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Sansu in China


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Sansu in China map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
17,000 Hlersu Ethnic Religions 3.00 % 2.24 % No No   

Sansu in China

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For reasons of perceived historical kinship, the Sansu - along with more than a dozen other tribes - have been included in the Hani nationality by the Chinese authorities, who are not apt to grant official status to minorities with relatively small populations.

Although the Sansu speak their own distinct Tibeto-Burman language, they do not possess an orthography. In 1957 the government tried to introduce a Roman script for the various Hani peoples in Honghe. The authorities' unwillingness to recognize the true linguistic diversity among the different groups caused the project to fail. Groups like the Sansu did not use words found in the "Hani language" literature. The Sansu were originally a non-Tibeto-Burman-speaking tribe who were taken as slaves and had another language imposed on them.

For generations the Sansu were slaves of the ruling Yi people. "They are considered very low on the scale of tribal society, actually being servants to the Lolo [Yi] tribe and given so little recognition by the government that they are even exempt from taxation and military service. Tattered, torn, scanty togs; coarse mountain food; dark smoky hovels - these are their daily lot. The Sansu are some of the earth's poorest."

The various Hani related peoples, including the Sansu, have developed a long list of "at least 500 known medicinal plants as well as medicinal practices such as bone-setting, massage, and blood circulation techniques."

The Sansu are zealous polytheists. They worship a multitude of evil spirits who rule over them. The Sansu also venerate their ancestors, especially the spirits of their in-laws.

Of the more than 1,000 Hani Christians reportedly living in Yuanjiang County, approximately 200 to 300 are believed to be members of the Sansu tribe. China Inland Mission's John Kuhn - who conducted an intensive ethnic survey of Yunnan Province in 1945 - joyfully recounted his meeting with the first Sansu believer. "At Yuanchiang [Yuanjiang] on the Red River, my cup ran over! I saw my first Sansu. I had never heard of that tribe before. And there, my first Sansu sat before me, little of stature, shy, quiet, with a soft voice and distant look. His awkwardness bespoke his inner thought, 'Why should the White Man wish to talk to me?' Simply because the White Man wished to size up a Sansu, lowest in the scale of humanity of those parts, yet an object of the grace of God, for he had been brought to Christ by a Lolo. Wonderful! Are there any more Sansu? Yes, many more. Then we can expect a grand harvest, for the saving of the first is proof that He can save all."

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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:The Joshua Project listed a 1995 population of 12,000 Sansu - a poverty-stricken and destitute tribe located in the highest mountains of Yuanjiang County in southern Yunnan Province's Yuxi Prefecture. Yuanjiang, located on the banks of the Honghe (Red) River, is predominantly inhabited by members of the Han, Yi, and Hani nationalities.
(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: Sansu
People Name General: Sansu
ROP3 Code: 108663
Joshua Project People ID: 14733
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 17,000
Population all Countries: 17,000
Least-Reached: No
Affinity Bloc: Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster: Hani
People Name General: Sansu
Ethnic Code: MSY50i
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Hlersu (17,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): hle    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religions:
Buddhism0.00 % 
Christianity3.00 %(Evangelical: 2.24 %)
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

Sansu in China

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Hani     Asia, Northeast    
      Sansu China    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Sansu in China          
      Religion Language  
      Ethnic Religions     Hlersu  
    All Religions                              

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