The Biao Mien of China
The Biao Mien are a sub-group of the Yao minority, one of China's 55 officially recognized minority people groups. The Yao live in several provinces in the south-central and southeastern parts of China. The Biao Mien live in the Ruyuan County of Guangdong Province. Their language, called Iu Mien, is considered a dialect of the main Yao language and is closely reated to the Hmong language of Vietnam.
The Yao originated in the present day province of Jiangsu. Gradually, they migrated to southern China, and many of them settled in Hunan province. Over the years, many of them moved to Vietnam and Laos.
The Yao have been under Han Chinese rule for much of their history and were often oppressed by them. Many times they revolted against the Chinese government, and they played an active role in China's Communist revolution.
What are their lives like?
Most of the Biao Mien are rural farmers who grow rice on terraces cut out of the sides of the high mountains of their homeland. Other crops include sweet potatoes, peppers, pumpkins, corn, and soybeans. The Biao Mien also traditionally practiced some "slash and burn" agriculture, growing crops in a clearing made by cutting and burning the forest growth. Hunting is also important to them.
A favorite dish among the Biao Mien is pickled bird. Cleaned birds are blended with salt and rice flour, then sealed into airtight pots. The Biao Mien also pickle beef and mutton.
A typical Biao Mien house is built of wood and bamboo and has three rooms, with a sitting room in the middle and bedrooms on either side. Some houses are two stories, with living quarters on the top level and a stable on the bottom or ground floor.
The family is very important to the Biao Mien, and divorce is a rare occurrence among them. Most Biao Mien men have only one wife, but a few of them occasionally have more than one. Although some marriages are still arranged by parents, that choice is now usually left to the young couple. The groom is usually sixteen or seventeen years old, and the bride is usually up to three or four years older.
Among the Yao minority, clothing varies according to region, but several common characteristics prevail. The women's clothing is usually embellished with colorful embroidery. A coat over loose trousers is most common, and women will often spend hours laboriously stitching intricate patterns over the black or blue cotton fabric. Yao women also often wear large turbans and much silver jewelry. The men's traditional clothing is less distinctive, and today they often wear manufactured clothes bought in local markets.
What are their beliefs?
The traditional Biao Mien religion is a combination of ancestor worship and exorcism. Ancestor worship is the practice of praying to the spirits of deceased ancestors for help and guidance. Small altars for ancestor worship were traditionally located inside Biao Mien homes. Exorcisms are used as a means of casting out evil spirits that are believed to be inflicting illness.
Religious beliefs are also similar to those of popular Chinese Taoism. Eighteen chief deities are recognized, in addition to a host of minor gods, supernatural beings, deceased heroes, and nature spirits. Good spirits are considered to be the spirits of ancestors and their own household deities. Evil spirits include jungle demons, valley demons, and city demons. Since the advent of Communism in 1949, the prominence of religion has declined in the lives of the Biao Mien.
What are their needs?
Although agriculture is the chief economic activity of the Biao Mien, they often cannot grow enough to feed all their people. However, physical hunger is not their greatest difficulty; rather, it is spiritual famine. Most of them have never had a chance to hear the Gospel. Neither the scriptures nor Christian radio broadcasts are available in the Biao Mien dialect.
- Ask the Lord to open the doors of China to Christian missionaries.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Biao Mien through dreams and visions.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that have kept the Biao Mien bound for many generations.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Pray that Christian radio broadcasts, evangelical literature, and the Jesus film will be made available to the Biao Mien.
- Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Biao Mien who will boldly declare the Gospel.
- Pray for qualified linguists who will be able to translate the Bible into the Iu Mien language.
- Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Biao Mien church to the glory of His name!
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Biao Mien
- Country: China
- Their language: Iu Mien (Biaoman)
- Largest religion:
- Christian: 1%
- Church members: 2,270
- 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: 38,700 (17%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 188,700 (83%)
- Country: China
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- 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.