Guangzhou massacre
LocationGuangzhou, Tang dynasty
Deaths120,000[1]–200,000 (various estimates)
PerpetratorsHuang Chao's rebel army

The Guangzhou Massacre was a massacre of the inhabitants of the prosperous port city of Guangzhou in 878–879 by the rebel army of Huang Chao. Arab sources claim that non-Chinese victims, including Muslims, Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians, numbered in tens of thousands based on Chinese records of prior inhabitants.[2][3]


In the early 870s, drought and famine in Henan led to widespread banditry. In 874, the bandits rebelled under Wang Xianzhi in Changyuan, and ravaged the region between the Changjiang and Yellow River. When Wang Xianzhi died in 878, he was succeeded by Huang Chao, a failed examination candidate from a wealthy salt trading family.[4]


In 264 A.H. (878 A.D.), after Yan Shaw (Huang Chao 黄巣)'s forces pushed into southern China, they arrived at the gates of Khanfu (Guangfu 廣府 = Guangzhou). According to Arab writer Abu Zayd Hasan Ibn Yazid Sirafi, the presence of Muslims, Jews, and Christians came to an end when the Tang rebel, Yan Shaw (Huang Chao), occupied Khanfu from 264-265 A.H. (878–879 A.D.)[5] In addition, Al-Qazzu (the mulberry tree) were ruined by Huang Chao's army.[6] The English translation of Abu Zayd's geography book from the original Arabic text by Tim Macintosh Smith (Shaykh al Nāsirī) (2014, 2-2-1) shows that the location of the city of Khanfu such as "the city lies a few days journey from the sea, on a great river where the water flows fresh", "the city is covered with mulberry trees as fodder for silkworms" is quite different from that of Guangfu (Guangzhou). Shine Toshihiko(2020, p.59, found that the location of the massacre in 264 A.H.(877-878 A.D.) in Abu Zayd's account was the clerical error and it shows the location of the massacre in 760 AD (Kanfu 邗府, now Yangzhou 揚州). He pointed out that there is a confusion between the two Khanfu massacres in Arab sources (Massacre of Kanfu=Yangzhou in 760 and Massacre of Guangzhou in 878). Shine also follows hypothesis of Kuwabara Jitsuzo (桑原隲蔵, 1923) about the latter Khanfu (Guangfu=Guangzhou) and said that Abu Zayd confused Khanfu and Kansu. Shine assigns Khanfu to Qinfu (欽府 = Qinzhou, 600 km west of Kansu 廣州 = Guangzhou). According to the statement of Heguri-no-Hironari, a Japanese envoy to Tang Dynasty, Qinzhou (欽州) was the mother port of merchants called Shu-Kunlun (熟崑崙) who rescued Hironari (平群廣成) and others who were drifted in Lin-yi (林邑, Champa) in 753.

At first the citizens of Khanfu held out against him, but he subjected them to a long siege-this was in 264 A.H.(877-878 A.D.)-until, at last, he took the city and put its people to the sword. Experts on Chinese affairs reported that the number of Muslims, Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians massacred by him, quite apart from the native Chinese, was 120,000; all of them had gone to settle in this city and become merchants there. The only reason the number of victims from these four communities happens to be known is that the Chinese had kept records of their numbers.[2]

— Abu Zayd al-Sirafi

See also


  1. ^ Marshall Broomhall (1910). Islam in China: A Neglected Problem. Morgan & Scott, Limited. pp. 31, 50.
  2. ^ a b Mackintosh-Smith 2014, p. 69.
  3. ^ Ray Huang (1997). China: a macro history. M.E. Sharpe. p. 117. ISBN 1-56324-730-5. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  4. ^ Xiong 2009, p. cxv.
  5. ^ Morris Rossabi (28 November 2014). From Yuan to Modern China and Mongolia: The Writings of Morris Rossabi. BRILL. pp. 227–. ISBN 978-90-04-28529-3.
  6. ^ William J. Bernstein (2009). A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World (illustrated ed.). Grove Press. p. 86. ISBN 978-0802144164. Retrieved March 12, 2012. 19 Not content to massacre traders, Huang Chao also tried to kill China's main export industry by destroying the mulberry trees of south China.20