The Chiang of China
The Chiang of southwestern China have a population of more than 220,000. Their homeland is along an arc extending from Nanping (in the northwestern Sichuan province) to Lihjang (in the northern Yunnan province). Their language, customs, and physical characteristics indicate that they belong to the Tibeto-Burman branch of the yellow race.
The Chiang were originally nomads who settled into villages and towns during the Han dynasty. The term chiang means "herdsman." This name was formerly used to refer to groups who were matriarchal (families led by the women), warlike, and lived in China's western frontier.
There is currently no written script in the Chiang language, although simple "pictographs" have been found in several areas. In 1989, steps were taken to create a written script for their group. Today, most of the Chiang speak Chinese at home and use Tibetan or Chinese for written communication.
What are their lives like?
Most of the Chiang are farmers; however, they are also very dependent upon their flocks of sheep and goats for food and ceremonial offerings. They live in flat-roofed, multi-storied houses built of stone. The ground floor is reserved for livestock, while the second story functions as the main living and sleeping area for the family. The third story contains a large open area that is used as a threshing floor and meeting place. It can also be used for storage or extra sleeping quarters. In one room there is a shrine covered with red paper. This shrine holds the family idols and ancestral tablets. A wooden table holding an incense burner stands in front of the shrine.
Until recent years, early marriages were common among some of the Chiang. It was not unusual for a boy between the ages of 7 and 10 to marry a girl between the ages of 12 and 18. Today this custom has been abolished; however, the Chiang are still a matrilineal society (line of decent is through the women), and females are primarily responsible for the family's livelihood. They do most of the farming and usually have the final authority in the family. Men are responsible for plowing, building houses, and fighting during wartime.
The Chiang have very simple social lives. There are practically no games since play is regarded as a means of idling away valuable time. Even children have important tasks to perform and burdens to bear.
The best-known handicraft among the Chiang is embroidery, usually in the form of intricately patterned waistbands and cloth shoes.
Women traditionally played mouth harps to serenade their lovers. Circular dances accompanied by singing are still important parts of the courtship process.
What are their beliefs?
Although a majority of the Chiang are Buddhists, they are basically shamanistic and animistic in their religious practices. They worship many Chinese gods who are regarded as living deities. There are five great gods, with the "sky god" considered to be the highest.
Religious rituals are often associated with goatskin drums and recitations of long oral texts. Illnesses are attributed to spirits, and are treated by exorcism and/or reading of religious texts.
Once suppressed, religion is now experiencing a revival. In some areas, a Buddhist cult known as "the white stone religion" is beginning to attract pilgrims from the lowlands. Elements of Daoism (belief in an unamed and unknowable god) can also be found.
What are their needs?
Ties between Chiang men and women are weak. Romantic love is considered important, and sexual freedom is prevalent. The Chiang men need to move into their God-ordained roles as heads of the families.
The Bible has not been translated into the Chiang language, and there are no Christian broadcasts currently available to the Chiang. An overwhelming majority of these people have never heard the Gospel.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Chiang bound.
- Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to China and share Christ with the Chiang.
- Pray that the doors of China will soon open to missionaries.
- Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Chiang Christians.
- Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to develop a written language for the Chiang so that the Bible may be translated into their language.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Chiang 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 Chiang by the year 2000.
See also the following group:
Tibetans in China.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Chiang
- Country: China
- Their language: qiang
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 210
- 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: 27,500 (13%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 182,400 (87%)
- 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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