Li, Jiamao in China

Li, Jiamao
Photo Source:  Copyrighted © 2024
Operation China, Asia Harvest  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source:  Bethany World Prayer Center
People Name: Li, Jiamao
Country: China
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 94,000
World Population: 94,000
Primary Language: Jiamao
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 0.20 %
Evangelicals: 0.07 %
Scripture: Unspecified
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Li
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The various Li groups, including the Jiamao Li, are proud of the fact that they are the original inhabitants of Hainan Island. During the Song and Yuan dynasties (960 - 1368), the Li staged 18 large-scale uprisings against oppressive Chinese rule on the island. During the China-Vietnam War in the late 1970s, it was feared the Vietnamese would invade Hainan, but this fear proved unfounded.

The Jiamao Li derive their name from the area they inhabit. Other Li groups call them Kamau. The Jiamao refer to themselves as Tai, which simply means "people."

The Jiamao language differs most from the other Li varieties and shares only about 40% of its lexicon with the other Li languages. There are considerable differences between the Li languages, both phonetically and lexically. The Jiamao language consists of five tones, but "they do not correspond to those of the Ha, Qi, Bendi and Meifu dialects." There are no dialect variations reported among the Jiamao.

What Are Their Lives Like?

For centuries Li women observed the custom of tattooing their bodies and faces at the onset of puberty. This was considered a mark of beauty. The Chinese government has discouraged this practice. Today only old Li women can still be seen with tattoos.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Jiamao Li are animists. They traditionally consulted shamans and witch doctors to deal with sickness. Today this practice has been replaced by Western and Chinese medicine. In the past, the Jiamao sacrificed animals to their gods and spirits. A chicken was killed for a minor sickness and a pig for a more serious illness. If someone was in danger of dying, the required sacrifice was to slaughter an ox in a vain bid to appease the offending spirits.

The first recorded Christian presence on Hainan were the Jesuits, who came from Macau in 1630 and established a chapel at Fucheng. The American Presbyterian Mission commenced work on Hainan Island in 1885 when Charles McCandliss was appointed as a missionary to the island. McCandliss and his wife lived on Hainan for 40 years. Their upright lives gave Christianity a good name among the people, and many came to Christ. Today there are a relative handful of Jiamao Christians. Most Jiamao have yet to hear the gospel, although gospel recordings are available in their language.

What Are Their Needs?

Without the guidance of Christ, these people are like sheep without a shepherd. They need the good shepherd in their families and communities.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Lord to intervene in their families, calling people to his side.

Pray for loving workers.

Pray for their hearts to be drawn to the Lord of lords.

Pray for a church planting movement to thrive in their communities.

Text Source:   Joshua Project