Hkun, Khuen in Laos





Largest Religion

Main Language


Introduction / History

The Khuen ethnic group, who numbered more than 8,000 people in a 1995 study, live in the Nale, Sing and Viangphoukha districts of Luang Namtha Province in northwest Laos. A few Khuen spill across the border into the western part of Oudomxai Province. The Khuen share the region with communities of Nguan, Samtao and Kim Mun people.

In addition, one thousand Khuen live in Jinghong County in China's southern Yunnan Province. Refugee families of Khuen now live in Richmond, Ca. and Seattle, Wa. in the United States. It is important to note that the Khuen, who speak a language related to Khmu, are not the same as three other ethnic groups in Laos with similar names: Kuan, Tai Kouanne, and Khmu Keun.

The Khuen were converted to Theravada Buddhism under influence of the Lu people about 400 years ago. When Christian missionary William Clifton Dodd visited the Khuen more than a century ago, he reported, "A branch of the Kamu called Kwen [Khuen] have temples and priests teaching the Yun script, and they also have village and household spirits. The other non-Buddhist Kahs have the village and household spirits and then some."

In another Khuen village, Dodd stated that "the head man, P'ai Luang Patavi, told me that he was the head of nine villages. He and his people are Kwen, who are indigenous to this region. There are five villages that have temples. They are the Buddhists of this region. He says that some time ago there were about seventy houses in this village called M. Puka. But disease and death have reduced the number to about fifty.... I had no many calls for medicine that I hardly had time to eat."

Today there are between 100 and 200 Christians among the Khuen. They first received the Gospel as early as 1902. Dodd reported, "I had rapt attention from all. In the evening I had a still larger and more attentive audience. Many stayed after service to talk. They say they understand and would like to listen to such preaching every day. May the time soon come when they can have it. We left feeling that we have many kind friends among the Ka Kwen and no enemies... they said that if they had some one to teach them they would like to learn Christianity."

Prayer Points

* In prayer, bind the spiritual strongholds of Buddhism, animism and the "Unmal" spirit among the Khuen.
* Ask God to strengthen the few Khuen who profess to follow Christ.

Profile Source:   Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  

People Name General Hkun, Khuen
People Name in Country Hkun, Khuen
Population in Laos 12,000
World Population 15,000
Countries 2
Progress Scale 1.2
Least-Reached Yes
Unengaged Yes (per Finishing the Task)
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Khween, Kuan, Kuanhua, Kween
Affinity Bloc Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster Mon-Khmer
People Name General Hkun, Khuen
Ethnic Code AUG03z
People ID 19158
Country Laos
Region Southeast Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 28  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country The majority make their home Luang Namtha and Oudomxai provinces in north-west Laos. More than 1,200 Khuen people live in nearby areas of south-west China..   Source:  Peoples of the Buddhist World, 2004

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Enthologue Language Map

Ethnolinguistic map from University of Texas or other map

Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Khuen (12,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Khuen 12,000

For Main Lanugage: Khuen

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions No
New Testament No
Complete Bible No
Format Resource
None reported  
Primary Religion: Buddhism

Major Religion Percent
80.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 1.00 %)
1.50 %
Ethnic Religions
18.50 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
0.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
80.0 %
Roman Catholic
20.0 %
Photo Source: Asia Harvest   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Profile Source: Peoples of Laos, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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