Azhe in China

Joshua Project has identified the Azhe only in China





Largest Religion

Main Language



In 1960 the Azhe were officially placed in the Yi nationality. The Azhe, however, refuse to intermarry with other peoples and are culturally and linguistically different from their neighbors. The Azhe are not the same ethnolinguistic group as the A Che people farther to the west, who speak a language from the Southern Yi branch.


The Azhe say they originated in northern Yunnan. They migrated south to Jianshui during the Sui and Tang dynasties (581-907). At that time they were giving military assistance to the Luodian Kingdom. Later, the people separated. Some went back to Yimen and Shuangbai counties where today they are the A Che people.4 Despite their shared origins, the languages and customs of the Azhe and A Che today differ remarkably.


The Azhe celebrate the annual Torch Festival. On the first day of the festival, many weddings take place. On the second day, the men sacrifice an ox at the foot of the sacred village tree.


After sacrificing an ox during the Torch Festival, the Azhe "engage in much chanting to invoke spirits. Having finished the chanting the men take the heart of the ox and boil it together with a rooster in order to appease the god of the Mountain. The meat from the ox is divided among all the men who participated in the sacrifice, and the ox bones are dispersed evenly to each family of the village. No one works during the Azhe Torch Festival and every night of the festival the youth engage in dancing, singing, and courtship." The Azhe hold many holidays centered in animism and polytheism. On the 14th day of the tenth lunar month, the whole village goes to a sacred mountain. They slaughter a cow and two chickens in hope of appeasing a mountain god whom they believe to be in charge of their welfare.


There is one known Catholic meeting point among the Azhe, situated in Mile County. French Catholic missionaries worked extensively in the region in the first half of the twentieth century. Today, however, most Azhe are completely unaware of the gospel or the name of Christ, having been cut off from outside influence for generations. In the early part of this century the Sani people, located to the north, were reported to have more than 7,000 Catholics, but there is no evidence of Sani outreach to the Azhe who have a different language and culture.

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

People Name General Azhe (Ah-jeh)
People Name in Country Azhe
Population in China 58,000
World Population 58,000
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.2
Least-Reached Yes
Unengaged Yes (per Finishing the Task)
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names A-djay, A-gie, Ajia, Aozhe, Arjie, Azhepuo, Huami Yi
Affinity Bloc Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster Tibeto-Burman, other
People Name General Azhe (Ah-jeh)
Ethnic Code MSY50i
People ID 18407
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 A 1999 study placed 57,500 Azhe people in central Yunnan Province. A 1984 figure listed 36,447 in Mile County, while 7,200 live in Huaning County of Yuxi Prefecture. Others live in Kaiyuan (4,600) and Jianshui (200) counties..   Source:  Operation China, 2000
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Azhe (58,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Azhe 58,000
For Primary Language: Azhe

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

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.07 %)
1.00 %
Ethnic Religions
94.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
5.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
7.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
3.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
90.0 %
Photo Source: Paul Noll  
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

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