Profile Source: Copyright © Operation China, Paul Hattaway
The Bogol are the descendants of former slaves of the Daur people. Although they became free in 1908, social and ethnic barriers still exist between the Bogol and Daur. The Daur refuse to intermarry with the Bogol, who have built their own village and developed their own identity. The Bogol do not speak their own distinct language; however, a people group has been defined as "a significantly large ethnic or sociological grouping of individuals who perceive themselves to have a common affinity for one another."
In the past the Daur social structure was unique, "being made up of pedigree families, the commoners and the Bogol (reputed to be slaves). The Bogol were comprised from two groups. One group was made up of the descendants of Bardachi who had rebelled against the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It ordered that members of the rebelling clan should remain slaves from generation to generation evermore. The second group was made up of the descendants of prisoners-of-war brought in by the Daur army during the Taiping Rebellion. The Daur consider these slaves as members of their own families. They were likely servants. While intermarriage was forbidden, they lacked for nothing in life. In 1908, the slaves of the Daur became free, after which they established a village at the Shiwalt of the Morindawa. Even today intermarriage between the two remains very rare."
The Bogol observe more Chinese traditions than do the Daur. They enthusiastically celebrate the annual Chinese New Year and Spring festivals.
The Bogol have a complex collection of gods that must be placated in order to live prosperously. "The Boguol [Bogol] god category includes twenty-four spirits and has two assistants, Keyideng and Maluo. They are represented by a colored painting, his assistants by human figures made of gold foil and by dragon paintings. ... They are also represented by wooden images which can reach a height of 11.6 meters [38 feet]. ... According to old folk tales, when the Daur still lived on the Amur they had only this type of god."
Although they were liberated from physical slavery 90 years ago, the Bogol remain in spiritual slavery. Few have ever heard of Jesus Christ or his victory over the powers of darkness that still bind them. There are no known Christians among the Bogol.