Li, Ha in China

Li, Ha
Photo Source:  Copyrighted © 2024
Operation China, Asia Harvest  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source:  People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Li, Ha
Country: China
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 702,000
World Population: 702,000
Primary Language: Hlai
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 0.20 %
Evangelicals: 0.11 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Li
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Ha are the largest of the groups under the official Li nationality.
The Ha language is the lingua franca used by most of the Li on Hainan Island. It has three main dialects. A Roman orthography for the Li was created in 1957. Ha Li shares 30% lexical similarity with Northern Zhuang, 27% with Gelao, and 26% with Dong.
For centuries the Li rebelled against Chinese rule of Hainan. During World War II, the Li joined the communists to fight the Japanese who had invaded the island in 1939. Hainan was considered a part of Guangdong until 1988, when it was granted status as a separate province.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Ha Li women in the past wore 56 huge earrings during festivals. One visitor described their appearance: "The ears of the Ha women were weighted down with silver and brass, and their ankles were circled with silver and gold bands. The women I saw did not cover their breasts. They were very coy and shy. The men were tall, many six feet, and wore their black or brown hair in big knots extending out about four inches from their foreheads. Many wore turbans of red, white and blue through which they extended a big knot. They dressed in G-strings and carried great knives in baskets at their backs."

What Are Their Beliefs?

Their god, Pa-Thung, lives in an unknown place. But his agents, evil spirits, keep an eye on their villages from nearby places like caves and rivers. The Ha Li god, Pa-Thung, "is a good god, and lives in some unknown place. But his agents, devils sent to watch the (Ha Li) villages, are ever present and always live in a nearby cave, in a river, in the jungle, or on a nearby mountain. The villages have paid priests, or witchdoctors, who complain to Pa-Thung when local devils spitefully send thunder, lightning and rain or when they bring famine or sickness to the people."

What Are Their Needs?

Of the approximately 1,000 Li believers on Hainan Island, the majority are among the Ha Li. Many Li churches are filled with rampant heresies and cultic activities. One Christian visitor described a bizarre Li church service. "The leader drinks a cup of tea which has been blessed by the Holy Spirit and sprays it over the believers. Then they close their eyes and dance until they become exhausted and fall to the ground. The Li Christians lack familiarity with the Bible."

Prayer Points

Pray for Ha Li Christians to find their way to true holiness, and to forsake spiritual error.
Pray for them to put Jesus Christ far above traditions and rituals.
Pray for the Lord to penetrate every Ha Li family with the gospel.

Text Source:   Joshua Project