Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
The 1995 Lao census listed a population of 21,395 Pong people in Laos, up from a 1985 figure of 18,165.
The Pong are mostly concentrated in Houaphan Province, especially in the Xam-Tai, Houamuang, Viangxai and Xam Neua districts. Others spill across into the Kham District of Xiangkhoang Province. In addition, there are small numbers of Diaspora Pong living in the Hinboun District of Khammouan Province and the Viangthong District of Borikhamxai.
About 3,000 Pong are located across the border in Vietnam, where they are officially included as part of the Tho ethnic group. It is important to note the Pong are not the same as the Pong, Kniang or Hung groups in Laos. The Hung are also sometimes called Pong.
The Pong speak a language belonging to the Viet-Muong branch of the Mon-Khmer family. Ethnographer Laurent Chazee placed the Pong in the "Other groups" section of his book. He notes, "Among the 'other' ethnic groups in Laos, only the Pong are represented by more than 20 villages. The other ethnic groups are very localized and represented by less than 1,000 individuals."
The Pong were once part of a larger Viet-Muong speaking group. Accord-ing to one source, "Around the end of the 17th century, driven out by upheaval, the Viet in low-lying districts...and some Viet and Muong groups from mountaindistricts... intermarried with members of the Cuoi group who lived there to form a new community after a long period of evolution... This community is still quite heterogeneous, with many small groups [including the Pong]."
Pong youth are allowed considerable freedom to choose their partner. Pong boys sometimes spend whole nights lying next to a girl he is attracted to. This is called ngu mai, which literally means 'women sleeping'. The boy is not allowed to have sexual relations with, or even touch the girl. For centuries this has been an event to test the young man's self-control. If he cannot control his lusts and touches the girl, his reputation will be destroyed and the couple will not marry.
There is not a single known Christian or church among the Pong people in Laos.
* The Pong have waited centuries to hear news of the Savior. Pray their long wait will soon come to an end.
* Ask God to make the Name of Christ famous among the Pong people.
* Pray for an outpouring of God's saving grace to flow upon the precious Pong people in Laos and Vietnam.