Introduction / History The Axi people in Shilin County are closely related to the Sani. The Sani chose to live at the base of the Qui Mountains and therefore are more assimilated to Chinese culture. Seeing this, the Axi have chosen to remain hidden in the hills and retain their own identity. The Axi possess their own traditions, language and style of dress.
The Axi claim to have originated in a place called Azhede in northwestern Sichuan many centuries ago. They are famous for their unique dance, the Axi Tiaoyue. It is a dance depicting a terrible fire long ago on the mountain where the Axi live. It burned for nine days and nine nights. The ground became so hot that the Axi had to hop up and down on one leg to avoid being burned. After the fire was extinguished, the Axi people played flutes and sanxians (a plucked instrument) to celebrate the victory. They hop around on one leg, imitating their firefighting heroics.
What are their lives like? The Axi Tiaoyue is now famous throughout China. A troupe of 50 Axi dancers have performed it all over the country. In 1993 the troupe traveled to Europe where they performed in Portugal, France and Germany. The Axi also participate in the Torch Festival which takes place at the Stone Forest every year.
What are their beliefs? The Axi believe demons will afflict them should someone in their village upset the spiritual harmony. They immediately sacrifice chickens and other animals in an attempt to placate the demons and prevent them from causing further harm. In the third lunar month they hold a festival in which they Axi strip down to their loincloths, paint their bodies, wear grotesque masks, and run around the hillsides. This enactment represents the time when the Fire god was drawn out of a pool of water.
French Catholic missionary Père Alfred Liétard spearheaded work among the Axi beginning in the 1880s. Later, Paul Vial continued the work, heading a team of priests dedicated in reaching out to the Axi, Sani, and some other Yi groups in the area. Vial wrote, "These sweet, honest, naive, and likeable faces have conquered me." In 1948 Vial listed 1,500 Axi converts in seven churches. Today, mostly elderly Axi believers remain in the Shilin and Mile areas. Today most Axi have not heard the gospel for the first time.
What are their needs? The Axi people need to submit to Jesus Christ so they can experience the abundant life he offers them in John 10:10.
Prayer Points Pray for the authority of Christ to bind hindering spiritual forces to lead them from darkness to light.
Pray for signs and wonders to happen among them and for great breakthroughs with a rapid multiplication of disciples and house churches.
Pray for bold workers who are driven by the love of the Holy Spirit to go to them.
Pray for an unstoppable movement to Christ among them. * Pray for translation of the Bible to begin in this people group's primary language. * Pray for the availability of the Jesus Film in the primary language of this people.
More than 78,000 Axi live in Yunnan Province. The majority live in Mile County of Honghe Prefecture where 59,014 were reported in 1984. Others live near the Stone Forest in Shilin (formerly Lunan) County. About 300 Axi live in eastern Huaning County of Yuxi Prefecture and 1,200 in Luxi County. For centuries the Axi have lived in peaceful communities, separated from other groups in the area. (Source: Operation China, 2000)