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Gelao in China


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Gelao in China map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
587,000 Chinese, Mandarin Ethnic Religions 4.20 % 2.60 %   

Gelao in China

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The Gelao, despite their considerable size, are one of the least known of China's official ethnic minorities. Gelao means "human beings" as well as "bamboo." Today, most Gelao are culturally indistinguishable from the Chinese. Even back in 1911 one observer wrote, "The Gelao are now nearly extinct; many of them have married into Bouyei and [Chuanlan and Chuanqing] families."

The Gelao are thought to be descended from the ancient Liao race who established the Yelang Kingdom in Guizhou about 2,000 years ago. A folk tale tells how the king of Yelang was born from bamboo, so the whole group came to be called Bamboo. The Gelao are considered the original inhabitants of each region where they live. "Where the Miao and Gelao occupy the same district, the Miao allow that the Gelao were there before themselves."

The Gelao primarily grow maize, wheat, potatoes, sorghum, millet, tobacco, and tea. "In the past, the Gelao practiced initiation rites for their young men, including toothbreaking and hair-cutting rituals. The Gelao were once head-hunters and cannibals." Among the Yaya (Tooth) Gelao, the custom of breaking the front tooth of a bride was observed until recently.

The Gelao are primarily ancestor worshipers. "They also worship the gods of giant trees, of mountains, of sky and earth, cows, etc. They have no idols, temples or monasteries, and no systematic religious creeds or organization. But they have a number of... superstitions and taboos, which affect every aspect of their lives."

Because it is difficult to convey the Gelao as a cohesive people group with a common identity, it is also difficult to gauge the status of Christianity among them. The Gelao were reached with the Gospel by French Catholic missionaries in the late 1800s, but little fruit from that effort remains today.

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Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2008-07-16
Global Prayer Digest: 2010-07-05
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Country: China
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, Northeast
Persecution Rank:23 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
Location in Country:The 1982 Chinese census recorded 53,800 Gelao people in China, but by 1990 that figure had dramatically jumped more than eight-fold to 438,000. There are several reasons for this peculiarity. The Gelao are widely scattered across 40 counties in six provinces of southern China. The majority live in western Guizhou Province. Other communities are in Yunnan, Guangxi, Hunan, Sichuan, and Jiangxi provinces. Approximately 7,000 Gelao are also located in northern Vietnam.
(Source: Operation China, 2000)
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Ethnolinguistic Map:University of Texas or other map
Linguistic Map:Ethnologue language map
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Gelao
People Name General: Gelao
Alternate People Names:
Cờ LaoIlao
ROP3 Code: 103287
Joshua Project People ID: 11857
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 587,000
Population all Countries: 587,000
Least-Reached: No
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster: Miao / Hmong
People Name General: Gelao
Ethnic Code: MSY47a
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Chinese, Mandarin (587,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): cmn    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religions:
Buddhism0.00 % 
Christianity4.20 %(Evangelical: 2.60 %)
Ethnic Religions90.80 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam0.00 % 
Non-Religious5.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent70.00 %
Protestant0.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic30.00 %
(Evangelicals distributed across Christianity segments)
Progress Indicators [5]
Progress Scale[6]   Evangelicals have a modest presence.
Least-Reached: No
GSEC Status:Level 1   Less than 2% Evangelical. Some evangelical resources available, but no active church planting within past 2 years
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: 1864-1986
New Testament:
Complete Bible: 1823-2018
Possible Bible Sources: Forum of Bible Agencies
 World Bible Finder
 World Christian Resource Directory
 Gospel Go
Ministry Resources [7]
Audio RecordingsMegaVoice Audio Bible and Stories
Audio RecordingsAudio Bible teaching (GRN)
Audio RecordingsChrist for the Nations
Audio RecordingsOnline New Testament (FCBH)
Audio RecordingsOnline New Testament - Traditional (FCBH ...
Audio RecordingsOnline Scripture (Talking Bibles)
Audio RecordingsStory of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project ...
Film / VideoCreation to Christ
Film / VideoFather's Love Letter
Film / VideoGod's Story Video
Film / Video / Animation
Film / VideoJesus film: view in Mandarin Chinese
Film / VideoMagdalena (Jesus Film Project)
Film / VideoMy Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime)
Film / VideoStory of Jesus for Children (JF Project)
Film / VideoThe Hope Video
Film / VideoThe Prophets' Story
Film / VideoThe Prophets' Story
GeneralBible Visuals
GeneralChinese Blog about Unreached Peoples
GeneralFour Spiritual Laws
GeneralGot Questions Ministry
Text / Printed MatterBible Gateway Scripture
Text / Printed MatterBible: Chinese Union Version, Shangti Ed ...
Text / Printed MatterBible: Chinese Union Version, Shen Editi ...
Text / Printed MatterBible: Comic Book Version (SuperBible)
Text / Printed MatterBible: Comic Book Version (SuperBible)
Text / Printed MatterBible: Revised Chinese Union Version, Tr ...
Text / Printed MatterBible: 新譯本(繁體字版)
Text / Printed MatterBibles, Bible League
Text / Printed MatterCartoon Gospel tract
Text / Printed MatterEasyBibles
Text / Printed MatterEasyBibles
Text / Printed MatterEasyBibles
Text / Printed MatterInternational Bible Society
Text / Printed MatterJesus Messiah comic book
Text / Printed MatterOneHope resources for children and youth
Text / Printed MatterOneHope resources for children and youth
Text / Printed MatterThe Ancient Path (Chinese, Simplified )
Text / Printed MatterThe Ancient Path (Chinese, Traditional)
Text / Printed MatterWorld Missionary Press Booklets
Ministry Activity
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Data Notes
Data Sources

Gelao in China

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Miao / Hmong     Asia, Northeast    
      Gelao China    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Gelao in China          
      Religion Language  
      Ethnic Religions     Chinese, Mandarin  
    All Religions                              

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