Profile Source: Copyright © Operation China, Paul Hattaway
The classification of the South Central Guiyang Miao was only made in 1995. Until that time scholars had not yet determined that it qualified as a distinct language. After the 1982 census the language was placed in a list of eight unclassified Miao languages and was named "Ziyun, Zhenning" after the counties where it was spoken. Finally it was agreed that South Central Guiyang Miao was unlike any of the other Miao languages and was set apart by itself. This group is one small part of the massive Miao nationality, whose ten million members are found throughout China and in the neighboring countries of Southeast Asia.
The areas now inhabited by the Guiyang Miao are believed to have once been home to many of today's Western and Farwestern Miao groups. The majority of these peoples fled Guizhou to Yunnan and beyond during times of persecution, while those that remained have, over the centuries, fragmented into small tribes and ethnic groups.
Miao families are renowned for being close-knit. Family and community relationships are prized above all among the Miao, who often frown upon individualism and decisions made without the input of others. The Guiyang Miao women are also known for their embroidery. In the past one of the subgroups of Miao in Guizhou was even known as Mp'eo or De Mp'eo, which means "embroidery."
The South Central Guiyang Miao are animists. Above all they revere the spirit of the dragon, and another spirit which they believe blesses their crops.
While pre-1949 mission labors resulted in several wonderful people movements to Christ, there were quite simply not enough laborers to cover the numerous minority areas in southwest China. Most people groups missed out on the gospel. While people like Isobel Kuhn - who worked among the Lisu and once said, "When I get to heaven they aren't going to see much of me except my heels, for I will be hanging over the golden wall keeping an eye on the Lisu church!" - were faithful to their call, other areas were completely neglected. As a result, the more than 3,000 hidden souls who speak the South Central Guiyang Miao language have never had any known Christians in their midst.