Identity The Bolozi may have become a distinct ethnic group as the result of marriage between Tibetans and Qiang people. They were first described by Scottish missionary Thomas Torrance in the 1930s. The Bolozi have been counted as part of either the Tibetan or Qiang nationalities by the Chinese authorities. This classification has caused the Bolozi to be hidden to outsiders. Even among the Bolozi themselves there is a growing tendency to identify themselves as Tibetans. Within a generation or two there may be no remembrance of their distinct ethnic origins.
History Until the 1960s the Bolozi were renowned for their plundering of other villages. Being a mix of Tibetans and Qiang, the Bolozi were known to have a wild, violent streak. They became the scourge even of other Tibetan communities living in the area. The Bolozi raided communities on horseback, carrying away anything they liked and killing if they so desired. Today they lead a far more peaceable existence, tending to crops and livestock in the green hills of northern Sichuan.
Customs Bolozi families engage in a wide variety of occupations, which include herding of yaks, sheep, and goats, engaging in agricultural production, and trading with the Tibetans and Han Chinese. Villages in the remote area are watered by fast-flowing rivers. Rickety bridges made of wooden boards and chains are flung across the rivers.
Religion Tibetan Buddhism has never taken a grip among the Bolozi to the extent that it has among other Tibetan groups. Most are polytheistic animists who try to keep peace with the vindictive spirits they believe control their lives.
Christianity The Bolozi are virtually untouched by the gospel. There are believed to be just a handful of Han and Qiang Christians in Songpan, the result of pre- 1949 missionary efforts. In 1919 there were 543 foreign missionaries working in Sichuan Province, but few ever labored in this remote area in the north of the province. The Church Missionary Society did commence work in Songpan in the 1920s, but no known outreach has ever been conducted to the wild Bolozi people. As a result, the Bolozi today are unreached and unevangelized.
Between 1,000 and 2,000 Bolozi people live in and around the village of Xiao Heshui, to the west of Songpan in northern Sichuan Province. Smaller numbers live scattered along the Min River as far south as Wenchuan. One early missionary wrote, "In Weizhou [now Wenchuan] most of the people are either Qiang or a mixed race, though there are some… Bolotsze [Bolozi] as well." (Source: Operation China, 2000)