Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
More than 50,000 Pouly Akha live across four province (Phongsali, Luang Namtha, Oudomxai and Bokeo) of northern Laos. The Pouly are easily the largest Akha group in Laos. The main concentration of Pouly Akha are found in the Long and Sing districts of Luang Namtha Province, and the Khoa and Samphan districts of Phongsali. Other villages are located in Namo District of Oudomxai Province.
The Akha divide into two main social distinctions: the Pouly Noi ('Lesser Pouly') and Pouly Nyai ('Greater Pouly'). The two groups never live in the same village together, even though ethno-culturally they are the same people and they speak the same language. The Pouly Nyai divide into two additional subgroups: Dantse and Bietse. These two groups may share the same village but never the same house. Pouly may be a Lao name for the Jeu-g'oe clan of Akha.
The Pouly Akha were probably the first Akha group to migrate to Laos. They claim there were some of their group living in Laos from 1850, but the main migrations took place after 1900. There are also large Pouly Akha communities in China, Myanmar, Thailand, and possibly Vietnam. The Jeu-g'oe Akha are the largest Akha group in all of these nations.
The twin strongholds of animism and ancestor worship predominate among the Pouly Akha. They are especially afraid of two kinds of spirits: the spirit of a child who dies before being named, and the spirit of a woman who dies giving birth. "The latter is often thought to appear in the form of a tiger which kills livestock and even people."
The Akha Pouly Nyai have a ceremony of healing for the family of a sick person. They must sacrifice a minimum of 20 chickens, five pigs, three eggs and are required to pay money (1,200,000 kips, or about $180) to the shaman. These ceremonies are extremely costly for the Akha and may plunge a family into debt for many years to come.
Although there are many Akha Christ-ians in Myanmar and Thailand, the Akha Pouly are the only Akha group in Laos with any known believers. One or two small villages in Sing District came to Christ in recent years after they heard the Gospel.
* Pray the Akha Jesus film and cassettes would be used to reach thousands of Akha in Laos.
* Pray God would glorify the Name of Jesus among the Pouly Akha.
* In prayer, speed the day when all Pouly Akha will have heard the offer of God's grace in His Son.