Hui ethnic group, with a sizable population over 9.8 million, is mainly distributed in Ningxia, Gansu, Henan, Hebei, Qinghai, Shandong, Yunnan, Xinjiang, Liaoning and Anhui provinces. The largest residential area is the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. The word Hui is an abbreviation for "Huihui," which first appeared in the literature of the Northern Song Dynasty. It referred to the Huihe people (the Ouigurs) who lived in Anxi in the present-day Xinjiang and its vicinity since the Tang Dynasty. They were actually forerunners of the present-day Uygurs, who are totally different from today's Huis or Huihuis.
Hui and Han people wear very similar clothing. The major difference is their distinctive headgear. Hui men traditionally wear a white skullcap and the women often wear a veil, keeping their faces covered. Hui people took Chinese as their common language. During their long history, the Hui people, aided by the Han people, accumulated great wealth. This wealth changed Ningxia into a region of abundance. The Hui people specialize in trade. Traditional items of trade are jewelry, jade and bullion.
A typical meal for Hui people has rice and wheat as staples, along with beef, mutton, chicken, fish and various vegetables. Other types of meat such as horse, donkey, mule, dog and other ferocious birds and animals, as well as animals, which have died, are forbidden. Pork is especially forbidden.
The religion of the Hui is Islam. Moslems pray and hold religion activities in a mosque. The mosque is also a symbol of Hui architecture. Islam has had a great impact on the political and economic systems of the Hui society. In daily life, an infant will to be given a Hui name by an imam soon after birth; an imam must witness wedding ceremonies; and, after death, the deceased must be cleaned with water, wrapped in a white cloth and buried promptly without a coffin in the presence of an imam who presides over the ceremony.
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