Identity The Shikou Biao Mien are one of 29 groups profiled in this book who comprise the officially constructed Yao nationality in China.
History The various branches of the Yao in China have long been viewed as stubborn and rebellious by the Chinese. The Han viewed tribal groups in two categories: "raw" and "cooked," according to their level of assimilation. The Yao invariably qualified as "raw" people who refused to conform to Chinese culture or rule. Rebellions by the Yao were first mentioned during the reign of the Song Emperor Renzong (1023-1064). "One occurred in Guangdong in 1035, another in Hunan in 1043. There is mention of a rebellion in the Guangzhou region in 1281. Then there was the famous 1832 Yao rebellion in Hunan, in which the Yao, reacting to theft of cattle and grain by members of the Triad Society, organized an uprising that took several months and armies from three provinces to squelch." Many Yao uprisings occurred because of the Yao's refusal to pay taxes. In many ways the Chinese authorities gave up trying to "civilize" the Yao. Even today many communities, including the Shikou Biao Mien speakers, view outsiders with great suspicion and mistrust.
Customs The Biao Mien in Shikou share many common cultural traits with other Yao groups in southern China, including the Iu Mien. They are hardworking agriculturists, who live in two-story wooden houses located near the summits of high mountains in extremely remote areas. Few Shikou Biao Mien are seen in the townships except on market days when they come down to buy and sell.
Religion Daoism (formerly spelled Taoism) is the major religious adherence among the Shikou Biao Mien. They have village priests who officiate at organized festivals. The priests chant from sacred Daoist manuals written in Chinese. These priests also act as intermediaries between the people and the spirit world.
Christianity There is no known Christian presence among the Shikou Biao Mien. Their remote location and isolated mind-set have prevented them from being exposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They remain an unreached people group without hope, in this life or eternity to come.
More than 10,000 people speaking the Shikou Biao Mien language live in Gongcheng County of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The area is southeast of the large city of Guilin, famous for centuries for its tourist attractions. (Source: Operation China, 2000)