jueves, 30 de enero de 2014

Chinese Israelitish ethnic groups: Chiang Min (or Qiang), Kaifeng Jews

Not only Jyutping (the name of the romanization of Cantonese Chinese language. Some people say dialect) is a word similar to Jew or Yahud. In fact in Canton (Guangdong) is where the British had the entrepeneurial colony of Hong-Kong & the Portuguese the entrepeneurial colony of Macau. If China is an entrepeneurial country, the area of Canton is even more so. Was the Chinese people influenced by the Israelites & Jews to revere so much their ancestors, the mountains & trade? Even nowadays that these former colonies are under Chinese dominion they're amongst the most important global trading hubs in the world. Moreover, is is a coincidence that they were until the last decade of the 20th century under British & Portuguese dominion when they lost all (the Portuguese) & most (the British) of their empires? The long association of these two nations, considered to be Israelite nations, makes these two cities candidates to have Israelite ancestry.

Was the Yuan (Mongol) dynasty of China tolerant with minorities because of having an Israelite origin?

Certain traditions of the Chinese like their great love for their ancestors, interest in genealogy...could have been received from the Israelite Chiangs, Kaifeng Jews...

The Tiu-kiu-Kiou Jews are according to many different webs, Jews from some eastern Asían countries including China, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia.

Seal Date of Levi

The Levi Seal Date, in 1842, identifies nearly to the day the Treaty of Nanking.

This treaty is wide afield from normal Seal Date treaties, but the subject of the treaty is Britain establishing 5 autonomous city-states in China including the most famous, Hong Kong.

This makes great sense because Levi was to be scattered into city states, cities-of-refuge really, across ancient Israel. Hong Kong, especially, would remain a city of refuge for people fleeing mainland China for 150 years. In this we could include the city of Macau & Singapur that has similar characteristics & majority of ethnic Chinese.


Biblical city-states in China, essentially the "end of the world" from Europe, implies strongly that China is also considered a Biblical country that is inherited in part by Abraham's seed.

Chinese assimilated Israelites among the Hans

The Arab people counts more than one hundred million, but they're not homogeneous religiously nor ethnically. Apart from the Arab Hidden Jews & the Arabs that are not aware of their Jewish ancestry, Berber ancestry...there are many so called Arabs that don't consider themselves to be so. 

They have a point because they are the offspring of Arameans, Phoenicians, Greeks (Byzantines), ancient Egyptians, Christian Crossaders (French, English...), Nubians... This is the case with the Lebanese, Syrians, some Egyptians... 

If this happens in a populaation of about 290 million people, it would be even more so with more than the 1000 million people that are the Han Chinese. The Hans had large families until the Chinese communist tyranny imposed the one child policy, but that doesn't make Hans multiplying to reach a thousand million people out of thin air.

What happpened is that the Chin dynasty (but most Chinese governments too) absorbed many other ethnic groups into the Hans. This haappened ceenturies ago so this assimilated peeoples that are counted as Hans now have, at least in part, other ethnic & cultural backgrounds (Israelitee in some cases), even if they are not aware of their roots.

Some come from asssimilated: Kaifeng Jews, Chiangs, Christian Nestorians & likely Karens, Chinkukis... as well. All of them being Israelites. The Karens & the Chinkukis were once in China & some maay haave stayed & assimilated into the Han ethnicity. The Nestorian Christians were in China as well & must have assimilated because they haven't vanished away.

I don't deny the fact that the different Chinese governments have persecuted & eliminated its minorities though, but part of them have gone abroad or have assimilated.

It is known that the Chiangs were once counted in the millions, but through extermination & assimilation they are currently less than a million. As a fact many of the Kaifengs have assimilated into the Hans too. Although several of them assimilated are aware of their roots, the level of assimilation through the centuries has made large numbers of Israelites lose their identity in China & be counted as Han Chinese. 

Perhaps the Chins (part of the Chinkuki ethnicity) received their name from the assimilationist Chin (or Qing) dynasty. The Chiangs or Qiangs might have received it from the them too.

Luckily for them they run away with other Israelites to what is now India, Bangladesh & Myanmar. The Shans were in China & moved to Burma. They are likely Israelites too. The Kachins might be Israelites too & are living in areas of both China & India. 

The history of assimilation has been repeted everywhere for Israelites & gentiles alike. There are millions of Israelites that don't even know what they are.

Uyghurs

The Uyghurs might not be Israelites, but there are Israelitish looking people (a well as blood) among them: the blue eyed & blond ones or the ones with Semitic features. Theey are descendents of ancient Turkish Uyghurs, Iranian Saka (Israelite Iranian speakers really) tribes & Indo-European peoples. The second group is really Semitic ethnically (not speaking though) & the third could be too. The celebraated Tarim mummies are regarded as ancestors (in part at least) of thee Uygurs. 

These mummies have European looking features, red headed included. They aare considered to have been Saka speakers. Tarim is in Uyghuristan, but interestingly there's another Tarim in Yemen, a nation of Israelite origin. The truth is genetic studies agree that Uygurs have more European (Israelite) roots than Asian ones. Kashgar or Kashi, capital of Uyghuristan, bears the name of Kush or Qais, the ancestor of the neighborly Pashtuns.

Qiang people

The Qiang people (Chinese: 羌族; Mandarin Pinyin: qiāng zú; Jyutping: goeng zuk) are an ethnic group of China. They form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China, with a population of approximately 200,000 in 1990. They live mainly in mountainous region in the northwestern part of Sichuan province on the eastern edge of the Tibetan plateau.


Qiang people were mentioned in ancient Chinese texts as well as inscriptions on the oracle bones of 3,000 years ago. However the ancient Qiang people referred to in these ancient texts were a broad group of people and the ancestors of the modern Tibeto-Burman speakers, they are therefore not the equivalent of the modern Qiang people who are a small branch of the ancient Qiangs. Many of the people formerly designated as Qiangs were gradually removed from this category in Chinese texts as they become sinicized or reclassified, and by the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) periods, the term Qiang denoted only the non-Han people living in the upper Min River Valley and Beichuan area, the area now occupied by the modern Qiangs.

The territory of the Qiangs lies between the land of the Han Chinese and the Tibetans, and the Qiangs would fall under the domination of either the Han Chinese or the Tibetans. There were also fightings between different Qiang villages, and the Qiang people constructed watchtowers and houses with thick stone walls and small windows and doors due to the constant threat of attack. Each village may have one or more stone towers in the past, and the Qiang stone watchtowers remains a distinctive feature of some Qiang villages.

Qiang people were mentioned in ancient Chinese texts as well as inscriptions on the oracle bones of 3,000 years ago. However the ancient Qiang people referred to in these ancient texts were a broad group of people and the ancestors of the modern Tibeto-Burman speakers, they are therefore not the equivalent of the modern Qiang people who are a small branch of the ancient Qiangs. Many of the people formerly designated as Qiangs were gradually removed from this category in Chinese texts as they become sinicized or reclassified, and by the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) periods, the term Qiang denoted only the non-Han people living in the upper Min River Valley and Beichuan area, the area now occupied by the modern Qiangs.

The territory of the Qiangs lies between the land of the Han Chinese and the Tibetans, and the Qiangs would fall under the domination of either the Han Chinese or the Tibetans. There were also fightings between different Qiang villages, and the Qiang people constructed watchtowers and houses with thick stone walls and small windows and doors due to the constant threat of attack. Each village may have one or more stone towers in the past, and the Qiang stone watchtowers remains a distinctive feature of some Qiang villages.

The modern Qiangs refer to themselves as /ʐme/ (rma, 尔玛 erma in Chinese, or RRmea in Qiang orthography), or a dialect variant of the word. However, they did not define themselves as the Qiang people (羌族, Qiang zu) until the twentieth century as Qiang is a Han Chinese classification. Many however have sought to gain Qiang status due to government policy of prohibition of discrimination as well as economic subsidies for minority nationalities which has made minority status an attractive option since 1949. The number of Qiangs has therefore increased due to the reclassification of people, and there are about 200,000 Qiang people today in Sichuan, predominantly in the Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, in the counties of Maoxian, Wenchuan, Lixian, Beichuan, Heishui, and Songpan.

On 12 May 2008, the Qiang people were heavily affected by the major Sichuan earthquake, whose epicenter was in Wenchuan County.

Modern Qiang people speak one of the Qiang languages which are members of the Qiangic sub-family of Tibeto-Burman. However, Qiang dialects are so different that communication between different Qiang groups is often in Han Chinese. The education system largely uses Chinese as a medium of instruction for the Qiang people, and as a result of the universal access to schooling and TV in Chinese, very few Qiang people cannot speak Chinese, but there are many Qiangs who cannot speak the Qiang language.

Until recently, the Qiang lacked a script of their own, and the Qiangs carved marks on wood to remember events or communicate. In the late 1980s a writing system was developed for the Qiang language based on the Qugu (曲谷) variety of a Northern dialect using the Roman alphabet. The introduction has not been successful due to the complexities of the Qiang sound system and the concomitant difficulty of its writing system, as well as the diversity of the Qiang dialects and the lack of reading material. The Qiangs also use Chinese characters.

The often matrilineal Qiang society is primarily monogamous, although polyandry and cross-cousin marriages are accepted. Since most women are older than their husbands and lead agricultural activities, they act as the head of the family as well as the society.

The Qiang find marriage important. In the past, marriages were arranged by an individual's parents, with approval from the individual. It is still not unusual for the bride to live in her parents' home for a year or so after her marriage. In the past, children were usually separated from their parents after marriage, except for the first son and his family. However, such customs have been gradually discarded since the Chinese Civil War.

The Qiang also have strict customs regarding birth and death. Prior to the birth of a baby the pregnant woman is not allowed to go near the riverside or a well, attend a wedding ceremony, or stand in the watchtower.

Upon delivery a Duangong shaman is invited to help the delivery procedure and strangers are not allowed to wail or enter the house afterwards. This is ensured by hanging a flail on the house gate for a week upon the birth of a boy and a bamboo basket upon the birth of a girl.


After she has given birth, the woman is not allowed into the kitchen for one month thereafter. It would be considered a sinful action against the kitchen and family gods. Neither is she allowed to leave her home, unless it is burning down, or meet any strangers for the first forty days after delivery. It is believed that there is a real danger of evil spirits (or infectious diseases) coming into the house, which could harm the mother. A ceremony of initiation into the family is conducted for the baby, when a cow is sacrificed on the home altar and the baby receives its name.

Stillborn or premature babies are not considered human beings by the Qiang. Instead, the stillborn is considered to be a demon, which caused the woman to become pregnant in order to cause problems for the family. They are buried unceremoniously.

The Qiang today are mountain dwellers. A fortress village, zhai 寨, composed of 30 to 100 households, in general, is the basic social unit beyond the household. An average of two to five fortress villages in a small valley along a mountain stream, known in local Chinese as gou 溝, make up a village cluster (cun 村). The inhabitants of fortress village or village cluster have close contact in social life. In these small valleys, people cultivate narrow fluvial plains along creeks or mountain terraces, hunt animals or collect mushrooms and herbs (for food or medicine) in the neighboring woods, and herd yaks and horses on the mountain-top pastures.

                 This Qiang traditional house reminds of the booths of the Israelite festival of Sukkot & red around the door makes me think of the painting of the doorposts with blood when the Israelites were in Egypt.
Owing to its ethnic diversity, Qiang culture has influenced and been influenced by other cultures. Generally, those who live nearer to the Tibetans are influenced by the Tibetan culture, while the majority are more influenced by the Han Chinese, which has close links with its ethnic history.

Both the menfolk and womenfolk wear gowns made of gunny cloth, cotton and silk with sleeveless wool jackets. Following age-old traditions, their hair and legs are bound. The womenfolk wear laced clothing with decorated collars, consisting of plum-shaped silver ornaments. Sharp-pointed and embroidered shoes, embroidered girdles and earrings, neck rings, hairpins and silver badges are also popular.

Millet, highland barley, potatoes, winter wheat and buckwheat serve as the staple food of the Qiang. Consumption of wine and smoking of orchid leaves are also popular among the Qiangs.

The Qiangs live in granite stone houses generally consisting of two to three stories. The first floor is meant for keeping livestock and poultry, while the second floor is meant for the living quarters, and the third floor for grain storage. If the third floor does not exist, the grains will be kept on the first or second floor instead.

Skilled in construction of roads and bamboo bridges, the Qiangs can build them on the rockiest cliffs and swiftest rivers. Using only wooden boards and piers, these bridges can stretch up to 100 meters. Others who are excellent masons are good at digging wells. Especially during poor farming seasons, they will visit neighboring places to do chiseling and digging.

Embroidery and drawn work are done extemporaneously without any designs. Traditional songs related to topics such as wine and the mountains are accompanied by dances and the music of traditional instruments such as leather drums.

The majority of the Qiang adhere to a polytheist religion, known as Ruism, a religion that involves belief in the White Stones that were worshiped as representing the sun god, who will bring good luck to their daily aspects of life. Others, who live near the Tibetans follow Tibetan Buddhism. Small minorities of Muslims and Taoists exist as well.

The Qiang worship five major gods, twelve lesser gods, some tree gods, and numerous stones were also worshiped as representatives of gods. A special god is also worshiped in every village and locality, who are mentioned by name in the sacred chants of the Qiang priests. Mubyasei, also known Abba Chi and as the god of heaven, is also considered as the supreme god. This term is also used to refer to a male ancestor god, Abba Sei. In certain places, Shan Wang, the mountain god, is considered to represent the supreme god. The Qiang people have also adopted many practices of the Taoists as well.

For some Qiangs, most White Stones were placed on the corners of their roofs or towers, as a good luck symbol for the sun. A square stone pagoda, which is located on the edge of many Qiang villages and on the top of a nearby hill as well. The pagoda is usually over two meters high and its uppermost part is inlaid with a circle of small white stones. A larger white stone is also placed at the pinnacle as well.

A small pagoda is also sometimes built on the roof of a house, with a pottery jar that contained five varieties of grain is placed within the pagoda. On top of the pagoda, a white stone is placed together with ox and sheep horns. By tradition, the door of a Qiang house is supposed to face south and the pagoda is built on the northern end of the roof in line with the door. Every morning, the Qiang family will burn incense sticks or cedar twigs in the pagoda and kowtow to it, praying for the protection of the family by the god of the white stone.

However, with modernization, worship of the White Stones is not nearly as common as it used to be. There are several legends that explain the origin of this stone worship.

At the legendary time when the Qiang people moved into Sichuan from the Tibetan Plateau, they placed white stones on every hilltop and crossroads, for they did not want to forget the route leading back to their original homeland. These piles of white stones also act as a token of their affection for their homeland and the people they left behind at the same time.

Upon arriving at the territory of the local Geji people, the Qiang fought a losing battle. Jirpol, witnessing the condition that they were in, instructed the Qiang to find a strong white stone and attach it to rattan sticks and fight with this weapon, tying some sheep wool to the neck of the stick as well. Victory was on their side, and the Qiangs began to look upon the white stones as gods to be worshipped.

The Chiang Min tribe of China are Israelites

The polyandry practised by the Qiangs seems to be like a deviation of the levirate marriage. So it is with the roll of the Qiang shaman that resembles the Israelite priest.

                    Is Yu, the mythical ancestor of the Qiangs, Judah or is he the very Yahweh, the God of Israel?

Some scholars consider the legendary Yellow Emperor of China & the Qing Chinese dynasty to be the origin of the Qiang. If the Qiang were Israelites, the Qing dynasty & the Yellow Emperor may have been Children of Israel too. The entrepeneurial spirit of the Chinese, together with their love for their ancestors & their love for mountains may have been received by a minoritarian elite, like a ruling dynasty, just as in the case of Japan. The Ox-king festival may have Israelite origin because making a king of an ox is similar to worsshipping it as the ancient Israelites did with the golden calf. Some Qiang agree that this Han Chinese costum wasn't there before, as if hinting that iw was a Qiang costum. The lunar calendar is typically Hebrew & used by Qiangs, Amerindians...The Qiangs have classified themselves as the strongest military opponents of the Hans in the past. Is it because the Qiangs were such good warriors as the ancient Israelites, Pashtuns...?

In Wikipedia there's an article about the remarkable relation between ancient Hebrews & watchtowers. Romans, British, Chian Mings, Philippinians & Yemenis are cited in this article. It's noteworthy that, except for the Romans, all these peoples are considered to have Israelite origin. The Romans were in contact with "Barbarian" Germanic Israelites, Carthaginian Israelites, Parthian Israelites (Parthia was the other superpower peering Rome) & Judeans, so the Romans might have taken the watchtower from some of them. The Filipinos are the only ones that don't have a strong Israelite claim so far. The Muslim Yemenis have a high proportion of the Cohen gene. This, together with the historical Israelite migration to Yemen and the Jewish kingdom of Yemen, confirms that Yemenis are Israelites Again I include in the category of Israelite Muslim Yemenis. It's also noteworthy that the Qiangs worship trees as pagan Israelites worshipped in groves.

It's remarkable that the Qiang  build watchtowers  as it's costumary in the Middle East & it's even more remarkable that they often build 13 floors, the number of tribes that result from adding the two sons-tribes of Joseph to the 11 tribes. The men's gown might be blue to represent the color of heaven like Jews identified blue with heaven (in the blue fringes they added to their clothes). Their consumpsion of pork might have been taken from the the great appreciation the Chinese have for pork (as with the Marranos, the Jews that were forced to join Catholicism) as it happened with the idol worshipping taken from the Chinese. It's shocking that the Qiangs celebrate New Year the same date as the Jews. Whereas the Qiangs do it the 1st of october, the Jews do it either in this day or around it. It's even more shocking the use of teh lunar calendar. Obviously the origin of the sacrifices made by the Qiangs to the spirit on New Year comes from the sacrifices offered to Yahveh. The fact that the Qiang worship sheep can be attributed to the important shepherd culture of ancient Israel & that ancient Israel used sheep as a sacrifice to God, but in an appostate way worshipping the sheep instead of the Lord. The Israelites even had a shepherd king, David, being him with his son Solomon, the most important king. Further, Jesus Christ names himself the Good Shepherd. Their dwelling places in the highest areas of the earth must have been taken as a blessing received by God because of the importance the Israelites gave to mountains. 

Jiuding mountain of the Qiangs. Their holy mountain.
The Jiuding, their most revered & beautiful mountain, sounds a bit like the word "Judean" or "Yahudim" in Hebrew. In the Qiang area there's also a celebrated cave & a former temple, both called "Yu", also resembling the word "Jew", but it's more likely that it was received from the name of Yaweh, losing some vowels as usually happens with Semitic languages. The Chinese Hans with Qiang origin should be researched in order to find these "Lost Israelites" as it has been done with the Kaifeng Jews. It's remarkable that the Qiang are wonderful masons as the ones that made Solomon's Temple  from which it's believed that the Freemasons (thru the Knight Templars) received more than only masonry.

It's noteworthy that the Qiang society is matrilineal, just as the conservative & orthodox Jews inherit their Jewishness. The Qiang costum of staying in the house for a month after giving birth resembles the Jewish costum of leaving the woman separated during menstruation. However since Chinese civil war this tradition is disappearing. Prior to birth women are forbidden to go to rivers, stand in watchtowers or attend weddings, being also a costum similar to the female Jewish seclusion during mesntruation. It's as if watchtowers were somehow sacred, reminding the Jewish appreciation for other high places like temples or mountains. The cypher 40 of the prohibition of leaving the house until 40 days pass is found in Noah's 40 days of flood & Jesus Christ of fasting. Sacrificing cows, like in the case of the future red heifer, is an Israelite tradition. It's also noteworthy their worship of 12 lesser gods. Many cultures started worshipping their ancestors as gods. Where these 12 gods originally the 12 patriarchs of Israel? I belief so.

There's a city in Nigeria called Aba, the Hebrew word for father. It's found in Iboland, and Ibos have Hebrew origin. There's another Aba in western China in Tibet and surroundings. This is were the Erma (Chiang) live. Can we see the possibility in Aba having origin in Aramaic too? It's interesting that the Qiangs have marriages in high esteem just as ancient Israel did. Another point in common between the two is that marriage in olden times were arranged by one's parents. The Qiang worshipped tree just as the pagan Israelites worshipped in groves. 

The supreme god of Qiang is called Abba, a word that means father in Aramaic. This is interesting because they consider Abba to be a male ancestor. Was this Abba, Abraham, the father of the believers?

These are clear deviations from the original Israelite believe. Another deviation from the Israelite faith is the consideration by some of the Qiangs as their Supreme God a mountain called Shan Wang. The meaning of the name of the mountain is "Mountain God". This clearly resembles the high esteem given to mountains by old Israel: Sinai, Moriah, Gerizim... In fact the most sacred place of the ancient lsraelite religion, the Temple of Solomon, was built on a mountain. Moreover the Temple is called in several scriptures' passages as the Mountain or Mountain of the Lord. From Mountain of the Lord to Mountain of God to Mountain God there's not a big step linguistically nor semantically for apostate Israelites. The tradition of deifying mountains is attributed to the Chinese but seems to be more logical to be the other way around as in the case of the Greek's worshipping of the Olympos mountain. Indeed in Christianity, Islam & other beliefs they have holy places, hermitages or shrines on top of the mountains, tradition probably taken from the Jews & other Israelites.

Do the stones that the Qiangs worship have anything to do with the 12 stones of the breastplate of the Israelite priest, the Urim & Thummim, the 12 stones found in the Jordan river. As Joshua 4:6 says "That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?"


These biblical accounts, especially the biblical refence show us the importance of certain stones the Lord gave for the people of Israel, npt being the lesser reason to be recognized as its people in the future, specifically in our days previous to the coming of the Messiah. The worship of the Qiangs toward particular stones could have been easily changed from their original god given purpose.

The Chiang Min

This tribe, numbering about a quarter of a million, lives on the Chinese-Tibetan border approximately where the Shinlung say they once dwelled. Ethnically Chinese, they were monotheistic even before they converted to Christianity. According to their tradition, they are “sons of Abraham”; when they sacrifice an animal, they plant 12 flags around the altar, to recall their ancestors' 12 sons. 

Some people call them Israelite Tibetans for the area of their dwelling. It's remarkable that they passed thru Tibet & that Lhasa, capital of Tibet, has almost the same name of an ancient Israelite city mentioned in Genesis 10:19 (Laish or Lasha, depending on the time or version). But it's not the only Biblical name repeated in the area of the Hindu Kush & the Himalaya & around it (in brackets the Biblical name or explanation): Samarkand (meaning city of Samaria in the local language), Pishgah (Pisgah), Rezin (Rezin), Samaryah (Samaria), Gozana (Gozan)...

                                                                  Chiang min priest

In the book Isaiah we find the Hebrew name Sinim. Sin is Hebrew name for China. And the inhabitants Chinese are called "Sinim". The verse reads:

"Behold, these are coming from afar. These from the north and the west and these from the land of Sinim. Shout O Heavens and rejoice O earth, for Adonai has comforted his people. And has taken back His afflicted ones in love."

In fortlike villages in the high mountain ranges on the Chinese-Tibetan border live the Chiang-Min of Szechuan. According to the Scottish missionary, Reverend Thomas Torrance, who visited Chengdu in 1918, the Chiang-Min are descendants of the ancient Israelites who arrived in China several hundred years before the common era.

Torrance issued several publications in the 1920s on the subject of the customs and religion of the Chiang, and in 1937 produced his work China’s First Missionaries: Ancient Israelites – a culmination of his ideas concerning the origins and life of the Chiang-Min. 

Torrance notes that the Chiang-Min "...retain unquestionable marks of being members of the Israelitish branch of the Semitic race..."among them unmistakable Semitic features. He finds many customs common to ancient Israelite religion. The Chiang-Min believe in one God and serve the Abbah Molan, reminiscent of the Israelite Malach or messenger of God (angel). "In times of calamity or acute distress, the people have a moan or cry of a ‘Yawei’ sound - very suggestive...of the Biblical name of G'd."


The Chiang conception of sacrifice, too, according to Torrance, came from the ancient Israelites. The plough used by the Chiang is similar to the ancient Israelite plough and is drawn by two oxen, this in accordance with the stipulation in Deut. 22:10: "You shall not plough with an ox and ass together." Chiang-Min priests, like the ancient Israelite priests wear girdles to bind their robes, and bear a sacred rod shaped like a serpent, reminiscent of the Biblical Nehushtan (the brass serpent made by Moses: Numbers 21:9; II Kings 18:4).
There are Jews who established communities in various parts of China, chiefly in Kaifeng, who probably arrived in the region in the 10th-11th centuries as traders via the "Silk Route." 

Many missionaries who came into contact with the Chinese Jews in the 17th through 19th centuries were convinced that they were descendants of the Lost Tribes who had either arrived through Khourasan and Turkestan or on the sea route through India and the Malayan archipelago; most authorities, however, claim they are of Persian Jewish origin.
Apparently the Chiang, Shinlung (from the Indo-Burman border) and Karen (from Thailand) were once one and the same tribe.

The Chiang or Chiang-Min (name given by the Chinese), an ancient people number about 250 thousand people live in the mountainous area of northwest China, west of the Min River, near the border of Tibet, in Szechuan.

The language of the Chiang tribe had been forgotten and they had also lost their ancient script. Today they speak Chinese and two other languages, one that originates from Tibet and the other is a slang which is called Chiaring.

The area which they live is famous for its rare animals and plants including the Panda bear. The Chiang people live in villages similar to fortresses which are generally built on hilltops. In the past they were a great people who ruled the provincial territories from Kansu in the north to Liyunan in the south.

Historical maps during the Han dynasty (3rd century BCE - 3rd century CE) show that this tribe the Chiang spread to the northwest part of China. They themselves see themselves as immigrants from the west who reached this area after a journey of three years three months. The Chinese treated them as Barbarians and they denominated the Chinese as idol worshipers.

Hate and enmity existed between the Chinese and this tribe for a long time. They lived independently until the middle of the 18th century when they became part of the general population to earn more freedom. The religious pressure from the Chinese, the spread of Christianity, and the influence of intermarriage caused the Chiang tribe to generally and greatly give up their special monotheistic way of life.

However it is still possible even today to learn about the past traditions of the Chiang tribe through their customs and their faith which they still keep. This tribe had been living a special Israelite way of life for 2300 years.
According to their tradition, the Chiang tribe is the descendant of Abraham and their forefather had 12 sons. Those among them who did not take Chinese wives after their victory in war still look Semitic. 

The character traits of this people are integrity, love of neighbor, mutual aid, generosity, modesty, shyness, gratitude, and stubbornness. They also have a fear of heaven or respect for God.

They believe in one God whom they call Abachi meaning the father of heaven, or Mabichu, the spirit of heaven, or also Tian, heaven. As a result of Chinese influences they all call Him God of the mountains as the mountains are the central place for worship of God, although the God of Israel appeared to the Israelites often in mountains & Israelite worshipping places are usually called "mountains" in the Bible.

Their concept of God is that of an all powerful God who watches over the entire world, judges the world fairly, rewards the righteous, and punishes the wicked. This God gives them the opportunity to do repentance and to gain atonement for their actions. In times of trouble, they call God Yah-weh.

They also believe in spirits and demons and they are forbidden to worship them, but this is probably a Chinese influence. In the past they had written scrolls of parchment and also books but today they only have oral traditions. They themselves do not understand the prayers that they recite every week.

The Custom of Sacrifice Among the Chiang Tribe

The Chiang tribe lives a very special way of life based on the offering of animal sacrifices which seems to have been seen among the Ten Tribes of Israel. It is forbidden to worship statues or foreign gods and anyone who offers a sacrifice to another god faces the death penalty.

This worship is performed in two ways. It is public sacrifice on platforms erected on mountain tops on which they build altars of stone which may not be fashioned with tools and on which they offer special sacrifices.

They also have domestic of personal sacrifices on domestic altars built on flat surfaces on the roofs of their houses. There is an atmosphere of holy worship in all these sacrifices. They are performed by priests whose priesthood is passed down through inheritance from father to son. This was the same in ancient Israel.

These priests wear clean white clothes and perform the sacrifices in a state of purity as the priests in ancient Israel did (1 Samuel 15:27). I recall that Japanese Shinto priests also wear clean white clothes at holy events.

The priest of the Chiang tribe wears a special head turban. The priest is ordained in a special ceremony in which sacrifices are also offered. Unmarried men may not be a priest, which was the same in ancient Israel (Leviticus 21:7, 13). 

The the Chiang tribe does not have statues of images but they do have two symbols of holiness. A clean white sheet of paper and a piece of natural white stone. These symbolize absolute purity and perhaps the written parchment which they had in the past. Before one worships God, you must become holy and purify yourself.

It is perhaps because of the Assyrian influence of the past that they try to build their altars next to trees or branches. The altar itself is built of earth which is molded into stones which are then laid one on top of the other without being cut of fashioned by any tool of metal. It is important to remember that in the Torah, the ancient altar could not be made of cut stones (Exodus 20:25), since the sword or whatever tool to be used to cut the stone was also an instrument of war and harm.

The main part of the service is performed at night perhaps to conceal it from other Chinese or because of the special effect of the silence and the tranquility of night. This was also ancient Israeli tradition. It is interesting that the important rituals of Japanese Shinto religion are also performed at night.

Before the offering of sacrifices, one is required to wash one's self and one's clothing and to dress in clean garments. Sacrificial animals themselves must be washed and purified. There is a special place for purification and washing. The elders and priest place their hands on the head of the sacrifice which is to be slaughtered then offer their prayers.

Strangers are forbidden to approach the place of worship. The priest of the Chiang tribe perform the service solemnly. "Unclean ones" are also forbidden to approach the service (Leviticus 21:17-23). These were the same in ancient Israel.

The purpose of the sacrifice is a type of atonement and to bring God's blessings upon those offering the sacrifice. The sacrifice has the purpose of taking away sin and blood must be sprinkled on the corners of the altar to be granted atonement and to have one's prayers accepted.

Prayer Words of the Chiang Tribe

One of the prayers pronounced by the priest of the Chiang tribe in China includes the following prayer: "Priest of God, You are the Priest of the generations who are witnesses to the fact that our sacrifice is pure and has not been changed by us, but has been performed in the same manner since ancient times. We hereby fulfill our vows. We have not eaten impure foods for three days and we have not been in impure places. We have gathered in the holy place, the bundles of grass for the sprinkling of the blood are in their places and we have brought the sacrifices and have lowered the rope on the bundles of grass for the sprinkling of the blood."

Following the prayer many of the organs of the animal are burnt with the meat in the fire and the priest receives the shoulder, the chest, the legs, and also the skin, and the meat is divided among the worshipers. At the time of the sacrifice 12 flags (at the time of the Old Testament every tribe had its own symbol & standard or flag) are placed around the altar in order to teach that they originate from a father who had 12 sons. This system of sacrifices is very similar to the sacrifices brought in ancient Israel at the time of the dispersion of the Lost Tribes.

Among the ceremonies that the Chiang tribe has include the sprinkling of blood on the doorpost to insure the safekeeping of the house, and the laws of levirate marriage which was an Israeli custom as I mentioned earlier. It is considered shameful for a woman to leave her hair uncovered and therefore, they wear white scarves. Mixed dancing of men and women does not take place. And they have a custom of closing all forests for 50 years after which they have a special ceremony to mark their opening. This is like a custom in ancient Israel.

The Chiang tribe also has a purification of the earth as well as a ceremony with a white scroll or parchment. They show great love for parchment and take care to make sure that it remains unblemished. They also practice trances for witchcraft and to expel demons and this may be a Chinese influence.

The Chiang tribe has a new year feast, a feast of feast, and a feast of thanksgiving, but circumcision is not performed. But after the 7th day or at the eve of the 40th day of the child's life, a white rooster is slaughtered in the child's honor and he is given a name.

The Qiang Ethnic Group

The Qiang people are nomadic and worship sheep as the totem. The Qiang flute is their traditional music instrument. The design composed of a sheep horn and a Qiang flute reflects the long history of the Qiangs and embodies the Qiangs’ art and culture as well.

The environment and the population—Rosy dawn on the top of Jiuding Mountain and the Dayu’s hometown

The Qiangs call themselves “Erma” which means local people. The Qiang ethnic group has a population of 306 072 who mostly distribute in Maoxian, Wenchuan, Lixian, Beichuang and Mianyang City Pingwu in Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province. A small number of Qiangs dwell in Ganzi-Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province and Guangzhou Privince.

Qiang picture with 12 circles that may represent the 12 tribes of Israel.

The Qiangs area is at the east edge of Qinghai-Xizang Plateau where there are many mountains and deep canyons. The Jiuding Mountain is 4982 meters high above the sea level and the landscape named “the rosy dawn on the top of Jiuding Mountain” is widely well known and it’s one of the symbols of the Qiangs area as well. The Mingjiang River is the mother river of the Qiangs, which is rich in water resources for electricity. The area abounds in Chinese prickly ashes, walnuts, tea trees, lacquer trees as well as Chinese caterpillar fungus, bulb of fritillary, antlers and musk, which are used as medicine. In the Wolong nature preservation zone there are such rare animals as giant pandas, gold monkeys, etc. In addition, the beautiful scenery attracts lots of visitors from around the world.

Moreover, the place is the birthplace of Dayu where there are such famous historical remains as the Yu Cave and the Yu Temple. Dayu was the hero in regulating rivers and watercourses. According to the legends, he was also do selfless that he hadn’t gone home for thirteen years because of work even if he had passed by home for three times. In addition, he built up the first dynasty of Xia.

The long history—The ancient ethnic group with its name unchanged for 3 000 years

“:Qiang” was a name given by the ancient Hans to the nomadic people in west Chian. Over 3 000 years ago, inscriptions on bones or tortoise shells in the Shang Dynasty recorded the Qiang people. Some Qiangs were merged in the course of the forming of the Huaxia people, the ancestors of the Hans today. Since the Zhou Dynasty the Hans have assimilated some ancient Qiangs, who gradually came to the Central Plains. And some Qiangs, migrating southeast from the Hehuang River valley, lived together with the local people and developed into the ethnic groups of Tibetan-Myamnese language family. More than 2,000 years ago, some of the Qiang tribes, such as Maoniu, Baima, Canlang, Ranlong. ect, which were differentiated from each other through totems, lived in the southeast area. Among these, the Ranlong tribe, which distributed in the upper reaches of the Minjiang River and the northeast of Sichuan Province, gradually mixed together with immigrating Qiangs of different times and a few of Tufans and Hans, and developed into
the Qiangs today.

The language and the religious belief

The Qiang language, which has two types of dialects, the south dialect and the north dialect, belongs to the Qiang language branch of the Tibetan-Myanmese language family of the Chinese-Tibetan system. Formerly, the Qiangs had no written script of their own and Chinese become the written form of the Qiang language. In 1958, alphabetic writing was created and tried out in the Qiangs area. And now, 70% of Qiangs use the Qiang language and 30%, Chinese. The Qiangs believe in primitive religion and parts of them believe in the Tibetan Buddhism and the Taoism. There are no professional clergymen, and the amateur wizards are called “Shibi”.

The stone house—The watchtower and the blockhouse

Generally speaking, a Qiang village consists of tens of households. These castle-like villages are mostly located on the semi-mountain. Watchtowers, some thirteen or fourteen stories, penetrating into the cloud, are well laid out and magnificent. Watchtowers appeared over 2 000 years ago. Every floor is divided with plank and people go up and down through singe wood stairs. In walls are there small holes. According to
the Later Han Dynasty, the Ranlong Qiangs “all lived at the foot of mountains and made stone house, with high of over ten meters.” And this style of building has never changed since the Han Dynasty up till now. What a miracle in the history of architecture! Generally, the local-style dwelling houses are blockhouses made of piled up stones.


These houses are two or three stories high, square-shaped, with plat housetop and walls made of flagstones. The first floor is for livestock and poultry, the second retained as bedrooms and the third for grain storage. The plat roof can be used for sunning ground for drying grains and playground for elderly people and children as well. The Qiangs are so good at building that they can build walls without drafting and plumbing line. And these walls are of perfect structure, plat and angular. Solid, practical, warm in winter and cool in summer, these houses embody the wisdom of the Qiangs.

The peculiars bridges—bamboo-chain bridges, rising bridges, slant-bridges, and stone bridges

In order to get over cliffs and precipices the Qiangs created various bridges. Take the chain bridge for example, the Qiangs link up the two sides of a river with a thick bamboo rope and people hang themselves to the bamboo rope with a hemp rope on their waists and fly from one side of a river to the other side. And the rising bridge is also called wood bridge with suspended arms. Logs are paved layer upon layer on both sides of a river and reach to the center of a river layer by layer and join together at last. The bridge is paved with planks so that it is convenient for people and animals to cross. And the slant-bridge is the same as a plank roadway built along perpendicular rock-faces by means of wooden brackets fixed into the cliff, keeping close to the cliff. The most remains are stone bridges. Among them many stone bridges, which the Qiangs take pride in, were made in the Tang and Ming Dynasties.

The costume and ornament—The woolen outer coat and Yunyun shoes

The Qiangs today mostly wear traditional clothes. Men generally wear long blue gowns with buttons down the front right, which are made of gunny clothes. With sleeveless and collarless woolen jackets out, the Qiang men have their heads covered by black scarves and legs banded with puttees and waists bound by
cotton-hemp belts. What’s more, they have a big pocket hanging in front of their chest, which are made of
embroidered silk fabric and are used to contain money, tobacco, and gunpowder, etc. The Qiang women’s
costume is bright-colored. They wear embroidered long garments and embroidered aprons and ribbons.


They generally wear black scarves and some women in certain areas prefer white. The Qiang women are fond of ornaments such as silver badges, ornaments for collar, rings, eardrops, bracelets and so on. The Qiang women do well in crossing stitch and embroidering that are mainly used to ornament aprons, scarves, vamps, collars, sleeves, etc. They embroider a wide range of things and those designs are all lifelike. Among these, the Yunyun shoes, a kind of fabric shoes, are the most unique things and the Qiangs wear them on days of jubilation. Tips warped, the Yunyun shoes are ship-shaped and unique with the uppers of shoes embroidered designs of colorful clouds.

The dietetic customs—The “the gold wrapped silver”, “the plump pork” and “Zajiu”

The Qiangs’ staple food includes maize, wheat, highland barley, potatoes and buckwheat and they eat several kinds of vegetables such as rape, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, ect. The Qiangs steam maize flour into pellet-shaped “Yumizhengzheng”. Mix rice and maize flour, and then get the “silver wrapped by gold”. The Qiangs are used to hanging pork on roof beams in order to air-dry the pork and make “plump pork”. The plump pork, having been preserved for a long time, is very delicious, the fat bright and transparent and the thin of fine color and luster.

Unique in style, the Zajiu wine is a kind of traditional drink, with a history of over 1 000 years, which are made of buckwheat, wheat, barley or maize fermented. Zajiu wine is necessary to happy event and there is a fixed ceremony of drinking: a toastmaster, who is of noble character and high prestige, makes a speech for the wine and spaying a little wine to offer a sacrifice to Heaven, Earth, and spirits. Then, he sticks the staff into the wine jug and people suck the wine in age order, singing and dancing and enjoying themselves.

The festivals and the pastimes—The Qiang’s New Year, the Shalang Dance and the Qiang flute

The New Year of Qiangs, on October 1st of lunar calendar, is the most important festival for Qiang people. The main activities for the festival are offering sacrifices to the spirit, dancing the Shalang Dance and other traditional entertainment. Other traditional festivals include the “meeting of offering sacrifices to the mountains” and “women’s day”. The Shalang Dance, also called the Qiangs Guozhuang, is a kind of ancient dance for pleasing oneself. When dancing Shalang Dance, men and women with rich dress dance around a fire, arm in arm, singing and dancing, going against a clock.While taking a break, people cheer and drink Zajiu wine. The sheepskin drum dance is another kind of well-known dance of the Qiangs, which Shibi, the wizard of the Qiangs, dances while offering sacrifices to the Heaven and ancestors. The dance is bold and unconstrained and enthusiastic, which embodies the bold and generous disposition of the Qiangs.

Qiangs flute is the most well-known instrument. The poem of Out of the Great Wall written byWangzhuhuan in the Tang Dynasty goes as follows: “The Yellow River reaches as high as the top of the white cloud; the lonely town lies amid the mountains proud. Why shouldthe Qiang flute complain that no willow grows?Beyond the Gate of Jade no vernal wind will blow.” And the Qiang flute mentioned in the poem id still being used by the Qiangs. The thin bamboo tubes standing side by side are made of oil bamboo peculiar to Minjiang area and the bamboo oboes are put in the top of the flute. The flute is played in a special way named “blowing cheek and exchanging air”. While playing the flute, the player breathes in as he breathes out in order to make continuous, beautiful melody.

Erma or Chiang

The modern Qiangs refer to themselves as erma in Chinese. "Behold, These are coming from afar. These from the north and the west and these from the land of Sinim." This prophecy, spoken by Isaiah, promised the return of Lost Israelites from all corners of the Earth and from Sinim.

Interestingly, Sinim is the Hebrew word for China. In fort-like villages in the high mountain ranges on the Chinese-Tibetan border live the Chiang-Min of West Szechuan. It has been claimed that the Chiang-Min are descendants of the ancient Israelites who arrived in China several hundred years before Christ.

                                                                                  Do the many colors of these women have any relation with Joseph's many color's tunic? If they are Manassehites like their related Shinlung it would be likely.

The missionary Torrance, who visited Cheng-du in the early party of this century, insisted that the Chiang-Min strongly resemble the Israelite branch of the Semitic race.

He observed that several of their customs were reminiscent of ancient Israelite tradition. Said Torrance: "The plough the Chiang use is similar to the ancient Israelite plough and is drawn by two oxen, never by an ox and an ass. This in accordance with the Biblical stipulation: 'You shall not plough with an ox and ass together.'"

The Chiang-Min  believe in one God. During "times of calamity or acute distress," writes Torrance, "they issue a moan or cry which sounds like 'Yawei', suggestive of the biblical name of God. The Scottish missionary also claims that the Chinese conception of Sacrifice came from the ancient Israelites.

Finally, Chiang-Min priests, like the ancient Israelite priests, wear girdles to bind their robes, and bear a sacred rod shaped like a serpent, reminiscent of the brass serpent fashioned by Moses in the wilderness.

The Han Chinese Jews of Kaifeng

Archeological evidence points to Jews in China as early as the 8th century. Many travelers, including Marco Polo in the 13th century, wrote of meeting Jews. In fact, during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), a Ming emperor conferred seven surnames upon the Jews, by which they are identifiable today: Ai, Lao, Jin, Li, Shi, Zhang and Zhao. Interestingly, two of these Shi and Jin are the equivalent of common Jewish names in the west: Stone and Gold.

Jyutping is a romanization system for Cantonese, nevertheless Jyut is very similar to Jew or Yahud having the J & t, very similar to the y & d.



Kulanu was privileged to host the speaking tour of Shi Lei, a descendant of the ancient Jewish community of Kaifeng, China. The Kaifeng Jews were also known as "Blue-Turbaned Muslims" by the Chinese, because of their similitude in both Abarhamic religion & non-Han looking outfit.

My son who lived in Shanghai for six years was always quick to point out the importance of family ties, an appreciation of one´s history and the fierce commitment to education and self betterment that both Jews and Chinese share. One should also mention that both peoples seem to possess an innate talent for and understanding of commerce and have a strong desire to succeed.
                                                                                                                                       
Shi Lei holding model of historic Kaifeng Synagogue. The synagogue occupied the same site for 800 years,

Even more important for Jews, however, has been the tolerance and respect the Chinese have always shown to Jews who managed to find their way to China seeking a safe harbour from persecution by other nations. Whether a thousand years ago in Kaifeng, the capital of the Song Dynasty (called Dongjing at that time) or during the various miggrations of the 19th and 20th century to Manchuria and Shanghai when Jews left Eastern and Western Europe seeking safety, they were welcomed by the Chinese rulers and allowed and even encouraged to remain. There were no enforced ghettos in China, no funny hats or badges to distinguish Jews from others or to show derision. There were no expulsions or forced conversions. There was no boat of refugees turned away from the shores of mainland China as the ship The St. Louis was turned back from the coast of the United States and forced to return to Nazi Germany, where the Holocaust was in full swing. Instead, in each instance and through many centuries, Jews were met with tolerance and acceptance, their talents admired and appreciated.

Where do Shi Lei and his family fit within this rich interculteral story? According to Shi Lei, his forebears were among the first wave of Jews seeking a safe haven approximately 1,000 years ago when Jews left Persia and traveled east along the Silk Road. At risk and at the mercy of anti-Jewish ethnic groups, these courageous and hardy folk, tired of the precariousness of their existence and looking for a peaceful and secure environment, braved the dangers and rigors of the road to reach China. Rumours of a vibrant and successful society in Kaifeng had reached them in Persia, and so they set out not knowing whether or not they would be welcomed by an unfamiliar people.

When he heard there were people of Jewish ancestry in Kaifeng, he organized a conference and invited them all to attend. I believe he thought that was a good way to get to know the community and maybe even convert them. But what happened was quite different. when everyone came together, they recognized their unique, shared history and heritage and wanted to embrace it.

According to Chinese custom, it is the male family member who carries the tradition. In spite of this custom, my mother and grandmother always felt they belonged to the Kaifeng Jewish community and celebrated our family´s Jewish heritage. THe synagogue occupied the same site in Kaifeng for 800 years, through numerous repairs and replacements, until its final disintegration in 1850.

Pottery figurines with Middle Eastern features, made in China c. 600 CE, found along the Silk Route.


It definitely is not a burden. I feel strongly about my Jewish identity. And very connected to it. Rabbi Marvin Tokayer came to visit Kaifeng and met our family. As my father was the person most knowledgeable about our history, Rabbi Tokayer took a special interest in me and he arranged for me to go to Israel to study and learn about Judaism. I must say it was a bit of a culture shock. Israelis are very direct and Chinese people are not. They are very polite. I was also very interested to see the diversity in the country... Jews from so many different countries, Ethiopian, European, Yemenite, Russian, Indian... My Chinese background fit right in.
The people in the Kaifeng community were impoverished in the XIX century, and in order to survive they sold their books and Torahs.

Most of the descendants now are young, in their twenties or teens. They are learning about Jewish festivals and rituals. They are also learning English. If they want to go to study in Israel, they need to learn English. On Friday nights, we often meet in our community centre/museum, which is my grandfathers old apartment. we usually have twenty to thirty people who come. we light the candles and recite some prayers. People are eager to learn more.

Shi Lei examining Kaifeng Torah with (from left) Kulanu supporter Shep Wahnon, Rabbi Marvin Tokayer and Kulanu president Harriet Bograd.


We went into a museum and had come across a number of pottery figurines with Middle Eastern features, depicting tradesmen journeying through China along the Silk Route. The little sculptures dated from 7th to 9th centuries and were very realistic - indeed, they looked like our own relatives. Shi Lei was happy now, as we carefully studied the tradesmen and the camels accompanying them. His ancestors were here in the museum after all, if only figuratively, and he was able to honor them.

At its peak, during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Kaifeng Jewry numbered about 5,000 people. Concerned, perhaps, about their community’s sense of collective memory, the Jews of Kaifeng decided to erect steles (stone monuments), on which they inscribed the history of their sojourn in China. Two of the steles, which were erected in 1489, 1512, 1663 and 1669, now sit in the Kaifeng Municipal Museum, a lasting testimony to the Jewish life that once thrived there.

According to Dr. Wendy Abraham, a leading scholar on the history of Kaifeng Jewry, many Chinese Jews had risen to high ranks in the Chinese civil service system by the 17th century. But by the middle of the 1800s, widespread assimilation and intermarriage had all but erased the Chinese Jews’ practice and knowledge of Judaism. After the last rabbi of the community died sometime in the first half of the 19th century, Kaifeng’s Jewish community all but disbanded.

Nowadays, there is no community in Kaifeng per se, just a few hundred individuals who identify themselves as descendants of the city’s Jewish community. “There is no rabbi, no synagogue. There is nothing left, only memory. Only memory.”

Shi Lei’s grandfather would recount to him the distant memories he still preserved of Jewish practice. “When my grandfather was a kid, maybe when he was 8 years old or so, he saw the celebration of the Passover,” says Shi Lei. “His father, my grandfather’s father, used a traditional Chinese writing brush to dip in chicken’s blood mixed with water. After dipping, he would dip this on the doorpost of his home.” The ritual echoes the Biblical command given by G-d to the Children of Israel prior to the exodus from Egypt.

Other vague memories of Jewish customs were also passed down. “My grandfather, when he was a kid, he saw some kipahs, or yarmulkes, which were put in the medicine chest of his mother.
“When the new year in China comes, some other people from the Shi clan, they come to my grandparents home and visit my grandparents so that at that time we can meet each other. So you can see it is only about individuals.”



Mystery of the Ten Lost Tribes China

In the mountainous area of northwest China, west of the Min River, near the border of Tibet, in Szechuan lives an ancient people called by the Chinese, Chiang or Chiang-Min, who numbers about 250 thousand people. The language of the Chiang tribe had been forgotten and they had also lost their ancient script. Today they speak Chinese and two other languages, one that originates from Tibet and the other is a slang which is called Chiaring. The area which they live is famous for its rare animals and plants including the Panda bear. The Chiang people live in villages similar to fortresses which are generally built on hilltops. In the past they were a great people who ruled the provincial territories from Kansu in the north to Liyunan in the south. Historical maps during the Han dynasty (3rd century BCE - 3rd century CE) show that this tribe the Chiang spread to the northwest part of China. They themselves see themselves as immigrants from the west who reached this area after a journey of three years three months. The Chinese treated them as Barbarians and they related to the Chinese as idol worshipers. Hate and enmity existed between the Chinese and this tribe for a long time. They lived independently until the middle of the 18th century when they became part of the general population to earn more freedom. The religious pressure from the Chinese, the spread of Christianity, and the influence of intermarriage caused the Chiang tribe to generally and greatly give up their special monotheistic way of life. However it is still possible even today to learn about the past traditions of the Chiang tribe through their customs and their faith which they still keep. This tribe had been living a special Israeli way of life for 2300 years. According to their tradition, the Chiang tribe is the descendant of Abraham and their forefather had 12 sons. Those among them who did not take Chinese wives after their victory in war still look Semitic. The character traits of this people are integrity, love of neighbor, mutual aid, generosity, modesty, shyness, gratitude, and stubbornness. They also have a fear of heaven or respect for God.

They believe in one God whom they call Abachi meaning the father of heaven, or Mabichu, the spirit of heaven, or also Tian, heaven. As a result of Chinese influences they all call Him God of the mountains as the mountains are the central place for worship of God. Their concept of God is that of an all powerful God who watches over the entire world, judges the world fairly, rewards the righteous, and punishes the wicked. This God gives them the opportunity to do repentance and to gain atonement for their actions. In times of trouble, they call God Yah-weh.

Before the offering of sacrifices, one is required to wash one's self and one's clothing and to dress in clean garments. Sacrificial animals themselves must be washed and purified. There is a special place for purification and washing. The elders and priest place their hands on the head of the sacrifice which is to be slaughtered then offer their prayers. Strangers are forbidden to approach the place of worship. The priest of the Chiang tribe perform the service solemnly. "Unclean ones" are also forbidden to approach the service (Leviticus 21:17-23). These were the same in ancient Israel. The purpose of the sacrifice is a type of atonement and to bring God's blessings upon those offering the sacrifice. The sacrifice has the purpose of taking away sin and blood must be sprinkled on the corners of the altar to be granted atonement and to have one's prayers accepted.

Early Israelite Immigrants (947-950 A.D.)

The Israelites settled in China as early as the Five Dynasties (947-950) or the third year of King Dynasty (1163 A.D.). Israelite temples were built across China, during the King and Tang Dynasties in Kaifeng, Yangzhou, Ningbo, Hangzhou and Ningxia. The Chinese called Judaism the 'Religion of Muscle Picking' (may be because God touched the socket of Jacob's hip while wrestling with him, Genesis 32:25), or the 'Ancient Religion'. Since the Israelites wore blue hats during ceremonies, they were also known as the 'blue hats'. The Bible or the Pentateuch was known as the 'Heavenly Scripture' or the 'Way of Scripture'. The Jewish temples were called the Qing Zhen* Temple. The emperor of China awarded three monuments to the Israelites, who eventually mixed with the Chinese, adopted Chinese customs and last names like Li, Zhao, Ai, Zhang, Gao, Shi, and Kim. By late Qing Dynasty, the Israelites were completely blended into the Chinese. * Qing Zhen is a term used by Chinese for foreign religions like Muslim and Judaism.

Kaifeng

A once-thriving Jewish community whose members are likely to be descended from Persian Jewish traders who settled in Kaifeng in the 10th & 11th centuries. Most Kaifeng Jews assimilated with local Confucians in the 16th century, but 500 contemporary descendants of those Jews have revitalized their Jewish practices.

Shanghai

During WWII, Shanghai’s small Jewish community of merchants and descendants of silk traders became a safe haven for almost 30,000 European Jews who were fleeing from the Nazis. During the war they were allowed to practice freely and even build their own autonomous government. Though most emigrated to the U.S. after the war ended, some Jews still live in Shanghai and practice an increasingly "Chinese" Judaism.

The Kaifeng Stone Inscriptions Revisited

By Tiberiu Weisz

Abstract: Our knowledge of the Chinese Jews derives from two primary sources: one is the stone inscriptions, carved in grey limestone by the Jews and the other the eyewitness reports of missionaries, travelers and adventures who encountered Jews in Kaifeng in the 18th century and later. Scholars scrutinized both sources and reported many inconsistencies in the eyewitness reports. The inscriptions, however, were a source of puzzlement. The Chinese text posed particular challenges, and scholars had to rely on the translation of Bishop Charles White, a missionary who resided in China for forty years and had a good command of the Chinese language but little knowledge of Judaism. Weisz’s new annotated translation of the Chinese text identifies many biblical sources veiled in the intricacies of the Chinese language. This article is a summary of his findings.

What are the Kaifeng stone inscriptions and why are they important? Why the need for a new translation? And most important of all, is there anything that the inscriptions tell us about ancient Judaism that can serve as a lesson for today?  These are just some of the questions that any sophisticated reader today has on his or her mind when thinking of the ancient stone carvings that the Jews in China engraved over five hundred years ago. For one thing, after living in China for over fifteen hundred years[1] devoid of any contact with other Jewish communities, the Chinese Jews felt that their community was on the verge of extinction. They were determined to record their existence in China and remind future generations that at one time some Jews played an important role in Chinese society: some acquired an education and competed in the examination system to become scholars; others earned the highest academic degrees to become officials and gained respect in the society. There were also prominent shopkeepers, artisans, traders and military officers.

But acceptance into Chinese society came at the expense of Judaism. Though the Chinese had never exerted any pressure on the Jews, or on any other minorities to convert, the social structure of Chinese society put enormous demands on the Jews and required them to accept and act according to local customs. The Confucian ethical code may have seemed to be compatible with many tenets of the Torah, but it was so inflexible as to accept nothing less than complete compliance. In addition, the rigid administrative system caused further erosion of the Jewish lifestyle. To climb the administrative and social ladder, Jews needed to devote considerable time and effort to the study of the Chinese classics.[2] All this came at the expense of study of the Torah. When the Jews felt that the end was near, they pooled their resources and inscribed their religious beliefs on a stele that was erected in the second year of the Hongzhi period, the equivalent of 1489. This was perhaps the most comprehensive and informative of the inscriptions, but to our disappointment it was long on rituals and short on historical details. This stele can be seen today encased in glass in the Kaifeng Museum of Jewish History. It is five feet tall, about thirty inches wide and about five inches thick, made of dark grey limestone and sits on a base that is about twenty inches high. Some of the Chinese characters are still decipherable; others are so faded that it is hard to read them. This inscription contains about 1800 characters. Its content is divided into three sections, the first telling us about the Chinese version of the biblical story of Abraham and how the religion was born. The second section tells us about the rituals and worship of the Chinese Jews at that time. The third segment recounts the imperial audience that was handed down in oral tradition.[3] Each segment seems to be composed by someone knowledgeable in his field. On the back of this stele is another inscription dated the Chinese equivalent of 1512, consisting of over 1000 characters. This inscription was composed by a Jew or someone who knew about Judaism. He stated that Judaism would not exist without the Torah.  This inscription was perhaps the most puzzling to scholars as it appeared to contain no historical indicators and therefore was considered of very limited historical value. But from a Jewish perspective, it provided a wealth of information about the life of the Jews at the time. It constantly compared Judaism with Confucianism, perhaps the first ever attempt to compare the two cultures.

The other stele was dated the equivalent of 1663 on one side and has not been seen since its disappearance from the gate of the Anglican Church where it had been placed by Bishop White in 1912.[4]  On the obverse side is engraved an incomplete text that appears to be the middle section of a text that largely pays tribute to the Jews who contributed to the restoration of the temple. This stele, according to White, is about two feet taller than the earlier stele. Fortunately, Bishop White preserved an ink rubbing that is reproduced in his book Chinese Jews.[5] Side one contains about 2200 characters written by a non-Jew who had Jewish friends or neighbors and made some very interesting observations about Jewish customs and rituals. It provided more historical details regarding the temple and the community in action. The composer also pointed out many similarities between Judaism and Confucianism.  The reverse side of this stele is an acknowledgment of those Jews who had contributed to the restoration of the temple and the community. Since the introduction and the ending are missing, we have no way of dating it so by default it was dated 1663b, though it is more likely that it was composed at a later period.

The Chinese Repository [6] published a translation of the 1489 and 1512 inscriptions and Bishop Charles White improved it with his own translation in the 1940s. In addition, he also annotated the text, identified some of the Chinese sources and expressed his surprise that the inscriptions contained no biblical references. That was, as far as I know, the last English translation of the stele and it became the accepted, if not the “official” guide to the inscriptions. Many scholars and researchers intrigued by the topic of the “orphaned colony”[7] of the Chinese Jews published articles and books on the subject, basing their research on White’s translation. Then in 1972 Donald Leslie, an Australian scholar, published a monograph, The Survival of the Chinese Jews, [8] that was intended to be a definitive resource book about the Jews in China. It dealt with the many facets of the Jewish presence in China, and it incorporated many new details derived from local gazetteers but, as far as the inscriptions were concerned, White’s translation was the standard. Leslie also agreed with White’s conclusion that “we hardly find passages from the Jewish Law translated into Chinese” (Leslie, p. 102), and expressed his frustration that the inscriptions lacked any solid historical landmarks. He attached little importance to the 1663a inscription as most of the material seemed to be addressed in the 1489 stele. He also wondered why the 1512 inscription was written. I addressed these issues and reported my preliminary findings in two articles published in Points East, a newsletter of the Sino-Judaic Institute.[9]

So why was there a need for a new translation? Differences of opinion would not justify such an endeavor, but when inaccuracies and mistranslation of characters went undetected for almost a century, that prompted me to take a closer look at the Chinese text. I came upon those errors while researching my book on a comparative cultural study of Judaism and China. A literary analysis of Chinese and Hebrew sources pointed to an indirect but unmistakable link between the land of Israel and China as early as the seventh century BCE. The wisdom of Solomon (965-926 BCE) had reached the ears of Laozi[10] (604-531 BCE), the composer of a five-thousand-character book called the Daodejing [The Annals of the Way and Virtue] and, in some ways, comparable to biblical wisdom literature. How did Laozi incorporate biblical literature into the Daodejing?[11]  This prompted me to re-examine the stone inscriptions with a Jewish and Chinese historical context in mind. To my disappointment, neither Western nor Chinese literature published on the Chinese Jews correlated the inscriptions to any historical context, let alone in to a Jewish context. I asked myself, why not?  The obvious reason could be that the original text did not contain history, and the uninterrupted and unpunctuated text left us a story that we did not understand. Some of the style was standard Chinese but some extended segments contained irregular grammatical structures that appeared completely meaningless and incomprehensible. Could it be that those segments held the key to the inscriptions? They puzzled researchers and went unexplained until now.

To start with, I broke the Chinese text into individual phrases and sentences and set each phrase on a new line. The key was in the details and I kept an open mind to every possibility. The text contained many parallel structures and incomplete quotes that I found to be traceable. As I traced those quotes to their source, I started to get a picture that was very different from any previously translated texts. The 1489 inscriptions, for instance, revealed three different styles that I attributed to three different composers. I made a note of this in the introductory chapter on the “Testimony of the Inscriptions” (p. xix) in my book The Kaifeng Stone Inscriptions. Then the style of the1512 inscription reminded me of the writing of some Chinese neo-Confucians that depicted a tapestry of daily life in China.  But the real revelation came when I realized that the last segment of the 1512 inscription resembled a Hebrew prayer. This particular segment puzzled many scholars because it contained a peculiar structure that hardly related to anything. It portrayed a vision and since it invoked the name of Heaven, I realized that it was a prayer. And indeed when I juxtaposed it with the Hebrew prayer book, I realized that it was the Chinese version of the Amida, a prayer that the Chinese Jews had memorized and, as time passed, composed their own version. Nevertheless it was the Eighteen Benedictions. This information also shed some light on the antiquity of the Jews in China: the text emulated a pre-Yavneh version composed in exile by members of the Great Assembly (Knesset Hagdola ca. 500-300 BCE). It did not include the birkat haminim (benediction against the heretics) or the nineteenth benediction which was added later, in the first century CE. I also realized that the English language compounded the problem. The Chinese Jews did not know English or any other Western languages, and they handed down the prayer through oral tradition in the original Hebrew. As time passed they remembered less of the Hebrew but still remembered the spirit of the Amida and composed a Chinese version. The Chinese Jews added the text of the prayers to remind future generations of their tradition.[12]

The 1663a inscription confirmed my findings. It was composed by a non-Jew who described either what he had seen or what he had been told by his Jewish neighbors. Like the previous inscriptions, the 1663a stele described the rituals but, unlike the other stele, did not repeat the actual words of the prayers. The reason: the composer was a bystander who neither knew the prayers nor understood them. He jotted down his observations and noted that the Jews prayed three times a day and that was “when man was to see Heaven”. What he added after this observation was interesting. He recapped what he had heard the Jews say or chant at the conclusion of the ceremonies and when I juxtaposed this with the Hebrew text, I realized that it was the pronouncement of the birkat hakohanim [Priestly Blessing]. That custom was prevalent during the Temple periods when the kohen hagadol [high priest] performed the sacrificial rites. Then he would come down from the altar and, raising his hands over the whole assembly of Israel, pronounce the Priestly Blessing or the birkat hakohanim (Numbers 6:24-26). Though the words in the inscriptions were Confucian in nature, the structure and the intent coincided with the biblical Hebrew version. Another interesting aspect of this inscription was the composer’s descriptions of some of the practices of the Jews that corresponded to similar practices in China. He often quoted from Chinese literature to show that the Jews practiced something that was not too different from the Chinese. Inadvertently, he created the first comparative study of Judaism and China.

Long on rites and prayers and short on history, the inscriptions seemed to be of little historical significance. None of them elaborated on the past or on how and when the Jews settled in China. The little they did say about their past was hard to corroborate and their origin was shrouded in mystery. Even more puzzling was the fact that they mentioned an audience with a Song emperor (960-1279) without further explanation. This sentence became critical in recreating the history of the community, and unfortunately, a mistranslation diverted the attention of scholars who then built on the incorrect translation. Once I corrected the translation, the text displayed evidence of the roots of the community that could be traced to antiquity and their history could be corroborated by both biblical and Chinese sources. After captivity and exile, a group of Levites and kohanim [priests] left Babylon and wandered eastwards,[13] first heading toward India where they stayed for several generations. Later, after several more generations, the descendants continued their journey northwards where they came across a place that answered a biblical description. (Psalms 104:8-10). Being devout believers, they saw a biblical prophecy come true. They settled there and lived in isolation for several more generations until they were accidentally discovered by a Chinese military expedition in 108 BCE.[14] They would have stayed anonymous had not General Li Guangli left us a sentence describing their appearance as strange. That description was deemed insignificant in the massive amount of Chinese annals and very few scholars paid any attention to it. But from a biblical point of view that description depicted the (distinguished) headdress of observant Jews who lived by the precepts of the Torah. When the Chinese army withdrew from the Western Regions,[15] they encouraged the more domesticated tribes to come and live under the protection of the Chinese administration. For China this was a policy of pacification, the tribes would serve as a buffer zone between them and the Huns, and at the same time the settlers would be exposed to the Chinese culture. This was the first step of sinicization.  Many, if not most of the domesticated tribes preferred the protection of the Chinese to the uncertainty and unpredictability of the Tatars. They migrated and settled in the area of Gansu Province of today. At the beginning of the second century CE, when the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE) started to disintegrate, the Chinese abandoned the Western Regions and the settlers followed their journey unobstructed into the heartland of China.  Thus the descendants of the isolated Jewish community, who left Babylon several centuries earlier and established a settlement at the outskirts of the Taklamakan Desert, found itself migrating again, this time into China proper. Based on the reading of the inscriptions, part of the community remained in the Gansu area while others dispersed to other regions. With the rising anti- Buddhist sentiments in the Tang Dynasty (609-960 CE), the Jews joined the mass exodus of religions out of China and went back to the Western Regions. Then, at the invitation of Emperor Taizong (976-998), the second Song emperor, the Jews returned to China and were bestowed land to build their place of worship. They remained in obscurity until 1605 when Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit missionary, reported an encounter with a Chinese Jew in Beijing. Later missionaries also confirmed the existence of the community, but the strongest evidence of the legacy of the Jews in China was contained in the stone inscriptions.

Three of the four inscriptions were dedicated to the rebuilding of the temple. The community went to extraordinary lengths to preserve and restore the temple and one may wonder: what was so important about the temple to deserve such dedication? Reading the existing literature, the impression is that it was an ordinary synagogue: it functioned as a place of worship and community center. But when the text was juxtaposed with biblical history, it revealed that the temple played a far more important role. The Jews in China continued the biblical tradition that accorded the servicing of the temple to the Levites and kohanim (priests) who performed the rituals that were associated with the First Temple (960- 586 BCE). The temple became the focal point of the community. Besides being used as a place of worship and sacrifice, it was also a source of pride that provided the Jews a sense of belonging, and they attributed their long survival to the Temple. In the absence of the temple, the function of the kohanim would have ceased to exist and the community would have vanished without a trace. In addition, the temple work (avodat kodesh) supplemented the income of the kohanim who received a salary from local sources and from teaching. Each time the temple was destroyed, the kohanim lost this source of income and they could barely provide the necessary services to keep the community together. After each disaster, the community lost members and some of them dispersed never to return.  To rectify this situation, the entire Jewish community in China contributed resources to rebuild the temple. Some contributed their salary; others contributed labor, while the kohanim contributed their skill to restore the scriptures.

Each time the temple was rebuilt it was in Kaifeng, even though that city ceased to be the seat of the Chinese emperor after 1126 CE.  The Chinese court relocated to Hangzhou to establish the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), and Kaifeng became the abandoned capital. Yet the Chinese Jews built and rebuilt the Temple in Kaifeng. Why?  From a Jewish perspective, the events that led to the destruction and the fall of Kaifeng and the subsequent fall of the dynasty in 1126 CE were reminiscent of the Jewish experience in antiquity. The First Temple that was built by King Solomon in ca. 960 BCE was looted and destroyed along with the sacred city (Jerusalem) in 586 BCE. That also brought an end to the Kingdom of Israel, the Ten Tribes being led into exile. Seventy years later, Ezra, the last prophet that the Chinese Jews mentioned, rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem and asked the exiles to return. These events were ingrained in the mind of the Chinese Jews, and they viewed the conditions in China at the time (ca. 1100-1163 CE) as a prophecy come true. Their own times mirrored the events that led to the exile of their distant ancestors in the Land of Canaan. Kaifeng suffered the same fate as Jerusalem: it was destroyed the course of conquest, the Chinese emperor was driven into exile and the dynasty fell into the hands of the Jurchen “barbarians” who established the Qin Dynasty. The Temple in Kaifeng became the symbol of Jewish persistence in China, directly epitomizing their fate and indirectly the fate of the sacred city, Jerusalem. Equipped with the biblical blueprint of the Temple envisioned in Ezekiel, it was completed in 1163 and was modeled to be as imposing as the Bet  Hamikdash  [Temple].

In light of the new translation and readings of the inscriptions it is evident that the orphaned colony was Jewish in origin with roots that went back to the exile period. Does that mean that the Jews in Kaifeng today and their offspring are Jewish? Efforts were made by some Jewish organizations to recognize them as Jews but most of the Jewish authorities refused to recognize them as such. Their objection is based on the halakha [law] that says that every male Jew must be circumcised on the eighth day after birth (or after conversion), and follow the dietary laws of the Torah. A further obstacle was imposed by the “Who is a Jew” clause that stated that a Jew is a Jew only if born to a Jewish woman. Since none of these conditions prevailed, they are not Jews. The former commandment was biblical in nature while the latter one was halakhic, meaning that it originated in the Oral Law. Since they could not perform circumcision safely, they had to abandon that practice. The 1512 inscription indicated that the Jews in China made every effort to follow the biblical commandment of the dietary laws. And since marrying a foreign woman was not a biblical precept, the Chinese Jews continued the tradition that was widely practiced in exile. They followed a tradition that was pre-rabbinic, and they had never heard of any development in Judaism that was post-exilic. The halakha started to develop after Ezra returned to Jerusalem and did not become the Oral Law until several centuries later, by which time the Chinese Jews had already been isolated for generations. They had never heard of Mishna, Midrash, Talmud etc., such terms being unfamiliar to them. They were unaware of the split between Judaism and Christianity, still calling themselves Israelites.  In a sense we have a pure sect of observant Jews that lived according to the precepts of the Torah and not the oral tradition.  Circumstances forced them to adapt to the environment, and to maintain their beliefs, formulating their own halakha incorporating many of the local customs. They did the same thing that our sages did in Jerusalem, Babylon and the Diaspora: they developed a set of rules that accorded with the local conditions without compromising the sanctity of the Torah. They followed their own halakha for over 1500 years in isolation and, even as late as the 18th century, when the missionaries encountered the Jews of Kaifeng, were still living by the same precepts. They never abandoned the ways of the Torah and never ceased to believe in Elohim; they built and rebuilt the temple, the symbol of their existence, and the Kaifeng Jews left the stone inscriptions so that future generations might know how to be a Jew in the sea of Chinese culture.

A Delightful Introduction to Chinese Jews

Chinese and Jewish. To most American Jews this seems an unlikely combination. However, the topic is an old one, going back to the major role of Jews in the silk trade to China that long preceded Marco Polo's visits.
Many sources are available in English, thanks to the efforts of the Sino Judaic Institute and to the 1992 conference on "Jewish Diasporas in China: Comparative and Historical Perspectives," sponsored by the John K. Fairbank Center for East Asian Research at Harvard University.

Written records are few about the origins of this community, but it is known that in the 8th century Rhadinites, a Persian Jewish community of traders, were well established in the silk business. Most likely, the permanent Jewish communities are a derivative of their activities.

An important source of information is the body of legends passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. Professor Xu Xin has written a book about legends of the most famous of the cities chosen by Diaspora Jews, Kaifeng. He collected many from meetings with the community elders, from the famed Wang Yisha (emeritus curator of the Kaifeng Museum, whose legends had not previously been written in English) and from other scholars who had also visited Kaifeng and interviewed Jewish descendants.

Professor Xu has blended these legends into a single book that provides a historical flow from the Jewish origins in the 10th century to the present. Although the author has taken some artistic privileges to make the legends readable, he has been very true to their essence because he believes (as do other historians) that legends are an authentic historical form that also conveys values and conflicts as well as information.

The reading is delightfully easy and concise. This makes the reader proud of both the civility and dignity of the Jewish and Chinese cultures. For those who have often noted the similarity of behavior of Chinese and Jews, this book provides added impetus and information to casual observations.

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