Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
Thirteen thousand, two hundred members of the Pacoh ethnic group were counted in the 1995 Lao census. They live in an extremely remote mountainous area near the Vietnam border. At least several thousand Pacoh are also located inside Vietnam, where they are part of the official Ta Oi minority.
In Laos, the Pacoh inhabit the northern part of Saravan Province (Samouay District) and the southern part of Savannakhet Province (Nong District).
The Pacoh, whose name may mean 'mountaineers', are slash-and-burn agriculturists. They do not know how to weave, so they buy their clothing from the Kantua and other groups.
The Pacoh language is part of the Eastern Mon-Khmer linguistic branch. About 70% of Pacoh are mono-lingual, meaning they cannot speak any other language except their own. Only about 15-25% of Pacoh adults are able to read.
The Pacoh live in stilted houses in groups of ten homes, called vel. Each village has a communal house where social activities take place. Men go there to drink, receive guests, and boast about their hunting achievements.
After a long day in the field, the Pacoh love to come together and relax with singing and dancing. Traditional songs, called oat, express their joys and sorrows. They sing of the struggles their forefathers endured and the oppression and hostility they have faced from other ethnic groups who desired to take them as slaves. They have many poems, proverbs and puzzles that tell of the struggle between good and evil, and the true love and dedication between men and women.
The Pacoh are animists. Sprit-houses are constructed on the outskirts of every village. The Pacoh pray to numerous gods, ghosts and deities for the protection and blessing of their communities, harvests and animals.
Although there are about 100 Pacoh Christians in Vietnam, none of their counterparts in Laos have believed. The Gospels of Mark and John were translated into Pacoh by missionaries in 1965, but it is not known how many Pacoh in Laos could read it. The Pacoh are a needy, unreached people.
* Pray for light of the Gospel to clearly shine among them.
* Ask the Lord of Lords to glorify Himself among the Pacoh.
* Pray for a turning to Christ to occure among the superstitious Pacoh people in both Laos and Vietnam.