chapter  8
19 Pages

A Hui Muslim Lineage in Southwest China

A Case Study of the Xiaba Ma Genealogy
WithJianping Wang

This chapter examines the construction and spread of Hui genealogies in a corner between Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan provinces. The area had been dominated by local chieftains, but during the eighteenth century, many were being purged from office. Wang found that although these genealogies provided sketchy references to mythical Muslim ancestry linking them to Sayyid Ajall Shams al-Din, and through him, to the prophet himself, these genealogies’ main purpose was to highlight settlement rights than to trace a source of religious authority. As Wang demonstrates, that was due to local economic circumstances. In the early Qing, Muslim traders were enlisted by the government to manage mines and transport copper in northeastern Yunnan, northwest Guizhou and southern Sichuan, where they competed with the indigenous peoples in dominating the supply chain that provided copper for coin making. Therefore, the Hui genealogies of this area provide many examples of legends that demonstrate their ancestors’ acquiring rights to settle down, to hold land, control trade routes and mines, rights granted by the Qing government. They make vague references to genealogical connections with Sayyid Ajall Shams al-Din, but that is told very much as a backdrop for the history of settlement.