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Choni in China


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Choni in China map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
171,000 Choni Buddhism 0.20 % 0.10 % No No   

Choni in China

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More than 100,000 Jone (pronounced 'Joe-nee') Tibetans inhabit Jone (Zhuoni) and Lintan counties in the south-western part of Gansu Province in western China, 'and east from there in the Bawa area of the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture'. A small number live in adjacent parts of northern Sichuan Province. Some publications have incorrectly given their location as the 'Yunnan-Tibet border'. This group's name was previously spelled Choni, and they still appear in many publications by that name. The Tao River flows through Jone County.

In 1928 the explorer Joseph Rock discovered the Jone Tibetans. He wrote, 'I—in common with some 300 million Chinese and perhaps as many foreigners— was totally unaware of the existence of the Choni [Jone Tibetans].' A more recent source explains that although the Chinese government officially considers them part of the Tibetan nationality, 'the people of this tribe have their own way of life. Due to their complex tribal structure, their lifestyle, customs, housing and costumes are visibly different from those of most Tibetans, making them a unique branch. As the tribe's women sport a hair-do with three thick plaits, locals call them Sangemao in the local Chinese dialect, literally meaning "three bundles of hair".'

Jone was the site of an independent Tibetan kingdom until 1928, when Chinese General Fengyu Shang stripped the prince of his title and confiscated his land. A detailed history of the Jone appeared in a 1928 National Geographic article: 'The prince represents the twenty-second generation, but is not of direct descent. His ancestors, a Tibetan official family, left their own country and made their way across Sichuan and the Min Shan the Tao River in 1404, conquering and pacifying the tribes and villages on the way. Upon informing the Imperial Court in [Beijing] of their conquest of the territory for the Chinese Empire, they were made hereditary chiefs of Choni and the subjugated tribal lands. At the same time the Emperor, Yung Lo, gave them a seal and the Chinese name Yang.' Today many Jone Tibetans still have the surname Yang.

Jone formerly contained a huge Buddhist monastery, 'containing 172 buildings and 3,800 monks at its zenith'. The Jone Tibetans' homes show that they are very religious people. 'On the right side of the sitting room an enclave enshrines the statue of a god accompanied by bamboo arrows wrapped with hada (a long piece of silk used as a greeting gift among Tibetans and Mongolians), scripture scrolls and similar items.'

A 1922 mission report stated, 'The prince of Choni alone governs 48 clans and we can easily travel among these clans, as the prince is friendly and would protect us. If we had the workers to employ we would press toward the west from the line we are now occupying.' Today there are about 200 Jone Tibetan believers in Lintan County, to the north-west of Jone County. A church was constructed in 1997—the first ethnic Tibetan fellowship in Gansu Province. 'One woman sold her hair, and another family sold their TV to help build the new church.'

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Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2013-07-01
Global Prayer Digest: 2018-07-08
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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:Approximately 100,000 speakers of the Jone Tibetan language inhabit Jone County in the southwestern part of Gansu Province. A small number live in the adjacent parts of northern Sichuan. Some publications have incorrectly given their location as the "Yunnan-Tibet border." Their name was previously spelled Choni, and they still appear in many publications by that name. The To River flows through Jone County. One traveler described the location: "Nowhere else [in Gansu] are there such forests, and the scenery is unsurpassed."
(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: Choni
People Name General: Choni
Alternate People Names:
Choni TibetanCone
Sangemao TibetansZhuoni Tibetan
ROP3 Code: 110035
Joshua Project People ID: 15469
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 171,000
Population all Countries: 171,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster: Tibetan
People Name General: Choni
Ethnic Code: MSY50r
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Choni
Language Code (ISO): cda    Ethnologue Listing
Primary Dialect:Hbrugchu
Dialect Code:8903
Secondary Languages:
Tibetan, Central (Unknown)
Total Languages: 2
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Buddhism
Religion Sub-division:Tibetan
Major Religions:
Buddhism95.00 % 
Christianity0.20 %(Evangelical: 0.10 %)
Ethnic Religions3.80 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam0.00 % 
Non-Religious1.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent80.00 %
Protestant0.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic20.00 %
(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 2   Less than 2% Evangelical. Initial (localized) church planting within past 2 years
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: Help start a Bible Translation
New Testament: None Reported
Complete Bible: None Reported
Ministry Resources [7]
None Reported
Ministry Activity
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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

Choni in China

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Tibetan     Asia, Northeast    
      Choni China    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Choni in China          
      Religion Language  
      Buddhism     Choni  
    All Religions                              

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