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Sanda in China


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Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
1,500 Language unknown Ethnic Religions 1.40 % 1.36 % No No   

Sanda in China

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The Chinese authorities surprisingly acknowledge the Sanda as a separate people, giving them the suffix zu (nationality), but consider them too small to be afforded status as one of China's official minorities. The Sanda were not counted under any nationality in the 1990 census but were combined into a list of Undetermined Minorities.

The Sanda believe that they have been living in the Sanda Mountains of southern Yunnan "since the beginning of the earth." They claim to have been in Xishuangbanna long before their relatives - the Jino and Ake - migrated there. In the past, Sanda men and women were renowned for their excessively long hair, but this practice is no longer observed. Today the Sanda are widely known as expert hunters and gatherers who take much pride in their weapon handling skills.

Rubber, bananas, and soybean are the main crops harvested by the Sanda. In addition to the government quota, they are allowed to sell their excess produce in the marketplaces of Jinghong and Menglian. In recent years many Sanda youth have moved to the towns to find work. Intermarriage with other tribes is common among the Sanda, especially with the Jino, Ake, and Tai Lu.

The inhabitants of the six Sanda villages are animists. All Sanda homes possess spirit altars, which are hung in a prominent position in the main room of their homes. The Sanda say that in the past they were a spiritual people, but during the Cultural Revolution they lost their soul. The Sanda place great importance in burial practices. The corpse is placed in the ground for burial if the person was more than 60 years old. If someone dies by accident or before the age of 60, the body is cremated.

Most Sanda have no awareness of the gospel. Few Sanda living in their mountain communities have ever heard the name of Christ, but there are a small number of believers among the Sanda migrant workers living in Jinghong. Richard F. Lovelace, an American theologian, said, "Let us remember that Jesus Christ is not to return again physically until the Gospel has first been preached to all nations. ... It seems the millions of Muslims and Chinese should gain something more than a brief glimpse of a flare shot over another country."

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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:Researcher Dwayne Graybill visited the little-known Sanda people in 1996. He reported a total of 1,000 people inhabiting six villages in the Sanda Mountains between Jinghong and Menglian in Xishuangbanna Prefecture. They are the only people group living on the mountain that bears their name; therefore, they have managed to retain most of their traditional customs and identity. The region is in the southwest corner of China close to Laos and Myanmar. The late Robert Morse, a linguist who spoke more than 16 languages, listed a population of 700 Sanda in 1991.
(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: Sanda
People Name General: Sanda
Alternate People Names:
San Da
ROP3 Code: 114303
Joshua Project People ID: 18677
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 1,500
Population all Countries: 1,500
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster: Tibeto-Burman, other
People Name General: Sanda
Ethnic Code: MSY50#
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Language unknown (1,500 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): Unknown     
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religions:
Buddhism0.00 % 
Christianity1.40 %(Evangelical: 1.36 %)
Ethnic Religions95.60 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam0.00 % 
Non-Religious3.00 % 
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]   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

Sanda in China

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

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