Tu Nationality


Numbering 241,198 according to the national census of 2000, the Tu ethnic minority is located mainly in Huzhu, Minhe, and Datong Counties in Qinghai Province as well as some counties in Gansu Province.


The spoken Tu language belongs to the Mongolian group of the Altaic Phylum, however, no written form exists. They can write in Chinese and today they are also using the characters created in recent years.


The Tu people practice the faith of Animism and some are the followers of Taoism. After the ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), many turned to Lamaism. There are over 40 temples of that religion as the center of Buddhist activities where they live. Dignitaries had also edited many Buddhist sutras and spread widely.


Owning to the geographical condition in the west China, the Tu ethnic minority people work on stock husbandry and agriculture, specializing in sheep breeding.

The Tu people's staple food is Qingke, a kind of highland barley, as well as wheat. They are used to eating sour vegetables and meat and drinking milk tea and wine brewed with Qingke. When brewing that wine, they like to add a medicinal herb, thus the wine has a function of dispelling coldness and curing rheumatism. Distinguished and rare guests are treated to delicious boiled mutton to eat by cutting the meat from larger whole pieces.

The Tu people pay much attention to etiquettes. They treat guests warmly and there is a saying 'the visit of guests is the coming of happiness'. When the guest sits down on kang, the hosts will offer a strong flavored cup of tea. The Tu people will toast three cups of wine with their guests, which reflects their forthrightness. They will also dip and flip three drops of wine to express their gratitude, if their guests cannot drink.


The Tu clothes are different from the Han people. All of the Tu wear shirts with high collars and long waist bands, both of which are broidered with flower patterns. Men like to band puttees around their legs. Women's clothing is more colorful and decorated with handkerchiefs, bells, pouches, and so on.


Their grand festivals are Spring Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, and their own distinctive 'July Meeting'. The July Meeting, also called Nadun Festival, is the carnival after harvest. Activities such as worship, dinners, and attending functions of traditional sports such as wrestling, martial arts and horse-racing are all part of the Carnival after harvest festivities.


They do not present tea with a bowl or cup which has a crack line; they respect their guests and their children must be of best behavior as not to drive guests away; it is not allowed to go into an unmarried girl's room without permission; and so on.


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