Identity The Younuo people have been officially classified as part of the Bunu in China, who in turn are considered part of the Yao nationality. The term Bunu does not necessarily refer to a specific people group; it simply means "us people."
History Traditionally, Younuo men were hunters, although the practice has diminished in the last generation. The Younuo's favorite weapons are the crossbow and the muzzle-loading musket. Wild pigs and deer become more scarce every year.
Customs The Younuo rarely marry outside their ethnic group, although there is no rule prohibiting this. Often, Younuo women consider the location of their suitor's village - to determine how far she will have to walk to fetch water - before deciding if she will accept his proposal. Sexual immorality is rampant among the Younuo. Premarital sex is openly permitted. A young man may secretly come to his girlfriend's house after dark - knowing exactly where in the house she sleeps - and will call out to her between the cracks in the wall. If the girl accepts the boy's advances, she will leave the house and spend the night with him.
Religion The Younuo have a flood legend. They claim the waters once rose up so high on the earth that they reached into heaven. Man then sounded a gong at the rooftop of the earth which woke the Thunder god. The Thunder god saw man's distress and came down to rescue them, causing the flood to end. They also worship a powerful dragon spirit, Zaj Laung, who they believe controls the waters and lives at the bottom the sea. He also controls the weather and must be placated to ensure enough rain for a bountiful harvest. The Younuo believe the dragon can take the form of a rainbow. They also worship the sun and moon.
Christianity The Younuo, and all the Bunu groups in southern China, are unreached with the gospel. Rev. W. H. Oldfield longed to reach the people groups in Guangxi in the early part of the twentieth century. "How we wished we could speak their dialect and tell them plainly the Gospel message. ... To this people, as yet, the Gospel has not been given. No missionary in [Guangxi] speaks their dialect; no Chinese worker is laboring among them; no Christian chapel has been opened in their territories. They live, they die, unreached, unhelped, and unheeded. For decades they have been groping in darkness, for decades more they will have to grope, unless someone comes to give them the message."
Approximately 18,000 members of the Younuo tribe - known locally as the Hong Yao (Red Yao) - live in concentrated communities within Longsheng and Xing'an counties in the northeastern part of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. They share the region with members of the Dong and Miao minorities. The 1982 Chinese census listed only 2,920 Younuo. Subsequent research found their numbers to be higher. (Source: Operation China, 2000)