Li, Jiamao in China

Joshua Project has identified the Li, Jiamao only in China





Largest Religion

Main Language



The Jiamao Li derive their name from the area they inhabit. Other Li groups call them Kamau. The Jiamao refer to themselves as Tai, which simply means "people."

The Jiamao language differs most from the other Li varieties and shares only about 40% of its lexicon with the other Li languages. There are considerable differences between the Li languages, both phonetically and lexically. The Jiamao language consists of five tones, but "they do not correspond to those of the Ha, Qi, Bendi and Meifu dialects." There are no dialect variations reported among the Jiamao.


The various Li groups, including the Jiamao Li, are proud of the fact that they are the original inhabitants of Hainan Island. During the Song and Yuan dynasties (960 - 1368), the Li staged 18 large-scale uprisings against oppressive Chinese rule on the island. During the China-Vietnam War in the late 1970s, it was feared the Vietnamese would invade Hainan, but this fear proved unfounded. In recent years, territorial disputes over the Spratley Islands, which lie to the south of Hainan, have greatly increased tensions in the region. Virtually every country in Southeast Asia lays claim to the hundreds of tiny, oil-rich islands.


For centuries Li women observed the custom of tattooing their bodies and faces at the onset of puberty. This was considered a mark of beauty. The Chinese have discouraged this practice. Today only old Li women can still be seen with tattoos.


The Jiamao Li are animists. They traditionally consulted shamans and witch doctors to deal with sickness. Today this practice has been replaced by Western and Chinese medicine. In the past, the Jiamao sacrificed animals to their gods and spirits. A chicken was killed for a minor sickness and a pig for a more serious illness. If someone was in danger of dying, the required sacrifice was to slaughter an ox in a vain bid to appease the offending spirits.


The first recorded Christian presence on Hainan were the Jesuits, who came from Macau in 1630 and established a chapel at Fucheng. The American Presbyterian Mission commenced work on Hainan Island in 1885 when Charles McCandliss was appointed as a missionary to the island. McCandliss and his wife lived on Hainan for 40 years. Their upright lives gave Christianity a good name among the people, and many came to Christ. Today there are a relative handful of Jiamao Christians. Most Jiamao have yet to hear the gospel, although gospel recordings are available in their language.

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

Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2015-07-28
People Name General Li, Jiamao (Lee, Jeeah-maow)
People Name in Country Li, Jiamao
Population in China 92,000
World Population 92,000
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.2
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Jiamao, Kamau, Tai
Affinity Bloc Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster Li
People Name General Li, Jiamao (Lee, Jeeah-maow)
Ethnic Code MSY49z
People ID 18551
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 Fifty-two thousand speakers of the Jiamao language were reported in a 1987 study. They live in the southeastern part of Hainan Island, concentrated in the eastern and southern parts of Baoting County, as well as in parts of Lingshui and Qiongzhong counties. They live near Wuzhi (Five Finger) Mountain - the highest peak at 1,867 meters (6,124 ft.) on the island. The Lingshui River flows through Jiamao territory..   Source:  Operation China, 2000
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Jiamao (92,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Jiamao 92,000
For Primary Language: Jiamao

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions No
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 0.07 %)
0.20 %
Ethnic Religions
96.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
3.80 %
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: Bethany World Prayer Center  
Profile Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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