Ayi, Ah-yee in China

Joshua Project has identified the Ayi, Ah-yee only in China





Largest Religion

Main Language



Although the Ayi are included as part of the official Nu nationality, they possess their own distinct customs and speak a language mutually unintelligible with other Nu varieties. The Ayi culture shares many similarities with the Lisu. The exact affiliation of the Ayi language has yet to be determined, except that it is part of the Tibeto-Burman language family. The Ayi language consists of four tones and has borrowed words from the Chinese, Tibetan, Lisu, Bai, and Burmese languages.


The Ayi have historically been viewed by outsiders as more culturally backward than the Bai, Naxi, or Han Chinese people farther to the east. In the eighth century the Ayi came under the control of the Nanzhao Kingdom centered in Dali. During the Yuan and Ming dynasties the area was controlled by a Naxi headman. In 1907 the Ayi joined an uprising in protest against the British who had entered China from Burma. Alcoholism has long been a curse on the Ayi people. Often in villages, all the people, including children, were addicted, but since the arrival of Christianity the problem has subsided.


The Ayi live by subsistence farming. Their major crops are maize, buckwheat, barley, potatoes, yams, beans, and corn. They supplement farming by hunting with crossbows. Those who live near the rivers fish from two-man flat boats. Ayi society has traditionally been monogamous, although some wealthy landlords kept extra wives and concubines. The youngest son among the Ayi inherits the family property.


It is estimated that more than half of the Ayi are professing Christians. A recent report stated, "Fugong County, which is in China's northwestern Yunnan Province, has so many Christians that it is known as 'Christ County'. Ninety percent of the people there are believers. The Christians report that authorities, impressed by the falling crime rate, are actually encouraging people to believe."


The Ayi have received a vibrant Christian witness from strong evangelistic churches among the nearby Lisu and Nu. Most Ayi attend mixed-nationality churches where Lisu is the language used in worship. Many Protestant and Catholic missionaries lived in this part of China prior to the 1950s which has resulted in strong churches today among the Lisu, Bai, Nu, and Derung minorities. The New Testament is available in the Nu language based on a dialect in Myanmar, but it is not known to what extent the Ayi can understand it.

Profile Source:   Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  

People Name General Ayi, Ah-yee (Ah-yee)
People Name in Country Ayi, Ah-yee
Population in China 2,800
World Population 2,800
Countries 1
Progress Scale 3.2
Least-Reached No
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names
Affinity Bloc Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster Tibeto-Burman, other
People Name General Ayi, Ah-yee (Ah-yee)
Ethnic Code MSY50z
People ID 10519
Country China
Region Northeast Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 29  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Approximately 2,000 people speak the Ayi language, out of a total of 27,000 in the Nu nationality. Other Nu subgroups in China include the Lama and Zauzou. The Ayi live in parts of Fugong and Gongshan counties in Nujiang Prefecture. They inhabit the remote mountains of northwest Yunnan near the Myanmar border. Although the region is off-limits to foreign travelers, it is one of the most Christianized areas in China. Most of the remainder of the Nu minority live farther north of the Ayi..   Source:  Operation China, 2000

No people group map currently available. Use the above button to submit a map.

Enthologue Language Map

Ethnolinguistic map from University of Texas or other map

Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Anong (2,800)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Anong 2,800
For Primary Language: Anong

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (2005-2010)
New Testament Yes   (1981)
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
God's Story Video Film / Video
Primary Religion: Christianity
Religion Subdivision: Independent

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 50.00 %)
59.00 %
Ethnic Religions
35.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
6.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
100.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Photo Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Profile Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

Copyright © 2015 Joshua Project.  A ministry of Frontier Ventures.