Wunai in China

Joshua Project has identified the Wunai only in China






Largest Religion

Main Language



The Wunai are officially considered part of the Bunu branch of the Yao nationality in China. The term Bunu is a generic name and does not refer to a specific people group or language; it simply means "us people." The Wunai do not refer to themselves as Bunu but use the self-name Hm Nai, which has been transcribed Wunai by the Chinese. The Han also call them by the nickname Huayi (Flowery Shirt) Yao.


The various "Bunu" groups are believed to be the descendants of the "savage Wuling tribes" who lived about 2,000 years ago. During the Song Dynasty (960-1279), agricultural skills developed among the ancestors of today's Wunai. They made "forged knives, indigo-dyed cloth and crossbow weaving machines."


The Zhuzhu Festival is a grand occasion among the Wunai. Zhuzhu means "to remember forever." The people remember and make offerings to Miluotuo who is considered the mother of their race. The Wunai are hard workers. In the evenings, after dinner, it is customary for the males of the house to gather around the fireplace to drink and discuss the day's activities.


The Wunai are worshipers of Pan Hu, who they believe to be the progenitor of their race. When a person dies, a shaman is quickly summoned to chant the "opening of the way" over the corpse. The chant helps the soul of the deceased find its way back through many obstacles and paths to the village where their ancestors have gone. The Wunai believe after dwelling there for a time the dead will be reincarnated and come back to the earth. In the past, Wunai communities were controlled by shamans, but this practice has been driven underground since the Cultural Revolution. One of the spirits Wunai shamans call up is the god of Archery. At the beginning of time, the Wunai believed there were nine suns encircling the earth that inflicted great discomfort on the people and caused the waters to evaporate. The god of Archery came and shot eight of the suns out of the sky with his bow.


The founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators, Cameron Townsend, once stated, "The greatest missionary is the Bible in the mother tongue. It never needs a furlough, is never considered a foreigner." The Wunai do not have the Word of God in their language. They are an unreached people group with no known Christians in their midst.

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

People Name General Wunai (Woo-nai)
People Name in Country Wunai
Population in China 12,000
World Population 12,000
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Unengaged Yes (per Finishing the Task)
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Bunu, Hm Nai, Hmnai, Ngnai, Wunai Bunu
Affinity Bloc Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster Yao-Mien
People Name General Wunai (Woo-nai)
Ethnic Code MSY47b
People ID 18714
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 1987 report listed 7,000 speakers of the Wunai language. The Wunai are widely distributed in Chengbu, Xinning, Tongdao, Chenxi, Longhui, and Dongkou counties in the mountainous western part of Hunan Province. The 1982 census listed a figure of only 3,980 Wunai people..   Source:  Operation China, 2000
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Bunu, Wunai (13,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Bunu, Wunai 13,000
For Primary Language: Bunu, Wunai

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

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
90.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
10.00 %
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

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