People-in-Country Profile

People Selector:
Print version:
Step 1 - Select a Country:   Send us your updates!
Step 2 - Select a People:  

Laowu in China


Send us a photo of this people.  [1]

Laowu in China map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
23,000 Nisu, Eastern Ethnic Religions 0.00 % 0.00 % No No   

Laowu in China

Profile Text
Submit Profile Text:

Introduction / History
The Laowu are part of the official Yi nationality in China. Unfortunately, most outsiders view the Yi as one people group. In reality they are a complex collection of ethnolinguistic peoples. Scholars have stated that the Yi consist of "several dozen branches," and that they are "made up of 93 tribes." The Laowu are not the same ethnolinguistic group as the similarly named Lawu (who speak a Western Yi language) or Luowu (an Eastern Yi group), even though all three are part of the Yi nationality.

The Laowu in Jinping County seem to have once been distributed over a far wider area than they are today. Many non-Laowu villages in other parts of the county bear the name Laowuzhai (Laowu Village).

What are their lives like?
Laowu marriages are traditionally arranged through a matchmaker. A shaman is consulted. If the horoscopes of both parties are agreeable and if the parents on both sides give their consent, the two may become engaged. Before they hold a wedding, the family of the bride must donate articles such as clothes, blankets, a standing closet, and a trunk. When a Laowu bride leaves her home on the wedding day, she must be singing the "crying song" accompanied by her brothers, uncles, and maid-of-honor. Immediately before the bride and groom cross the threshold of their new home, the groom's sisters or mother takes a gourd filled with oats, wheat, corn, and beans and smashes it at their feet. This represents a wish for a lifetime of prosperity for the new couple.

What are their beliefs?
After entering the house, the newly wed Laowu couple pay their respects first to heaven and earth, then to their ancestors, and finally to their parents. After a few more rituals, the couple is considered married. This ritual shows the polytheistic worldview of the Laowu. They believe a complex hierarchy of spirits guide and control their lives. They also consider it important to worship their ancestors.

There is no Christian presence among the Laowu people in China. Little is known about the history of Christian missionary work in Jinping County prior to 1949. The area was a political hotbed, influenced by the restrictive French control of nearby Vietnam and Laos. In recent years thousands of Hmong and Iu Mien people in Jinping have come to Christ as a result of gospel radio broadcasts in their languages. These new believers, though they speak completely different languages from the Laowu, represent the best chance of the Laowu hearing the gospel.

What are their needs?
Without the guidance of Christ, these people are like sheep without a shepherd. They need the good shepherd in their families and communities.

Prayer Points
Pray for the Lord to thrust out loving workers.

Pray for the Lord to intervene in their families, calling people to his side.

Pray for their hearts to be drawn to the Lord of lords.

Pray for a church planting movement to thrive in their communities.
* 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.

Operation China, Asia Harvest, Copyrighted © Used with permission

View Laowu in all countries.

Prayer Links
  Submit Update:
Country: China
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, Northeast
Persecution Rank:16 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
Location in Country:Six thousand three hundred Laowu people were reported in a 1999 ethnographic study of Yi peoples in Yunnan Province. They live in the western part of Jinping County within the Honghe Yi- Hani Autonomous Prefecture. Although the Laowu live near China's border with Vietnam, there is no evidence of their existence within Vietnam.
(Source: Operation China, 2000)
Submit Map:
Ethnolinguistic Map:University of Texas or other map
Linguistic Map:Ethnologue language map
  Peoples [3]
Submit Update:
People Name in Country: Laowu
People Name General: Laowu
Alternate People Names:
ROP3 Code: 114157
Joshua Project People ID: 18540
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 23,000
Population all Countries: 23,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster: Tibeto-Burman, other
People Name General: Laowu
Ethnic Code: MSY50i
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
Submit Update:
Primary Language: Nisu, Eastern (23,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): nos    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
Submit Update:
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religions:
Buddhism0.00 % 
Christianity0.00 %(Evangelical: 0.00 %)
Ethnic Religions97.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam0.00 % 
Non-Religious3.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent0.00 %
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
GSEC Status:Level 1   Less than 2% Evangelical. Some evangelical resources available, but no active church planting within past 2 years
Bible Translation Status
Submit Update:
Bible Portions: Help start a Bible Translation
New Testament: None Reported
Complete Bible: None Reported
Ministry Resources [7]
Audio RecordingsMegaVoice Audio Bible and Stories
Audio RecordingsAudio Bible teaching
Ministry Activity
Register Ministry Activity:
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

Laowu in China

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Tibeto-Burman, other     Asia, Northeast    
      Laowu China    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Laowu in China          
      Religion Language  
      Ethnic Religions     Nisu, Eastern  
    All Religions                              

Direct link: