Bo'an is one of the three unique ethnic groups of Gansu Province. The total population was 12, 212 in the fourth census of China, ranking the 52nd among all the minority groups.
Bo'an people originally lived in Qinghai Province. During early times of Qing Dynasty(1644-1911AD), they moved to Gansu Province. Presently Bo'an people settle in the villages of Dadun, Ganhetan, Meipo which are habitually called as"the Three Villages of Bo'an". On March 25th, 1952, the State Council officially named the minority group as Bo'an.
Bo'an people believe in Islam. This minority group is actually the combination of Hui, Tibetan, Tu and Mongolian nationalities. Most of Bo'an people live on agriculture. Part of them work in handcraft-making, sideline or Commerce.
Bo'an have oral language only. As for the culture of Bo'an, people can find different types reflecting the characteristics of the group. Many myths and legends came from Islamic classical books or folk stories. Some legends based on historical events. Hua'r, is also one type of Bo'an folk songs. Almost everyone of Bo'an people can sing Hua'r. Bo'an Hua'r was much influenced by Tibetan song Layi (a kind of Tibetan love song). Hua'r can be only sung in open country or in mountain.
Adage is a feature of Bo'an language. People like to express their opinions with adages. For example if a senior man admonishes a young man pot to be lazy. He may say "If the Waist Knife is always scabbarded, the edge of it would be rusted ". The adage-Though a prickly ash looks small, it tastes numb and sore teaches people to be modest.
Bo'an people have same taboos in diet with Muslims while they still have many other different taboos in daily life. Bo'an people think to walk across farm tools will take misfortune. people just come back are forbidden to directly enter the rooms in which there are little babies or sick people because they think ghosts or other evil spirits may also follow to enter. Guests are not allowed to go to the kitchen or women's bedroom. when taking water from a river, people should takeit against the current of the river. If the hostess is frying cakes, any other people should keep away from the kitchen. people believe if other people 9o into the kitchen, the oil would be frightened so the food wouldn't taste good. Travelers will come back if they come across a dried pool which is regarded as a bad omen in Bo'an culture. People are not allowed to sit on the threshold because a legend tells a Muslin sage once took threshold as a pillow when he led people to fight with enemies.
As a traditional handicraft of Bo'an, Bo'an Waist Knife features for exquisite craftsmanship and unique style. They are not only articles for daily use of Bo'an, Dongxiang, Tibetan and Mongolian people but also are beautiful ornaments and souvenirs."Shiyangjin" is the most famous among different styles of Bo'an Waist Knife. ?his style is marked with seven stars, five plum flowers, one dragon and one hand carved on the blade. Shiyangjin waist Knives are very popular among people from different nationalities. Nowadays Waist Knife is almost a symbol of Bo'an men.