Pana in China






Largest Religion

Main Language



The Pana are an ethnic subgroup of the Akha who, in turn, have been officially placed under the Hani nationality in China. Because of this classification, few people know about the Pana, who view themselves as a distinct people group. In many areas today it has become difficult to tell the Pana apart from the Tai Lu.


The Pana now living in Laos say they migrated from China eight generations ago, under the authority of a Chinese leader named Lateu Kouang. They first arrived in the Viangphoukha District of Laos before settling down in their present locations. In China the Pana came under the control of the Xishuangbanna Tai Lu rulers in the past, who extracted tax and tribute from them.


Traditionally the Pana settled in the remote mountains, where they lived peacefully without trouble from other ethnic groups. The past 35 years in Laos have seen a number of Pana migrate down to the plains and valleys, where they have learned to grow irrigated crops. Despite their small population, at least three separate clan divisions exist among the Pana - each named after a sacred kind of bird, which the members of that clan are not allowed to kill. Most Pana no longer wear their traditional style of dress, except during festivals and other important occasions such as weddings and funerals.


Spirit worship and ancestor worship are practised by the Pana. In many respects the Pana rituals mirror those of their Akha neighbors and relatives, although it appears they do not follow the Akhazang system that is a dominant feature of the Akha throughout Southeast Asia.


Although few outsiders have ever heard of the Pana ethnic group of southern China and northern Laos, the Christian ministry Gospel Recordings in 1967 produced a cassette tape message of the good news in the Pana language. Unfortunately, because of the relative obscurity of the Pana, few mission organizations have ever made use of this resource to take the gospel to the Pana in their own language. Today, there are no known Christians among the Pana in either China or Laos. There are very few believers among any of the ethnic groups in Mengla County.

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

People Name General Pana (Pa-nah)
People Name in Country Pana
Population in China 5,100
World Population 5,700
Countries 2
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Phana
Affinity Bloc Tibetan-Himalayan Peoples
People Cluster Hani
People Name General Pana (Pa-nah)
Ethnic Code MSY50i
People ID 18892
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 Several thousand ethnic Pana, or Bana, live in the extreme southern part of China along the border with Laos. The Pana live in Mengla County within the Xishuangbanna Prefecture in southwest Yunnan Province. An additional 350 Pana inhabit three villages in northern Laos. Two villages, Bopiet and Namtoung, are located in the Luang Namtha District of Luang Namtha Province, while one Pana village is in the Houaxay District of Bokeo Province near the Golden Triangle..   Source:  Operation China, 2000

No people group map currently available. Use the above button to submit a map.

Enthologue Language Map

Ethnolinguistic map from University of Texas or other map

Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Phana' (5,100)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Phana' 5,100
For Primary Language: Phana'

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Translation Need Questionable
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
98.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
2.00 %
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: Operation China, Paul Hattaway   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Profile Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

Copyright © 2015 Joshua Project.  A ministry of Frontier Ventures.