Xiandao in China

Joshua Project has identified the Xiandao only in China





Largest Religion

Main Language



The Xiandao are counted as part of the Achang nationality, but they claim they are not related. The Xiandao language is distinct from the three Achang dialects. The Xiandao may be the group described by one writer as a "Burmese tribe living in the Chinese Shan States ... spoken of as Lao-Mien, Old Burmese."


A recent interview with the Xiandao village leader recounts a bizarre history - no doubt a mixture of truth and legend: "A thousand years ago we numbered 400 people and were the richest tribe in the region. Then we had a fierce war with the De'ang. We lost and fled to the Huoyan Mountains on the Myanmar- China border. Slowly we filtered back into China. Because of the defeat we lost our wealth and have been poor to this day." They claim that after the war many died of disease. They "grew red lumps on their faces and died." It is uncertain what disease this is, but the Chinese authorities give regular vaccinations against it. More likely, the Xiandao are the descendants of one of the tribes who fled into China from Myanmar in 1885 to escape assaults by the British military.


The Xiandao live quiet lives cultivating the haoangong rice that grows in the area. In recent years almost all Xiandao youth have left their village to find work in the region's towns and cities. Many have gained employment in the logging industry. Because of their small numbers, the Xiandao have been forced to intermarry with Achang, Dai, Jingpo, and the Han Chinese. The Xiandao share their village with Han Chinese families. All Xiandao can also speak Mandarin.


Almost the entire Xiandao population are Christians. They were first evangelized by Jingpo believers from a nearby village in the mid-1970s, and embraced the gospel en masse.


The Xiandao have their own church in their village. The pastor is a Xiandao, even though they use the Jingpo Bible in their services. Of the 47 Xiandao left in Munmian Village, 46 are members of the church. The only one who is not is the village leader, who says that if he were a believer he would not be allowed to represent his people to the Communist government. In 1976 the leader's wife was one of the first Xiandao to be converted.

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

People Name General Xiandao (Shee-ahn-Dow)
People Name in Country Xiandao
Population in China 200
World Population 200
Countries 1
Progress Scale 3.2
Least-Reached No
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Zhangta
Affinity Bloc Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster Tibeto-Burman, other
People Name General Xiandao (Shee-ahn-Dow)
Ethnic Code MSY50i
People ID 18718
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 The tiny Xiandao tribe - who numbered only 136 people in 19971 - inhabit Munmian Village in western Yunnan Province. Of the 137 Xiandao people, only 47 still live in their village; the rest have traveled to cities to find employment. Even though the Xiandao live directly next to the Myanmar border, there is no evidence of any living outside of China. The Xiandao village is near Pingwyan Township in Yingjiang County in the Dehong Dai Autonomous Prefecture. More than a dozen colorful groups share the multiethnic Dehong Prefecture..   Source:  Operation China, 2000

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Enthologue Language Map

Ethnolinguistic map from University of Texas or other map

Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Language Unknown (200)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Language Unknown 200
For Primary Language: Language Unknown

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Translation Need Questionable
Resource Format
None reported  
Primary Religion: Christianity
Religion Subdivision: Independent

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 50.00 %)
95.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
5.00 %
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: Operation China, Paul Hattaway   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Profile Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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