Sou in Laos

Joshua Project has identified the Sou only in Laos






Largest Religion

Main Language


Introduction / History

More than 2,000 people belonging to the Sou ethnic group live primarily in the Phouvong District of Attapu Province in southern Laos. A small number of Sou live in the eastern part of Sanamxai District.

The Sou, who are also known as the Sok, Souk or Sawk, live directly along the Laos-Cambodia border, in a remote and sparsely-populated mountainous area.

The Sou language is part of the West Katuic branch of the Mon-Khmer family. It is most closely related to Oy, Jeng, Sapuan and So.

In this isolated corner of Laos, spirits and ghosts rule over the lives of the people. The Sou are animists. Each village has its own resident shaman, or spirit-priest, whose job is to mediate between the community and the spirit realm.

In some places in Laos, female mediums have played an important role in rural communities. Mayoury Ngaosyvathn, a Lao author, has argued that "by controlling rites and practices linked to the past, women provide the Lao with a sense of calculated assurance about the continuity of interpersonal and communal relations in the future. She also argues that when possessed by their spirits these women embody a sense of control over one's fate compared with the more fatalistic stance of Buddhism...and of course, it is this activism, this unpredictability, that earned them the hostility of the state in the early days of the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Mediums also represent historical continuity because of the fact that they are possessed by princes and lords from past kingdoms whose power is drawn on to overcome trials and tribulations of the present." Although missionaries helped produce a Gospel recording in the Sou language prior to 1975, it has been heard in very few Sou homes.

Most Sou have no knowledge whatsoever of the Gospel. The revival in recent years among several tribal groups in northern Cambodia may represent the best opportunity for evangelism among the Sou in Laos. Very few Sou people speak or read Lao. To reach them, Gospel material in their mother tongue will need to be prepared.

Prayer Points

* Pray the recent people movements to Christ in Cambodia would spill across the border into southern Laos.
* Ask God to call, prepare and thrust out workers to reach the Sou.
* Pray the Sou would not be prevented from hearing the Gospel because of their remoteness and uniqueness.

Profile Source:   Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  

People Name General Sou
People Name in Country Sou
Population in Laos 3,300
World Population 3,300
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Unengaged Yes (per Finishing the Task)
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Sawk, Sok, Sork, Suq
Affinity Bloc Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster Mon-Khmer
People Name General Sou
Ethnic Code AUG03z
People ID 15006
Country Laos
Region Southeast Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 28  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Attapu province, Phouvong and Sanamxai districts.   Source:  Faces of the Unreached in Laos, 1999

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Enthologue Language Map

Ethnolinguistic map from University of Texas or other map

Languages & Dialects on file:  2  (up to 20 largest shown)
Sok Sou
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Sok Sou
For Primary Language: Sou

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Translation Need Questionable
Resource Format
None reported  
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
100.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
0.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Photo Source: Asia Harvest   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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