Tai Khun in Laos

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The Khun people themselves are said to have a 'deep and strongly rooted culture of self-determination. Their homeland has been their center of civilization for many centuries.' Kengtung City has been the main center of habitation for the Khun since a son of the Lanna King Mengrai founded the Kingdom of Kengtung in the 12th century. The ancestors of the Khun in Thailand were war captives brought from Myanmar in the early 1800s.

Part of the reason for this confusion is that the Tai-speaking groups in the Kengtung valley area in Myanmar's Shan State—where the Khun live—seem to be ethnically, culturally and linguistically interrelated. It is said that the Khun River, which flows through their homeland, lent its name to the Khun people. They are distinguished from the other Tai groups in Shan State by 'slight differences in dialect, physiognomy and the dresses of their womenfolk. The Khun are taller and fairer, and their noses are not so flat.' The Khun should not be confused with the Khouen, Khuen or Tai Khouen people of Laos and Thailand, who speak a Mon-Khmer language.

Where Are they Located?

Approximately 120,000 Khun people live in north-east Myanmar and areas of northern Thailand. A smaller number live in Laos.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Like other tribal peoples in Laos, the Tai Khun do not have access to things that people in cities take for granted like reliable electricity and clean water. They spend much of their time trying to make sure they have enough food.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Although the large majority of Tai Khun people are Theravada Buddhists, their religious worldview includes strong elements of spirit and ancestor worship. The most important spirit is the spirit of the land, which has to be propitiated daily with food and beverage, at the spirit house found in almost every Khun compound. The Khun honor ancestral spirits. On the full moon in June, Khun villagers worship their ancestors with offerings of boiled pork meat, chicken, fruit, rice and flowers at a special altar inside their houses.

What Are Their Needs?

Their most critical need is to understand the truth of the loving God who has made provision for them to be His children and has paid the full payment of the penalty for their sins. Who will pay the price to tell them?

Prayer Points

* Scripture Prayers for the Tai Khun in Laos.

Pray for his kingdom to come and his will to be done among the Tai Khun people.
Pray for a movement of Tai Khun households to study the Bible and accept the blessings of Christ.
Pray for a spiritual hunger that will drive the Tai Khun people to the arms of Jesus.
Pray for workers who are filled with the fruit and the power of the Holy Spirit to go to the Tai Khun people.



Profile Source:   Keith Carey  

People Name General Tai Khun
People Name in Country Tai Khun
Population this Country 800
Population all Countries 139,000
Total Countries 3
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
Alternate Names Gon Shan; Hkun; Khoen; Khouen; Khuen; Khun Shan; Kween; Tai Khoen
People ID 12111
ROP3 Code 103841
Country Laos
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 26  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Louangphabang province: sacred temple area.   Source:  Ethnologue 2018
Country Laos
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 26  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Louangphabang province: sacred temple area..   Source:  Ethnologue 2018
Map of Tai Khun in Laos Ethnolinguistic map or other map

Primary Language Khun (800 speakers)
Language Code kkh   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Khun (800 speakers)
Language Code kkh   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Khun

Primary Language:  Khun

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1938)
Bible-New Testament No
Bible-Complete No
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religion Percent
96.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 2.00 %)
4.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Christian Segments Percent
Other Christian
Roman Catholic
Photo Source Copyrighted © 2022  Peoples of the Buddhist World, Asia Harvest  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source People Group location: Ethnologue Text. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.  
Profile Source Keith Carey  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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