Profile Source: Copyright © Operation China, Paul Hattaway
The Bunuo qualify as a distinct ethno-linguistic people group, but their claims have been ignored by the Chinese authorities who have placed them in the Bunu group, which in turn is officially considered part of the Yao nationality. The Chinese call the Bunuo as Beilou Yao, which means "basket-carrying Yao". This is also the nickname given to the Dongnu people, but the Dongnu and Bunuo speak separate languages. For centuries the Chinese preferred to ignore the Bunuo; they considered the Bunuo to be ignorant barbarians living in the remote mountains. Not willing to study the ethno-linguistic composition of the Bunuo until recently, the Han gave nicknames like "Beilou Yao" to them in reference to visible attributes they saw on the Bunuo's infrequent trips down from their isolated mountain hideouts.
Most scholars suggest that the Miao, She, and Yao (including the Bunuo) minority groups today are probably from the same original race. As these peoples split geographically and separated into distinct entities, many of them suffered terrible harassment and persecution from the Chinese and other peoples. Those groups considered particularly violent and rebellious were treated the worst. The 1725 Guizhou Tongzhi, a book on the different subgroups of Miao, mentions a group called the Hei Sheng Miao. They were described as "a treacherous and aggressive people". One Miao album assures us that "about half of them were killed and the rest surrendered", while another album reassures the reader that "in 1736 they were conquered once and for all".
The Bunuo have also faced great hostility down through the centuries. This has resulted in them being a very secluded people who distrust outsiders to this day.
The religious beliefs of the Bunuo include many different rituals borrowed from Daoism and Buddhism. It is not known if the Bunuo worship Pan Hu, as do many other Bunu and Yao groups in Guangxi.
The Bunuo are a practically untouched people group, separated from the Gospel by geographical, political, cultural, and linguistic barriers. Because they are not officially recognized by the Chinese government, the Bunuo are unknown to both Chinese and Western Christians. There are very few believers of any kind in the part of Guangxi inhabited by the Bunuo.