Hexi Corridor is formed by two ranges of mountains Qilian Mountain in the South and Longshou Mountain (Dragon Head Mountain), Heli Mountain and Heishan Mountain in the north. In the corridor there are many oases which act as the agricultural base of Gansu province. Yugu which can be only found in Gansu province, is living on one of the oasises, Sunan Yugu autonomous county of Zhangye. There cultural sites and natural sceneries are matched harmoniously.
Yugu ethnic group enjoys a long history and ancient culture on the Silk Road in Gansu Province. They call themselves as "Yohu'r" or "shilayugu'r". In 1953, on the basis of people's discussion, the name Yugu was determined. It has a similar pronunciation with "Yohu'r". Yu means "abundant" and "gu" means "stable and peaceful". The population of Yugu is about 10, 000, mainly living in Sunan Yugu autonomous county of Zhangye and Huangnipu town of Jiuquan county.
Yugu speaks three languages including Tujue branch, Mogolianbranch of A'ertai family, and Chinese. Yugu don't have written language.
Yugu originates from Huihu around the reaches of Erhun River of Tang Dynasty (618A907AD ). In the middle of the 9th century one branch of Huihu migrated to Guazhou (present Dunhuang), Ganzhou (present Zhangye) and Liangzhou (present Wuwei) along Hexi Corridor. In history they were called Hexi Huihu, among which the branch in Ganzhou was the strongest and once established a regime at the beginning of the 10th century and led the other branches. Thus Hexi Huihu was also generally called as Ganzhou Huihu. From 50s of 11th century to the 16th century, Yugu had more extensive communication with other nationalities and assimilated other nationalities of Mogolian, Tibetan and Han etc.. This period is an important forming stage of Yugu.
Yugu mainly lives on animal husbandry, grazing sheep, cattle and horses. A small part also works on agriculture. while in Huangnipu Town of Jiuquan, people of Yugu nationality are all engaged in agriculture.
As for costumes of Yugu nationality, men often wear high-collared robe with red or blue waist belt, white hat on head with embroidered edge! and leather boot on foot. women wear long robe with sleeveless jacket and cloth boot. The waistbelt of women's are more colorful with red, purple and green colors. Women's hat are often horn-shaped with red tassels or made of Jiji grass. Young girls often plait their hair into 5 or 7 braids and decorate the hat with a circle of red tassels. Those married women often plait their hair into three braids with silver, agates, coral and pearls as ornaments.
Yugu often live on a diet of butter 9 dairy products and Zanba (roasted Qingke barley flour). People often have three times of tea and one dinner a day. The tea is often mixed with butter, fried barley flour and cheese. Yugu is hospitable and they often treat guests with milk tea, steamed mutton and Qingke liquor. They don't eat meat of donkey, horse and chicken etc..
Most people of Yugu nationality live in tents which are often made of ox hair and supported by wood posts. Generally in the center of a tent is oven to the right, cooking area to the left, the area for receiving guests.
Since Yuan Dynasty ( 1368A1644AD ), Tibetan Buddhism has been the belief of Yugu. Tibetan Buddhism of Yugu is as same as that of Tibetan while there are subtle differences. In Tibetan area, only Living Buddha can be reincarnated, while Yugu people believe that Kabu can also be reincarnated; Among Yugu, people still worship their primitive god; in Tibetan area Lama can't marry, but Yugu can. With the development of society, lamaseries of Yugu also offer courses of Tibetan, Chinese, maths, physical education and music etc..
Spring festival, religious festivals of Tibetan Buddhism and activities of offering sacrifices to their ancestors are the main festivals celebrated by Yugu. On festivals people often make butter flowers and send Hada or other presents to their friends and relatives to express their best wishes. An ancient custom of sacrificing to ancestors has been still kept by Yugu people and on festivals each family would take sacrificial offerings such as steamed mutton, fried pantry and Baozi to forests worshipping their ancestors.
For Yugu people, building in lunar June and December is tabooed. people are prohibited to dig well or spring at their will I Marmot shouldn't be hunted. The inferior are forbidden to call the name of the superior. Women guests should shouldn't walk around. Men guests on the left in a tent. During dinner guests shouldn't walk around.
Oral literature of Yugu includes historical legends, proverbs and folk songs. Folk songs of Yugu inherit the features of ancient Huns and absorb elements of folk songs of Tibetan, Mongolian and Hui nationalities. Yugu are good at weaving. They often weave their daily necessities such as bag and halters.
Yugu take three forms of funeral-cremation, celestial burial and mound burial. During the mourning period of people would cover the patterns on the hat top with a piece of white cloth on the collar, cuff and hat top. Women of Bagejia tribe would wear white wool on their braids to express mourning. The end of mourning period would be symbolized by throwing the white wool into the fire set up beside the tomb or at the home gate.
Wedding ceremonies of Yugu is special an interesting lasts three days. The whole process of wedding ceremony is filled with songs, laughter and liquor. Some senior singers would be invited for wedding celebration. Generally the host wedding ceremony would be the authoritative old man of the tribe. If someone breaks wedding ceremony rules, the host would be punished to drink liquor and make apology. People who participate the wedding ceremony often dress up and take Hada and presents. They often use two colors of Hada-white or blue. People with same family name or of one tribe can't marry each other.