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During the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), a Ming emperor conferred eight surnames upon the Jews, by which they are identifiable today: Ai, Shi, Gao, Gan, Jin, Li, Zhang, and Zhao.
By the beginning of the 20th century one of these Kaifeng clans, the Zhang, had largely converted to Islam.
The Kaifeng Jews are members of a small Jewish community in Kaifeng, in the Henan province of China who have assimilated into Chinese society while preserving some Jewish traditions and customs.
Their origin and time of arrival in Kaifeng are a matter of debate among experts.
Ricci's overall impression of the situation of China's Jewish community was that "they were well on the way to becoming Saracens [i.e., Muslims] or heathens.").
The existence of Jews in China was unknown to Europeans until 1605, when Matteo Ricci, then established in Beijing, was visited by a Jew from Kaifeng, who had come to Beijing to take examinations for his jinshi degree.
The Taiping Rebellion of the 1850s led to the dispersal of the community, but it later returned to Kaifeng.