Prayer Profile
The Malu of China

[IMAGE] The Malu, also known as the Maru, Laungaw, or Diso, live in southwestern China, in the southern region of the mountainous Yunnan province. The Malu are officially classified under the Jingpo minority, one of China's 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities. The Malu language is a dialect of Jingpo; however, it cannot be understood by speakers of other Jingpo dialects.

The Malu and other Jingpo peoples originally lived on the Tibetan Plateau. They gradually migrated into northern Yunnan and continued to move farther south and west toward Burma. Today, there are more Jingpo in Burma than in China.

The Malu have a long history as valiant warriors. Although they have not been forced to fight for many years, nearly all of the men continue to wear the traditional two foot long swords. Their unique swords have become a major identifying symbol of the Jingpo people and their culture.

What Are Their Lives Like?
Average Malu villages have about 20 households. They are usually built on mountain slopes facing the valleys below. Within the village, individual homes are spread over several mountain terraces. Traditional Malu houses are built about three feet above the ground and are rectangular in shape. A house usually has five rooms, each with a fireplace in the center. As a rule, the room at the end of the house that faces the up-slope of the hill is reserved for spirits. It contains nothing except a bamboo sacrificial altar beside the wall. The center room serves as a kitchen. The house roof extends at either end, where it is supported by a post. In this space, the wife feeds farm animals, her husband repairs his farm tools, and the children play.

The majority of the Malu continue living much as their ancestors did for hundreds of years; most of them are farmers. The wet rice farmers grow rice on terraces cut into the steep mountainsides. They use water buffaloes to pull plows and till up the soil. Fresh spring water irrigates the fields naturally. The other farmers use the "slash and burn" cultivation method. Sections of forest or grassland are cut down, the debris is burned, and the crops are planted in the scorched clearings. These farmers grow a great variety of crops, including dry rice, corn, millet, soybean, and potatoes. Because forests and grassland areas have been severely depleted, this method of agriculture has declined in importance.

Unlike most other people groups of China, the Jingpo value their daughters as highly as they do their sons. Young men and women are allowed to date and flirt extensively, and pre-marital relations are common; however, parents usually arrange marriages. The Malu have a marriage custom that may include "kidnapping" the bride, but the man is still required to pay a bride price to the bride's family.

What Are Their Beliefs?
The Malu beliefs are dominated by the view that there are hosts of spirits, or nats, that inhabit the world. The Malu believe that all spirits were once mortals who were endowed with spiritual power when they died. The spirits are said to dominate the affairs of this world, bring illness or health, and determine an individual's destiny. The nats are disagreeable in nature and are always ready to take revenge on people who do not properly consult and worship them. Besides their traditional beliefs, the Malu have also incorporated some Confucian and Buddhist principles.

What Are Their Needs?
Although the lives of the Malu have improved since the Communist revolution of 1949, they continue to live in poverty as farmers and livestock owners. More recently, China has witnessed dramatic economic development. However, much of the new investment is in the major cities and focused on industry and trade. In the outlying areas, progress has been slow and the villagers lives have changed little. While education is adequate, such services as electricity, running water, and sanitation are not. They lack an adequate infrastructure to help them break the cycle of poverty.

Prayer Points
  • Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into China to share God's love with the Malu.
  • Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Malu through dreams and visions.
  • Pray that God will give the Malu believers boldness to share Christ with their people.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Malu bound in their traditional belief system.
  • Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
  • Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Malu church for the glory of His name!
  • Pray that Christian radio broadcasts, evangelical literature, and the Jesus film will be made available to the Malu.
  • Ask the Lord to save key Malu leaders who will boldly declare the Gospel.

See also the following Group:
The Lasi of China

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Malu
  • Country: China
  • Their language: maru (laungaw)
  • Population: (1990) 12,500
    (1995) 13,200
    (2000) 13,900
  • Largest religion: Ethnic religionist 90%
    Buddhist 9.5%
  • Christians: <1%
  • Church members: 66
  • Scriptures in their own language: Portions
  • 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: 2,300 (18%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 700 (6%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 1,600 (12%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 10,900 (82%)
  • 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-religionist 17%
    Atheist 12.7%
  • Number of denominations: 42

© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center

This profile may be copied and distributed without obtaining permission
as long as it is not altered, bound, published
or used for profit purposes.

[Home] [Calendar] [Country List]