Folk Songs of Hui People

The culture of Hui people originally had been characterized by influences from the traditional culture of Western Asia and assimilation from the Han culture. However, due to the introduction of the Han language as a common language, the tendency to assimilate the Han culture became more obvious. The Huihuis began to wear clothing like the Hans. Huihui names were still used, but Han names and surnames became accepted and gradually became dominant. Hui singers sometimes perform at hua’er folk song performances. For religious occasions they use some Arabic and Persian terms.

The Huis in northwestern China like to singing a kind of folk song "Hua'er", which is also called "youth", "mountain songs" and "rustic songs", and they are popular in Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai, Xinjiang and other provinces among the Hui and other ethnic groups in the region. It is said that they evolved from Yuan (Mongol) songs. Their melodies have been described as “loud and smooth." The words of songs are about mountains, grass, woods, history, folk custom, figures and daily life. They are often sung in an impromptu style. The best songs are widely spread and passed on, and became an art form with local characteristics. They are in three performance forms: solo, antiphonal singing (alternate singing by two choirs or singers) and united singing. Traditionally, they were mostly sung among the mountains and fields. Except during weddings, they are not supposed to be sung at home or in villages.


Singer Ma Guanhui of Hui Minority (Photo by Wang Chunliang, from

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