Yugur, Saragh in China

Yugur, Saragh
Photo Source:  Copyrighted © 2022
Operation China, Asia Harvest  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source:  Bethany World Prayer Center
People Name: Yugur, Saragh
Country: China
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 12,000
World Population: 12,000
Primary Language: Yugur, West
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Christian Adherents: 0.50 %
Evangelicals: 0.50 %
Scripture: Unspecified
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Uyghur
Affinity Bloc: Turkic Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Turkish half of the Yugur nationality consists of the Saragh Yugur, also known as Yaofuer. They live in a separate area from the Enger Yugur.

Whereas the Enger Yugur speak a Mongolian language, the Saragh Yugur speak a completely different language, a member of the Turkic language family. The two Yugur groups do not often contact each other, but when they do meet, they must use Mandarin Chinese to communicate. One expert notes that Saragh Yugur "still preserves many features of the language of medieval Turkic literature." Because they do not have their own script, they commonly use Chinese script for writing.

The Tibetans controlled the Yugur region until the Tangut state of Xixia conquered them in 1028. The Mongols, in turn, annihilated the Tanguts in the early 1200s. The Chinese finally assumed control of the area during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). 300,000 Yugurs lived in China at that time, most of whom were living outside the Great Wall at Jiayuguan, farther to the west of their present location. Today, the Uygurs represents their descendants, and no one calls them the Yugur. They probably belong to the Uygurs group in Xinjiang, who also speak a Turkic language. A small number of people migrated back inside the wall to avoid the conflict between the Turfan and Hami rulers. China believes them to be the Yugur's ancestors.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Most Saragh Yugur live in yak-hair yurts. A visitor who comes by horseback should leave his whip, rifle, ammunition, and all meat outside the yurt. The Yugur believe the god of hair dresses in red and rides a reddish horse, so visitors dressed in red are not allowed inside a Yugur home.

The Yugurs drink heavily. They drink strong alcohol after each evening. Revelry often goes far into the next morning. They do not consider themselves to be good hosts unless their guests get drunk.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Saragh Yugur adhere to a mixture of Tibetan Buddhism and shamanism. Each family clan has a shaman who consults the spirit world for them.

This group had no knowledge whatsoever of Christianity until 1997, when about 15 Saragh Yugur believed in Christ after watching the JESUS Film in Mandarin. This number grew to around 50 believers by May 2000. The authorities strongly oppose the introduction of Christianity. During the 1980s and early 1990s, one mission agency sent workers several times to distribute gospel literature among the Yugur, but on every occasion the authorities arrested workers before they could complete their task.

What Are Their Needs?

Like people everywhere, the Saragh Yugur people need to allow the loving Savior to direct their lives. They need his forgiveness for sin.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Lord to intervene in their families, calling people to his side.

Pray for loving, Holy Spirit led workers to go to them.

Pray for the Lord to raise up persons of peace to welcome Christ’s ambassadors.

Pray for a church planting movement to thrive in their communities.

Text Source:   Joshua Project