Naluo in China

Joshua Project has identified the Naluo only in China





Largest Religion

Main Language



Despite insisting on their own distinct identity, the Naluo (also called Alu or Gani - Dry Yi) are considered part of the Yi nationality by the Chinese authorities. The Laka are a subgroup of the Naluo. The main difference between the two is sociohistorical.


For centuries the Naluo were despised as slaves and serfs of the Nasu people. In the early 1950s the slave/serf system was abolished by the Communist authorities. The humble disposition of the Naluo helped many of them see their need for God. Many responded to the gospel when Protestant missionaries moved to their area in the early decades of the twentieth century.


In the same way that numerous languages and dialects are spoken among the many branches of Yi in China, they also have numerous distinct cultures. Catholic missionary Paul Vial explained, "The Lolo [Yi] do not have a single term that can be applied to an entire nation or a race of men, no more for others than for themselves. With the Lolo [Yi], each tribe knows only the tribes around it; beyond this horizon, it knows nothing. In their books, the author uses the name of his tribe, sometimes in a limited sense, if it is a particular history; sometimes in a broad sense, if the history applies to the entire race."


Most Naluo are worshipers of spirits. Others have embraced Christianity, though many who profess to be Christians have retained their former animistic rituals. In the past each Naluo village had a resident shaman.


The first Protestant missionaries arrived in northern Yunnan in the early 1900s. Australian Arthur Nicholls was among the early pioneers of the gospel. Others joined him in a mission of love. Medical clinics were established, and large numbers of people were exposed to the gospel. Probably because of their history as a slave people, the Naluo were eager to accept the offer of freedom in Jesus Christ. They turned to Christianity, breaking themselves free from centuries of bondage to spirit worship. Thousands of Eastern Lipo and Eastern Nasu also came to Christ in the Wuding and Luquan areas. Today there are an estimated 11,000 Naluo believers. Many of them meet in ethnically mixed congregations. The Naluo living in Yuanmou County have had less exposure to the gospel. In the past many Naluo believers used the Pollard New Testament in the Eastern Nasu language, but today most prefer to use the Chinese Scriptures.

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

People Name General Naluo (Nah-luoh)
People Name in Country Naluo
Population in China 48,000
World Population 48,000
Countries 1
Progress Scale 3.2
Least-Reached No
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Alu, Dry Yi, Gan Yi, Gani, Nalo, Nalu
Affinity Bloc Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster Tibeto-Burman, other
People Name General Naluo (Nah-luoh)
Ethnic Code MSY50i
People ID 18620
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 37,000 Naluo inhabit the steep mountainsides along the rivers of northern Yunnan and southern Sichuan Provinces. The majority are located in Luquan, Wuding, Dongchuan, and Yuanmou counties. Small numbers of Naluo reportedly live in Huize County of Zhaotong Prefecture and parts of Qujing Prefecture..   Source:  Operation China, 2000

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Enthologue Language Map

Ethnolinguistic map from University of Texas or other map

Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Naluo (48,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Naluo 48,000
For Primary Language: Naluo

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions No
New Testament No
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
None reported  
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 26.00 %)
32.00 %
Ethnic Religions
62.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
6.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
90.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
10.0 %
Photo Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Profile Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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