Xibe, Western in China

Joshua Project has identified the Xibe, Western only in China





Largest Religion

Main Language



There are major cultural and linguistic differences between Western Xibe and the Xibe in northeastern China. The Western Xibe have "preserved their own speech, clothing, and housing much better."

More than two centuries of separation from the Xibe in Liaoning has resulted in "a fair number of words" that are different. Many Western Xibe are bilingual or multilingual in Chinese, Kazak, Uygur, Russian, and Mongolian. Xibe is a written language which uses a reformed Manchu script. About half of the Xibe in Xinjiang can speak their language.


The Western Xibe are the descendants of a Manchu garrison, 3,000-strong, sent to Xinjiang in the spring of 1763 to rule the territory of the recently defeated Jungars. "The officer in charge of the migration, lining his pockets with the money earmarked for the migration, cut down the time for the journey from two years to one. Many died on the way from exhaustion and practically all the infants had to be abandoned in the wilderness as they moved on." Three hundred and fifty babies were born during the arduous year-long trek to Xinjiang.


The Western Xibe "excel at archery and are known for their remarkable horsemanship. Their enemies know well how lethal their iron arrow-heads really are. Even Nu'erhachi, a leader of the Manchurian aristocrats, was wounded in the skull in a battle against the Xibes when an arrowhead actually pierced his iron helmet." When a Western Xibe girl is born, the family hangs a red banner at the door as an announcement to their neighbors. When a boy is born, an archer's bow is displayed.


The primary religion among the Western Xibe is shamanism. Others follow Tibetan Buddhism, while still others are classified as polytheists who worship the traditional Xibe deities of Xilimama and Haierkan. Despite being surrounded by Muslims, the Western Xibe have resisted all pressure to convert to Islam.


A visitor to Xinjiang recently commented, "Many Xibe have adopted the religion of their Han neighbors which means that some have even become Christians!" They are the first known believers among the Western Xibe. They are being formed into indigenous Xibe churches. Hudson Taylor once stated, "Why should a foreign aspect be given to Christianity? We wish to see churches of such believers presided over by pastors of their own countrymen, worshiping God in their own tongue, in edifices of a thoroughly native style.

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

People Name General Xibe, Western (Shee-ba)
People Name in Country Xibe, Western
Population in China 56,000
World Population 56,000
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.2
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Manchu, Western, Sibo, Xibe, Xinjiang Xibe
Affinity Bloc Turkic Peoples
People Cluster Altaic
People Name General Xibe, Western (Shee-ba)
Ethnic Code MSY41i
People ID 18721
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 According to a 1983 study, 27,364 Western Xibe were living in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. This figure was expected to rise to approximately 42,000 by the start of the year 2000. The majority are located in the Qapqal Xibe Autonomous County, southwest of Yining City. Other Xibe communities are found in Huocheng, Gongliu (Tokkuztara), and Qoqek counties in the Ili Kazak Prefecture. The Western Xibe region is close to the Kazakstan border..   Source:  Operation China, 2000
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Xibe (55,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Xibe 55,000
For Primary Language: Xibe

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions No
New Testament No
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions

Major Religion Percent
30.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.47 %)
0.50 %
Ethnic Religions
68.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
1.50 %
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: Operation China, Paul Hattaway   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Map Source: Joshua Project / Global Mapping 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.