Xiangtang in China

Joshua Project has identified the Xiangtang only in China





Largest Religion

Main Language



The Chinese authorities have placed the Xiangtang under the official Yi nationality. Many Xiangtang in Simao have been thoroughly assimilated to Han Chinese culture and language. Only pockets of Xiangtang people living in more remote locations still retain their traditional way of life.


The Xiangtang are one of the southernmost Yi groups in China; this suggests that they may have been one of the earliest groups to migrate from the Yi homeland in today's Guizhou Province.


Since many Xiangtang have been gradually assimilated during the course of the twentieth century, most of their original customs have been lost. In the past, Xiangtang men had to pay a bride-price of five taels of silver to procure a wife. Alternatively, they could agree to work three years for the bride's family. In a Xiangtang home, guests of high status are seated behind the hearth, the host is seated on the right, and lower status people sit nearest the door. The main diet of the Xiangtang is maize, buckwheat, bean curd, pancakes, and sour and dried vegetables.


The Xiangtang in rural areas are a superstitious people. Ancestor worship, mixed with animism, remains the dominant religion among the Xiangtang, although many who live in urban areas have forsaken all religious practices. The Xiangtang living in Honghe are the only speakers of a Western Yi language in that prefecture. "While their language is widely different from the Yuanyang Nisu they live beside, the Xiangtang of Luchun County have been influenced by the Nisu culturally. Both groups worship and revere the dragon, but the Xiangtang also have reverence for the 'spirit of the ravine' whom they call to their aid every eighth day of the second lunar month."


The Xiangtang are one of many people groups in Yunnan Province with few or no known believers or Christian churches. It is possible that there are a few assimilated Xiangtang individuals attending Han Chinese churches. There are several thousand believers in the Jinghong and Mengla areas of Xishuangbanna Prefecture, but they are not known to be specifically focusing on unreached people groups for evangelism. The Xiangtang have been without a resident missionary or church-planting effort throughout their entire history.

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

People Name General Xiangtang (Shee-ung-tahn)
People Name in Country Xiangtang
Population in China 105,000
World Population 105,000
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.2
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Hsiangtan, Siang-Tan He-lou-jen, Xiangtan, Xiangtangpo
Affinity Bloc Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster Tibeto-Burman, other
People Name General Xiangtang (Shee-ung-tahn)
Ethnic Code MSY50i
People ID 18745
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 Approximately 80,000 Xiangtang people live in nine widely scattered counties in southwestern Yunnan Province. About 1,400 Xiangtang also live in the farwestern part of Luchun County in Honghe Prefecture. Missionary John Kuhn documented the existence of the Xiangtang in 1945. He called them Hsiangtan, which is the old way of spelling Xiangtang. Kuhn described them as living in "Mengka and Malipa." The first Western reference to the Xiangtang was by French ethnographer L. Gaide in 1903. Gaide called them the Siang-Tan He-lou-jen..   Source:  Operation China, 2000
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Lalo, Dongshanba (105,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Lalo, Dongshanba 105,000
For Primary Language: Lalo, Dongshanba

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions No
New Testament No
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
None reported  
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.12 %)
0.12 %
Ethnic Religions
94.88 %
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
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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