Shan in Myanmar (Burma)

Population

4,555,000

Christian

0.90%

Evangelical

0.70%

Largest Religion

Main Language

Progress


Shan State

Source Asia Harvest                                                Download

Profile Source: Bethany World Prayer Center


Introduction / History

The Burmese Shan are a large group of civilized people who migrated south from China in the twelfth century and established three small states in Myanmar (Burma). The Shan language belongs to the southwestern group of tonal languages. The people refer to themselves as the "Great Tai."

Myanmar has a long history of coups, wars, and rebellions. Ethnic divisions and political unrest have been common since the first Burman kingdom in the eleventh century. Today, the Shan have their own army who fight against the current Burmese military regime. The Burmese military forcibly maintains control over the country's various ethnic groups, especially the Shan, who wish to have equal importance in government and commerce. As civil war divides families, many sons have died fighting against the Burmese government or have joined the secessionist Shan State Army.


What are Their Lives Like?

Agriculture is the driving force in the Shan economy. Rice is the major cash and family crop. Other crops include tea, soybeans, peanuts, coffee, and cotton. People living near larger villages or towns grow vegetables to sell in the market. Shan farmers grow one other crop-it is estimated that as much as fifty percent of the world's illegal opium is produced in the Shan State.

Traditionally, rice is grown in irrigated fields, especially along the Salween River. However, farmers sometimes resort to "slash and burn" cultivation to grow hill rice. Farmers raise cattle and buffalo, not for meat, but to draw heavy wooden plows since farming is not mechanized. Because many of their sons have lost their lives in the ongoing civil war, farmers are finding it necessary to hire outside labor.

Shan farmers live in villages of ten to five hundred or more households clustered or lined among trees along roads or riverbanks. The Shan have neither clans nor family lines. Marriages are monogamous, based on the couple's mutual consent. Newlyweds usually live with the bride's parents for the first two or three years or until they can set up their own home. Gossip and reputation are important social restraints.

Shan social culture is a hierarchy based on age, gender, and wealth. The Myanmar constitution dictates the political organization-an unbroken line of administrative authority from the Prime Minister to the village headman. The community, which elects a single headman, is accounted for in the national census as a territorial unit and accessed taxes. For the common citizen, the government is one of five traditional enemies along with fire, famine, flood, and plague.

Shan are wholesalers who move trade good through northwestern Thailand and eastern Myanmar. As a result of improved transportation, women have become retailers of domestic goods sold in village markets instead of individually trading with one another. The people are good silversmiths who make beautiful buttons and daggers. They also market bamboo products and paper.


What are Their Beliefs?

Buddhism was introduced into Myanmar in the fifth century and the majority of the Shan are Buddhists. The Buddhist's goal is to seek the middle path to nirvana, or ultimate peace. The Shan view of the world centers on the idea of 'power protection,' which protects people from the consequences of their actions, allowing them to do as they please. Buddha and Buddhist monks are the most powerful beings, followed by spirits of the village, spirits associated with fields, households, and the forest. For the Buddhist, death is not a threat if one has done good deeds; it is simply passing from one life to another.


What are Their Needs?

The tiny Shan Church needs more leadership and the opportunity to train their leaders within Myanmar. The Bible is available in the Shan language, as are the Jesus film and Christian radio broadcasts.


Prayer Points

* Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the Shan Christians.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to complete the work of adequate discipleship begun in the hearts of the Burmese Shan.
* Pray for the effectiveness of the Jesus film among the Burmese Shan.
* Pray that God will raise up prayer teams to break up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask God to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agency that is focusing on the Burmese Shan.
* Pray for opportunities to train Shan leaders within their country.
* Ask God to anoint the Gospel as it goes forth via radio to the Burmese Shan.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Burmese Shan.



Profile Source: Bethany World Prayer Center Copyrighted ©: Yes Used with permission

Expanded PDF Profile

People Name General Tai Shan
People Name in Country Shan
Population in Myanmar (Burma) 4,555,000
Progress Scale 1.2
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Burmese Shan, Cha Shan, Dai, Great Thai, Ngio, Nyaw, Red Shan, Sen, Sha, Sham, Tai Jai, Tai Luang, Tai Neua, Tai Yai, Tai Yay, Thai Yai, Yunnanese Shan
Affinity Bloc Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster Shan
People Name General Tai Shan
Ethnic Code MSY49c
Country Myanmar (Burma)
Continent Asia
Region Southeast Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Location in Country They are concentrated throughout Shan State, in north-east Myanmar. In Thailand, they inhabit the provinces of Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son. A small group lives on the other side of Thailand in Mukdahan Province.
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Shan (4,555,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Shan 4,555,000
Category Resource
Audio Recordings Global Recordings
Audio Recordings Online New Testament (FCBH)
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video God's Story Video
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Shan
Film / Video Shan Language Film
Largest Religion Buddhism
Buddhism
99.10%
Christianity
0.90%    ( Evangelical  0.70% )
Ethnic Religions
0.00%
Hinduism
0.00%
Islam
0.00%
Non-Religious
0.00%
Other / Small
0.00%
Unknown
0.00%
Christian Segments
Anglican
5.00%
Independent
5.00%
Protestant
75.00%
Orthodox
0.00%
Other Christian
0.00%
Roman Catholic
15.00%
Photo Source: Kevin Morris, OMF International © Copyrighted Used with permission
Map Source: Joshua Project / Global Mapping International
Video Source: Asia Harvest
Profile Source:
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more
Get Involved
Register ministry activity for this group

Copyright © 2014 Joshua Project. A ministry of the U.S. Center for World Mission.