary long-term commitment and sacrifices." No church has ever been established among the Salar, although today there are a small number of Salar attending a Han Chinese church in Xining City.

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

Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2010-07-27
People Name General Salar (Sar-lar)
People Name in Country Salar
Population in China 147,000
World Population 147,000
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Sala, Turki Huihui, Turki Hwei Hwei
Affinity Bloc Turkic Peoples
People Cluster Uyghur
People Name General Salar (Sar-lar)
Ethnic Code MSY41z
People ID 14658
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 113,000 Salar live in north central China. More than 70% are located in Xunhua County in southeast Qinghai Province. Other Salar live in towns spread 50 kilometers (31 mi.) east to west and 40 kilometers (25 mi.) north to south. Additional communities are located in neighboring Gansu Province, while 1,447 Salar live in Yining County of Xinjiang - a vast distance from the main body of Salar. Most Salar live in poor, mudbaked shacks..   Source:  Operation China, 2000
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Salar (147,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Salar 147,000
For Primary Language: Salar

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions No
New Testament No
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
None reported  
Primary Religion: Islam

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.02 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
99.98 %
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: Anonymous  
Map Source: Bethany World Prayer Center  
Profile Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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