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Salars - Ethnic minority (China)

Last modified: 2014-01-17 by zoltán horváth
Keywords: salars | china |
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unconfirmed flag of Salars
image by Ivan Sache, 14 October 2010

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The Salars (104,500 according to the 2000 National Census) are one the ethnic minorities officially recognized in the People's Republic of China. Most of them are famers living in Xunhua County, Qinghai Province. The Salars are believed to have emigrated from the region of Samarkand in the 13-14th century (Yuan Dynasty). Like the Uyghur and the Uzbeks, the Salars are Moslims and speak a related language belonging to the Turkic branch of the Altaic family.
Source: - Official presentation of the Salar ethnic minority
The "Steppe History Forum", November 2007, presents the "Salur Tamga", a blue flag with a white emblem in the middle, as the "widely accepted and indisputed", "official emblem of the Salars". 
Ivan Sache, 14 October 2010

They call this official emblem "Salur Tamga". A tamga is a clanic mark, often used as a property mark for the cattle. It is widespread in the whole inner Asia: you can find tamgas from Manchuria to Kazakhstan. Concerning the flag, it's really very similar to the flag of Belarus. I suspect a fake.
Corentin Chamboredon, 14 October 2010

A few more details: I have quoted the official presentation, lacking other reliable source; however, I doubt that the situation of the Salars has changed from horrible to wonderful after the proclamation of the People's Republic of China. In my description of the flag, the words between quotes are verbatim quotation of the forum's participants - I have not added quotes to stress anything particular.
The explanation of the emblem  helped me so much to find out where I had seen a similar emblem, on the Crimea Tatars and Idel-Ural flags.
Could the symbol used on the Golden Horde flag, as part of the "Sixteen Great Turkish Empire series", be also a tamga?
Coming back to the Salar flag: the forum's thread indeed includes two flags, the first one with a "Turkmen" vertical stripe, taken from the flag of Turkmenistan (not Belarus), recalling the Turkmen origin of the Salars. Then, another contributor questions the authenticity of the flag, deeming the addition of the Turkmenstripe unnecessary. Eventually, two other contributors "validate" (my quotes, here) the "Salur Tamga" design. Of course, calling the flag "official" seems weird to me; I don't expect the Chinese government to recognize a minority flag with such an identitary symbol - and not so far from the Uyghur flag, not welcome in China. Moreover, different, non-official sources, mention Salars' uprisings against the government all along the 20th century.
I would recommend to label it as "unconfirmed" until we got firm evidence of its use - probably out of China.
The Salar page on English Wikipedia is illustrated with a "Salar Flag", quite similar to the flag I have reported. The image is marked "citation needed".
The original file on Wikimedia Commons is labelled "Salar national Flag", without further explanation or source
Ivan Sache, 15 October 2010

I think that most of the emblems depicted must be tamgas. You can see several examples of tamgas here and there:
- and
Corentin Chamboredon, 15 October 2010

Being partially of Tatar ancestry, I know a bit about tamgas. The Salar tamga is quite similar (but also quite different) to the one from the flag of 1378-1508 Aq-Qoyunlu (White Sheep Turkoman) State in what is now the territory of Iran. This adds a lot more credibility to the authenticity of the Salar flag.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 16 October 2010