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*On this first day of the 2018 Chinese New Year, we affirm and briefly explore the African Kunlun Servants in ancient China.
African slavery in China peaked during the Tang and Song dynasties (960 A.D. to 1279 A.D.), but the number of African slaves taken to China during this 608-year period is unclear. By this point Chinese perceptions of African Kunlun servants ranged from strong and mysterious to frightening. The Kunlun in the Tang Dynasty era were portrayed in stories of the period as heroic, resourceful, and ironically culturally Chinese. Most Chinese during this period, however, unless they were very wealthy, had little contact with African slaves, perhaps explaining the differing views of the Kunlun.
During the Song Dynasty, African slavery increased in China. Most came from Madagascar and the Comoros Islands and thus indirectly from Africa, since the Arabs brought sub-Saharan Africans to both areas. Most Kunlun slaves in China lived in Canton Province. They were generally viewed as a displaced people who lacked the ability to adapt to the Chinese environment. They were also described as savages with unintelligible speech.
Kunlun Servants in Ancient China
Image: Dunhuang cave painting