Naju in China

Joshua Project has identified the Naju only in China






Largest Religion

Main Language



Although they have been officially included under the Naxi nationality, the Naju have a different name, language, and history from the Naxi in Yunnan, and the Naheng and Mosuo in Sichuan. The Naju actually prefer to call themselves Naru, but their alternative name is used in Operation China to avoid confusion with the unrelated Naru of northern Yunnan.


The Naju claim to have originated on the Tibetan Plateau. Between 800 and 1,000 years ago they migrated down from the plateau. Some stayed behind at Lugu Lake on today's Sichuan-Yunnan border where they gradually developed into the group now known as Mosuo. The majority continued farther south to Lijiang and became today's Naxi people. Some time later, a group of the Mosuo left their homeland at Lugu Lake and they developed into the presentday Naju group. For several hundred years the Naxi and Mosuo had their own kings who dominated other ethnic groups and controlled commerce throughout the region.


The whole western and southwestern part of Sichuan Province was formerly known as Xikang. It was a lawless and violent province where few outsiders dared to enter. Much of the murder and strife was the result of opium trade which flourished until Communist forces destroyed the poppy harvests in the early 1950s. Today most Naju live in poverty, growing vegetables and herding livestock.


Tibetan Buddhism is the predominant religious adherence among the Naju. They were originally polytheists but were converted to Buddhism by the Tibetans at least several centuries ago. Mixed in with their beliefs is a strong fear of powerful spiritual deities that they believe dwell inside mountains. As a result of these beliefs the Naju spend much of their time, energy, and money on appeasing and placating the spirit world.


There is no record of missionary activity in Muli or Yanyuan counties prior to 1949. The geographic, linguistic, and cultural isolation of the Naju creates barriers to Christian outreach among them in the future. Perhaps a few believers live among the Lisu in southern Sichuan, but there is no record of any Christian activity among the needy Naju.

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

People Name General Naju (Nah-joo)
People Name in Country Naju
Population in China 1,900
World Population 1,900
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Unengaged Yes (per Finishing the Task)
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names
Affinity Bloc Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster Tibeto-Burman, other
People Name General Naju (Nah-joo)
Ethnic Code MSY50i
People ID 18619
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 More than 1,500 people belonging to the Naju ethnic group live in a remote part of southern Sichuan Province. Their main community is located in the Guabie District of Yanyuan County. Others are found in the Bowa and Liewa districts of Muli County. The area is rarely visited by outsiders. Few roads connect the remote peoples of southern Sichuan who live in isolated mountain villages. The region is marked with great ethnic and linguistic diversity. Muli County contains people from the Chrame, Sichuan Mongol, Ersu, Nosu, and several other small ethnic groups..   Source:  Operation China, 2000
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Naxi (1,900)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Naxi 1,900
For Primary Language: Naxi

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (1932)
New Testament No
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Primary Religion: Buddhism

Major Religion Percent
95.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
5.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
0.0 %
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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