Eastern Bru in Laos

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The word bru literally means "mountain." They probably gave this name to them regarding their geographical location. Their villages are typically along the banks of rivers or streams.

The ancestors of the Eastern Brao were part of the great Khmer Empire that flourished from the 9th century to the 13th century. The empire, which encompassed present-day Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and parts of Vietnam, declined after the Thai and Vietnamese invasions. The center of the Cambodian Kingdom, known as Angkor, was in the Boloven region, where there are ruins dating from the 8th to the 12th centuries.

The Bru of Laos live along the borders of Thailand, while the Eastern Bru live along the borders of Vietnam. Though the two groups speak the same language (Bru), their dialects are not mutually understood. The dialects may even vary within the same village. Bru belongs to the Katuic branch of the Mon-Khmer language family. Some of the Bru are bilingual, speaking both their own language and Lao.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Today, most of the Eastern Brao are rice farmers who use the slash and burn method of cultivation. Since much of the area is covered with brush and tall grass, they first clear the plots by burning off the vegetation. Then they grow crops on it for three or four years before moving to new territory. Their principal crop is dry rice, but cassava, sweet potatoes, and bananas are also major products. Fishing provides a reliable source of protein.

Besides farming, the Eastern Brao gather many products from the forest to sell or trade. There are vast bamboo groves throughout the area, and the forests contain a variety of hardwoods such as wild date, mahogany, teak, and rosewood, as well as berry, bean, and rubber trees. For additional income, the Eastern Brao may also engage in crafts such as pottery.

Most of the Eastern Bru have adopted the Laotian way of life. For instance, their clothes, culture, and social organization are much like the Laotians. Only a few special characteristics remain, such as the traditional white scarf that the Bru women wear over their hair. Today, the Laotian government supplies the Bru with textiles, clothing, blankets, mosquito nets, and other necessities.

Because of internal conflict, the Eastern Brao live in large, fortified villages during the dry season. Each village is an independent unit governed by a village elder or headman. The headman oversees the affairs of the community, judges disputes and decides important issues. Although the Eastern Brao people are citizens of Laos, most of them have no viable representation in the government.

Within the village, they arranged huts in a circular pattern, with a large community house at the center and the villagers' huts arranged around it like the spokes of a wheel. During times of peace, the large villages split into five to ten smaller villages and occupy makeshift shelters, tilling their fields until the harvest season arrives.

Eastern Brao society is patriarchal (male dominated), and the eldest male directs family leadership. Polygyny (having multiple wives) is a common practice.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Virtually all the Eastern Bru are ethnic religionists, practicing their own traditional religion. Ancestor worship (praying to deceased ancestors for prosperity, guidance and protection) is the most important activity. Each clan has a common location where they offer the dead uncooked rice, water and broken bowls. If not appeased, these ancestral spirits cause illnesses. The Eastern Bru also believe in various spirits of nature and that each village has a particular "guardian spirit." They placate forest and mountain spirits for good harvests and protection.

What Are Their Needs?

The Eastern Brao land still needs to be cleared from landmines dropped during the Vietnam War 50 years ago. These still can kill people who are hoeing a rice field.

Prayer Points

Pray for gospel workers to catch a vision for reaching the Eastern Brao people for Jesus and that in God's sovereign timing their hearts would be open and ready to follow him.

Pray for Jesus movements to bless extended Eastern Brao families so the gospel will spread rapidly among this people group.

Pray for the spiritual lives of the Eastern Brao people to become fruitful as they follow Christ.

Pray for the lives and culture of the Eastern Brao people to evidence the rule and reign of the Kingdom of God as they open to the gospel, and for the beauty of Jesus to be seen in them.

Scripture Prayers for the Bru, Eastern in Laos.

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Bru, Eastern
People Name in Country Bru, Eastern
Natural Name Eastern Bru
Pronunciation broo
Alternate Names Bru Van Kieu; Bru-Vân Kiều; Eastern Bru; Galler
Population this Country 24,000
Population all Countries 119,000
Total Countries 3
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 1  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
People ID 11686
ROP3 Code 102833
ROP25 Code 301420
ROP25 Name Bru
Country Laos
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 21  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country East Savannahkhet Province, Sepone district; southeast Khammouan Province, Boulapha district.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Laos
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 21  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country East Savannahkhet Province, Sepone district; southeast Khammouan Province, Boulapha district..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 1.50 %)
2.00 %
Ethnic Religions
98.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Bru, Eastern (24,000 speakers)
Language Code bru   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Bru, Eastern (24,000 speakers)
Language Code bru   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Bru, Eastern
Photo Source Copyrighted © 2024  Peoples of Laos, Asia Harvest  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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