Chesu in China

Joshua Project has identified the Chesu only in China





Largest Religion

Main Language



The existence of the Chesu people has been mentioned in few Chinese publications and never in mission people group lists. The Chesu do not consider themselves part of the Yi nationality. The Han Chinese and other minorities in Chesu areas do not think of the Chesu as Yi either. Local people believe the "Chesu are Chesu, and Yi are Yi ... the Chesu speak the Chesu language, and the Yi speak the Yi language," as one elderly man remarked in northern Xinping County.


Originally the Chesu were part of a great Tibeto-Burman race, who were forced to migrate south to their present location under pressure from the advancing Han Chinese, beginning in the fourth century AD. The Han themselves had been forced to move south due to the disrupting influence of the wild barbarian invaders in the north. "Six or seven out of every ten gentry families joined the southward march. In many cases, entire clans including neighbors and servants left their homes and traveled hundreds of miles to establish new homes south of the Yangtze River." One writer notes the result of these massive Han migrations: "As this contact occurred, the non-Han peoples were pushed back by the Han into the mountains, usually much more barren than the fertile river valleys where they had been living."


The Chesu people living in Damidi District in Shuangbai County celebrate the annual Body-Wrinkle Dance Festival. It is held on two separate days, on the 24th day of the sixth lunar month and then on the 15th day of the seventh month. Participants dress up in panther costumes and mimic the movements of the panther. The festival remembers the time when large cats roamed the central Yunnan region, terrorizing the local inhabitants.


The Chesu offer sacrifices to animals such as panthers, bears, and tigers. They believe the spirits of these powerful animals can protect their communities from harm and disease.


The Chesu are one of the people groups most untouched by Christianity in China. Few Chesu have ever been evangelized, although in March 2000 a few Chesu came to Christ when visited by Chinese evangelists. The preachers reported the Chesu are very responsive and open, but that ministry to them is difficult because of the lack of Mandarin understood by the Chesu. They live in such remote areas that outsiders have failed in their bid to even locate the Chesu.

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

People Name General Chesu (Cheh-soo)
People Name in Country Chesu
Population in China 3,600
World Population 3,600
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.2
Least-Reached Yes
Unengaged Yes (per Finishing the Task)
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Chesupuo, Qisu, Qisupuo, Sanpuo
Affinity Bloc Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster Tibeto-Burman, other
People Name General Chesu (Cheh-soo)
Ethnic Code MSY50i
People ID 18429
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 Approximately 6,600 members of the Chesu tribe inhabit the southern part of Shuangbai County in Chuxiong Prefecture and the adjacent northern part of Xinping County in Yuxi Prefecture. The Chesu population in Shuangbai actually fell from 2,769 in 19571 to 2,528 in 1986. Most Chesu villages are located in remote mountainous areas, deep within forests..   Source:  Operation China, 2000
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Chesu (3,600)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Chesu 3,600
For Primary Language: Chesu

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Translation Need Questionable
Resource Format
None reported  
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.50 %)
0.50 %
Ethnic Religions
96.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
3.50 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
100.0 %
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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