A conference highlighting writing by Salar authors (撒拉族文学) was held earlier this January in Xunhua County (循化), Qinghai Province, home to most of the 100,000 Salar (撒拉族) who consider themselves descendants of Muslims who migrated in the 13th century from Samarkand (present-day Uzbekhistan) in search of religious freedom.
Subsequent contacts and intermarriage with Han Chinese, Tibetans and Hui have created a unique culture and strongly impacted the Salar language. Wikipedia notes that there are two large dialect groups: one branch influenced by Tibetan and Chinese, and another by Uyghur and Kazakh vocabulary.
The conference featured a focus on homegrown Salar poet Han Wende (韩文德) whose pen name is Samarkand (撒玛尔罕), and Muslim name is Habibullah (哈比布拉). He has been writing for two decades and has reportedly published nearly 1,000 poems (百度百科) and received many awards. Most recently, his fourth collection, entitled <清水微澜>, was released by Writers Publishing House (作家出版社).
The Baidu Baike Chinese entry states that he writes about the past and present of his people along the banks of the Yellow River, and that his poems have been translated into Uyghur, Mongolian, Tibetan and English.
Since Salar is still a living language, reportedly spoken by over half of those who identify themselves as Salar, and—unlike many minority languages in the PRC—it can be written, one might expect that Han Wende write in Salar. However, as far as I can tell from my limited research—I found just one of his poems, <微澜之水> , online—he writes in Chinese. Read the rest of this entry »