The Lisu people are an ethnic group who inhabit in Myanmar,China,Thailand and the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. They are believed to originate from eastern Tibet. Traditionally living in villages high in the mountains, Western missionaries have attempted to convert them to Christianity.

Spiritually strong as they were, they practice animist and ancestor worship that was practised for centuries. However, some Lisu are Protestant Christians. The first Lisu to be reached by Christian missionaries were the Salween branch of the Lisu in Yunnan Province, China.


Lisu villages are usually built close to water, and preferably close to a waterfall as they believe that water is a special power. Their homes are usually built on the ground and have dirt floors and bamboo walls, although an increasing number of the more affluent Lisu are now building houses from wood or even concrete.

For hundreds of years the Lisu lived from agriculture, growing mountain rice, fruit and vegetables.

The womenfolk wear brightly coloured costumes, usually consisting of a red, blue or green multi-coloured knee length tunic with a wide black belt and blue, black or green pants. Sleeves shoulders and cuffs are embroidered with narrow horizontal bands of blue, red and yellow. Men wear baggy pants, usually in bright colours but normally wear a more western type of shirt or top.

The Lisu have their own language which has developed over the decades to include words from their adopted countries languages. This makes it difficult for Lisu from neighbouring countries to communicate to each other. The Lisu history is passed from one generation to the next in the form of a song. Today, this song is so long that it can take more than a week to sing.



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