Although the Chinese call all members of this group Hua Miao, they are not the same as the Big Flowery (Hua) Miao or the Small Flowery (Hua) Miao. Among the Hua Miao there are numerous different selfnames, ethnic groups, and dress styles, but all speak one common language. Linguist Michael Johnson has coined the term Hua Miao for this large group. They have been called by many other names in the past. Johnson explains, "I have labeled this linguistic grouping by the rather ambiguous term Hua Miao because there is no one 'Miao + modifier' autonym that is used throughout the group. ... Many of the subgroups within Hua Miao are in fact called Hua Miao 'Flowery Miao' by the Chinese. The geographic extent of the group also makes it difficult to use a geographic based name."
Despite their present ethnic divisions, the Hua Miao were once one group. "Given the comparatively minor extent of linguistic variation within Hua Miao it is feasible that the group formed a single ethnolinguistic group ... perhaps only 600 years ago. The present geographical scattering is due mostly to migrations during the Qing Dynasty which were fueled by persecutions and other social unrest."
Hua Miao probably contains several dozen self-appellations and varieties of dress. Among this collection of groups are the Hmong Dous (Downhill Hmong) in southern Sichuan, who are called Hmong Ghuad Dus (Buffalo Dung Hmong) by other Miao groups in the area in reference to their style of turban.
The Hua Miao, being scattered over a large area, have several main religious beliefs, including animism, polytheism, and ancestor worship.
There are as few as 1,000 scattered Hua Miao Christians in China - only one out of every 600 people. The Hua Miao are sparsely populated over a wide geographical area; therefore, their only chance of hearing the gospel comes if they happen to live near one of the few evangelized Miao groups - the A-Hmao and Gha-Mu in Guizhou or the Hmong Daw in Yunnan, for example. Significant ethnic and cultural barriers, and age-old prejudices combine to prohibit the gospel from spreading easily from one Miao group to another.