Maru in China







Largest Religion

Main Language


Profile Source: Copyright © Operation China, Paul Hattaway


The name Maru is used by the Kachin and Jingpo to describe this group. The Maru call themselves Lhao Vo. In China the Maru have been classified as part of the Jingpo nationality, while in Myanmar they are viewed as part of the large Kachin ethnic group. The Maru earnestly oppose such classifications, insisting on a separate historical and cultural identity.

The Maru language has three tones. It is related to the other Jingpo languages in China but contains loanwords from Chinese, Jingpo, Tai Mao, and Burmese. The Maru use a Roman script, devised in 1957.


The Maru claim to have migrated from the Tibetan Plateau thousands of years ago. They lived first in the Nujiang River valley in Yunnan before settling down in northern Myanmar. They claim to be the original inhabitants of Myanmar - an assertion that upsets the Burmans and Kachin.


The Maru live in close-knit communities. When a house is being built, the whole village lends a hand in its construction. When a Maru family moves, they carry the fire from their old home along in a torch, believing the unbroken fire will ensure the continuing well-being of the family.


The majority of Maru in both Myanmar and China claim to be Christians, but in many cases their faith is nominal. One Maru church leader explains, "Many Maru animists decided to accept Christ for their convenience. They wanted to get rid of the burden of sacrificing offerings of chickens, buffaloes etc. to appease the spirits. They did not really know who Christ is. That's why when they received the copy of the Word of God in their own language, they learned that Jesus is the Redeemer; that they were redeemed from the hands of Satan to become the son of the Almighty Father; that they were a holy priesthood, a holy nation, not just plainly called Christians, but that they are an anointed people. They then understood the meaning of being a Christian for the first time."


Missionaries first focused on the Maru 100 years ago. As a result, most Maru in China and Myanmar are Christians - primarily Baptists and Catholics. However, despite the apparent success, Christianity never really took root in the people's hearts. This was primarily because the Bible was not translated in their own language. In 1994 the Maru New Testament was completed. Four thousand copies have been distributed in Myanmar. At the present time three ministries are busy translating separate copies of the Maru Old Testament.

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

People Name General Maru
People Name in Country Maru
Population in China 31,500
Progress Scale 3.2
Least-Reached No
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Diso, Diso), Lang, Lang'e, Lansu, Laungaw, Laungwaw, Lawng, Lhao Vo, Malu, Matu, Mulu, Zi
Affinity Bloc Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster Tibeto-Burman, other
People Name General Maru
Ethnic Code MSY50i
Country China
Continent Asia
Region Northeast Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Location in Country Under the British Empire, all Maru lived within the borders of Burma. When the British left Burma in the 1940s and the borders were redrawn, approximately 10% of the Maru suddenly found themselves living in southern China. Today about 150,000 Maru live on the Burmese (now Myanmar) side of the border. An additional 23,900 live on Chinese soil. It's believed that they live only in Luxi County, even though the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Chinese Linguistics states that the Maru live in parts of five counties: Luxi, Longchuan, Yingjiang, Ruili, and Lianghe.
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Lhao Vo: Lawng Hsu (31,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Lhao Vo: Lawng Hsu 31,000
Category Resource
Audio Recordings Global Recordings
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video God's Story Video
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Lhao Vo
Largest Religion Christianity
79%    ( Evangelical  30% )
Ethnic Religions
Other / Small
Christian Segments
Other Christian
Roman Catholic
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
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