The Bulang of China
The Bulang, also known as the Pula or Samtao, are a minority group of nearly 90,000. Most of them live in the mountainous regions of the Yunnan province, which is located in south central China. One distinguishing feature of the Bulang is the men's practice of tattooing their limbs and torsos.
The Bulang are a multilingual people who commonly speak Dai, Va, and Chinese in addition to their native language, Blang. They live in an area that is characterized by forested mountains, abundant rainfall, and rich soil. Most are farmers, even though they live at heights of between 5,000 and 8,000 feet. Their small farming villages usually consist of 20 to 100 households.
More than eighty percent (71,000) of the Bulang have never once heard the name of Jesus. They are a Buddhist people, groping in spiritual darkness and daily crying out to gods who can neither hear them nor help them. Who will share the Truth with the Bulang?
What are their lives like?
Bulang farmers raise dry rice, maize, beans, cotton, sugarcane, and Pu'er tea. During the spring, the men dig pits with painted bamboo poles, while the women follow behind them scattering seed. They use neither fertilizer nor machines during the growing season, but rather weed the fields by hand. In September the crops are harvested with sickles.
The Bulang also raise livestock, which are kept on the ground floor of their two-story bamboo houses. They live on the second floor, where a fireplace stands in the center of the main room.
Every day the Bulang women rise early to husk rice and fetch water in bamboo tubes from a nearby river. Afterwards, the villagers depart for their fields where they work until evening. Once back in their villages, some gather around bonfires to visit, while others sit at home in the glow of oil lamps and talk.
Bulang villages were traditionally made up of about 100 households that represented up to a dozen clans, (groups having a common ancestry). All villagers were allowed to work the land, but each clan owned a portion of the land as their possession. If a clan left the village, their portion would become village property. In some areas, private ownership of land was allowed. Today, Bulang villages consist of "exogamous" clans, meaning that they are free to marry people from other clans.
Bulang women are fond of chewing betel nut, the seed of the betel palm. These fruits are gathered before they are ripe, then husked, boiled, cut into slices, and dried. The dried fruit is black or brown, and chewing it temporarily dyes the gums, mouth, and lips an orange-brown color. Stained teeth are considered to be a thing of beauty among the women. In fact, since the betel juice stains are only temporary, the women often artificially stain their teeth black.
Festive occasions are usually accompanied by singing and dancing. The "ring dance" is the most popular among young people. During this dance the girls form a ring around the boys and dance, while the boys sing and imitate tiger leaps towards the girls. The boys are also very fond of wushu, or martial arts. Their dances, such as the sword dance, stick dance, or boxing dance, often reflect this.
What are their beliefs?
The primary religion of the Bulang is Theravada Buddhism, which emphasizes Buddha as a historical figure, the virtues of the religious life, and the authority of the Tripitika. The Tripitika (three baskets) refers to self-discipline, preaching, and discussing doctrine. Buddhists believe that right thinking, ritual sacrifices, and self-denial will enable the soul to reach nirvana (a state of eternal bliss). They also teach reincarnation, and that each person's well-being was determined by his behavior in previous lives.
What are their needs?
No Christian television or radio broadcasts are available for the Bulang, and no missions agencies are working among them. The Bible has not yet been translated into Blang. These precious people must be told that their acts of self-denial will never be enough to pay the price for their salvation.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Bulang bound.
- Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to China and share Christ with the Bulang.
- Pray that the doors of China will soon open to missionaries.
- Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of known Bulang Christians.
- Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to translate the Bible into Blang.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the people towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
- Pray that Christian radio and television broadcasts will soon be made available in the Yunnan province.
- Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among the Bulang by the year 2000.
See also the following Group:
The Western Lawa of China
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Bulang
- Country: China
- Their language: blang
- Largest religion: Buddhists (Therevada) 97%
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 523
- 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: 16,200 (18%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 70,900 (81%)
- 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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