Zhuang

Name(s)Zhuang
Population Size16,926,381 (census 2010)
Percentage Christian 0.4%
Opportunities to servePrayer walk
English Teaching
Short term visits
Is there a team?Yes
Pray for the Zhuang

  1. Pray that the Zhuang will to hear the Good News  so that it will spread from village to village.
  2. Pray that the Holy Spirit would do a mighty, miraculous work so that the Zhuang would become discontent with their false gods and begin to search for the true God.
  3. Pray for the existing church that they will catch the vision to plant churches in all the unreached Zhuang areas.
  4. Pray for the mobilization of more workers.
  5. Pray for unity and cooperation among the existing-workers; that they will never lose the first love and passion.

Read more below about the history, beliefs and language of the Zhuang.

History

The Zhuang were part of a Tai related group of people covering a large area of Southern China over 2,000 years ago. As the Han Chinese began to move into Southern China the Zhuang were forced into the mountainous areas and areas that were not fertile for growing crops.

The Zhuang who live in the mountains practice wet-rice cultivation on the valley lands and mountain sides with the use of buffalo and oxen. Hillsides are terraced wherever possible. The climate is warm enough to assure agricultural production throughout the year. Since much of the cultivation is on mountains along rivers, flooding is a continual problem.

Since the Zhuang inhabit remote mountainous areas, they lack an industrial base and their economic development follows the pattern of most minorities in China, in that it lags far behind the Han. Growth of agriculture and industrial production is slower than in Han areas, but since the 1970’s there has been impressive growth.

Throughout the 1980’s the state provided large funds aimed at Zhuang economic development. As a result, roads, railroads and the infrastructure have been improved in Guangxi and which has increased trade and economic development. Modern 4-lane highways now cross Guangxi from East to West and North to South.

It is expected that the opening up of borders for ASEAN will further increase the Zhuang’s economic position.

Beliefs

The animistic Zhuang worship stones, old trees, lands, birds, and ancestors believing that all things in nature have a spirit in themselves. Today most Zhuang will worship their ancestors by burning joss sticks in a small bowl in the house, and worship special village deities. They believe spirits dictate life, and that some people can control these spirits. Witchcraft, magic, and mediums are still a part of rural life.

Animistic worship is done in shrines set up for the spirits.

Animistic worship is done in shrines set up for the spirits.

In the cities where Zhuang have been integrated into the Han population they have become atheistic, but there does seem to be a recognized ‘void’ in both rural and urban dwellers’ lives.

A undeniable phenomenon of the recent years of modern Chinese history is materialism. As China has become wealthier and wealthier, the ‘worshipers’ money and lovers of materials become substantially prevalent.

Many Zhuang are also influenced by other traditional Chinese religions Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism.

Culture and Language

The Zhuang language belongs to the Thai-Kauai language group, being related to Thai and to Laotian. There are a total of 16 major dialects. And there are over 50 smaller dialect groups. The dialects are not mutually intelligible, and the northern and southern dialects belong to different branches of the Thai-Kaudai language family.

Zhuang has been written for more than a thousand years using a non-standardized character writing system, similar to Chinese. In the early 1950’s the government decided to create writing systems for many of the minority languages, including Zhuang, using a alphabetic scripts. The first alphabetic script developed for Zhuang included Russian letters and IPA symbols which were difficult to typeset. A new alphabetic script using only the 26 letters of the Roman alphabet was devised in 1986 and approved by the State Council as the official way to write Zhuang. Accordingly the government has encouraged Zhuang to learn this system.

Recently, a NT translation of one of the main dialects has been completed after many years of efforts and dedication of workers.

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Zhuang ladies.

The number of people who are literate in any Zhuang dialects is much smaller than those who are literate in Mandarin Chinese. Those who are literate in a localized traditional character system is estimated about only 1%. Those who can sound out words in the modern official alphabetic writing system is much greater, but there is basically no literature available in that writing system outside of the school textbooks, and so people do not continue reading it after they get out of school.

 

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