The Daur of China
The 128,400 Daur live scattered across northern China. Originally they lived along the Heilong River, but dispersed during the Qing dynasty to escape oppression. Some still live along the Heilong River, while others occupy areas of Inner Mongolia and the Xinjiang province. From the beginning, they have been hunters, fishermen, and farmers.
Many of the Daur are bilingual, and over 90% of them still use their ancient native language--even though it has no written form. Mongol, a language which uses the Cyrillic alphabet, is often used in written communications.
The Daur share their land with many other ethnic groups. However, throughout their history they have remained secluded, which has allowed them to maintain their own traditions and customs.
What are their lives like?
The Daur live in family villages which are located along water sources and are situated with their backs to the mountains. Their thatched roof cottages of wood and reeds are built on raised elevations. Homes are divided into living rooms and bedrooms, with heavily carved inner doors. They are decorated with brightly colored depictions of life such as trees, flowers, and butterflies.
Family activities are the core of Daur social life. Weddings are arranged by the parents and couples are paired at a young age. To ensure a good fortune, the bride and groom meet at sunrise. The groom then hands out meat and drinks to all who pass by. After the whole village enjoys the wedding ceremony, they celebrate with a lavish feast.
Daur folk crafts are numerous and very ornate. They include richly embroidered clothing, hand bags, home decorations, and religious idols. Singing and dancing are an important part of their lives as well. Dances often portray aspects of daily life such as gathering crops, carrying water, or imitating actions of birds or animals. Also, their rich oral folk literature preserves their ancestral history.
Most of the Daur farm, herd livestock, hunt, and fish to support their families. Their daily diet is very simple. They typically eat a hot cereal of millet, oats, or buckwheat, accompanied by a few fruits and vegetables. Depending on their region, potatoes or rice is also a main staple. Their sources of protein include venison, wild fowl, and fish.
The Daur love wearing brightly colored ornaments for special occasions. They customarily dress in long, loose fitting robes that are heavily fur-lined in winter, and light and cool in the summer.
What are their beliefs?
From their beginnings, the Daur have been polytheists, worshipping many gods. Their gods include animals and the forces of nature, particularly a group of "gods of the sky." Shamanism (a belief in an unseen world of gods, demons, and spirits) is practiced in every home and village. Each family group has its own shaman (witchdoctor) to cure sickness, birth babies, and settle family problems.
About one third of the Daur have adopted Lamistic Buddhism. They believe in reincarnation. This teaching says that after a person dies he will return to the earth in another life form, either human or animal. They believe that each person's well-being was determined by his behavior in previous lives.
What are their needs?
The Daur are still living in a time frame of the ancient world. They need modern technology and education to pull them into the 20th century. Health care is still overseen by the local shaman, armed with chants, potions, and incense.
As a people, the Daur have a great desire for peace and stability--something that can only be found in Jesus Christ. Sadly, there is no known clear Christian witness among them. The Chinese government is strictly opposed to the preaching of the Gospel, and persecution of Christians is still common in most areas.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Daur bound.
- Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to northern China and share Christ with the Daur.
- Pray that the doors of China will soon open to missionaries.
- Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Daur Christians.
- Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to establish a written language and translate the Bible into the Daur language.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the people toward Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
- Pray that God will open the hearts of China's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
- Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among the Daur by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Daur
- Country: China
- Their language: daur
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 13
- Scriptures in their own language: None
- Jesus Film in their own language: None
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
- Mission agencies working among this people: None
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 6,400 (5%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 122,000 (95%)
- Country: China
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 42
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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