Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
More than 2,500 people belonging to the Kuan ethnic group (also known as Tai Kouane) live in the Viangthong District of Borikhamxai Province in central Laos. The Kuan live near the banks of the Mouan River.
The Kuan, who are a Tai-speaking group, should not be mistaken for the Khuen-a Mon-Khmer speaking group in northern Laos. The Kuan see themselves as distinct from all other people groups in Laos.
Although traditionally the Kuan were animists, there is a growing Buddhist influence being put on them by the Lao and other Buddhist communities in the area. The Kuan have absorbed many Buddhist rituals into their religious ceremonies, while keeping their ancient animism intact.
It could be noted that Buddhism was never able to fully replace animism in Laos, but rather has been absorbed into animistic practices that go back to the beginning of history in Laos.
According to one Christian missionary, the history of Buddhism in Laos dates back to around the fifth century AD, when "there came missionaries from Ceylon [Sri Lanka] into the Laos provinces bearing with them the sacred scriptures of the Buddhists. We might say that these missionaries were very successful, for they were not persecuted or stoned, nor killed, and they had the reward of seeing the people by villages and towns embracing their teachings. How different was the reception and spread of this religion from the true religion which the white-faced missionaries brought fourteen centuries afterwards! The secret lay in the fact that Buddhism was not exclusive while Christianity was; Buddhism allowed its adherents to retain their old system of spirit-worship, while Christianity said, Ye cannot serve two masters. Buddhism simply supplemented the existent faith, adding hereto a moral code and a clerical literature, while Christianity insisted, first, put off the old man with his deeds.... And so Buddhism flourished and became the nominal religion of the land, save of a few hill tribes here and there. But the old religion brought down with the Tais from the valley of the Yangtsi still lived and ruled men's hearts."
Reports indicate there are no known Christians among the Kuan in Laos.
* Pray the Kingdom of God would triumph over both animism and Buddhism among the Kuan people.
* Ask God to burden the hearts of the Kuan to know the Truth.
* Pray the Kuan would soon believe in Him who said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life."