Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
A mere 300 Tayten people live in Laos. They inhabit two villages (Ban Phia and Ban Thenngiou) in the Pakxeng District of Luang Prabang Province.
One writer, who has visited the Tayten, note that the Tayten are considered a mysterious group to their neighbors, the Khmu Ou, who call the Tayten Kha Sam Lien ('People who speak three languages'): Lao, Khmu and Tayten.
The Tayten speak a language from the Tai linguistic family, but is is far removed from other Tai varieties surrounding them. There is a Kam-Sui speaking group in southern Guizhou Province of China who call themselves Ten. The Chinese call them Yang-huang. There is a possibility this small group in Laos are related to the Ten of China, but no evidence has been cited to confirm this as fact. The name Tayten probably just means 'Ten people'.
Speculation is fueled by the fact that a number of Dong (Kam), Shui, Bouyei and Giay people migrated into Vietnam about 200 years ago to escape terrible persecution by the Chinese, who burnt thousands of minority people at the stake.
The Tayten are animists. They also worship their ancestors, especially those they consider 'close' ancestors (the last three generations). Once a year they have a ceremony where 'distant' ancestors are worshipped.
Although Christianity has been strongly opposed by the Communist authorities in Laos since 1975, occasionally glimpses of encouragement are offered to Christians that they may be able to worship freely one day. In 1982, a leading Buddhist monk even appeared to encourage people in Laos to believe in Christianity! Khamtan Thepabouali stated, "Under this [Communist] regime, everybody has a right to his own religion. But be careful. Don't believe just anything. Choose a belief that has some foundation and logic. Christianity is a good example. It has a set of Scriptures which you can study and understand."
At the present time there is no trace of Christianity among the Tayten. There are Khmu believers all around them, however, giving hope that the Tayten may find true peace in the Person of Jesus Christ.
* Pray Khmu believers will not see the Tayten as so 'mysterious' that they neglect to share Christ with them.
* Ask God to raise up laborers to plant churches among the Tayten.
* Pray for the advancement of God's Kingdom in Laos.