Awa in China

Joshua Project has identified the Awa only in China





Largest Religion

Main Language


Introduction / History

The Wa, who live in isolated mountain ranges of Southwest China between China and Myanmar, were studied during the early days of communism as part of China's national initiative to evaluate the economic value of all indigenous peoples.

What Are Their Lives Like?

To the Wa, the head is considered the most important part of the body. They believe that by combing the hair of their lover, they will gain the power to retain their love forever. This expression of love has its origin in a popular legend that depicts a kind of baptism ceremony. As the myth goes, the Wa were born unable to see, hear or talk. People aged without those abilities until one day they were lead to a river by a female ancestor. When they bathed and washed their heads in the river, they were able to see and hear and their sleeping souls were awakened. This myth is also the origin of the cult for the heads between the Wa people.

Prior to the 1949 Chinese revolution, the Wa went on headhunting expeditions to get heads for their religious ceremonies. The heads were used as an offering to the gods. Incidences of headhunting raids appeared in news reports up until the 1960's. It is believed that headhunting is now eradicated. Today, chickens, pigs and cows are sacrificed to their gods and the cow sacrifice is the substitution for human sacrifice.

The Wa believe that people die because the ancestors call their soul. Shamans teach the soul how to get to their ancestors' land. They continue to feel the corpse for a few days as they believe the soul slowly leaves the body. However, a place in the home is left for the dead in case the soul wants to return.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Findings revealed that thirty percent of the Wa's wealth was spent on religious activities and that they devoted sixty days a year to their gods. Among their several gods, the supreme god is Mujij, whose five children created the heaven, the earth, the lightning, the earthquake and the Wa. The Wa believe gods cause illness and to appease the gods and demons that plague them, they perform numerous ceremonies. They believe that every object holds spirits and that these spirits can be used for their own benefit. Spirits are summoned through ceremonies.


Profile Source:   Anonymous  

People Name General Awa
People Name in Country Awa
Population in China 101,000
World Population 101,000
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.2
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names
Affinity Bloc Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster Mon-Khmer
People Name General Awa
Ethnic Code AUG03z
People ID 20622
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 Southwest Yunnan Province, Simao prefecture: Ximeng Va, Menglian Dai, Lahu and Va, and Lancang Lahu autonomous counties..   Source:  Ethnologue 17th Edition

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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)
Awa (101,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Awa 101,000
For Primary Language: Awa

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 2.00 %)
4.00 %
Ethnic Religions
96.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
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 %
Profile Source: Anonymous  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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