Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
The 1981 Language Atlas of the Pacific Area listed a population of 6,000 Kaseng people in Laos. They live in mountains near the Vietnam border; primarily in the Sanxai and Xaisettha districts of Attapu Province; and the Dakchung and Lamam districts of Xekong Province.
The area inhabited by the Kaseng is ethnically diverse. The Jeh, Alak and Laven ethnic groups. Because of cultural and linguistic similarities, these different groups acknowledge a measure of kinship and can usually speak with each other without too many communication difficulties.
The Kaseng language is part of the Katuic branch of Mon-Khmer. Between the first and sixth centuries AD, the area inhabited by the Kaseng was a center of the Mon-Khmer Funan Kingdom, and then part of the Chenla Kingdom (sixth to eighth centuries). Many ruins remain today from that golden area of the Khmer civilization.
The Kaseng today are animists. They have never embraced Buddhism. Many Mon-Khmer groups in Laos have a particular spirit that they visually see in the form of a vampire. The Kaseng believe spirits can destroy crops, bring sickness and epidemics, and can disguise themselves as people or animals. A host of different deities and spirits are appeased, in order to bring peace and prosperity to their community.
A missionary named Freeman, who worked in Laos in the early 1900's, had this to say about the different peoples scattered throughout the country: "The hill tribes of Indo-China consist partly of the aborigines who were driven into the hills by the Tai invasion nearly two thousand years ago, and partly of tribes who have come in more recently. Their languages are legion, but are said to be of the same general character. All, excepting those who are Buddhists are without a written character.... So far as I am aware no work has been done among these groups by the Catholics, and by the Protestants only by the North Siam Mission. This has been so interfered with by the French that there has been little growth, only a most promising beginning."
There are no known Christians among the Kaseng, although two Gospel recordings exist in their language.
* Pray Christian workers may gain access to the area where the Kaseng live in southern Laos.
* Ask God to raise up laborers to plant churches among the Kaseng.
* Pray they will know of the God who loves them.