Gelao in China

Joshua Project has identified the Gelao only in China

Population

727,000

Christian

Evangelical

Largest Religion

Main Language

Progress


Profile Source: Copyright © Operation China, Paul Hattaway


Identity

The Gelao, despite their considerable size, are one of the least known of China's official ethnic minorities. Gelao means "human beings" as well as "bamboo." Today, most Gelao are culturally indistinguishable from the Chinese. Even back in 1911 one observer wrote, "The Gelao are now nearly extinct; many of them have married into Bouyei and [Chuanlan and Chuanqing] families."


History

The Gelao are thought to be descended from the ancient Liao race who established the Yelang Kingdom in Guizhou about 2,000 years ago. A folk tale tells how the king of Yelang was born from bamboo, so the whole group came to be called Bamboo. The Gelao are considered the original inhabitants of each region where they live. "Where the Miao and Gelao occupy the same district, the Miao allow that the Gelao were there before themselves."


Customs

The Gelao primarily grow maize, wheat, potatoes, sorghum, millet, tobacco, and tea. "In the past, the Gelao practiced initiation rites for their young men, including toothbreaking and hair-cutting rituals. The Gelao were once head-hunters and cannibals." Among the Yaya (Tooth) Gelao, the custom of breaking the front tooth of a bride was observed until recently.


Religion

The Gelao are primarily ancestor worshipers. "They also worship the gods of giant trees, of mountains, of sky and earth, cows, etc. They have no idols, temples or monasteries, and no systematic religious creeds or organization. But they have a number of primitive superstitions and taboos, which affect every aspect of their lives."


Christianity

Because it is difficult to convey the Gelao as a cohesive people group with a common identity, it is also difficult to gauge the status of Christianity among them. The Gelao were reached with the Gospel by French Catholic missionaries in the late 1800s, but little fruit from that effort remains today.



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

People Name General Gelao
People Name in Country Gelao
Population in China 727,000
Progress Scale 1.2
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Cờ Lao, Ilao, Keh-lao, Kelao, Thu
Affinity Bloc Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster Miao / Hmong
People Name General Gelao
Ethnic Code MSY47a
Country China
Region Northeast Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Location in Country The 1982 Chinese census recorded 53,800 Gelao people in China, but by 1990 that figure had dramatically jumped more than eight-fold to 438,000. There are several reasons for this peculiarity. The Gelao are widely scattered across 40 counties in six provinces of southern China. The majority live in western Guizhou Province. Other communities are in Yunnan, Guangxi, Hunan, Sichuan, and Jiangxi provinces. Approximately 7,000 Gelao are also located in northern Vietnam.
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Chinese, Mandarin (727,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Chinese, Mandarin 727,000
Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (1864-1986)
New Testament Yes   (1857-1981)
Complete Bible Yes   (1874-1983)
Audio Bible Online
Category Resource
Audio Recordings Christ for the Nations
Audio Recordings Global Recordings
Audio Recordings Online New Testament (FCBH)
Audio Recordings Online New Testament - Simplified (FCBH)
Audio Recordings Online New Testament - Traditional (FCBH)
Audio Recordings Online scripture (Talking Bibles)
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video Fathers Love Letter
Film / Video General Ministry Resources
Film / Video General Ministry Resources
Film / Video God's Story Video
Film / Video Han Language Film
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Chinese, Mandarin
Film / Video Magdalena (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video My Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime)
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children (JF Project)
Film / Video The Hope Video
General Bible Visuals
General Chinese Blog about Unreached Peoples
General Four Spiritual Laws
Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2008-07-16
Global Prayer Digest: 2010-07-05

Major Religion Percent
Buddhism
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.09 %)
0.20 %
Ethnic Religions
94.80 %
Hinduism
0.00 %
Islam
0.00 %
Non-Religious
5.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
Unknown
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
Anglican
0.0 %
Independent
70.0 %
Orthodox
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
Protestant
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
30.0 %
Photo Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway © Copyrighted Used with permission
Map Source: Joshua Project / Global Mapping International
Profile Source:  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more  
Get Involved
Register ministry activity for this group

Copyright © 2014 Joshua Project. A ministry of the U.S. Center for World Mission.