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Cai in China


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Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
34,000 Gelao, Green Ethnic Religions 3.00 % 2.50 % No No   

Cai in China

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The Cai, who are also known as the Caijia, have never been included as part of any official nationality by the Chinese authorities. In the 1982 census they were placed in a list of Undetermined Minorities. The Cai were just one of 80 groups in Guizhou on this list which totaled more than 900,000 people. In 1985 many of these groups were assigned into existing nationalities, but scholars remained baffled by the complexity of the Cai. They remain an unclassified group, although the authorities believe them to be related to the Miao. The Cai consider themselves distinct from all other ethnic groups in the region and strongly insist on being granted their own minority status.

During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), when the Cai were a stronger and much larger group than today, they appeared in historical accounts as the Song Ren. They are believed to have fragmented into smaller groups over the past 300 years. Today the Lu ethnic group are ethnoculturally close to the Cai. The Cai intermarry with the Lu and consider them to have once been related.

Dafang, where most Cai live, is renowned across China for its beautiful lacquerware. More than 70 varieties of wild azaleas and rhododendrons also grow in the area. The Cai used to wear clothes made of fur. This can still be seen in some of the more remote Cai villages today. Many Cai are employed as shepherds and goatherds. A sizable number also work in the carpet-making industry.

Most Cai worship many gods and spirits, although in recent decades an increasing Christian presence has also emerged among them. The polytheistic Cai blow leaves to worship spirits. When a Cai person dies, the people attending the funeral are not permitted to cry or show any remorse. Instead, they walk around the corpse and sing.

A conservative estimate places the number of Cai Christians at 400. The true number of believers may be significantly higher. Most Cai Christians heard the gospel from Yi and Miao evangelists who were sent to reach out to them. The northwest Guizhou region was first focused on by missionaries in the late 1800s. A mass people movement to Christ occurred in the early 1900s, especially among the AHmao (Big Flowery Miao). Today there are numerous Christian communities in Dafang County, but believers live in dire poverty and have few Bibles.

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Country: China
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, Northeast
Persecution Rank:27 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
Location in Country:In 1982 a total of 17,000 Cai people inhabited communities in western Guizhou province. They are concentrated in Dafang, Zhijin, Nayong, Weining, Bijie, and Qianxi counties. The Cai live in the vicinity of numerous ethnic groups, including several distinct Yi and Miao groups. The Cai may call themselves Man Ni. The Miao call the Cai Seni; the Yi call them Ah-ohma, and the Han know them as Cai Jia Miao.
(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: Cai
People Name General: Cai
Alternate People Names:
Cai Jia MiaoCaijia
Man NiSe-Ni
Song Ren
ROP3 Code: 114021
Joshua Project People ID: 18426
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 34,000
Population all Countries: 34,000
Least-Reached: No
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster: Tai
People Name General: Cai
Ethnic Code: MSY49#
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Gelao, Green (34,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): giq    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religions:
Buddhism0.00 % 
Christianity3.00 %(Evangelical: 2.50 %)
Ethnic Religions93.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam0.00 % 
Non-Religious4.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent100.00 %
Protestant0.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic0.00 %
(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: Help start a Bible Translation
New Testament: None Reported
Complete Bible: None Reported
Ministry Resources [7]
None Reported
Ministry Activity
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Data Notes
Data Sources

Cai in China

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Tai     Asia, Northeast    
      Cai China    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Cai in China          
      Religion Language  
      Ethnic Religions     Gelao, Green  
    All Religions                              

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