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The Lisu ( Chinese  傈 僳 族 , Pinyin Lìsùzú ) are one of the 55 officially recognized minorities in the People's Republic of China . According to the last census in 2010, China counted 702,839 people. They mainly live in Yunnan and Sichuan in southwest China. Lisu also live in Myanmar , Thailand, and the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh .

Language and writing

The Lisu language belongs to the Lolo-Burmese branch of the Tibeto-Burmese language group of the Sino-Tibetan languages and is spoken by 580,000 people.

The British missionary James O. Fraser , together with the Karen missionary Ba Thaw from Burma and initially with the US Baptist missionary JG Geis, created a Lisu script in 1914, which was modified several times and in its final form from 1918 as the Fraser alphabet got known. It consists of Latin letters, but z. Some of them are rotated 180 degrees - 31 for syllable sounds and 10 for syllable endings - as well as seven diacritical marks to identify nasal vowels and tones. In China, the Fraser alphabet is also called "Old Lisu Script". The first printed works in the Fraser alphabet were the book Markus ( Shanghai 1921) and a textbook ( Yangon 1922).

In 1923 the Lisu priest Wa Renbo designed a syllabary for Lisu, which, however, was hardly ever used and has largely been forgotten.

In 1957, a new written Lisu language based on the Latin alphabet was created with a few additional letters, some of which seem to be borrowed from Cyrillic; it is called the "New Lisu Script". The additional letters were later replaced by Latin letters.

Since 1978, books have been printed in the Fraser script in China again, and since 1983 it has experienced a new upswing when the Lisu local governments in Nujiang and Weixi County decided to officially reintroduce the Fraser alphabet instead of the New Script. The Nationalities University of Yunnan in Kunming, however, still exclusively teaches the New Scriptures and books are still printed in the New Scriptures.

There have been some attempts to reform the Fraser alphabet; H. to replace the rotated letters with letter combinations of normal Latin letters in order to facilitate data processing. The Fraser font was included in Unicode 5.2.

In China, and even more so in Thailand, where Christianity and the writing among the Lisu were not spread until the 1970s, the Fraser script has the reputation of Christian missionaries, which makes it difficult to spread among non-Christian Lisu.


Their animistic folk religion is most widespread among the Lisu . There are also Buddhists and Christians.

See also


  • E. Paul Durrenberger: Lisu Religion. Northern Illinois University, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Detroit 1989.
  • Otome Klein Hutheesing: Emerging Sexual Inequality among the Lisu of Northern Thailand. Brill, Leiden 1990.
  • Asim Maitra: A Guide Book to Lisu Language. Mittal Publications, Delhi 1988.
  • Defen Yu: Aspects of Lisu phonology and grammar, a language of Southeast Asia. Pacific Linguistics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, 2007.
  • Xuit Lit / Xú Lín 徐琳, Mut Yuiqzha / Mù Yùzhāng 木 玉璋, Shi Luiqai / Shī Lǚqiān 施履谦 etc .: Lisu Het kethuaddu / Lì-Hàn cídiǎn 傈 汉 词典 ( Lisu-Chinese dictionary ; Kūnmíng 昆明, tot 'tnat et ddodel / Yúnnán mínzú chūbǎnshè 云南 民族 出版社 1985). This dictionary uses both the 1957 spelling and the Frazer script.
  • Isobel Kuhn : Nests above the abyss. Translated from English by E. Baumann. Publishing house of the China Inland Mission, Merlingen / Switzerland 1950, (English Nests Above The Abyss)

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