Numao in China

Joshua Project has identified the Numao only in China






Largest Religion

Main Language



The Numao, despite their small size, are known by a variety of different names. Local Han Chinese people call them Heiku Yao, which means "black trouser Yao," after the Numao men's custom of wearing black trousers. One subgroup of the Numao are called the Beidongnuo. The Chinese have found that this small group speak the same language as the Numao. But the Beidongnuo are profiled separately in Operation China because they insist they are a different ethnic group. The Numao are one of eleven distinct tribes of the Bunu people, all of which have been officially included under the Yao nationality by the Chinese authorities.


Long before the start of the Christian era, it is generally believed, the numerous groups belonging to today's Miao, Yao, and She nationalities were part of the same great race. Chinese accounts place the ancestors of these people in northern China around 500 BC. Persecution forced them to migrate into southern China, especially into the regions that are today's Jiangxi and Hunan provinces. Further conflict forced these groups to splinter into dozens of smaller units who, after centuries of separation from other members of their original race, evolved into distinct ethnolinguistic groups.


Numao culture is similar to that of the Yao who live in the same part of China. They consider Pan Hu to be their progenitor and worship him at certain festivals throughout the year. All Numao are agriculturists, struggling to produce good crops from the poor soil where they live.


In addition to their worship of Pan Hu, the Numao revere and appease a hierarchy of spirits and deities - including the spirit of the soil - and demons, which they believe live inside the highest mountains in their region.


Because of their small size, groups like the Numao tend to be overlooked by the Christian world. There has never been a known follower of Christ from among their tribe. God's Word has promised there will be redeemed representatives from all tribes, including the Numao, around his throne in heaven. Church planters need to view the Numao as an untouched group desperately in need of God, rather than ignore them because of their small numbers.

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

People Name General Numao (Noo-maow)
People Name in Country Numao
Population in China 2,300
World Population 2,300
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Unengaged Yes (per Finishing the Task)
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Black Trouser Yao, Heiku Yao, Nu-Mhou
Affinity Bloc Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster Yao-Mien
People Name General Numao (Noo-maow)
Ethnic Code MSY47b
People ID 14061
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 The 1982 Chinese census listed a population of 1,147 Numao people living in the mountains of southern China. They are located in Libo County in southern Guizhou Province. The Chinese authorities later amended their Numao population to 1,391 after they included the 244 Beidongnuo people with the Numao..   Source:  Operation China, 2000
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Bunu, Bu-Nao
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Bunu, Bu-Nao
For Primary Language: Bunu, Bu-Nao

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions No
New Testament No
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
95.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
5.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
0.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Photo Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Map Source: Joshua Project / Global Mapping International  
Profile Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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