Tai Man in Myanmar (Burma)

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Expanded PDF Profile

Introduction / History

The Burmese Shan are a large group of civilized people who migrated south from China in the twelfth century and established three small states in Myanmar. The Shan language belongs to the southwestern group of tonal languages. The people refer to themselves as the Great Tai.

Myanmar has a long history of coups, wars, and rebellions. Ethnic divisions and political unrest have been common since the first Burman kingdom in the eleventh century. Today, the Shan have their own army who fight against the current Burmese military regime. The Burmese military forcibly maintains control over the country's various ethnic groups, especially the Shan, who wish to have equal importance in government and commerce. As civil war divides families, many sons have died fighting against the Burmese government or have joined the secessionist Shan State Army.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Agriculture is the driving force in the Shan economy. Rice is the major cash and family crop. Other crops include tea, soybeans, peanuts, coffee, and cotton. People living near larger villages or towns grow vegetables to sell in the market. Shan farmers grow one other crop - it is estimated that as much as fifty percent of the world's illegal opium is produced in Shan State.

Traditionally, rice is grown in irrigated fields, especially along the Salween River. However, farmers sometimes resort to slash and burn cultivation to grow hill rice. Farmers raise cattle and buffalo, not for meat, but to draw heavy wooden plows since farming is not mechanized. Because many of their sons have lost their lives in the ongoing civil war, farmers are finding it necessary to hire outside labor.

Shan farmers live in villages of ten to five hundred or more households clustered or lined among trees along roads or riverbanks. The Shan have neither clans nor family lines. Marriages are monogamous, based on the couple's mutual consent. Newlyweds usually live with the bride's parents for the first two or three years or until they can set up their own home. Gossip and reputation are important social restraints.

Shan social culture is a hierarchy based on age, gender, and wealth. The Myanmar constitution dictates the political organization-an unbroken line of administrative authority from the Prime Minister to the village headman. The community, which elects a single headman, is accounted for in the national census as a territorial unit and accessed taxes. For the common citizen, the government is one of five traditional enemies along with fire, famine, flood, and plague.

Shan are wholesalers who move trade good through northwestern Thailand and eastern Myanmar. As a result of improved transportation, women have become retailers of domestic goods sold in village markets instead of individually trading with one another. The people are good silversmiths who make beautiful buttons and daggers. They also market bamboo products and paper.

For the Tai Man f Myanmar, death is not a threat.
What Are Their Beliefs?

Buddhism was introduced into Myanmar in the fifth century and the majority of the Shan are Buddhists. The Buddhist's goal is to seek the middle path to nirvana, or ultimate peace. The Shan view of the world centers on the idea of 'power protection,' which protects people from the consequences of their actions, allowing them to do as they please. Buddha and Buddhist monks are the most powerful beings, followed by spirits of the village, spirits associated with fields, households, and the forest. For the Buddhist, death is not a threat if one has done good deeds; it is simply passing from one life to another.

What Are Their Needs?

The tiny Shan Church needs more leadership and the opportunity to train their leaders within Myanmar. The Bible is available in the Shan language, as are the Jesus film and Christian radio broadcasts.

Prayer Points

Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect Shan Christians.
Ask the Holy Spirit to complete the work of adequate discipleship begun in the hearts of the Burmese Shan.
Pray for the effectiveness of the Jesus film among the Burmese Shan.
Pray that God will raise up prayer teams to break up the soil through worship and intercession.
Ask God to grant wisdom and favor to missions agencies focusing on the Burmese Shan.
Pray for opportunities to train Shan leaders within their country.
Ask God to anoint the Gospel as it goes forth via radio to the Burmese Shan.
Ask the Lord to raise up strong local Christian fellowships among the Burmese Shan.

Scripture Prayers for the Tai Man, Shan in Myanmar (Burma).

Profile Source:   Bethany World Prayer Center  
Expanded PDF Profile

The Waiting World - The Shan
Source:  The Waiting World      Download

Additional Info
Global Prayer Digest: 2006-07-18
Global Prayer Digest: 2008-06-10
Global Prayer Digest: 2009-06-17
Global Prayer Digest: 2009-06-18
Global Prayer Digest: 2009-06-19
Global Prayer Digest: 2009-06-20
Global Prayer Digest: 2012-06-05
Global Prayer Digest: 2014-06-04
Global Prayer Digest: 2017-06-29
People Name General Tai Man, Shan
People Name in Country Tai Man, Shan
Natural Name Tai Man
Pronunciation tie MAHN
Population this Country 4,504,000
Population all Countries 4,614,000
Total Countries 4
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 1  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Pioneer Workers Needed 90
Alternate Names Burmese Shan; Cha Shan; Dai; Great Thai; Ngio; Nyaw; Red Shan; Sen; Sha; Sham; Shyam; Tai Jai; Tai Long; Tai Luang; Tai Neua; Tai Yai; Tai Yay; Tairong; Tairung; Thai Yai; Turung; Yunnanese Shan; टाई मान, शान
People ID 18205
ROP3 Code 113721
Country Myanmar (Burma)
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 14  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country They are concentrated throughout Shan State, in north-east Myanmar. In Thailand, they inhabit the provinces of Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son. A small group lives on the other side of Thailand in Mukdahan Province.   Source:  Peoples of the Buddhist World, 2004
Country Myanmar (Burma)
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 14  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country They are concentrated throughout Shan State, in north-east Myanmar. In Thailand, they inhabit the provinces of Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son. A small group lives on the other side of Thailand in Mukdahan Province..   Source:  Peoples of the Buddhist World, 2004
Map of Tai Man, Shan in Myanmar (Burma) Ethnolinguistic map or other map

Primary Religion: Buddhism
Religion Subdivision: Theravada
Major Religion Percent
99.10 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.82 %)
0.90 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Shan (4,504,000 speakers)
Language Code shn   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Shan (4,504,000 speakers)
Language Code shn   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Shan

Primary Language:  Shan

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1871-1995)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1882-1995)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1892-2002)
Bible-NT Audio Online
Bible-NT Text Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Audio Recordings Online New Testament Faith Comes by Hearing
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio Jesus Film Project
Film / Video God's Story video God's Story
Film / Video Indigitube.tv Video / Animation Create International
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Shan Jesus Film Project
Film / Video World Christian Videos World Christian Videos
General Bible for Children Bible for Children
General Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
General Shan Bible App General / Other
Mobile App Download audio Bible app as APK file Faith Comes by Hearing
Text / Printed Matter Bible: Shan YouVersion Bibles
Text / Printed Matter The Ancient Path Live Global
Photo Source Copyrighted © 2023  Kerry Olson  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.  
Video Source The Waiting World
Profile Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more