Bai, Central in China

Map Source:  Joshua Project / Global Mapping International
People Name: Bai, Central
Country: China
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 869,000
World Population: 869,000
Primary Language: Bai, Central
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 0.08 %
Evangelicals: 0.08 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Tibeto-Burman, other
Affinity Bloc: Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

“Bai” means white. The name of this people group may have originated from the sheepskin clothes they once wore or from the white marble found in Dali. Although the Chinese acknowledge two separate branches of Bai -- the Lemo and Nama -- the Central Bai scarcely qualify as an ethnic minority. The Bai were involved in the establishment of the Nanzhao Kingdom, located south of Dali. The kingdom grew so strong that they were able to defeat the Tang armies in the mid-700s. The kingdom flourished for 400 years until it collapsed in the tenth century and was replaced by the Kingdom of Dali. Dali, in turn, lasted until AD 1252 when it was overrun and destroyed by Mongol armies.

The Central Bai live in the fertile Yunnan Province, in southwestern China. Yunnan Province is home to a large number of ethnic minorities. Many of the Central Bai reside in the city of Dali.

What Are Their Lives Like?

During the 30 centuries the Bai have inhabited Dali, they have gradually been assimilated into Chinese culture. However, they continue to maintain a distinct social and cultural identity through extended families. Many cultivate rice, vegetables, and fruit, or grow barley, oats, and beans.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Unlike other Buddhist groups in Yunnan, most of which are Theravada Buddhists, the Central Bai are followers of Mahayana Buddhism. Mahayana Buddhism is the largest major tradition of Buddhism today and teaches that enlightenment can be attained in a single lifetime.

What Are Their Needs?

The Central Bai people need to hear about the savior who came to deliver them from fear of the spirit world and provide them with eternal life.

Prayer Points

Pray for the Lord to establish his church among the Bai, and for it to multiply and expand as the church did in the Book of Acts.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to empower believers among the Central Bai to share the gospel with their extended families and their communities.
Pray for the Central Bai to be salt and light to other minorities in Yunnan Province.

Text Source:   Joshua Project