Home > China Facts > Chinese Culture and History > Chinese Ethnic Groups > Xibe Ethnic Minority

Xibe Ethnic Minority

Last updated by fabiowzgogo at 2015/6/11

Xibe is self-called name of Xibe Ethnic Group. Xibe is "Siwe" in their oral language and "Sibe" in the written language. Many scholars believe that Xibe people are descendants of the ancient Xianbei people, a branch of the ancient Donghu Ethnic Group in northern China. Before Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the Xibe people lived in a vast area centering on Fuyu County in Jilin Province.


It is in 1593 that the ethnic name "Xibe" appeared in the historic records. In Qing Dynasty (1616-1911), Xibe ethnic group were incorporated into the "Eight banners" of "Mongolia" and "Manchu". In Qing Dynasty, the court removed many Xibe people to Yunnan in southwestern China and Xinjiang in northwestern China. Nowadays, most Xibe people live in Xinjiang Province and some live in northeastern China.


Xibes have three meals a day. Rice and flour are their staple food. And they mostly had husked kaoliang (Chinese sorghum) in the past. Those living in Xinjiang also eat rice cooked with mutton, carrots, raisins, etc with hands, they also like tea with milk, milk, butter and other dairy products.


The Xibes pay their respect and give way to the elderly when they meet them. People of the same generation greet each other when they meet. When a guest arrives, the daughter-in-law of the host family will offer cigarettes and serve tea to him. If the guest is of same generation with her, he should stand up or raise himself slightly and accept the cigarette or tea with both hands. When seeing off the guest, the whole family will accompany him to the gate.

Songs and Dances

The Xibes are adept at singing and dancing. They are especially good at playing Dongbuer, a plucked musical instrument. They also play Maken, their harmonica.


Xibe people's taboos include eating dog meat, wearing dogskin ware, sitting on or striding over clothes, hats, quilts or pillows. Other taboos are putting trousers, shoes or socks that have been worn on a high place, sitting on or stepping on kitchen ranges, sitting on or standing on the threshold, whistling in the house and knocking at the dinner table or dishware with chopsticks. Guests should not enter those houses with a piece of red cloth or a bunch of grass at the gate because there may be a patient or lying-in woman and strangers are not allowed to enter the house.


Black Ash Day: (January 16th of the lunar calendar) On that day, people prepare a cloth blackened by the ash from the bottom of the pan and apply it at each other's face to pray for a harvest and pray to the corn god for free the plants of all the calamities.

April 18th Festival: It is a traditional Xibe festival to commemorate April 18th, 1764 of Qing Dynasty when 3,275 Xibes were forced to relocate from Shenyang in northeastern China to Xinjiang in northwestern China to serve as reserve soldiers at a military outpost. On this day, Xibe people gather to hold activities like rassling, shooting arrows and horse racing.