Prayer Profile
The Man Cao Lan of China

[IMAGE] Although the majority of Man Cao Lan live in northern Vietnam, about 36,000 live in the adjacent region of the southern Chinese province of Yunnan. The Man Cao Lan are also known as the San Chay. They speak Man Cao Lan, which is closely related to the Thai language.

Historical upheavals in China and Vietnam have caused the Man Cao Lan and other ethnic groups to scatter widely and intermingle with each other. Their lifestyles, languages, and cultures have all been affected, somewhat blurring any distinct lines of ethnicity.

In 1949, the Communists gained control of the Chinese government, winning a long civil war against the Nationalist forces. Since that time, the Man Cao Lan and many other groups have seen great changes in their lifestyles. Attempts are being made by the government to improve their standard of living and bring them into mainstream Chinese culture.

What Are Their Lives Like?
The Man Cao Lan live in villages of 20 to 30 houses. At one time, houses were built on stilts, but today most of them are built on the ground. Each house has a basket of bran and a few sticks of joss (Chinese incense) hanging over the door in honor of a cattle deity the people believe will protect them. Most households also have an altar to the family's ancestors.

Prior to the 1949 Communist takeover, land was privately owned. Since 1949, however, all land has been farmed collectively under governmental supervision.

Nearly all Man Cao Lan are farmers, wet rice being their most important crop. They also practice "slash and burn" agriculture, in which a section of forest is cut down and burned. The land is then cleared and used for cultivating maize, sweet potatoes, beans, peanuts, vegetables, and sesame. Man Cao Lan also raise cattle, chickens, and other poultry, mostly for use in sacrifices.

Forest products such as bamboo, rattan, and mushrooms are exploited. Fish are often raised in the rice paddies, and some fishing is also done in streams and rivers.

A village is a "residence unit" made up of members of a number of families. Each family is divided into many branches. The family is usually headed by a khan thu or headman, who settles differences, represents the village in relations with the outside, and unites the population. Despite his privileges and responsibilities, however, the headman is often poor.

Families are usually small, and descent is recognized through the father's line. Women are bound by many traditional restrictive customs, although girls are free to choose their own husbands. All young men and women must have parental consent to marry.

The Man Cao Lan have their own distinct literature and art, part of which they have developed themselves and part of which they have borrowed from neighboring cultures. Much of their literature and art has been handed down from generation to generation. The people have stories of their origin, of a great flood, and of human dignity and courage. They also have a rich musical heritage. Common instruments include brass gongs, trumpets, flutes, drums, and wooden staves.

What Are Their Beliefs?
Like most minority groups in southern China, the Man Cao Lan follow their own ethnic religion. Most villages have temples for the worship of a multitude of gods associated with water, fire, the earth, and important ancestors. Man Cao Lan also believe in ghosts and spirits. Folk literature plays an important role in their religion, as well as in their education.

What Are Their Needs?
The Man Cao Lan do not have the Bible, the Jesus film, or Christian radio broadcasts in their language. There are only a few known Christians among them. China remains one of the few avowedly communist nations in the world, harshly persecuting Christians. Nonetheless, Christianity is growing at an astounding rate. Intercession in the key for revival to spread to the Man Cao Lan.

Prayer Points

  • Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will break up the soil through worship and intercession.
  • Ask the Lord to save key Man Cao Lan leaders who will boldly share the Gospel with their people.
  • Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Man Cao Lan through dreams and visions.
  • Pray that the Bible, the Jesus film, and other evangelical tools will be translated into the Man Cao Lan language.
  • Pray that the government of China will allow Christians to meet and to witness to others.
  • Pray that God will give the Man Cao Lan believers boldness to share the love of Jesus with their own people.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Man Cao Lan bound.
  • Pray that God will raise up strong local churches among the Man Cao Lan by the year 2000.

See also the following Group:
The Man Cao Lan of Vietnam

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Man Cao Lan
  • Country: China
  • Their language: man cao lan
  • Population: (1990) 34,100
    (1995) 36,000
    (2000) 37,900
  • Largest religion: Ethnic religionist 99.2%
  • Christians: <1%
  • Church members: 281
  • 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: 0
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 5,700 (16%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 2,100 (6%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 3,600 (10%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 33,300 (84%)
  • 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

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Bethany World Prayer Center

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