De'ang, Rumai in China

De'ang, Rumai
Photo Source:  Copyrighted © 2020
Operation China, Asia Harvest  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source:  Joshua Project / Global Mapping International
People Name: De'ang, Rumai
Country: China
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 6,300
World Population: 6,300
Primary Language: Palaung, Rumai
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Mon-Khmer
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Identity

The Rumai have been combined with the Pale, Shwe, and Riang groups in China to form the official De'ang nationality. Each group speaks its own language and wears a different style of traditional dress, although all the groups acknowledge a common ancestry.

History

The De'ang claim to be the original inhabitants of northern Myanmar. Historical evidence does little to dispute their assertions. Before they migrated to Myanmar, the ancestors of the De'ang were reportedly settled in communities along the Nujiang River in northwest Yunnan as early as the second century BC. The Chinese claim the De'ang have been living in China continuously for more than two thousand years. Many of the current communities of De'ang in China, however, are almost certainly descended from small groups who migrated back into China earlier this century to escape military campaigns launched by the British against insurgents in northern Burma (Myanmar).

Customs

The Rumai De'ang celebrate many of the festivals of their Tai and Shan neighbors, including Songkran, the Water-Splashing Festival which takes place every April. The De'ang have a traditional drum called the gelengdang which is made from a hollowed tree trunk. Its ends are covered with ox-hide. Before using it, "it is filled with water through a hole in its body to make the ox-hide and inside of the drum damp so that the desired resonance can be produced."

Religion

Despite their conversion to the Theravada sect of Buddhism many centuries ago, the De'ang retain many of their pre- Buddhist animistic and shamanistic rituals. Many Buddhist monks are also the village witch doctors. They enter trances in order to contact the spirit world. The De'ang believe they should strive to do good works to gain merit for the next life.

Christianity

Like most Theravada Buddhists, the De'ang believe fate predetermines the events of their lives. This results in them having little concern about changing their ways. Their consciences have long been silenced regarding sin. There are no known Christians among the Rumai in either China or Myanmar.

Text Source:   Operation China, Asia Harvest  Copyrighted © 2020  Used with permission