Samtao in Myanmar (Burma)





Largest Religion

Main Language


Introduction / History

The Samtao are said to be original members of the Wa people. The Samtao converted from animism to Theravada Buddhism. After generations of separation from the Wa animist, the Samtao emerged with their own language and culture. The Samtao language is related to other Mon-Khmer languages (De'ang, Wa, and Bulang).The Samtao of Myanmar are from three tribes; the Samtao, Samtuan, and Sen Chun.

Where Are they Located?

The Samtao live in Laos, Myanmar, and China. Myanmar is the home to the largest concentration of Samtao. They are found mainly in the eastern Shan hills northeast of Kengtung.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Samtao families may be monogamous or polygamous. To become a polygamous family, the husband must first receive permission from the village leader. In some Samtao families infant marriage is arranged. The Samtao grow crops such as tea, maize, rice, cotton, and sugarcane. The Samatao men often tattoo their limbs and torsos with passages from the Buddhist scriptures.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Samtao practice Theravada Buddhism. It was introduced to their culture 900 years ago. The Samtao are ardent followers of Buddhism. They also revere the spirits of the forest, village, and house, and observe animal rituals. For instance, when a Samtao man dies his family will kill a chicken to call back the person's soul. The person is then redressed and positioned between two white sheets.

Prayer Points

Pray that even now the Spirit would work in Samtao hearts.
Pray that God would raise up missionaries from neighboring tribes to go to the Samtao.
Pray that the Gospel would reach the Samtao and that it would be received.
Pray that a Samtao church would be birthed.


Profile Source:   Rachel Routt  

People Name General Samtao (Sahm-taow)
People Name in Country Samtao
Population in Myanmar (Burma) 11,000
World Population 16,000
Countries 4
Progress Scale 3.2
Least-Reached No
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Blang, Bo Kho Pa, Bulang, Col, Con, Kawa, Kem Degne, Kiorr, Kontoi, Lua, Mu Di Pa, Phula, Pula, Pulang, Sam Tao, Samtau, Samtuan, Sen Chun, Xamtao
Affinity Bloc Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster Mon-Khmer
People Name General Samtao (Sahm-taow)
Ethnic Code AUG03z
People ID 14680
Country Myanmar (Burma)
Region Southeast Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 25  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country East Shan state.   Source:  Ethnologue 2010

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Enthologue Language Map

Ethnolinguistic map from University of Texas or other map

Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Samtao (11,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Samtao 11,000
For Primary Language: Samtao

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions No
New Testament No
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
None reported  
Primary Religion: Buddhism

Major Religion Percent
90.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 5.40 %)
7.00 %
Ethnic Religions
3.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
1.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
96.0 %
Roman Catholic
3.0 %
Photo Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Profile Source: Rachel Routt  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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