Riang, Riang-Lang in China






Largest Religion

Main Language



The Riang, who have been officially counted as part of the De'ang nationality in China, have been known by several names in the past. The British mistakenly called them the Black Karen because of their appearance, but the Riang have no ethnolinguistic relationship with the Karen. The Riang are not related to the identically named Riang group in India and Bangladesh.


The Riang in Zhenkang County are the only De'ang group that retains features of the ancient clan and village commune system that used to prevail. In the past, Tai landlords controlled all the land in the area. Strict demarcation lines were clearly signposted between different villages and plots of land. Stone posts can still be seen today in the fields of Zhengkang. Traditionally the Riang and other De'ang groups believe their first ancestor, Phu Sawti, was hatched from a serpent's egg - the result of a union between a Naga (female serpent-god) and a spirit.


The Riang's belief in the above legend can be observed today in the dress of their women. "From their early teens, the women wear 40 or 50 cane hoops apiece, one resting upon another to a depth of a foot around their hips. The undulating movement when they walk resembles a snake's motion."


The Riang are the only De'ang group who have never embraced Theravada Buddhism. The majority of Riang today are animists. They believe spirits live in objects of nature and must be placated before peace can be experienced in their communities.


Missionaries worked among the Riang in Myanmar until they were expelled from the country in 1962. The Gospel of Mark was translated into Riang in 1950. Few members of this tribe have responded to the offer of salvation, however, and today there are no known churches among the Riang in either Myanmar or China.

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

People Name General Palaung, Riang-Lang
People Name in Country Riang, Riang-Lang
Population in China 2,000
World Population 17,000
Countries 2
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Unengaged Yes (per Finishing the Task)
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Black Yang, Riang-Lang, Yin
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 Southwest Yunnan, Lincang Prefecture, Zhenkang County; Baoshan Prefecture, Longyang County.   Source:  Ethnologue 2010

No people group map currently available. Use the above button to submit a map.

Enthologue Language Map

Ethnolinguistic map from University of Texas or other map

Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Riang (2,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Riang 2,000
For Primary Language: Riang

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (1950)
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
97.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
3.00 %
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
Profile Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

Copyright © 2015 Joshua Project.  A ministry of Frontier Ventures.