Zuoke in China

Joshua Project has identified the Zuoke only in China






Largest Religion

Main Language



The Zuoke are a distinct ethnic group. They are proud of their unique ethnicity and history as a people and do not see themselves to be the same as any other people group. Despite these facts, the Chinese authorities have placed the Zuoke under the large and all-embracing Yi nationality which contains 120 different groups. Jamin Pelkey notes, "The Zuoke consider themselves different from the Poluo around them, and certainly do not consider themselves to be Yi." Some of the alternate names for the Zuoke include Niuweiba (Cowtail), Changpu (Long Pu) and Baipu (White Pu). These are probably names given to them by other ethnic groups and are not used by the Zuoke themselves.


According to Zuoke oral history, they originally lived in the Dali area of west central Yunnan and migrated to Wenshan around the time of the Nanzhao Kingdom (possibly about AD 900).


Chinese anthropologist Lu Jinyu visited the Zuoke extensively in the early 1990s. He studied Zuoke culture in all 16 of their villages and published a 30-page paper in Chinese. Lu found that the Zuoke culture and language are thriving. The Zuoke practice a number of special customs and festivals throughout the year, when they dress up in their traditional attire.


The Zuoke are polytheistic animists. Their worldview is shaped by their belief in the spirit world. The Zuoke live in simple houses near streams or some other water source. Traditionally, they do not dig wells, for fear of "striking the veins of the dragon" that they believe lives in the water underneath the earth.


The Zuoke have no known Christians in their midst. Their close-knit communities and strong desire to maintain their culture possibly mean they will view Christianity as a threat to their way of life. To date, few Zuoke have ever heard of Jesus Christ.

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

People Name General Zuoke (Zuoh-keh)
People Name in Country Zuoke
Population in China 7,400
World Population 7,400
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Baipu, Changpu, Niuweiba
Affinity Bloc Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster Tibeto-Burman, other
People Name General Zuoke (Zuoh-keh)
Ethnic Code MSY50i
People ID 18741
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 More than 6,300 people belonging to the Zuoke ethnic group live in Wenshan County of Wenshan Prefecture, in the southeastern part of China's Yunnan Province. They live in a number of unmixed villages (i.e., communities inhabited solely by Zuoke people): Daxing, Wujia, Nanlinke, Kemali, Yahu, Shangziongdong, Shazipo, Jiahu, Yujiake, Bairenjiao, Shujingwan, and Liujia. Only in four villages do the Zuoke live in mixed communities with other nationalities: Xiaxiongdong, Banzhai, Youshidongzhong, and Guniang. In total, there are 16 Zuoke villages, all situated in the southeastern part of Wenshan County. All of the Zuoke villages are under the jurisdiction of either Dongshan or Guanlijie districts, except for Guniang Village which lies within Panzhihua District..   Source:  Operation China, 2000
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Sani (7,400)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Sani 7,400
For Primary Language: Sani

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions No
New Testament No
Complete Bible No
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
98.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
2.00 %
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.