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The Ten Lost Tribes: China

In the mountainous area of northwest China, west of the Min River, near the border of Tibet, in Szechuan lives an ancient people called by the Chinese, Chiang or Chiang-Min, who numbers about 250 thousand people.

The language of the Chiang tribe had been forgotten and they had also lost their ancient script. Today they speak Chinese and two other languages, one that originates from Tibet and the other is a slang which is called Chiaring.

 
 



The area which they live is famous for its rare animals and plants including the Panda bear. The Chiang people live in villages similar to fortresses which are generally built on hilltops. In the past they were a great people who ruled the provincial territories from Kansu in the north to Liyunan in the south.

Historical maps during the Han dynasty (3rd century BCE - 3rd century CE) show that this tribe the Chiang spread to the northwest part of China. They themselves see themselves as immigrants from the west who reached this area after a journey of three years three months. The Chinese treated them as Barbarians and they related to the Chinese as idol worshipers.

Hate and enmity existed between the Chinese and this tribe for a long time. They lived independently until the middle of the 18th century when they became part of the general population to earn more freedom. The religious pressure from the Chinese, the spread of Christianity, and the influence of intermarriage caused the Chiang tribe to generally and greatly give up their special monotheistic way of life.

However it is still possible even today to learn about the past traditions of the Chiang tribe through their customs and their faith which they still keep. This tribe had been living a special Israeli way of life for 2300 years.

According to their tradition, the Chiang tribe is the descendant of Abraham and their forefather had 12 sons. Those among them who did not take Chinese wives after their victory in war still look Semitic.

The character traits of this people are integrity, love of neighbor, mutual aid, generosity, modesty, shyness, gratitude, and stubbornness. They also have a fear of heaven or respect for God.

They believe in one God whom they call Abachi meaning the father of heaven, or Mabichu, the spirit of heaven, or also Tian, heaven. As a result of Chinese influences they all call Him God of the mountains as the mountains are the central place for worship of God.

Their concept of God is that of an all powerful God who watches over the entire world, judges the world fairly, rewards the righteous, and punishes the wicked. This God gives them the opportunity to do repentance and to gain atonement for their actions. In times of trouble, they call God Yah-weh.

They also believe in spirits and demons and they are forbidden to worship them, but this is probably a Chinese influence. In the past they had written scrolls of parchment and also books but today they only have oral traditions. They themselves do not understand the prayers that they recite every week.

The Custom of Sacrifice Among the Chiang Tribe

The Chiang tribe lives a very special way of life based on the offering of animal sacrifices which seems to have been seen among the Ten Tribes of Israel. It is forbidden to worship statues or foreign gods and anyone who offers a sacrifice to another god faces the death penalty.

This worship is performed in two ways. It is public sacrifice on platforms erected on mountain tops on which they build altars of stone which may not be fashioned with tools and on which they offer special sacrifices.

They also have domestic of personal sacrifices on domestic altars built on flat surfaces on the roofs of their houses. There is an atmosphere of holy worship in all these sacrifices. They are performed by priests whose priesthood is passed down through inheritance from father to son. This was the same in ancient Israel.

These priests wear clean white clothes and perform the sacrifices in a state of purity as the priests in ancient Israel did (1 Samuel 15:27). I recall that Japanese Shinto priests also wear clean white clothes at holy events.

The priest of the Chiang tribe wears a special head turban. The priest is ordained in a special ceremony in which sacrifices are also offered. Unmarried men may not be a priest, which was the same in ancient Israel (Leviticus 21:7, 13).

The the Chiang tribe does not have statues of images but they do have two symbols of holiness. A clean white sheet of paper and a piece of natural white stone. These symbolize absolute purity and perhaps the written parchment which they had in the past. Before one worships God, you must become holy and purify yourself.

It is perhaps because of the Assyrian influence of the past that they try to build their altars next to trees or branches. The altar itself is built of earth which is molded into stones which are then laid one on top of the other without being cut of fashioned by any tool of metal. It is important to remember that in the Torah, the ancient altar could not be made of cut stones (Exodus 20:25), since the sword or whatever tool to be used to cut the stone was also an instrument of war and harm.

The main part of the service is performed at night perhaps to conceal it from other Chinese or because of the special effect of the silence and the tranquility of night. This was also ancient Israeli tradition. It is interesting that the important rituals of Japanese Shinto religion are also performed at night.

Before the offering of sacrifices, one is required to wash one's self and one's clothing and to dress in clean garments. Sacrificial animals themselves must be washed and purified. There is a special place for purification and washing. The elders and priest place their hands on the head of the sacrifice which is to be slaughtered then offer their prayers.

Strangers are forbidden to approach the place of worship. The priest of the Chiang tribe perform the service solemnly. "Unclean ones" are also forbidden to approach the service (Leviticus 21:17-23). These were the same in ancient Israel.

The purpose of the sacrifice is a type of atonement and to bring God's blessings upon those offering the sacrifice. The sacrifice has the purpose of taking away sin and blood must be sprinkled on the corners of the altar to be granted atonement and to have one's prayers accepted.

Prayer Words of the Chiang Tribe

One of the prayers pronounced by the priest of the Chiang tribe in China includes the following prayer:
"Priest of God, You are the Priest of the generations who are witnesses to the fact that our sacrifice is pure and has not been changed by us, but has been performed in the same manner since ancient times. We hereby fulfill our vows. We have not eaten impure foods for three days and we have not been in impure places. We have gathered in the holy place, the bundles of grass for the sprinkling of the blood are in their places and we have brought the sacrifices and have lowered the rope on the bundles of grass for the sprinkling of the blood."

Following the prayer many of the organs of the animal are burnt with the meat in the fire and the priest receives the shoulder, the chest, the legs, and also the skin, and the meat is divided among the worshipers. At the time of the sacrifice 12 flags are placed around the altar in order to teach that they originate from a father who had 12 sons. This system of sacrifices is very similar to the sacrifices brought in ancient Israel at the time of the dispersion of the Lost Tribes.

Among the ceremonies that the Chiang tribe has include the sprinkling of blood on the doorpost to insure the safekeeping of the house, and the laws of levirate marriage which was an Israeli custom as I mentioned earlier. It is considered shameful for a woman to leave her hair uncovered and therefore, they wear white scarves. Mixed dancing of men and women does not take place. And they have a custom of closing all forests for 50 years after which they have a special ceremony to mark their opening. This is like a custom in ancient Israel.

The the Chiang tribe also has a purification of the earth as well as a ceremony with a white scroll or parchment. They show great love for parchment and take care to make sure that it remains unblemished. They also practice trances for witchcraft and to expel demons and this may be a Chinese influence.

The Chiang tribe has a new year feast, a feast of feast, and a feast of thanksgiving, but circumcision is not performed. But after the 7th day or at the eve of the 40th day of the child's life, a white rooster is slaughtered in the child's honor and he is given a name.

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