Guhjali, Wakhi, Tajik in China






Largest Religion

Main Language


The Wakhi

Source:  Asia Harvest      Download

The Wakhi have been combined with the Sarikoli to form the official Tajik nationality in China, but the languages of the two groups are very different.


The Wakhi region in China was once the seat of the State of Hepant, which reached its peak of power between AD 420-589. A town in the southern part of Taxkorgan, called Kezikurgan (Princess Town), contained more than ten Buddhist temples - with a total of about 500 monks - centuries before the Wakhi were converted to Islam. In 1986, after 20 years of construction, the Karakoram Highway was opened, linking China with Pakistan and making contact between the Wakhi in the two countries possible after centuries of isolation. Marco Polo described the area when he passed through more than 700 years ago: "When the traveler leaves this place [Wakhan] he goes ... through mountains all the time, climbing so high that it is said to be the highest place in the world. ... No birds fly here because of the height and the cold. ... The inhabitants live very high up in the mountains. They are idolaters and utter savages, living entirely by the chase and dressed in the skins of beasts."


The Wakhi have a fond respect for eagles, who live in isolated and lonely mountains, much like themselves. The Wakhi live in extended-family households, with the oldest male serving as the head. With few exceptions, the Wakhi do not marry outside of their group. Before a wedding a price must be paid to the bride's family. The payment often includes livestock, clothing, and silver.


Although the Wakhi have been Shi'a Muslims for centuries, they have retained many animistic rituals. They rely heavily on amulets to ward off evil spirits. The amulets are small boxes worn around the neck, containing bits of paper that have been written on by a Pir (Muslim cleric).


Swedish missionaries were active in the southern Xinjiang region during the 1920s and 1930s. Although they won more than 200 Muslim converts, no Wakhi or Sarikoli Tajiks were included in that number. There are no known Wakhi Christians in China or in any of the other countries they inhabit today. Work has recently begun in Moscow to translate the Gospel of Luke into the Wakhi language.

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

People Name General Guhjali
People Name in Country Guhjali, Wakhi, Tajik
Population in China 13,000
World Population 97,000
Countries 4
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Unengaged Yes (per Finishing the Task)
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Khik, Vakhan, Wakhani, Wakhigi, Wakhs
Affinity Bloc Persian-Median
People Cluster Tajik
People Name General Guhjali
Ethnic Code CNT24z
People ID 18693
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 The Wakhi live on both sides of China's remote border with Pakistan. Other Wakhi are located in Afghanistan and Tajikistan. In the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the 9,900 Wakhi comprise about one-fourth of the total Tajik population. They are concentrated around the town of Daftar and also in the mountains south of Pishan. In northern Pakistan the Wakhi inhabit the Khunjerab Valley. Khunjerab means "valley of blood," a reference to the gangs of local bandits who for centuries plundered caravans and traders passing through the area..   Source:  Operation China, 2000

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Enthologue Language Map

Ethnolinguistic map from University of Texas or other map

Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Wakhi: Yasin (13,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Wakhi: Yasin 13,000
For Primary Language: Wakhi

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (2001)
New Testament No
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Primary Religion: Islam
Religion Subdivision: Shia Imami Ismaili

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
100.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
0.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Photo Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Video Source: Asia Harvest
Profile Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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