Profile Source: Copyright © Operation China, Paul Hattaway
Longxi Qiang is a distinct language spoken by members of the official Qiang nationality in China.
Chinese scholars describe the various Qiang languages, including Longxi, as mere "dialects" of Qiang, but they are clearly distinct languages. The Southern Qiang languages have as many as six tones, while Northern Qiang is non tonal.
The Qiang honor white stones, a tradition reportedly started after a conflict many centuries ago. The hostile Geji tribe ambushed the Qiang, who being caught unprepared, picked up sticks and white stones and fought with them. Despite their marked disadvantage, they defeated their enemies and won the right to live in the fertile valley that remains their home today.
Qiang families spend much of their time around the fireplace and cauldron, which is located in the middle of their homes. The cauldron "is an iron or steel tripod over which hangs a hook known commonly as a 'rat's tail', which can be raised or lowered at will to regulate the heat of the fire."
During their annual sacrifice, the Qiang carry a sacred roll of white paper which represents the Word of God - even though it has nothing written on it. Torrance explains how "each year a fresh piece of white paper is rolled around the scroll to indicate the purity of the Word or Heaven-sent sin bearer which they termed variously Je-Dzu, Nee-Dzu or Rin-Dzu, meaning 'Saviour'. On hearing this my father then read the first chapter of St. John's Gospel which tells of the Word of God made flesh in Jesus Christ. He told the Qiang that they had been tucked away in such a remote part of the world that they had never heard that the Word of God had come in Jesus Christ. As he announced the Good News the priest and all his household believed and were duly baptized."
After all of the Qiang church leaders had been martyred in 1935, missionary Thomas Torrance returned to Scotland. A Qiang Christian, Huang Taiqing, wrote to him: "Because of the Communist persecution, this book was hidden in a cave during the year of the Chinese Republic. Thus the book was saved from destruction. In memory of the Gospel Chapel of Tongmenwai, Lifan County." The New Testament was sent to Torrance as a pledge that the church among the Qiang would rise again. Today there are Qiang believers living in Kegu, Kampo, Lixian, Songpan, and Maoxian counties, but it is not known if there are any Christians among the Longxi Qiang dialect group.