Poluo in China

Joshua Project has identified the Poluo only in China





Largest Religion

Main Language



Despite their large population, very little is known about the Poluo, who are officially counted as part of the Yi nationality. The Poluo have never before been listed in ethnographic or linguistic lists from China. One researcher has stated, "The Poluo never refer to themselves as 'Yi' in their own language; instead, Poluo is used. The Han Chinese in their areas are also apt to call this people Pu instead of Yi. The title Yi is virtually meaningless in reference to this people."


The Poluo are one of the most far-flung Yi groups in China today. They are believed to be the descendants of a large tribe that splintered into numerous ethnic groups during migrations many centuries ago.


Poluo houses are customarily built near streams or rivers to allow easy access to water. Bamboo pipes are arranged to carry the water into the village. Many Poluo live in extremely remote locations at the top of isolated mountains.


The vast majority of Poluo still adhere to the superstitions of animism, polytheism, and ancestor worship. In some locations a festival is observed on a dragon or ox day of the second lunar month. Each village chooses a day, and all the people gather around a large tree to hold a ceremony in worship of the dragon. The Poluo, along with many other peoples classified as Yi, believe the dragon is responsible for rainfall and other natural phenomena. They hope to appease the dragon in order to quell floods and prevent drought.


The first modern-day missionary in China, Robert Morrison, knew people must have the Word of God in their own language. He wrote, "I am still engaged in translation. My courage and perseverance almost fail me. This is a very lonely situation. I am under continual dread of the arm of the oppressor, and the natives who assist me are hunted from place to place and sometimes seized. ... What a blessing it is to have the hope of eternal life rising brighter and brighter as we enter the valley."

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

People Name General Poluo (Poh-luoh)
People Name in Country Poluo
Population in China 32,000
World Population 32,000
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.2
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Aza, Pola, Polo, Pu, Pula, Puzu
Affinity Bloc Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster Tibeto-Burman, other
People Name General Poluo (Poh-luoh)
Ethnic Code MSY50i
People ID 18654
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 With a relatively large population of 230,000, the Poluo inhabit a widespread area in southeastern Yunnan Province. The highest concentration are found in Yanshan, Wenshan, and Qiubei counties of Wenshan Prefecture. Smaller numbers live in Maguan, Pingbian, Guangnan, Xichou, and Hekou counties. Yanshan County was only opened to foreign travelers in mid-1997. The Poluo are the dominant Yi group in southeastern Yunnan Province..   Source:  Operation China, 2000
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Pholo (32,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Pholo 32,000
For Primary Language: Pholo

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 0.04 %)
0.10 %
Ethnic Religions
93.90 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
6.00 %
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: Paul Noll  
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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