Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Yunnan is a province of China. Bordering provinces are Tibet, Sichuan, Guizhou and Guangxi. Bordering countries are Vietnam (the main border crossing by road and rail is at Hekou–Lao Cai, the only land border crossing open to non-Chinese/non-Vietnamese), Laos (at Boten) and Burma (with the main border crossing at Ruili, the only land border open to non-Chinese/non-Burmese). Due to the proximity to many South East Asian countries, Yunanese easily moved from their homeland to the south, and to the SEA countries. The typical example is Tai people, who moved from Yunnan, to Burma, Thailand, Laos, and even to South East India(The Ahom). Some people refer to Panthays as the oldest group of Chinese Muslims in Burma, they are from Yunnan.

It is not surprise that in ancient time,there are Yunanese migrated to Malaysia. If Panthays had reached Thailand, they can go to Malaysia in ancient time....

Proto Malays

Mekong River, approximately 4180 km in length, originated from Tibet and runs through Yunnan province of China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and South Vietnam. Anthropologists traced the migration of Proto Malays, who were seafarers, to some 10,000 years ago when they sailed by boat (canoe or perahu) along the Mekong River from Yunnan to the South China Sea and eventually settled down at various places.

Yunnan migration theory

The theory of Proto Malay originating from Yunnan is supported by R.H Geldern, J.H.C Kern, J.R Foster, J.R Logen, Slametmuljana and Asmah Haji Omar. The Proto Malay (Melayu asli) who first arrived possessed agricultural skills while the second wave Deutero Malay (mixed blood) who joined in around 1500 BC and dwelled along the coastlines have advanced fishery skills. During the migration, both groups intermarried with peoples of the southern islands, such as those from Java (Indonesian), and also with aboriginal peoples of Australoid, Negrito and Melanesoid origin.

Other evidences that support this theory include:

* Stone tools found at Malay archipelago are analogous to Central Asian tools.
* Similarity of Malay customs and Assam customs.
* Malay language & Cambodian language are kindred languages because the ancestral home of Cambodians originated from the source of Mekong River.

Inhabitants of early Yunnan may be traced back into prehistory from a homo erectus fossil, 'Yuanmou Man', which was unearthed in the 1960s. In year 221 BC, Qin Shihuang conquered Yunnan and unified China. Yunnan has since become a province of China. They were the ancestors of rice eating peoples, with their culture of cultivating rice spread throughout the entire region. The native name of the Mekong River peoples' home in Yunnan is Xishuangbanna (Sipsongpanna) which literally means "twelve thousand rice fields", it is the home of the Dai minority. Xishuangbanna sits at a lower altitude than most of the Yunnan mountainous ranges.

Yunnanese in Malaysia

There will be 2 types of Yunnanese; one is Muslim Yunnanese e.g. Hui, Hui-hui, the other is Non-Muslim Yunnanese, which include Tai,Yunnan Chinese and tribal people e.g. Lahu, Mong, Lisu etc. Both these people were migrants to North Thailand, Burma,and may be Laos and Vietnam. There was no records on them in Malaysia, except in Kelantan and Trengganu. If they are Muslim Yunnanese, they may have assimilated to the local Malay community. However there were records and trace of Hui Hui in Trengganu, Kelantan and Penang. Some Tai from Yunnan may have been here, but may have classified or group with Siamese due to common cultural and religion background. Note: I have seen a Tai language book published from Xishuangbanna , Yunnan at a Buddhist temple in remote Chinese village near Kuala Trengganu. So it is probable that they have come. Some historian said Kelantanese are of Yunnan ancestry(but some said they are Cham from ancient Champa Kingdom. I have strong feeling that they may be both, and intermarriage among them, as the theory correlated positively to southward people movement in the region, including Yunnan, Cham and Patanni people. This is evidenced by dark skin and fair skin Kelantanese Malay. Nevertheless that is for anthropologist and academic to research on it).

The most recent discovery uncovered that from the 12th till the 14th century, the district of Kuala Berang (Fo-Lo-An), in the state of Terengganu, is one of the earliest Chinese settlements. In addition, the “Batu Bersurat Terengganu” (Inscribed Stone Slab of Terengganu) was said to have inscription forms that are similar to ancient Chinese writings. There are “Orang Yunnan” (Yunnan people) that were Muslims before their migration from China. In the book published by the Al-Yunani Family, there is a significant coverage of the genealogy of the 7 Chinese Muslims of Hui ancestry from Guangdong Province that settled in Terengganu in the early 20th century.

The al-Yunani family of Trengganu were not strictly from the Yunnan, but were the Hui-Hui people from the Guangdong province in China. Members of L’s family who were early settlers in Kuala Trengganu adpted the family name al-Yunani (of the Yunnan) to signal to the local Malays and to the Chinese community that they were Muslim people, though they were not themselves from there. But their ancestry may be from Yunnan, and move to Guangdong; they may be also the local Hui in Guangdong area, from the intermarriage of local Han people with the Muslim traders in ancient Canton.

1 comment:

  1. There is a long history of muslims in Yunnan, including the creation of a yunnan sultanate