The Japanese are thought to be closely related to and their Y-chromosome D1/D3 and O3 lineages to be branches of the proto-Qiangic population in China, but their maternal genes show both northern and southern genes (see abstract of study below):
Gao L, et al. [Genetic polymorphism of mitochondrial DNA in coding region in 16 ethnic populations of Yunnan]. Yi Chuan Xue Bao. 2005 Feb;32(2):118-23. [Article in Chinese]
The genetic polymorphism of mitochondrial DNA in the coding region in 16 ethnic populations of Yunnan was analyzed using PCR-RFLP in a total of 654 samples. Seventeen haplogroups were found, four of which were undefined haplogroups. Haplogroup distribution and Principal Component (PC) analysis showed that the ethnic groups descended from Bai-Yue tribe have B, F and M7 as the predominant haplogroups, which indicated their origination from southern China. Haplogroup A, D and N9 were predominant in the Mongolian ethnic group, reflecting their north-originated characteristics. The groups descended from Di-Qiang tribe shared the predominant haplogroups with both the south and north originated groups, which demonstrated that they inherit the maternal characteristics from both southern and northern populations. There is genetic difference among the populations in the same ethnic group and is usually smaller than that among the ethnic groups from different ancient tribes, but not necessarily smaller than that among the groups from the same tribe.
Chuan-Chao Wang, Ling-Xiang Wang, […], and Hui Li,
Genetic structure of the Qiangic populations residing in the Western Sichuan CorridorPLoS ONE Public Library of Science
The Qiangic languages in western Sichuan (WSC) are believed to be the oldest branch of the Sino-Tibetan linguistic family, and therefore, all Sino-Tibetan populations might have originated in the western Sichuan.
The results revealed a predominantly Northern Asian-specific component in Qiangic populations, especially in maternal lineages. The Qiangic populations are an admixture of the northward migrations of East Asian initial settlers with Y chromosome haplogroup D (D1-M15 and the later originated D3a-P47) in the late Paleolithic age, and the southward Di-Qiang people with dominant haplogroup O3a2c1*-M134 and O3a2c1a-M117 in the Neolithic Age.
Based on lexical evidence and cladistic methods, Wang estimated that Chinese split away from Tibeto-Burman around 6 thousand years ago (kya) . The Qiangic languages in western China were believed to be the oldest type of Sino-Tibetan languages, and have given birth to all other Sino-Tibetan languages . Archaeological evidence ,  also indicated that the ancestors of Sino-Tibetan populations lived around at least 6 kya in western China …WSC is located between the upper-middle Yellow River basin and the eastern Himalayas, probably serving as a conduit for gene flow during the origin of the Sino-Tibetan populations. Here, we integrate Y chromosome and mtDNA diversity in Qiangic populations located in the WSC corridor to provide a broader framework for reconstructing the history of Sino-Tibetan.
“From the Y chromosome perspective, Su et al. found that almost all the modern Sino-Tibetan populations shared a common genetic signature, the high frequencies of O3-M122 lineages, including O3*-M122, O3a2c1*-M134, and O3a2b-M7. They postulated that the ancient Di-Qiang people (Proto-Sino-Tibetan speakers) with the dominant O3-lineages in the upper-middle Yellow River basin were the ancestors of present Sino-Tibetan populations . However, they did not give a convincing explanation about the high frequency of Y chromosomal Alu insertion (YAP) in Tibetan populations. The YAP polymorphism was also enriched in Japan and Andaman islands, but basically absent in almost all the other East Asian populations . Haplogroup D-M174 is one subhaplogroups of YAP+. Shi et al. proposed that D-M174 had a southern origin and then started its northward expansion about 60 kya. The current fragmented distribution of D-M174 was likely due to the later Neolithic expansion of Han culture carrying O3-lineages . In addition, one of O3-M122 lineages in the study of Su et al. , haplogroup O3a2b-M7, was found out to be the characteristic lineage of Mon-Khmer and Hmong-Mien . Haplogroup O3a1c-002611, which was included in the O3*-M122 haplogroup in the study of Su et al. , comprises almost 17% of Han Chinese . However, haplogroup O3a1c was found at very low frequencies in Tibeto-Burman populations , suggesting that this lineage might not have participated in the establishment of the Tibeto-Burman populations. Recently, we have found that Qiang people have the highest Y chromosomal short tandem repeats (STRs) diversity among the Sino-Tibetan populations in the eastern Himalayas, indicating the Qiangic group to be the origin of the Sino-Tibetan expansion . However, the highest genetic diversity of Qiang people might also be the result of repeated migrations from all directions.”
Haplogroup O3-M122 is the most common haplogroup in China and prevalent throughout East and Southeast Asia, comprising roughly 25–37% of the studied Qiangic populations. O3a1c-002611, O3a2c1-M134, and O3a2c1a-M117 are three main subclades of O3, each accounting for 12–17% of the Han Chinese , . However, their frequencies vary a lot in Qiangic populations. O3a1c-002611 comprises 15.22% of Xinlong Tibetans, but absent in three other populations. O3a2c1*-M134 accounts for about 6% of the Horpa-Danba and Tibetans of Xinlong and Yajiang, but absent in Horpa-Daofu. Haplogroup O3a2c1a-M117, which exhibits high frequencies in other Tibeto-Burman populations, is also observed at high frequencies in Horpa-Danba and Tibetan-Yajiang (22.22% and 19.15%, respectively), and moderate frequencies in Horpa-Daofu and Tibetan-Xinlong (12.50% and 10.87%, respectively).
Haplogroup C-M130 has a very wide distribution and might represent one of the earliest settlements in East Asia. Haplogroup C* (M130+, M105−, M38−, M217−, M347−, and M356−) has been found at low frequencies along the southern coast of mainland East Asia as well as throughout the islands of Southeast Asia , .
In spite of the wide distribution of C*, they all have similar STR haplotypes (DYS19, 15; DYS389I, 12; DYS389b, 16; DYS390, 21; DYS391, 10; DYS392, 11; DYS393). There are two C* individuals detected in this study, one in Horpa-Danba and the other in Tibetan-Xinlong. Those two individuals also have the same STR haplotype as mentioned above. Haplogroup C3-M217 is the most widespread subclade of C-M130, and reaches the highest frequencies among the populations of Northern East Aisa, especially in Mongolians –.
Haplogroup C3-M217 has also been found in Tibetan-Yajiang at a frequency of 10.64%, but totally absent in other three populations. Haplogroup N-M231 has both a unique and widespread distribution throughout northern Eurasia and reaches highest frequency among most of the Uralic populations as well as some Altaic populations. Haplogroup N1c1a-M178 is the most common subclade of N-M231 and thought to be originated in China , . N1c1a-M178 has also been detected in Horpa-Daofu and Tibetan-Xinlong at 12.50% and 2.17%, respectively. The 17-STR haplotype of N1c1a individuals in Horpa-Daofu is exactly the same with some Komi people in Russia , . However, the haplotype of N1c1a individual in Xinlong shows more similarity with samples of its surrounding populations (unpublished data). It is particularly noteworthy that Central-South Asia related haplogroups J-M304 and R2-M124  have also been detected at low frequencies in Qiangic populations.
The paternal genetic relationships among Qiangic, Tibeto-Burman, and other East Asian populations were discerned with the aid of additional published Y chromosome datasets. We used a PCA based on the distribution of Y chromosome haplogroup frequencies of 51 populations to show the overall clustering pattern (Figure 3a, Table S3). Results of PCA are presented by the plots of the first two principal components (PCs), which together account for 31.31% of the Y chromosome variation in these populations. The first PC revealed a clear north-south geographic division between Altaic and Sino-Tibetan, Tai-Kadai & Hmong-Mien. Haplogroup C3-M217, G-M201, J-P209, and R-M207 were found to contribute most to the northern pole of Altaic. Haplogroup O-M175 contributed most to the southern pole. Sino-Tibetan, Tai-Kadai and Hmong-Mien populations showed different distributions of the second PC. Horpa-Danba, Horpa-Daofu, Tibetan-Xinlong, and Tibetan-Yajiang were clustered within Sino-Tibetan group, which reflected a clear linguistic clustering pattern. Haplogroups O3a1c-002611, O3a2c1*-M134, and O3a2c1a-M117 contributed most to the Sino-Tibetan pole. Contrastingly, haplogroups O3a2b*-M7 and O2a1-M95 were concentrated at the Tai-Kadai and Hmong-Mien pole. The four western Sichuan populations clustered tightly together with other Tibeto-Burman populations, such as Qiang, Tibetan-Yunnan, Yi, and Tujia, mostly due to high frequencies of haplogroup D3a-P47, O3a2c1a-M117, D1-M15, and O3a2c1*-M134. In the STR genetic distance based neighbor-joining tree, Horpa-Daofu, Tibetan-Yajiang, and Tibetan-Xinlong also clustered tightly with Tibeto-Burman populations. However, Horpa-Danba was close related to Han and Hmong-Mien populations…
To discern the detail relationship between the D3a-P47, O3a2c1a-M117, D1-M15, and O3a2c1*-M134 haplogroups in Tibeto-Burman and other related populations, a median-joining network was constructed based on Y-STR haplotypes of those haplogroups (Figure 4). A clear Sino-Tibetan vs. Tai-Kadai and Hmong-Mien divergence can be inferred from the network of D1-M15 though sporadic haplotype sharing exists. Furthermore, within the Sino-Tibetan populations, haplogroup D1-M15 contains distinct STR haplotypes between Qiangic populations, Northern Han, and Tibetan-Tibet, implying that D1-M15 experienced a serial of founder effects or strong bottlenecks and a secondary expansion in Sino-Tibetan populations. In the network of D3a-P47, the divergence between Qiang and Tibetan with other Tibeto-Burman populations has been observed. Other Tibeto-Burman populations only have a subset of the Qiang and Tibetan haplotypes. The star-like network of D3a-P47 also suggests population expansion in Tibetans. The network of O3a2c1*-M134 shows a clear divergence between Tibetan and northern populations (Northern Han and Altaic). Southern Han and Tai-Kadai samples constitute the center of the network and act as a bridge connected Tibetan and northern populations, which supports the southern origin and northern expansion of O3a2c1*-M134. Most of the Qiangic samples belonging to haplogroup O3a2c1*-M134 share haplotypes with northern populations, indicating a recent gene flow from northern populations to Qiangic populations. A population expansion has also been observed in the star-like network of haplogroup O3a2c1a-M117. o However, the haplotypes of O3a2c1a-M117 are extensively shared among all the East Asia populations.
Haplogroup D can trace back to late Palaeolithic period, while other subhaplogroups coalescence more likely in Neolithic Time. The lineage expansion times all fall into Neolithic Time ranging from 4.2 to 7.5 kya.
Macrohaplogroup M and its subhaplogroups comprise 59.70% of the Qiangic maternal gene pool, and macrohaplogroup N and its subhaplogroups comprise the left 49.30%. The most prevalent haplogroups within macrohaplogroup M, haplogroup D and G represent 18.14% and 13.60% of all the samples. Within macrohaplogroup N, haplogroup A and F are the most common lineages, accounting for 13.60% and 10.58% of Qiangic, respectively. The majority of the mtDNA lineages belong to eastern Eurasian specific groups, including those from Northeast Asia (A, D4, D5, G, C, and Z) – and Southern China or Southeast Asia (B, F, M7, and R9) . Only two U samples in Yajiang might be traced for their origins to western or southern Eurasia, comprising 0.5% of Qiangic. The frequencies of Southern China or Southeast Asia specific haplogroups in Horpa-Danba, Horpa-Daofu, Tibetan-Xinlong, and Tibetan-Yajiang are 26.09%, 22.50%, 27.73%, and 21.35%, respectively. However, Tibetan-Yajiang, Horpa-Danba, Horpa-Daofu and, to a lesser extent, Tibetan-Xinlong, display a considerable Northeast Asian proportion of lineages (56.77%, 56.52%, 55.00%, and 43.70%, respectively). Consistent with other studied Tibetan populations on the Tibetan Plateau, Qiangic populations also showed a strong similarity with Northeast Asian populations.
The first PC revealed a clear geographic division between northern populations (Altaic and Northern Han) and southern populations (Southern Han, Tai-Kadai, and Hmong-Mien). Qiangic groups were clustered in the northern pole due to the high frequencies of haplogroup A and G. Han Chinese and Tibeto-Burman populations showed significantly different distributions in the second PC. Qiangic populations were clustered within Tibeto-Burman group due to the existence of haplogroup M9a’b and M13.
Phylogeography of Macrohaplogroup M Macrohaplogroup M and its subhaplogroups represent the majority of the Qiangic maternal lineages, with frequencies ranging from 65.22% in Horpa-Danba to 57.98% in Tibetan-Xinlong. Haplogroup D4 and G are the most frequent sub-clades of macrohaplogroup M in Qiangic populations, each comprising 13.60%. Haplogroup D4, which is prevalent throughout Central Asia , Northeast Asia , , and Southwest China , , , , represents the majority of haplogroup D samples in Horpa-Danba (17.39%), Tibetan-Yajiang (13.54%), Tibetan-Xinlong (13.45%), and Horpa-Daofu (10.00%). The haplotypes of D4* were extensively shared among Qiangic, Tibetan, Han Chinese, and Altaic (Figure 5). Specifically, sub-haplogroup D4j3 was detected in Horpa-Danba and Horpa-Daofu with considerable frequencies (4.35% and 5.00%, respectively). The age estimates generated for D4* and D4j3 in Qiangic were about 15 kya (Table 3). In addition, the population growth factor, Fu’s Fs values of haplogroups D4* and D4j3, were significantly negative (Table 4), implying post-LGM expansions of those two lineages in Qiangic.
Haplogroup G is found at high frequencies in northeastern Siberia but it is also common among populations of Japanese Archipelago and Korean Peninsula. This haplogroup also comprises an average of 20% of the maternal gene pool of the Tharus from Nepal  and accounts for more than 10% in the Tibetan populations of Nagqu, Chamdo, Lhasa, Garze, and Monba . In this study, haplogroup G and subhaplogroups G2a, G2b1b, G3, and G3a1 account for 20% of Horpa-Daofu and reach frequencies greater than 10% in three other Qiangic populations. Subhaplogroup G2a is represented as four distinct HVS-I motif types: 16129–16223–16278–16362 (I), frequent in Tibetan and Southern Han but nearly absent in Altaics; 16223–16227–16278–16362 (II), frequent in all the above three populations and probably experienced population expansion in Altaics (Figure 5); 16193–16223–16278–16362 (III), exclusive in South Asia. All of the G2a samples in Horpa-Daofu harbor haplotype II but add one more mutation at site 16304. However, most of Tibetan-Xinlong samples belong to haplotype I (50%). Subhaplogroup G2b1b was first reported as a novel haplogroup in northeast India and has low frequency distribution in Tibet and surrounding regions , . This haplogroup accounts for 4.69%, 2.50%, and 0.84 of Tibetan-Yajiang, Horpa-Daofu, and Tibetan-Xinlong. Compared with other Tibetan samples, 72.73% of Qiangic G2b1b samples were detected with a mutation at site 16356, thus forming some exclusive clades in the network (Figure 5). Subhaplogroup G3 comprises 6.77%, 5.00%, 3.36%, and 2.17% of Tibetan-Yajiang, Horpa-Daofu, Tibetan-Xinlong, and Horpa-Danba, respectively. Two Yajiang samples are further defined as G3a1 by a mutation at site 16215. In addition, we have found two Horpa-Danba G2a samples bearing both G2a (16278) and G3 (16274) characteristic mutations and thus we could not tell the exact haplogroup classification of those two samples. The coalescence time estimates of G*, G2b1b, and G3 were all around 20 kya and the age of G2a even reached about 34 kya (Table 3). However, it is noteworthy that the arrival time of these haplogroups at the Tibetan Plateau might be somewhat more recent than their coalescent ages would indicate, because nearly all these haplogroups (except G2b1b) had already differentiated before their arrival on the plateau (Figure 5). The exclusive clades in the network (Figure 5) and the significant negative Fu’s Fs values (Table 4) of G2a and G3 suggest the probable isolation and secondary population expansion of the two lineages.
Haplogroup M8 has two sublineages, haplogroup C and Z. Haplogroup C is a common lineage, which is widespread in East Asia and Siberia and is one of the founder lineages among Native Americans . Haplogroup C comprises 8–10% of Horpa-Danba and Tibetan-Yajiang, but was detected at a very low frequency or even absent in Tibetan-Xinlong and Horpa-Daofu. Almost 60% of the C samples in present study harbored a specific HVS-I motif 16093–16298–16327 and were assigned as C4d. One Horpa-Danba individual with HVS-I motif 16298–16327 is also classified as C4d through complete sequencing (Doc S2). Haplogroup C4d has been supposed to be Tibetan specific, frequencies ranging from 1.6% to 5.0% in populations of Tibet
M9a’b is widely distributed in mainland East Asia  and Japan, and reaches its greatest frequency and diversity in Tibet ,  and its surrounding regions, including Nepal  and northeast India , . It has been proposed recently that haplogroup M9’b had most likely originated in southern China and/or mainland Southeast Asia. After the LGM, M9a’b might be involved in some northward migrations in mainland East Asia . In the present study, the frequencies of M9a’b in Horpa-Danba, Horpa-Daofu, Tibetan-Xinlong, and Tibetan-Yajiang are 4.35%, 10%, 13.45%, and 6.77%, respectively. Most M9a* samples (62.5%) of Qiangic shared the main haplotype that clustered in the central largest clade with other Tibeto-Burman populations in the network. However, the estimated age of M9a* is relatively young at about 7 kya. M9b is largely restricted to the non-Tibetans in southern China and southwest China . We have detected low frequencies of M9b in Horpa-Danba and Tibetan-Xinlong (2.17% and 0.84%, respectively). In the networks of M9a1a and M9a1b, most of the Qiangic samples shared the descent types, giving a clear signal of out of Tibet migrations of those haplogroups. The age estimates generated for M9a1a and M9a1b1 in Qiangic were around 12–13 kya (Table 3), consistent with proposed post-glacial dispersal of the M9a’b lineages.
Haplogroup M13a has been found at its greatest frequency and diversity in Tibet, but it has also been detected at very low frequencies in Siberian Buryat, Yakut, Altaian Kazakh, and Ewenki , and central Asian Kirghizs  as well as Barghuts , , . The frequency of haplogroup M13a in Qiangic populations is remarkable, accounting for 3.27% of all samples. In the network of haplogroup M13a1 and M13a2, Qiangic and Tibetan-Burman samples formed some almost exclusive clades. This strongly suggests that these specific lineages have de novo origins within Tibetans. Specially, 70% of subhaplogroup M13a1b samples in Qiangic share the same haplotype. A coalescence time estimate for M13a1b corresponded to 5.7 kya (Table 3), suggesting a relatively recent Neolithic expansion out of Tibet and even more recent arrival into northern Asia of this lineage.
Qiangic populations also exhibit some basal Eurasian mtDNA lineages. Haplogroup M62, for example, was first reported in Northeast India  and since then has been reported in several populations at low frequency throughout Tibet , . Zhao et al. suggested that M62 might represent the genetic relics of the initial Late Paleolithic settlers (>21 kya) on the Tibetan Plateau. In this study, we observed haplogroup M62b in three Yajiang Tibetans. The haplotype of those three individuals is different from all other reported M62 samples with a mutation at site 16305. Likewise, haplogroup M74a was detected in one Xinlong Tibetan, and the haplotype of which bearing a distinctive mutation at site 16274 only shared with one Maonan individual, one Zhuang individual, and one Hainan Han Chinese . Haplogroup M33c was found in a Tibetan sample from Yajiang with a similar haplotype as some Hmong-Mien samples .
Phylogeography of Macrohaplogroup N Haplogroup R and its subhaplogroups (B and F) represent the majority of the lineages branching from the basal N trunk, accounting for 26.09%, 22.50%, 28.57%, and 23.44% of the maternal diversity in Horpa-Danba, Horpa-Daofu, Tibetan-Xinlong, and Tibetan-Yajiang, respectively. Subhaplogroup B4* is the most frequent lineage of haplogroup B in Qiangic, comprising 4.53% of all the samples. In the network of B4*, the root clade composed almost exclusively of non-Tibetan-Burman samples, however, the Tibetan-Burman samples only formed some small clusters or shared the terminal types, suggesting that B4* had already differentiated before its arrival in Tibet. Subhaplogroup F1* is the most frequent lineage of haplogroup F in Qiangic, accounting for 5.54% of all the samples, and even comprising as high as 12.5% of Horpa-Daofu. Age estimate generated for F1* in Qiangic was around 5 kya (Table 3). The exclusive Qiangic cluster of F1* in the network suggests a strong bottleneck or founder effect in its Neolithic migration towards the plateau. The significant negative values of the growth factor estimates (Table 4) suggest a secondary expansion and probable selection of F1* lineage during its adaptation in the plateau.
Haplogroup N* is almost exclusively represented by haplogroup A in our samples. Haplogroup A is widely distributed in northern and eastern Asia, occurring at frequencies of 5%–10% in different populations . Haplogroup A also has an average frequency of nearly 9% on the plateau . Subhaplogroup A4*, which is mainly found in Central, Northeast and Southwest Asia, is the most frequent sublineage of haplogroup A in Qiangic, accounting for 2.17%, 5.00%, 4.20%, and 12.50% of Horpa-Danba, Horpa-Daofu, Tibetan-Xinlong, and Tibetan-Yajiang, respectively. Network analysis of haplogroup A4* revealed a star-like pattern and thus showed a signal of population expansion on the plateau (Figure 5). The probable population expansion was also confirmed by growth summary statistics in this lineage (Table 4). Subhaplogroup A11 split from the root of haplogroup A very early and formed a distinct lineage. A11a and A11b, the two sublineages of A11, have the different distribution pattern. Most of the A11 samples in Tibet belong to A11* or A11a and only a few have a control-region substitution at site 16234, assigned as A11b. However, almost all the A11 samples in the Tibetan-Burman and Han Chinese of Yunnan belong to A11b. In the present study, three of five A11 samples belonged to A11* and the other two were assigned as A11b.
The Sino-Tibetan linguistic family comprises some 460 languages distributed in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and parts of South Asia, including the Chinese and Tibeto-Burman subfamilies . Despite intense linguistic, archaeological, and genetic researches, where the Sino-Tibetan speakers came from, how they dispersed remain major open questions. One widely accepted hypothesis states that the ancestors of the Sino-Tibetan population were originally from the Neolithic Age Di-Qiang people in the upper and middle Yellow River basin. Di people have gradually developed into Han Chinese and Qiangic populations since the collapse of Later Liang dynasty (one of the Sixteen Kingdoms dynasty, AD 386–403). Here, we integrated the Y chromosome and mtDNA evidence of Qiangic populations to provide a broader framework for reconstructing the history of Sino-Tibetan.
From the paternal Y chromosome perspective, haplogroup D1-M15 originated from D*-M174 during its migration into mainland East Asia . Around 50–60 kya, a subgroup of haplogroup D*-M174 and D1-M15 started their northward migration through WSC corridor into nowadays Qinghai province, and then probably moved along the well-known route, called the Tibeto-Burman corridor, to enter the Himalayas . Haplogroup D*-M174 probably gave birth to D3a-P47 in Tibet . Haplogroup D3a-P47 experienced recent population expansion on the Tibetan Plateau, and then probably migrated southward via the WSC corridor and gradually became the main genetic component of Tibeto-Burman populations in nowadays Sichuan, Yunnan, and Guangxi province. Y chromosome haplogroup D might give the evidences of the late Palaeolithic human activity on the plateau. The genetic relics of late Palaeolithic age have also been detected in the maternal side, for example, haplogroup M62b. In addition, a number of Paleolithic sites have been excavated crossing the Tibetan Plateau –, documenting the earliest human presence on the plateau dated to 20–30 kya.
Around 20–40 kya, a population with dominant haplogroup O3-M122 Y chromosomes (haplogroup O3a1c-002611, O3a2c1*-M134, O3a2c1a-M117, and probably other O3 lineages) finally reached the upper and middle Yellow River basin and formed the Di-Qiang populations. During the Neolithic period, the Di-Qiang people experienced relatively huge population expansion. A subgroup of the Di-Qiang people with dominant haplogroup O3a2c1*-M134 and O3a2c1a-M117, now called the Proto-Tibeto-Burman people left their Yellow River homeland, probably also moved along the Tibeto-Burman corridor, embarking on large-scale westward migrations to nowadays Qinghai province and then southward to the Himalayas, or southward migration directly via the WSC corridor to Yunnan and Guangxi, where they mixed with D-M174 linages and developed into Tibeto-Burman populations. However, haplogroup O3a2c1*-M134 might have already reached Tibet predated the above southward migration together with O3a2c1a-M117, judging from the high diversity in the network of O3a2c1*-M134 (Figure 4). In addition, another branch of the Di-Qiang people, the proto-Chinese, with dominant haplogroup O3a1c-002611 migrated eastward to the central China plain area, the middle and lower Yellow River Valley, and integrated gradually with the natives (probably populations with haplogroup C-M130 or D-M174) around 5–6 kya. Subsequently, the Di-Qiang people that resided in upper and middle Yellow River basin with haplogroup O3a2c1*-M134 and O3a2c1a-M117 formed the well-known Yan-Huang tribe (Hot Emperor and Yellow Emperor), and the eastward branch with O3a1c-002611 developed into the Dong Yi tribe. The Yan-Huang tribe together with the Dong Yi tribe gradually developed into a large population known as Han Chinese. With the expansion of Han Chinese, especially southward, this group became the largest one of the 56 officially recognized ethnic populations in China.
The role of haplogroup O3-M122 lineages played in the origin of Tibeto-Burman populations has suggested extensive genetic input from northern Asians. This suggestion has been supported by previous studies employing autosomal STR , , Y chromosome , , and mtDNA –. It is not surprising that the maternal variation of Qiangic populations was also largely contributed by northern Asian-prevalent haplogroups, including haplogroups A, C, D, and G. In addition, cultural features of the upper Yellow River basin, such as painted pottery, millet agriculture, and urn burial, are prevalent in the Neolithic sites of WSC, probably due to the demic diffusion via the genetic corridor . However, we still could not rule out the possibility that the complex genetic structure of Qiangic populations might be due to repeated admixture from surrounding populations, which provides directions for future
Y chromosome evidence indicates that Qiang people might be the origin source for the Sino-Tibetan populations , . Qiang people refer to the populations speaking Qiangic languages, a group of the northeastern Tibeto-Burman branch, spoken mainly in Southwestern China (Figure 1), especially in Western Sichuan…
See also . Wei L (2008) Distribution of Y chromosome Haplogroup D in East Asia and its Anthropological Implications. COM. on C. A. 2: e11
Tanaka M, Cabrera VM, Gonzalez AM, Larruga JM, Takeyasu T, et al. (2004) Mitochondrial genome variation in eastern Asia and the peopling of Japan. Genome Res 14: 1832–1850 [PMC free article
Nohira C, Maruyama S, Minaguchi K (2010) Phylogenetic classification of Japanese mtDNA assisted by complete mitochondrial DNA sequences. Int J Legal Med 124: 7–12 [PubMed
Below we examine the traditions and beliefs of the Qiangic people of Sichuan in China.
See extracted passages below:
The Qiang people hold a polytheistic belief system based on animism; basically, they worship gods of nature and spirits of the ancestors. They offer sacrifices to the gods of nature, while spirits of the ancestors are enshrined in the family house (Wang et al. 1992: 20). There are five great deities and twelve lesser deities worshipped in each village (Graham 1958: 46) as well as a variety of other deities, such as mountain gods, tree gods, door gods, the god of fire, the god of domestic animals, the god of wind and rain, the god of births, occupational gods (hunter, stonemason, blacksmith), the god blessing women in their work, and the god blessing men in their work. Many, but not all, of the gods appear in male-female pairs; for brevity and clarity in this report, I use the term “god” to cover both genders or paired possibilities…
See also: First Look: The Qiang People of Sichuan by Emma ZEVIK
The first holy man in the Qiang people’s history, whose name was AbaMullah, came down from heaven and stopped to rest on the top of the snowy mountain. He laid his holy book down and while he slept, a sheep ate the pages of the book. When he awoke, he had forgotten all the sacred sutras contained in the holy book. A monkey appeared and instructed him to kill the sheep and use the hide to make a drum. The holy man complied and made a one-sided sheepskin drum. The monkey told him to play the drum and in this way, the holy man would remember the holy scriptures.
This story explains why all Qiang holy men — to the present day — play a sheepskin drum, why there is no written holy book among the Qiang, and why the Qiang worship a monkey skull, also called the AbaMullah, as a way to memorialize the first priest.
The Qiang people are one of the 56 ethnic categories living in China today. Qiang is a name given by the ancient Han to the nomadic people in western China. Today, they inhabit the mountainous regions in the northwestern part of Sichuan Province. In their own language, they call themselves erma people, meaning “ourself.” The Qiang are recognized as a “first ancestor” culture due to their ancient roots; evidence from bones and tortoise shells shows that the Qiang were living in communities in northwestern China during the Shang Dynasty, c. 16th–11th centuries B.C.
Some Qiangs were assimilated by the Tibetans and some by the Han, leaving a small number unassimilated. This group gradually moved to the upper reaches of the Minjiang River and eventually became today’s Qiang nationality, with a total population of over 198,000 (Zhang and Zeng 1993).
Qiang belief systems and traditions pre-date Taoism and certainly Chinese Buddhism; it is no exaggeration to state that Qiang culture could be considered the “first” culture of China. Certainly, Qiang culture of today contains complex influences, including Tibetan, Han Chinese, Buddhist, Taoist and even Christian. It would be impossible to sort out these tangled strands to uncover the original religious practices; yet in examining the stories, myths and legends, we can perhaps find a glimpse of some deeper understanding of the human condition as experienced by the Qiang. …
It is my best guess that there are perhaps today no more than twenty living Qiang shamans who have had full and complete initiations (gaigua) …
The Qiang shamans are distinctive in their professional dress and implements, including monkeyskin hat, sheepskin drum, holy stick — used to drive out devils — gongs and seals, and perhaps, most significantly, the AbaMullah: a preserved monkey skull handed down, in some villages, for over fifteen generations…
The religious practices of the Qiang are the most complex aspect of Qiang culture. The religious customs encompass a diverse and vast array of activities. Dress, food, residence, travel, marriage, funerals, festivals, daily life etiquette, social contacts — all have strong links to religious customs.
Since, as earlier noted, the Qiang language has no written form, and its spoken forms are quite numerous and distinct from each other, the religious customs vary greatly from locality to locality and even from village to village. “For instance, every Qiang family enshrines gods, but the ways of worshipping, the number of gods enshrined, and even the gods themselves in different households can be quite different” (Wang et al. 1992: 16).
Without question, the most visible and distinctive element of Qiang culture and religious practice is the white stone. Commonly found in all areas where the Qiang reside, the quartz stones are enshrined on roofs, towers, and mountains, in fire pits, fields and forests. Wang et al. state that since the Qiang have no idols, the white stone, symbolizing all the gods, bears a soul which [the stone] itself lacks but represents something mysterious and powerful. Ancient people thought that enshrining and worshipping these soul-bearing objects would help them acquire the protection of the gods these objects represented. The worship of the white stone is a worship which focuses on the gods represented, not on the object itself. A white stone on the roof represents the god of heaven; a white stone beside the cooking stove represents the god of fire; a white stone on the mountain represents the god of the mountain; a white stone standing in the fields represents the god of crops and earth. (1992: 27)
At the center of Qiang culture stands the duangong, called bi in the Qiang language. As earlier noted, the bi is the keeper of the culture, the scholar of the community. Although there are several stories of female duangongs in the past, and there is no limitation as to gender, there are no living female duangongs at this time. Among his many responsibilities, the bi coordinates the relationships between human beings, spirits and deities for the welfare of all the villagers. Like the Qiang language, the bi’s skills, knowledge and wisdom, as well as his tools and implements and practices traditionally transmitted orally from generation to generation, are endangered.
The Qiang’s belief system has been influenced by Taoism, Buddhism and even Christianity (via missionaries). As noted earlier, there is great variety in spiritual beliefs, even between villages within close proximity to each other. Generally, there is belief in souls and in spirits, ghosts, and demons. Some people have adopted the Chinese belief in three major souls and seven lesser souls (Graham 1958: 43). There is belief in reincarnation and fate as well as the regular practice of ancestor worship.
The Qiang believe in a large pantheon of gods; however, unlike the Chinese and the Tibetans, both of whom make images of their numerous gods, the Qiang have no holy images of their gods. There are possibly two exceptions: AbaMullah, the original holy man now memorialized by a monkey skull, and the King of Demons, often carved on the priest’s sacred staff. The AbaMullah monkey skull is wrapped in bundles of white or brown paper. Once each year, the statue is ceremoniously wrapped in another layer of paper.
The duangong is the central axis around which the Qiang village revolves. The hat and the sheepskin drum are his tools for carrying out rituals and ceremonies; more importantly, these are also vital signs, tangible and visible, by which the villagers recognize the duangong’s authority, competence and respected position in the social body. The duangong’stools are the mark of his authority, but the duangong himself is the most important sign for the community at large. He is the symbol of the community’s heritage and culture. The duangong of today has become a living museum — a container of Qiang history, displaying the Qiang language, dress, beliefs, customs, epics, songs, and dances.
Of the 11 duangongs I worked with in the Southern Qiang area, not one had a complete set of duangong tools. At various times during their lives, the tools were hidden, in hopes of salvaging them from Chinese government search teams intent on destroying these items left over from the feudal era. Qiang shaman tools and dress were routed out and destroyed by the army and, at the same time, concealed by the Qiang in attempts to gain some measure of control and protection; but they could not fully succeed in preserving their cultural icons. In this report, I have made the case that among the Qiang people their indigenous language is one of the emblems of their religion, just as are their tools and dress; and just as the Qiang tools are endangered, so too is the Qiang language and culture itself as embodied in the duangong.
Generally at such ceremonies there is recitation of appropriate sutras from the Qiang holy book, preparation of a ritualized feast from appropriately prepared goat/pig/chicken, the burning of incense sticks and sometimes, paper money, and the preparation of holy flags, stamps, seals, charms, and spells.
Is the duangong a shaman? In this essay, up to this point, I have used this term interchangeably with other terms, such as holy man and priest. At first glance, it would appear that he is a shaman, although Graham (1958: 43) labels him as priest. He performs typical shaman duties: he plays a drum and is constantly sought out to heal the sick; and he is believed to have mysterious powers to deal with the world of spirits, demons and ghosts. Wang et al (1992) make a convincing argument that the duangong carries out some functions of a shaman but that, at the same time, the duangong is also quite different from a shaman. Briefly, their argument can be summarized as follows. The duangong carries out several roles: presiding over religious ceremonies, carrying out magic spells to relieve people of evil spirits, acting as wizard, healer, doctor and psychologist treating patients for their sicknesses, organizing and performing the Qiang epics, myths and legends at festivals and major gatherings, and acting as the community intellectual and scholar. The duangong is an ordinary member of the village, never making his living as duangong professional. While both shamans and duangongs deal with the spirit world, using magic and special chants and the drum, duangongs deal with a wide range of spirits and have the supreme AbaMullah god in common, while shamans often deal with a much smaller number of gods and have a personal protector god, quite individual to each shaman. Shamans generally have been chosen by the spirits to become shamans (often after a test or life-threatening event), whereas anyone can become a duangong as long as they complete the training and education. Often shamans receive the spirits in trance or possession; duangongs never do. Possession and trance does occur during some rituals, but this happens with other people, often called tongzi, while the duangong chants and beats the drum (Wang 1992: 78).”
See related articles: