Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
The Sapuan ethnic group live in the northern part of the Xaisetta District of Attapu Province in southern Laos.
The population of the Sapuan is difficult to gauge. While Wurm and Hattori (1981) gave their population as 2,400, Laurent Chazee (1995) stated there was only one village of Sapuan people in Attapu. In Laos, villages are usually very small, and rarely contain more than several hundred people as a maximum.
The Sapuan may also be located in northern Cambodia. A group named Tampuan lives there. It is not known if the Sapuan and Tampuan are related, or if their similar names are coincidental. The Tampuan in Cambodia now include a number of Christians.
Attapu Province has a reputation for being the most remote and cut-off part of Laos. During the rainy season, most of Attapu cannot be reached by road. Attapu has been described as "rugged, wild, scenic and difficult to get around.... Tigers aren't uncommon, and there's rumored to be either Javan or Sumatran rhino near the Cambodian border. A recently-discovered trout-like fish grows to 10 kg (22 pounds) in the Xe Kong, and the Irrawaddy dolphin makes an occasional appearance in this river and the adjoining Xe Kaman.
The Sapuan language is part of the Western Bahnaric branch of Mon-Khmer. It is most closely related to the Oy and Jeng languages.
The Sapuan are animists. Even though spirit worship has been officially banned in Laos, it is openly adhered to. Thirty-two guardian spirits known as khwan are bound to a guest of honor by white strings tied around the wrists. Each of the 32 khwan are thought to be guardians over different organs, mental and physical, in the person's body. Animists believe khwan can occasionally wander away from the owner's body, causing the person to fall sick. A ceremony is performed to call them back, upon which the person regains their health or their sanity.
Although there are no known Christian believers among the Sapuan in Laos, a Gospel recording has been produced in the Sapuan language. In many places in this part of the country, the Gospel has yet to make an appearance.
* Pray the new believers among tribal groups in Cambodia will cross the border and evangelize southern Laos.
* Ask God to being godly Christians across the path of the Sapuan.
* Pray the Sapuan would have a burden to find the True God, and would not feel peace until they find Him.