Monba, Cona in China





Largest Religion

Main Language



More than 34,000 speakers of Cona Monba - which is known as Tsangla in Bhutan and India - live in the southern part of Tibet, particularly in Cona County. Others are scattered far to the northeast in Medog County. The majority (138,000) of the speakers of this language live in eastern Bhutan. Approximately 44,000 also inhabit the Kameng District in Arunachal Pradesh, India.

Although the Monba are one of China's officially recognized nationalities, only 7,475 were listed in the 1990 census. Independent researchers agree there are more than 30,000 Cona Monba in China.

Cona Monba is "quite distinct linguistically" from Medog Monba. The speakers of the two Monba languages, which are part of the Eastern Himalayan branch of Tibeto-Burman, struggle to communicate with each other. The two groups must use Tibetan as a common language. Cona Monba has four tones, while Medog Monba does not contain any tones at all.


Nearly three centuries ago the Monba people migrated across the Himalayas from the Moinyu area to southeast Tibet. Numerous Monba speakers today still live within the borders of India. Until 1959 the Monba were oppressed serfs of the Tibetans. They had to ask permission from the Tibetans even just to make a journey.


The Monba are the only minority group in China to practice "river burial," by which a corpse is cut into 108 pieces and hurled into a rushing river to be washed away. The Tibetans consider this to be the lowest form of burial and only use it for children and lepers. Some Monba practice Tibetan bird burials. The number 20 is the basic counting unit of the Monba. Thus, 67 becomes three twenties plus seven, and so on. Monba silversmiths are renowned for their skill in making intricate jewelry and ornaments.


Although most Monba are outwardly Tibetan Buddhists, the majority continue to practice numerous shamanistic and polytheistic rituals. The Monba believe all disease is caused by demons. They feel they are forced to sacrifice their valuable cattle and horses in order to pacify these angry demons and cause the affliction to cease. They also believe humans can be demons who cause sickness. A boy or girl who marries into a "demon family" too becomes a demon. Therefore "demon families" are allowed to intermarry only.


The Monba are one of the most unreached and inaccessible people groups in all of China. They have no knowledge of the gospel. Few Christians have ever prayed for them. Foreigners are not permitted to enter their region from either the Tibetan or the southern side of the border. There are currently shortwave gospel radio broadcasts in the Tsangla language of Bhutan which perhaps can be heard and understood by the Cona Monba. In 1996 several Bhutanese Christians crossed into Tibet for the purpose of evangelism.

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

People Name General Sharchop
People Name in Country Monba, Cona
Population in China 44,000
World Population 107,000
Countries 2
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Unengaged Yes (per Finishing the Task)
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Bhotia, Bhotia, Eastern, Central Monba, Cona Monba, Cuona Monba, Eastern Bhutanese, Memba, Mompa, Monba, Sangla, Sarchapkkha, Sharchagpakha, Sharcrop, Southern Monba, Tsangla, Tshalingpa
Affinity Bloc Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster Bhutanese
People Name General Sharchop
Ethnic Code MSY50a
People ID 11685
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 Southeast Tibetan Autonomous Region, Linzhi Prefecture, Motuo (Medoz, Medog) County, Beibeng, Motuo, Bangxing, and Dexing districts; Dongjiu District, Linzhi (Ngingchi) County.   Source:  Ethnologue 2010
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Tshangla (44,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Tshangla 44,000
For Primary Language: Tshangla

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (2000)
New Testament No
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
God's Story Video Film / Video
Jesus Film: view in Tshangla Film / Video
My Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime) Film / Video
Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project) Audio Recordings
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Religion Subdivision: Tibetan

Major Religion Percent
80.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.01 %)
0.01 %
Ethnic Religions
19.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.99 %
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: Steve Evans   Creative Commons  
Map Source: Bethany World Prayer Center  
Profile Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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