Profile Source: Copyright © Operation China, Paul Hattaway
The Shixing are one of many small groups in southern and central Sichuan who have been officially counted as part of the Tibetan nationality. The name Shixing means "iron people." The Chrame call their Shixing neighbors Xumi.
The area inhabited by the Shixing has a long and rich history. Their villages are "guarded by watchtowers erected by powerful Naxi kings several hundred years ago." The Naxi's interest in the region may have been due to the abundance of gold once found in the Shou Chu River. The river was extensively mined by the great Naxi king, Mutien Wang.
The Shixing live isolated lives farming rice and maize on thin strips of land leading down to the river. The Shixing villages are "peculiar conglomerations of huts built one against the other, with flat roofs, permitting one to step from house to house over the entire village."
All Shixing are Tibetan Buddhists; they were converted centuries ago. Outside many of their homes one will find mani piles (pyramids of white stones) which are engraved with the sacred Tibetan prayer, Om mani padme hum - "Hail the Jewel of the Lotus." In the past the Shixing lived under the rule of the Chrame king in Muli, along with his powerful religious rulers.
The Muli region in southwest Sichuan Province is one of the most gospel-neglected places on earth. No missionaries are known to have worked there in the past. There has never been a known believer or Christian fellowship among the Shixing people. The nearest believers to the Shixing are the Lisu in northwest Yunnan, but they are still a considerable distance away over some of the most remote terrain in the world.