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Lawu in China


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Lawu in China map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
26,000 Lalo, Dongshanba Ethnic Religions 0.20 % 0.05 % No No   

Lawu in China

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Although they have been officially classified as part of the generic Yi nationality in China, the Lawu are a distinct ethnolinguistic group. They have never before been listed in any ethnographic survey of China's people groups and, therefore, have never been on any mission lists of China's unreached peoples either. The Lawu are culturally and linguistically different from three other similarly named Yi groups in Yunnan: the Awu, the Laluo, and the Lalu.

Even though the Yi minority in China is comprised of more than 100 tribes and subgroups speaking numerous languages and dialects, some of these groups share common historical roots. Many Yi (and some Hani) believe a man named Zzemuvyvy (Zhongmuyu in Chinese) was their original ancestor. Zzemuvyvy and his six descendants are referred to in Yi manuscripts from as far as Sichuan to southern Yunnan and Guizhou provinces.

Every five days (on days 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 of each month), the Lawu from Shuitang District in Xinping County come down from the mountains to trade with the Tai and Han living in the Gasa River valley.

For countless generations the Lawu have adhered to the superstitions of animism, polytheism, and ancestor worship. Their belief system reveals itself in a number of different ways. One example is Mi Ga Ha, which in the Lawu language is the "Dragon Worship Festival." During the second lunar month, a day is chosen for all villagers to gather around a large tree and hold a ceremony to worship the dragon. They believe the dragon is responsible for rainfall and many other natural phenomena. They hope to appease the dragon in order to quell floods and prevent drought. At the same time many other Yi people celebrate the Torch Festival, the Lawu observe a day of worshiping their ancestors.

There are believed to be a handful of Christians among the isolated Lawu people. They are not considered resistant to the gospel but have simply never heard it. Paul Vial, a French Catholic missionary among the Sani in the late 1800s, held great hopes for all Yi groups becoming Christian, especially because of their belief in Creation and the Universal Flood. He wrote, "Christianity ... will make them understand what is beautiful, good, and true, and the [Yi] will no longer think to search elsewhere for that which he will find henceforth in himself."

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Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2018-07-12
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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 20,000 Lawu live in the soaring Ailao Mountains of Simao and Yuxi prefectures in southwest China's Yunnan Province. Besides the 12,500 living in the northwestern part of Xinping County, many more Lawu can be found in Zhenyuan and Jingdong counties of Simao Prefecture. The highest concentration of Lawu live on steep slopes in the Shuitang District of Xinping County. More than 60% of the district's total population are Lawu people.
(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: Lawu
People Name General: Lawu
Alternate People Names:
ROP3 Code: 114161
Joshua Project People ID: 18544
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 26,000
Population all Countries: 26,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster: Tibeto-Burman, other
People Name General: Lawu
Ethnic Code: MSY50i
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Lalo, Dongshanba (26,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): yik    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religions:
Buddhism0.00 % 
Christianity0.20 %(Evangelical: 0.05 %)
Ethnic Religions95.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam0.00 % 
Non-Religious4.80 % 
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 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

Lawu in China

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

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