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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
· Afghanistan · Burma