Tai Khun in Laos

Tai Khun
Photo Source:  Copyrighted © 2022
Peoples of the Buddhist World, Asia Harvest  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source:  People Group location: Ethnologue Text. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Tai Khun
Country: Laos
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 800
World Population: 138,000
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

Most likely the Khun River, which flows through their homeland, lent its name to the Khun people. 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.

Joachim Schliesinger says that the Khun in Thailand inhabit four districts (Muang, San Pa Tong, Sam Lang and Hang Dong) in Chiang Mai Province. 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. They now live either in Laos or Thailand.

What Are Their Lives Like?

We know little about the daily lives of the Tai Kaleun people, but they probably live like the other peoples in this part of Southeast Asia.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Although the large majority of Khun people are Theravada Buddhists, their religious worldview includes strong elements of spirit worship 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?

In the past few decades, a significant Christian churches has emerged in Myanmar's Shan State. Thousands of people from ethnic groups such as the Shan, Akha and Lahu have put their trust in Christ. As a result, some Khun have heard the gospel, and some are Christian believers today. In 1997, the Christian mission Asia Harvest supplied New Testaments to the Khun Christians in Myanmar. The Bibles were in the Lu script of 1933, but the Khun were able to read it easily and were deeply appreciative. One Khun pastor said, 'Before now the Buddhist monks mocked us, saying, "If your God is so great, how come his book is not in our language?" Now that we have God's Word in our script, the monks have requested hundreds of copies and are studying the words of Jesus intently.”

Prayer Points

Pray for Buddhist monks to allow God’s word to penetrate their hearts so they can accept the abundant life of Christ.

Pray for God’s word to spread far and wide in Tai Khun communities.

Pray God will have mercy on the Tai Khun, doing whatever it takes to place them in a position to receive him.

Pray for an unstoppable movement to Christ among them.

Text Source:   Joshua Project