Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
Between 3,000 to 4,000 ethnic Tai Pao live in central Laos. Their villages are located in the Viangthong, Khamkeut and Pakkading districts of Borikhamxai Province. The Tai Pao live at the juncture of these three districts.
The Tai Pao live near the Tai He, and may be ethno-linguistically related to them. The Tai Pao language, which has yet to be studied in any detail, remains an undetermined member of the Tai linguistic family.
In Laos, Tai can mean 'people' and does not necessarily refer to the Tai or Thai race. Therefore, Tai Pao can simply mean 'Pao people'.
The Tai Pao practice a mixture of animism and Theravada Buddhism. Such a religious intertwining has existed in Laos since Buddhism was introduced. Even stories of the introduction of Buddhism to Laos have evolved into animistic myth.
Many Buddhists in Laos are told, "It was in the one thousandth year of Buddha, AD 457, that the great and fearful King Ruang lived. His advent and the glories of his reign had been previously announced by Gotama [Buddha] himself.... One day he retired to a quiet mountain for meditation and there met the Queen of the Nakhae [underworld], whose beauty and charm won his heart. She became his wife and brought forth a son whom she placed upon the spot where she had first met the king, then disappeared, after having placed upon the child's finger a ring given her by the king.... In time he became king under the name Pra Ruang. He threw off the yoke of the King of Cambodia, and reduced to his authority all the sovereigns in his vicinity.... Proceeding one day to the river the king disappeared; it was thought that he had rejoined his mother, the Queen of the Nakhae, and would pass the remainder of his life in the realms beneath."
For the Tai Pao, maintaining their culture is equally as important as their religious beliefs. Accordingly, the few Tai Pao who have been exposed to the Gospel have not seriously considered it, believing that to become a Christian would be a disgrace against their culture and heritage as a Tai Pao.
The majority of Tai Pao, however, are not familiar with the Name of Jesus.
* Ask God to raise up Tai Pao who are more desirous to know the Truth than to stay on the broad road to death.
* Ask God to send workers to the Tai Pao in the near future.
* Pray the Tai Pao would no longer be hidden away from the influence of Christianity.