Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway
Introduction / History
More than 600 people belonging to the Kanay ethnic group live on both sides of the Laos-Vietnam border. In southern Laos their communities are hidden away in mountains within the Samouay District of Saravan Province.
Rare animals that inhabit this part of Laos include the elephant, gaur, banteng, langur, gibbon, Asiatic black bear, clouded leopard, tiger, and Siamese crocodile.
The Kanay live in the same area as the Kantu. The Kanay language is part of the Bru branch of the Mon-Khmer language family while Kantu is part of the Katuic branch, making mutual intelligibility impossible. The Kanay are also known as the Kado, but we prefer to avoid using that name as there is a totally-unrelated group in northern Laos and southern China also named Kado.
The Kanay observe age-old customs of dyeing their teeth and tattooing their faces. In some areas, women love to chew betel-nut, which stains their teeth black.
Traditionally, Kanay women wear their hair in a knot. For single women and girls the knot is always positioned on the left side of their head, while married women wear it on the right side. This serves as an immediate sign of a woman's marital status.
Kanay villages, called vil, consist of one or two clans, with every member having the same family name. People are forbidden to marry within their own clan or to marry their first cousins.
After engagement, a young Kanay man must meet many difficult and expensive requirements of his future bride's dowry. This may result in the family of the groom going into heavy debt for years to come. Although they are generally an impoverished people, the Kanay consider a wedding to be the greatest of occasions and no expense is spared. At the wedding it is traditional for the family of the groom to give the bride a sword.
According to a local informant, there are a small number of Kanay Christians in Laos. They have endured much persecution and hardship for their faith. In late 1998, one Kanay pastor was imprisoned by local authorities because of his zealous evangelism.
* Pray God would protect the purity and zeal of the Kanay church in spite of great pressure from the authorities.
* Thank the Lord for saving a remnant in a very remote part of Laos.
* Pray the Kanay Christians in Laos would continue to share their faith with other tribes in the area.