Qiangyi in China

Joshua Project has identified the Qiangyi only in China






Largest Religion

Main Language



The Qiangyi, who are officially classified as part of the Yi nationality, are one of the most interesting people groups in southern China. As Jamin Pelkey points out, "Many Tibeto-Burman peoples are said to have descended from the ancient Qiang tribes, but this is the only known case in Yunnan in which one of the people groups actually retains the name Qiang as part of their autonym. The suffix yi in the autonym is ... probably a traditional Han name for the people meaning 'the Qiang foreigners' and may have been picked up by this people after having had centuries of contact with the Han Chinese."


The history of the Qiangyi is fascinating in that they provide a living link between today's Tibeto- Burman-speaking tribes in southern China and the Qiang tribes who roamed China's northwest up to 4,000 years ago. One researcher has stated, "The Qiangyi are confirmed descendants of the ancient Qiang nation which migrated during the 'stone-ages' from Gansu to Sichuan - some of them moving into Yunnan. After crossing the Yangtze River into Yunnan, the Qiang separated into three distinct tribes, and slowly bifurcated into 11 other tribes which, in turn, became over 150 tribes. It seems that, finally, distinctions between tribes became so great and the multiplication and racial mixing so complex that historians lost count and the 'tribes' became known as separate 'peoples'."


Little is known about the culture of the Qiangyi today and, outside the area where they live, few people have heard of them. Although the Qiangyi used to wear their own traditional dress, it is believed they now wear standard Han clothing except during festivals and special occasions.


Polytheism (the worship of many gods) could accurately be described as the main religion among the Qiangyi. There are also elements of ancestor worship and Daoism present, which were probably adopted from their Bai and Chinese neighbors.


Despite their long history, the Qiangyi are not known to have been impacted by Christianity. Today, there are no known Christians among them. Xiangyun and Binchuan counties, where the Qiangyi are found, have very little Christian presence except for a few small governmentsanctioned churches affiliated with the TSPM. These churches are mostly comprised of elderly Han and Bai believers.

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

People Name General Qiangyi (Chee-ung-Yee)
People Name in Country Qiangyi
Population in China 13,000
World Population 13,000
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Qiang Yi
Affinity Bloc Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster Tibeto-Burman, other
People Name General Qiangyi (Chee-ung-Yee)
Ethnic Code MSY50r
People ID 18670
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 Nine thousand Qiangyi people reside in the Xiangme, Ziqianglang, Huangcaoshao, Chuchang, and Chalangshao communities within the Midian District; and in the Daying and Xinxingzuo communities of Hedian District. These places are all within Xiangyun County in China's Yunnan Province. An additional 1,000 Qiangyi are believed to live in parts of southern Binchuan County as well..   Source:  Operation China, 2000
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Qiang, Southern (13,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Qiang, Southern 13,000
For Primary Language: Qiang, Southern

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Translation Need Questionable
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions

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

Copyright © 2015 Joshua Project.  A ministry of Frontier Ventures.