Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
The 1995 census of Laos listed 1,122 Hani people, living in the three villages of Sikao, Khuchu Lin and Si Ben Chay in Gnot-Ou District of Phongsali Province. The Hani live near the Laos border with Yunnan Province, China. Ethnographer Laurent Chazee has listed a population of 750 Hani in Laos, comprised of 97 families living in 78 houses.
The vast majority of Hani (more than 500,000) live in southwest China. There are actually more than 1.2 million people in China who belong to the 'Hani nationality', but this figure includes the Akha and about a dozen distinct ethnic groups. Confusion between the Hani and the Akha is a major problem for researchers. The Chinese and Vietnamese governments do not separate the two groups. Some publications have listed more than 30,000 Hani in Laos, but this figure includes the Akha. There are only about 1,100 "Hani proper" in Laos. One source says they are "very recent arrivals in Laos, probably from Vietnam."
Most scholars believe the Hani originated in Tibet, and moved down to southern China many centuries ago. Hani legends state their ancestors lived in 1,000 homes on a plain far to the north of their present location.
Among the Hani it is important to be able to recite their genealogy back to the progenitor of their race, Sm Mi O.
The Hani have a legend of a lost book. They claim they once had their own script, which was written on buffalo skin by the Creator God. On a long journey the Hani got hungry and ate the book, and ever since have been without a written script.
The Hani have three major religious clergymen. The zuima is a male from the oldest household who directs all religious activities. The beima perform magic rites and exorcisms. Male and female nima make predictions and administer medicinal herbs.
Although there are now about 200 Hani believers in China, the Hani in Laos and Vietnam remain without a Gospel witness or a single church.
* Pray that hindrances to the advance of the Gospel among the Hani be removed.
* Pray thousands of Hani across Asia would soon come to Christ.