Tales Along the Silk Road: Lifestyle of Ethnic Tajik Livestock Herders


China is a vast country with 56 ethnic groups, each with their distinct lifestyles. Our reporter Yang Chengxi travels to the western-most part of China, to explore the life of a family of the Tajik ethnic group.

These people are the Tajiks, one of the 56 ethnic groups in China. Over 40,000 of them live in Taxkorgan, near China’s western border.

YANG CHENGXI Taxkorgan “Agriculture and livestock farming remain important pillars of livelihood for people in this part of the world.”

Life is slow here for this family of four.

YANG CHENGXI Taxkorgan “These are a local breed called the ‘fat tail’.”

Why the name? Well, I’ll let the graphics speak for itself. They’re well adapted to the harsh environment here and provide quality meat and grease. This is Tashik.

TASHIK “We herd sheep, and yaks, as did my father and grandfather…”

You might wonder how I made out what he said: I didn’t. Herder Tashik’s son, who goes to school in the county and knows Mandarin, acted as my little translator slash tour guide.

“This is where we make naan.”

The family makes about 8,000 US dollars a year. About 75% comes from livestock sales, and the rest from government subsidies.

Tashik’s wife Bikak invited me into their tent for a cup of tea. 

“Welcome.(local Tajik dialect)”

YANG CHENGXI Taxkorgan “Thank you.(local Tajik dialect) People here are very hospitable. We’ve got milk tea, naan and yogurt, all the local delicacies. But this family told me they will move to another base further downhill in September for the winter. Cold weather is coming.”

Tashik came back from grazing his sheep, and sat by his daughter. I couldn’t understand a word they said, but it sounded beautiful.

Yang Chengxi, CGTN, Taxkorgan county, Xinjiang.

Source: CGTN