Sanie in China

Joshua Project has identified the Sanie only in China





Largest Religion

Main Language



The Sanie are one of 120 distinct ethnolinguistic people groups who have been combined by the Chinese authorities to form the Yi nationality. Although the Han Chinese refer to this people as White Yi or White Lolo, in their own language they refer to themselves only as Sanie.


Despite their similar names, the Sanie are not the same ethnic group, nor do they speak the same language, as the Sani or Samei. Long ago they may have been related.


Sanie customs are in the process of assimilation to the pervasive Han Chinese culture. In Xishan County, the Sanie, along with the Bai and Han, celebrate the Taiyinhui or "Moon Fair" on two occasions each year. The first celebration takes place on the sixth day of first lunar month. According to Jamin Pelkey, "Most of the participants in the festival are elderly women. Burning sticks of incense, they present various food offerings to the moon, and, after having arranged nine pieces of yellow paper in three small piles they get down on their knees and bow three times."


The Taiyinhui Festival reflects the main religious beliefs of the Sanie, which are a mixture of polytheism and ancestor worship. Pelkey continues: "Following this, passages of the Taiyangjing (the Moon's Scripture) are chanted in unison. In the passages, the moon is praised for all of its qualities and personified as a tender, nocturnal messenger blessing the earth with refreshing dew. The second celebration takes place in conjunction with the mid-Autumn Festival, on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month."


There are believed to be a small number of Sanie Christians near Kunming. Before 1949 many Protestant and Catholic missionary organizations worked in Kunming City and surrounding areas. The majority of Sanie, however, have no awareness of the gospel or its life-giving message.

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

People Name General Sanie (Sah-nieh)
People Name in Country Sanie
Population in China 8,600
World Population 8,600
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.2
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Bai Lolo, Baiyi, Sanyie, Shanie, Shaniepu, Shansu, White Yi
Affinity Bloc Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster Tibeto-Burman, other
People Name General Sanie (Sah-nieh)
Ethnic Code MSY50i
People ID 18679
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 A total of 25,300 Sanie people lived within Kunming Municipality in Yunnan Province in 1999. The Sanie inhabit most of Gufeng and Tuanjie districts in Xishan (West Mountains) County; parts of Fumin County; and parts of Qinglong District in northern Anning County..   Source:  Operation China, 2000
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Sanie (8,600)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Sanie 8,600
For Primary Language: Sanie

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Translation Need Questionable
Resource Format
None reported  
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.39 %)
0.50 %
Ethnic Religions
95.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
4.50 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
80.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
20.0 %
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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