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Khampa, Western in China

Khampa, Western

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Khampa, Western in China map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
269,000 Tibetan, Khams Buddhism 0.01 % 0.01 % No   

Khampa, Western in China

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Approximately 205,000 Tibetans living in the massive Nghari Prefecture in central and northern Tibet speak the Western Khampa language. They have "a very sparse population in a band to the northeast and extending to the north of almost the entire central Tibetan area." The region is mostly a high, desolate plateau. "At 17,000 feet [5,180 meters], the rarefied atmosphere has only half as many oxygen particles as at sea level. As early as AD 100 a Chinese official described the Tibetan Plateau as 'Headache Mountains'."

The suffix pa means "people" in Tibetan. Kham-pa, therefore means "people of Kham." Kham was a province of Tibet until it was annexed by the Chinese and incorporated into Qinghai and Sichuan provinces. The Western Khampa, however, live wholly within Tibet itself, which the Chinese call Xizang (Hidden West).

Western Khampa is unintelligible with the Central Tibetan languages or Amdo Tibetan. Despite living in a huge area approximately the size of England, only two dialects are reported within the Western Khampa language.

For centuries the Khampa have terrorized other Tibetans. During the 1950s they formed guerrilla groups and took over considerable territory. "In 1958 they attacked a Chinese market town, killing several thousand of them."

Living in some of the harshest conditions in the world, the traditional long-sleeved coats of the Khampa are tied up with a belt, which conceals a large knife or sword. Many wear lucky charms, magical strings, or amulet boxes around their neck. Khampa men, who often get around on horseback, are never without a weapon. Polyandry (the practice of brothers sharing the same wife) still occurs in some places. Life expectancy for Khampa living on the bitter plateau averages only about 45 years.

The Khampa rely on demons, ghosts, and the spirits of disembodied deities to guide their decisions. Many monks are able to call up fearsome demons, who sometimes visualize in front of them. The most devout monks are reported to be able to transport themselves spiritually from one place to another, and have been reputed to appear in different widespread locations on the same day. The Khampa also worship Yama, the god of Death. They believe he is the king of the underworld and that he controls all the events of their lives.

The Western Khampa Tibetans are the epitome of an unreached people group. Missionaries in the past, frustrated at not being allowed into Tibet, loaded up dozens of yaks with Tibetan tracts and sent them randomly into the vast Tibetan frontiers. In the 1920s one writer lamented, "This region is not only without a resident missionary, but even the scouts of Christianity have barely touched it except at one or two points. All these are realms to conquer in West China. Large areas are unknown absolutely, and still larger ones remain relatively unknown."

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Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2010-07-17
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The Khamba
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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 220,000 Tibetans living in the massive Nghari Prefecture in central and northern Tibet speak the Western Khampa language. A small number of Western Khampa live across parts of northern India, predominately in the states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
(Source: Peoples of the Buddhist World, 2004)
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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: Khampa, Western
People Name General: Khampa, Western
Alternate People Names:
ROP3 Code: 114138
Joshua Project People ID: 18524
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 269,000
Population all Countries: 269,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster: Tibetan
People Name General: Khampa, Western
Ethnic Code: MSY50r
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Tibetan, Khams (269,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): khg    Ethnologue Listing
Primary Dialect:Western Khams
Dialect Code:11928
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religions:
Buddhism99.00 % 
Christianity0.01 %(Evangelical: 0.01 %)
Ethnic Religions0.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam0.00 % 
Non-Religious0.99 % 
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]   Few evangelicals and few who claim to be Christians. Little, if any, history of Christianity.
Least-Reached: Yes
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: Yes
New Testament:
Complete Bible: None Reported
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 RecordingsStory of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project ...
Film / VideoGod's Story Video
Film / VideoJesus Film: view in Tibetan, Khams
Film / VideoThe Hope Video
Text / Printed MatterWorld Missionary Press Booklets
Ministry Activity
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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

Khampa, Western in China

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

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