Palaung, Pale in Thailand

Palaung, Pale
Photo Source:  Copyrighted © 2022
Kerry Olson  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
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People Name: Palaung, Pale
Country: Thailand
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 6,400
World Population: 308,400
Primary Language: Palaung, Ruching
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Christian Adherents: 0.20 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Mon-Khmer
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The De'ang were originally part of one great Austro-Asiatic cluster of peoples. It appears the De'ang and Wa shared a common identity in the past but split off from each other when the De'ang embraced Buddhism. The Wa remained animists. De'ang is a member of the Mon-Khmer language family. It is related to Bulang and Wa. Pale is the only one of the four De'ang languages that is not tonal. In Myanmar the Pale language is quite uniform despite its large geographical dispersion.

The Pale Palaung are one of four distinct groups that have been combined to form the official De'ang nationality in China. In Myanmar, they are called Palaung. Palaung is a Burmese word.

They are located in Luxi County in the western part of China’s Yunnan Province, close to the Myanmar border. In addition, a large number live in northern Myanmar. A smaller number live near Fang in northwest Thailand. They were war refugees from Myanmar in the early 1980s.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Most Pale Palaung are employed in agriculture, farming and logging. They assign work tasks according to age and sex. The men perform demanding tasks such as plowing while the women plant seeds and fetch water. The Palaung have been culturally influenced by their Dai neighbors and celebrate many of the same festivals.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Palaung converted to Theravada Buddhism many centuries ago. Their Buddhist practices are mixed with numerous animistic beliefs and rituals. Shamans, or witch doctors, are powerful figures in De'ang society. They never begin an important event without first consulting a shaman. He goes into a trance to determine whether or not an event should occur and when the most auspicious date and time will be.

What Are Their Needs?

The Pale Palaung are considered relatively resistant to Christianity. The majority are trapped in fear of demons and shamans. Few missionaries in the past have tried to reach the Pale Palaung in China. In 1945 work among them was described as "completely virgin soil." A handful of Palaung families in western Yunnan were converted before foreign missionaries were expelled from China in the early 1950s. Today, approximately one out of every thousand Pale Palaung in Myanmar is a Christian. The few minor breakthroughs that have occurred among the Pale Palaung in Myanmar have often resulted in violent persecution and martyrdom. The Pale Palaung have gospel radio broadcasts and the JESUS Film in their language. Although the broadcasts are focused on Myanmar, listeners in Thailand and China might also be able to hear them.

Prayer Points

Pray the Pale Palaung would see they do not have to live in slavery to spirits if they put their trust in Jesus Christ.

Pray for the Lord to intervene in their families, calling people to his side.

Pray for loving workers.

Pray for their hearts to be drawn to the Lord of lords.

Pray for a church planting movement to thrive in their communities.

Text Source:   Joshua Project