People-in-Country Profile

People Selector:
Print version:
Step 1 - Select a Country:   Send us your updates!
Step 2 - Select a People:  

Digao in China


Send us a photo of this people.  [1]

Digao in China map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
29,000 Sani Ethnic Religions 0.00 % 0.00 % Not available Not available   

Digao in China

Profile Text
Submit Profile Text:

The official classification of the Digao people is somewhat complicated. The Digao are one of five groups in Kaiyuan County that are given the cover name of Aza. The 1996 Chinese publication Kaiyuan Xian Zhi (The Annals of Kaiyuan County) states, "Based on linguistic and cultural differences, the 'Aza' can be divided into five groups." None of these five groups (which also include the Daizhan, Asahei, Labapo and Ani) calls itself Aza. All of these ethnicities have been officially included in the Yi nationality.

The many Yi groups in China, including the Digao, once lived farther to the north of their present location. When Marco Polo passed through the Yi regions in the thirteenth century, he recorded, "Caindu is a province lying towards the west, and there is only one king in it. The people are Idolaters, subject to the Great Kaan, and they have plenty of towns and villages. ... There is a great lake here, in which are found pearls [which are white but not round]. But the Great Kaan will not allow them to be fished, for if people were to take as many as they could find there, the supply would be so vast that pearls would lose their value, and come to be worth nothing." Over the course of many centuries the Yi splintered into numerous ethnolinguistic entities and migrated across a huge area of southern China.

The typical Digao house is made of wood, bamboo, and mud. Although today the Digao are rapidly being assimilated by the Han Chinese, in the past each village had an entrance with carved images of birds, the sun, or the moon, under which was a wooden guardian eagle which had been blessed by the bimo (shaman). Opposite the entrance were goats' horns and chicken feathers remaining from sacrifices. In the northeast corner of the house stood a hearth of three stones, which could never be touched by the feet, as this was believed to bring bad luck.

Today only the elderly Digao continue to observe the animistic belief in the spirits that marked the identity of their forefathers. Ancestor worship is still strong, however. Annual ceremonies are held to honor the spirits of the Digao's parents.

There are no known Christians among the Digao. The Catholics had a small work in Kaiyuan prior to 1949, with one priest, Father Booker, living in the county between 1910 and 1933. He was buried at Lukude. This work resulted in about 2,000 believers among the Hmong, but the various Yi groups were not reached.

View Digao in all countries.

Prayer Links
  Submit Update:
Country: China
Continent: Asia
Region: Northeast Asia
Persecution Rank:43 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
Location in Country:A 1999 report listed a population of 22,300 Digao people in China. They mostly live in the Zhongheying District of Kaiyuan County in the central part of Yunnan Province. Smaller numbers of Digao live in the Dazhuang and Lebaidao districts, also within Kaiyuan County; other Digao live in the Pingyuan District of Yanshan County and the Nijiao District of Qiubei County.
(Source: Operation China, 2000)
Submit Map:
Ethnolinguistic Map:University of Texas or other map
Linguistic Map:Ethnologue language map
  Peoples [3]
Submit Update:
People Name in Country: Digao
People Name General: Digao
Alternate People Names:
AzarDigao Aza
ROP3 Code: 114041
Joshua Project People ID: 18441
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 29,000
Population all Countries: 29,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster: Tibeto-Burman, other
People Name General: Digao
Ethnic Code: MSY50i
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
Submit Update:
Primary Language: Sani (29,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): ysn    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
Submit Update:
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religions:
Buddhism0.00 % 
Christianity0.00 %(Evangelical: 0.00 %)
Ethnic Religions95.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam0.00 % 
Non-Religious5.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent0.00 %
Protestant0.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic0.00 %
(Evangelicals distributed across Christianity segments)
Progress Indicators [5]
Progress Scale[6]   Few evangelicals and few who claim to be Christians. Little, if any, history of Christianity.
Least-Reached: Yes
GSEC Status:Level 1   Less than 2% Evangelical. Some evangelical resources available, but no active church planting within past 2 years
Bible Translation Status
Submit Update:
Bible Portions: Help start a Bible Translation
New Testament: None Reported
Complete Bible: None Reported
Ministry Resources [7]
Audio RecordingsMegaVoice Audio Bible and Stories
Audio RecordingsAudio Bible teaching (GRN)
Ministry Activity
Register Ministry Activity:
Networking: Visit for networking possibilities.
Description: Register your ministry activity among this people group. Contact the Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse and Unleashed for the Unreached to learn about others that might be focused on this people group.
Data Notes
Data Sources

Digao in China

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Tibeto-Burman, other     Northeast Asia    
      Digao China    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Digao in China          
      Religion Language  
      Ethnic Religions     Sani  
    All Religions                              

Direct link: