Hunanese people

Hunanese people
湖湘民系/湘人/湘語人 Shiōn'nỳ nin
Two Hunannese men counting brass coins in Changde, circa 1900-1919.
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Mainland China Hunan
Northeastern Guangxi
parts of Guizhou
Republic of China on Taiwan As a small part of Mainlander population of Taiwan island
Xiang Chinese
Mahayana Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Chinese folk religion

The Hunanese people or Xiang-speaking Chinese (Chinese: 湖湘民系; pinyin: Huxiang minxi; Xiang Chinese: 湘語人 Shiōn'nỳ nin) are a Xiang-speaking Han ethnic subgroup originating from Hunan province in Southern China,[2] but Xiang-speaking people are also found in the adjacent provinces of Guangxi and Guizhou.



Hunanese people are often associated with political revolutions.[3]

The 19th and 20th century renaissance of Hunan centered around the revival in the ideas of Wang Fuzhi, a seventeenth-century scholar who had advocated for "Western" ideas of progress, humanism, and nationalism. Local reformers considered themselves as successors of Wang Fuzhi's ideas, and the movement culminated in the 1920s with the Hunanese independence movement, led by future Communist Party of China General Secretary Mao Zedong.

The Xiang Army, commanded Zeng Guofan, was instrumental in defeating the Taiping Rebellion. Hunan-born Huang Xing was the leader of the Wuchang Uprising, the first successful uprising against the Qing dynasty and the first army commander-in-chief of the Republic of China. Three of the "Big Five" original Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China members were from Hunan.


Xiang is a subdivision of spoken Chinese that originates from Hunan. According to Yang Xiong's Fangyan, people in what is the Xiang River region spoke the Southern Chu language, which is considered to be the ancestor of Xiang Chinese today.[4]


Hunan cuisine is very famous of its use of chili peppers and has a history of cooking skills employed in it dating back to the 17th century.[5]

Mao Zedong once told Otto Braun: “The food of the true revolutionary is the red pepper, and he who cannot endure red peppers is also unable to fight.”


Huaguxi is a local form of Chinese opera that is very popular in Hunan province.[6]

Notable people

This is a list of people with either full or partial Hunanese ancestry.


  1. "Han Chinese, Xiang in China" Joshua Project
  2. Original from the University of Michigan Digitized Dec 21, 2006 Levinson, David; Christensen, Karen (2002). Encyclopedia of modern Asia, Volume 6. Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 174. ISBN 0-684-31247-6. Retrieved February 29, 2012. XIANG The term "Xiang" refers to the people and the local sublanguage used in Hunan, a province in southeast-central China; Xiang is derived from the older literary name of Hunan. It is estimated that more than 25 million Chinese (most of them living in Hunan
  3. Platt, Stephen R. (2007). Provincial Patriots: The Hunanese and Modern China. Harvard University Press.
  4. 袁家骅 (1983). 汉语方言槪要. p. 333. ISBN 9787801264749.
  5. Distefanoy, Joe. "A Song of Spice and Fire: The Real Deal With Hunan Cuisine".
  6. Shi-Zheng Chen (1995). "TDR (1988-) Vol. 39, No. 1". The Tradition, Reformation, and Innovation of Huaguxi: Hunan Flower Drum Opera. The MIT Press. pp. 129–149.

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