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Etymology and Evolution of the Term Huizu
Date: 2016-09-10


The term “Huizu” is the formal name of the Hui–Hui zu (Hui–Hui ethnic group) in contemporary China. It is derived from the Chinese Pinyin transcrip on system, deriving from the pronuncia ons of two separate Chinese characters for the words “Hui” and “zu,” each of which possesses an independent meaning, but which obtain a new meaning when they are combined to form “Huizu” (following the normal pa ern of Chinese word forma on). The former syllable is an abbrevia on of “Hui–Hui,” a term referring to an ethnic group that emerged from the Xiyu (the Western Regions beyond present– day Xinjiang) from the mid–seventh century onward. These people were early immigrants from the predominately Muslim regions of central Asia who se led inside Chinese territory. The la er syllable appeared as early as the Shang dynasty (sixteenth–eleventh centuries BCE) in jiaguwen, inscrip ons on bones and tortoise shells. “Zu” literally meant “a bundle of arrows,” which later evolved into the meaning of “tribe”; today, it is used as a component in another Chinese word, “minzu,” meaning “ethnic group.”

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