Tai Kao in China






Largest Religion

Main Language



Although the Tai Kao are part of the official Dai nationality in China, they possess their own spoken and written language and are fiercely proud of their distinct ethnic identity. Their name Tai Kao means "white Tai."


The majority of the Tai race in north China lived farther to the north prior to the thirteenth century, when invading Mongol armies pushed the Tai into southern China. Some groups - such as the Tai Kao, Tai Dam, and Red Tai - moved from Guangxi into Yunnan Province and farther south into Vietnam and Laos.


The Tai Kao live in compact communities along the Honghe River. Most are engaged in agriculture and fishing.


The animistic Tai Kao have never converted to Buddhism. They "have a number of statues and altars ... to the spirit of the soil, to the tiger god, and to Tan Sin and Kouan-Yin, local heroes now deified by the White Tai." Unlike most people in this region, the Tai Kao believe in a sovereign, supreme god who is active in their lives. "One of their legends states that their ancestors emerged from a pumpkin in which they had taken refuge during a divinely decreed flood that drowned all the other inhabitants of the earth because of their wickedness."


Despite the availability of weekly gospel radio broadcasts and Scripture portions in the Tai Kao language since 1969, few have shown any interest in Christianity. They have been described as "the most unreached of all the Tai groups." Little has changed since the 1920s, when missionaries in the region outlined their strategy for reaching the branches of the Tai in southern China: "We are not deaf to the call to plant and preach over the whole world; not among certain promising races only, nor alone in coastwise provinces. Neither do we put much reliance in the project to have the Chinese Christian assume entire responsibility for the evangelization of this disgracefully big unoccupied territory in Southwest China. There is too much racial antipathy. Chinese, unless under foreign guidance, will ever patronize the Tai ... and the Tai are as proud as the Chinese and resent being either abused or patronized."

Profile Source:   Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  

People Name General Tai Don, White Tai
People Name in Country Tai Kao
Population in China 15,000
World Population 649,000
Countries 4
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Dai Kao, Dai, White, Red Tai, Tai Blanc, Tai D, Tai Don, Tai Kaw, Tai Khao, Tai Lai, Thái, Thai Trang, Tribal Tai, White Tai
Affinity Bloc Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster Tai
People Name General Tai Don, White Tai
Ethnic Code MSY49z
People ID 18689
Country China
Region Northeast Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 29  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Approximately 11,000 Tai Kao live on the banks of the Honghe River in Jinping County in the southern part of Yunnan Province. Jinping borders Vietnam where approximately 200,000 Tai Kao live - a similar number to the Tai Kao population in northern Laos. Small Tai Kao refugee communities are also found in France and the United States..   Source:  Operation China, 2000
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Tai Don (15,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Tai Don 15,000
For Primary Language: Tai Don

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (1969-1992)
New Testament No
Complete Bible No
Resource Format
None reported  
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
95.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
5.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
0.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Photo Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Map Source: Anonymous  
Profile Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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