Tai Khun in Laos

Tai Khun
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Peoples of the Buddhist World, Asia Harvest  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
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People Name: Tai Khun
Country: Laos
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 800
World Population: 137,800
Primary Language: Khun
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Christian Adherents: 4.00 %
Evangelicals: 2.00 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Tai
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Khun people themselves are said to have a 'deep and strongly rooted culture of self-determination. Their homeland has been their center of civilization for many centuries.' Kengtung City has been the main center of habitation for the Khun since a son of the Lanna King Mengrai founded the Kingdom of Kengtung in the 12th century. The ancestors of the Khun in Thailand were war captives brought from Myanmar in the early 1800s.

Part of the reason for this confusion is that the Tai-speaking groups in the Kengtung valley area in Myanmar's Shan State—where the Khun live—seem to be ethnically, culturally and linguistically interrelated. It is said that the Khun River, which flows through their homeland, lent its name to the Khun people. They are distinguished from the other Tai groups in Shan State by 'slight differences in dialect, physiognomy and the dresses of their womenfolk. The Khun are taller and fairer, and their noses are not so flat.' The Khun should not be confused with the Khouen, Khuen or Tai Khouen people of Laos and Thailand, who speak a Mon-Khmer language.

Where Are they Located?

Approximately 120,000 Khun people live in north-east Myanmar and areas of northern Thailand. A smaller number live in Laos.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Like other tribal peoples in Laos, the Tai Khun do not have access to things that people in cities take for granted like reliable electricity and clean water. They spend much of their time trying to make sure they have enough food.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Although the large majority of Tai Khun people are Theravada Buddhists, their religious worldview includes strong elements of spirit and ancestor worship. The most important spirit is the spirit of the land, which has to be propitiated daily with food and beverage, at the spirit house found in almost every Khun compound. The Khun honor ancestral spirits. On the full moon in June, Khun villagers worship their ancestors with offerings of boiled pork meat, chicken, fruit, rice and flowers at a special altar inside their houses.

What Are Their Needs?

Their most critical need is to understand the truth of the loving God who has made provision for them to be His children and has paid the full payment of the penalty for their sins. Who will pay the price to tell them?

Prayer Points

* Pray for his kingdom to come and his will to be done among the Tai Khun people.
* Pray for a movement of Tai Khun households to study the Bible and accept the blessings of Christ.
* Pray for a spiritual hunger that will drive the Tai Khun people to the arms of Jesus.
* Pray for workers who are filled with the fruit and the power of the Holy Spirit to go to the Tai Khun people.

Text Source:   Keith Carey