Phana in Laos

Photo Source:  Copyrighted © 2023
Operation China, Asia Harvest  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source:  Joshua Project / Global Mapping International
People Name: Phana
Country: Laos
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 600
World Population: 5,800
Primary Language: Phana'
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Translation Needed
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Hani
Affinity Bloc: Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Phana now living in Laos say they migrated from China eight generations ago, under the authority of a Chinese leader named Lateu Kouang. They first arrived in the Viangphoukha District of Laos before settling down in their present locations. In China the Phana came under the control of the Xishuangbanna Tai Lu rulers in the past, who extracted tax and tribute from them.

The Phana are an ethnic subgroup of the Akha who, in turn, have been officially placed under the Hani nationality in China. Because of this classification, few people know about the Phana, who view themselves as a distinct people group. In many areas today it has become difficult to tell the Phana apart from the Tai Lu.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Traditionally the Phana settled in the remote mountains, where they lived peacefully without trouble from other ethnic groups. Despite their small population, there are at least three separate clan divisions among the Phana. Each is named after a sacred type of bird, which the members of that clan are not allowed to kill. Most Phana no longer wear their traditional style of dress, except during festivals and other important occasions such as weddings and funerals.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Phanas practice spirit and ancestor worship. In many respects the Phana rituals mirror those of their Akha neighbors and relatives, although it appears they do not follow the Akhazang system that is a dominant feature of the Akha throughout Southeast Asia.

Although few outsiders have ever heard of the Phana ethnic group of southern China and northern Laos, the Christian ministry Gospel Recordings in 1967 produced a cassette tape message of the good news in the Phana language. Unfortunately, because of the relative obscurity of the Phana, few mission organizations have ever made use of this resource to take the gospel to the Phana in their own language. Today, there are no known Christians among the Phana in either China or Laos. There are very few believers among any of the ethnic groups in Mengla County.

What Are Their Needs?

The Phana people need to submit to Jesus Christ so they can experience the abundant life he offers in John 10:10.

Prayer Points

Pray for the spiritual blindness and bondage to the evil one to be removed so they can understand and respond to Christ.

Pray for the Lord to provide for their physical and spiritual needs as a testimony of his power and love.

Pray that the Phana people will have a spiritual hunger that will open their hearts to the King of kings.

Pray for an unstoppable movement to Christ among them.

Text Source:   Joshua Project