Identity The Mo were included in a list of Undetermined Minorities in the 1982 census but were reclassified into the Bouyei nationality in 1985. The Mo are also known as the Mo Jia, Mak, and Ching, which may be the names of Mo clans. Most of the inhabitants of Jia Liang are surnamed Mo.
The Mo language - which has been described as "very close to Shui" - is also related to Yanghuang and Rao. It is part of the Dong-Shui branch of the Tai linguistic family. It contains five dialects: Mak, Ching, Chi, Hwa, and Lyo. Most Mo men are able to speak Mandarin, with a heavy local accent. Many can also speak Bouyei as a trade language. Most Mo women, however, cannot speak any Mandarin at all.
History Because they do not possess a script, the exact history of the Mo is uncertain. From their language, it can be speculated that the Mo were originally part of the Shui, who migrated away from the main body of Shui several centuries ago.
Customs Many of the Mo customs are the same as those of the Bouyei. When visiting a Mo home, "one may see cut-paper spells hanging in the doorway or in the windows. The door may have a mirror above it to reflect demons away or swords to pierce them if they try to enter."
Religion The Mo are a very superstitious people. Many adhere to the Chinese religion of Daoism. Although they do not have their own temples, most Mo homes contain pictures of fierce Daoist deities. Posters are plastered to the doors and gates of their houses in a bid to scare off afflicting demons.
Christianity A Protestant mission station opened in Dushan County in 1895, but "the time of the missionaries was entirely given up to work among the Chinese." In 1995 a Hong Kong-based mission presented the gospel to the Mo and succeeded in winning several of them to Christ. The new converts immediately started a house church. About 30 Mo have reportedly become Christians in the years since then. These messengers of the gospel shared the great joy that many early pioneers found in presenting the message of eternal life to a people for the first time. One missionary wrote, "I know not whether anyone experiences emotion worthy to be compared with the thrill of joy which the missionary feels, when permitted for the first time to point out to a sin enslaved people the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world."
A total of 12,822 Mo people were listed in a 1982 Chinese official publication. The majority are located in and around Jia Liang Township in the heart of Libo County in southern Guizhou Province, and in parts of Dushan County. The Mo live near the Maolan Karst Forest, where "karst formations are cut by beautiful waterfalls. The natural vegetation remains and there are plants that have survived from very early periods, retaining characteristics of plants and trees that are now extinct.… This conservation area supports musk deer, rhesus monkey and, it is claimed, tiger, ox, bear and leopard." (Source: Operation China, 2000)