Identity The Eastern Hmu, who are one of the many components of the great Miao minority, call themselves Hmu. Missionaries in the past called them the Black Miao, but this name has never been used by the people themselves. Linguists label them the Eastern Qiandong Miao.
History After the many Miao rebellions and wars during the Ming Dynasty, the survivors scattered across the country. Around that time, the group known today as the Eastern Hmu arrived in their present location.
Customs Many Miao groups in Guizhou, including the Eastern Hmu, have a legend describing the creation of the human race. They say a long time ago a rat and a small animal called the jiao-ao chewed away the roots of a pine tree. Worms laid twelve eggs in the branches of the fallen tree, but none of the eggs would hatch. At last, a swan was able to hatch the eggs. From ten of them came Thunder and nine different types of animals. The swan thought the two other eggs had died, and began to peck the eggs open. The eggs cried out, "Don't peck us! Wait another two days!" Two days later a boy named Ang emerged from one shell and his sister from the other.
Religion The Eastern Hmu have a 1,000 line poem that tells how the heavens and the earth were created by a heavenly king named Vang-vai and his son Zie-ne. Today the Eastern Hmu know little about any Creator. Most are trapped in slavery to evil spirits.
Christianity Of the few Christians among the Eastern Hmu, most are members of Catholic churches. The vast majority of this group, however, have never heard the gospel. Protestant work began in Guizhou in 1877, but it was not until 1896 that an effort was made to focus on the Hmu. The three Hmu language groups have proven more resistant to Christianity than Miao in other parts of China. Today, despite their considerable population, there are no more than a handful of ministries conducting any Christian work among the Eastern Hmu.
Approximately 450,000 Eastern Hmu speakers inhabit Jinping, Jianhe, and Liping counties in the fareastern corner of Guizhou Province, as well as Jingxian, Tongdao, and Huitong counties of neighboring Hunan Province. The Qinghsui River, which flows through the region, contains a breed of giant salamanders, each weighing up to 39 kilograms (66 lb.). (Source: Operation China, 2000)