Prayer Profile
The Hani of China

[IMAGE] More than 1.3 million Hani live in the Yunnan Province of southern China, along the boarders of Vietnam, Laos, and Burma. Although the exact origin of this tribal mountain group is not known, legends say that their nomadic ancestors gradually migrated south from a far away northern plain. Since their language is of the Tibeto-Burmese group, some believe that they originated in Tibet.

The Hani live in an area that is characterized by forested mountains, abundant rainfall, and rich soil. Hani farmers are noted for building tiered terraces along steep mountain slopes. Their small farming villages usually consist of 30 to 40 homes.

Centuries of isolation in the high mountain terrains have left the Hani socially and economically backward. Ten dialects of their native language, Hani, are spoken among them; however, they had no written language until 1949.

What are their lives like?
Among the Hani, the family unit is considered to be very important. Some aspects, however, differ from region to region. For instance, monogamy is the rule in some areas, while polygamy is practiced in others. "Family order" is both patriarchal and patrilineal, meaning that all male babies become part of the father's line, while females become part of the husband's. Male children are given names that are connected with their father's, but females are not.

The Hani are well known for their sincere hospitality. When a guest enters a Hani home, he is offered wine and strong tea. If he declines, the family will be highly offended; but if he drinks them, the host will generously serve him with the finest he has to offer.

The Hani celebrate several major festivals each year, the most notable being the New Year festival. This seven day event is celebrated at harvest time, which is during the tenth month. At noon on New Year's Day, an announcer throws three balls of blackened rice behind him to bid farewell to the old year. He then greets the new year by tossing three balls of white rice in front of him. Next, he pushes the ropes of a special swing and all of the people, regardless of sex or age, begin swinging. (They believe that this will ward off disaster and ensure a prosperous year.) That evening, the villagers stand around a bonfire eating, drinking, singing, and dancing. At midnight, the announcer cuts the frame of the swing down to signify the ending of the festival and the beginning of a new work year.

During times of celebration, the Hani still wear attractive tribal costumes of blue or black hand-woven and dyed cotton. The men wear distinctive jackets and turbans, while the women wear collarless blouses and special caps.

What are their beliefs?
Traditionally, Hani beliefs were a combination of animism, polytheism, and ancestor worship. Trees in the "holy hills" were believed to be their guardian spirits. Today, they still adhere to similar beliefs. They are very superstitious and view certain events, such as the birth of twins or handicapped children, as being unlucky. These children are killed, their parents banished, and their homes and possessions burned. They believe in the existence of many ruling spirits, such as spirits over heaven and earth, spirits that protect their villages, and evil spirits that bring diseases.

The Hani look to three major religious clergymen. The zuima is a male from the oldest household who directs all religious activities. The beima are males who perform magic and exorcisms. Male and female nima are in charge of making predictions and administering medicinal herbs.

What are their needs?
Since China's government strictly forbids Christianity, there is currently only one mission agency working among the Hani. The Bible and the Jesus film have not yet been translated into Hani, and there are no Christian broadcasts in their area. Given these facts, the Hani have very little chance of ever hearing the message of the Cross.

Prayer Points

  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Hani bound.
  • Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to China and share Christ with the Hani.
  • Pray that the doors of China will soon open to missionaries.
  • Ask God to strengthen and encourage the small number of Hani Christians.
  • Pray that the Lord will raise up loving Chinese Christians who have a burden to share the Gospel with the Hani.
  • Ask God to soften the hearts of the Hani towards the Gospel.
  • Pray for the Lord to call qualified linguists to translate the Bible into Hani.
  • Ask God to create a hunger within the hearts of the Hani to know the Truth.
  • Pray that a strong church will be raised up among the Hani by the year 2000.

See also the following Group:
The Hani of Vietnam

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Hani
  • Country: China
  • Their language: hani
  • Population: (1990) 1,255,500
    (1995) 1,327,200
    (2000) 1,396,100
  • Largest religion: Ethnic religionists 95.2%
  • Christians: 4.8%
  • Church members: 63,706
  • 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: 1
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 355,700 (26%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 143,300 (10%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 212,400 (16%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 971,500 (73%)
  • Country: China
  • Population: (1990) 1,135,043,400
    (1995) 1,199,901,200
    (2000) 1,262,195,800
  • Major peoples in size order: Han Chinese (Mandarin) 67.7%
    Han Chinese (Wu) 7.5%
    Han Chinese (Cantonese) 4.5%
  • Major religions: Nonreligious 55%
    Chinese folk-religionists 17%
    Atheists 12.7%
  • Number of denominations: 42

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Bethany World Prayer Center

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