August 10, 2000
Persians in China
This is a wonderful website. I enjoyed reading it. There is no mention
of Persian Zoroastrian immigrants to China. I am Chinese from China. My
family lives in Xuajiulan county, about 28 miles west of Xian (formerly
Chang'an) city. Chang'an was the capital of many Chinese dynasties in the
past. Many foreigners once lived there, especially from Iran. Some came
as merchants, entertainers and religious missionaries.
In 651 A.D., King Yazdgerd III was captured by Muslim Arabs in today's
Turkmenistan and beheaded. His son, Pirooz survived and fled east to China.
He gathered and assembled other powerful Iranian clans: Garen, Suren, Spabad,
They all passed through the snowy Pamir mountains in today's Tajikistan
and made it into China to seek the emperor's help. The Chinese king had
a wife who was the sister of Pirooz. So, the court of Pirooz was allowed
to set up in exile in western China. Many villages today in northwestern
China (Xinjiang, Gansu, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Henan provinces) bear marks of
Persian ancestry or influence.
For example, in my village, they found a 9th century A.D. tombstone
of the daughter of a Chinese general. She is a descendant of the noble
Persian Garen family clan and her tombstone has bilingual inscriptions
on it (presumably ancient Persian). The village next to ours is entitled
"Xi Wang Chuan." This means "village of a western king."
The villagers look Chinese, but many have pretty big noses. They are Buddhists
and some are Christian. Their Buddhism is different from local tradition.
On Chinese Spring Festival, we normally burn incense and paper money.
This village only lights on fire the rest of the evening, which is strange
to our tradition. They also often do not get along with Chinese Muslims
for whatever reason. I heard that they claim to have the burial site of
Pirooz, the son of Yazdgerd.
Anyways, there is a lot of Pre-Islamic Persian heritage in every Chinese
region and families. It is probably in all of us. But, they made a commitment
to become Chinese and forget their painful memories after they left Iran
from Arabic invasions.
My village and people would welcome any Iranian visitors. Perhaps, we
can bridge back the lost connections. I have the story of Peroz's family
biography and story. I am just beginning to read it. It's in ancient Chinese
language and may take some time. When finished, I want to share it with
the Iranian people. Let them know and understand Pirooz was a good man
A Chinese friend and brother,