Although the Tai Nua are part of the official Dai nationality in China, they speak their own distinct language. They should not be confused with the identically named but different Tai Nua of Laos.
Linguists have pointed out that Tai Nua is "a name given to at least two quite different southwestern branch groups." The Tai Nua profiled here are members of the Southwestern branch of the Tai language family, while the Tai Mao language spoken throughout Dehong Prefecture is similar to the Shan language of Myanmar. The confusion of names is caused partly by "the Chinese tendency to group languages together into nationalities, exemplified by the Dai nationality, which includes all the Southwestern Tai languages of China."
The Tai Nua are historically part of the great Tai race of Asia, which dispersed during the past millennia to now inhabit parts of China, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, India, and, of course, Thailand. "Based on evidence from Neolithic finds unearthed by archeologists during recent decades it is now believed that before migrating southwards, the forefathers of the present day Thais lived in most parts of Guangxi and Sichuan, plus parts of Guizhou and Yunnan."
After a Tai Nua wedding ceremony the bridegroom goes to live with his bride's family. Traditionally he must take with him gifts of tea, rice, meat, bananas, four eggs, and two salted fish for his new in-laws. Upon arrival, the village elder takes the packets of tea and rice out to the road and calls on the spirits of heaven and earth to witness the marriage. He then ties a white thread seven times around the wrist of the bride and once around the wrist of the groom to indicate their unbreakable commitment to each other.
Although they are nominally Theravada Buddhists, the Tai Nua have many aspects of animism and polytheism mixed into their beliefs. The very first Tai god was Shalou, the god of Hunting. "Before a hunt, sacrifices were offered to Shalou to avert danger and to ensure success in the hunt."
There are no known Christians among the Tai Nua and very little outreach is presently focused on bringing the gospel to them. Little improvement in their spiritual condition has taken place since the 1920s when one missionary lamented, "There is not a missionary working south of [Kunming] to Mohei, I am here alone and my little candle is the only light. Yet in these mountains are thousands of tribesmen who have never heard of the Gospel."
|Profile Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway Copyrighted © Used with permission|
|People Name General||Tai Nua, Chinese Shan|
|People Name in Country||Tai Nua, Chinese Shan|
|Population in Myanmar (Burma)||101,000|
|Pioneer Workers Needed||3 to 4|
|Unengaged||Yes (per Finishing the Task)|
|Progress Scale||1 ●|
|GSEC||1 (per PeopleGroups.org)|
|Alternate Names||Chinese Shan, Dai, Dai Kong, Dai Le, Dai Loe, Dai Mao, Dai Mo, Dai Na, Dai Nue, Dai Nuea, Dehong, Dungan, Eastern Shan, Hakka, Han Chinese, Han-Paiyi, Kang, Kong, Loe, Mandarin, Mao Shan, Maw, Northern Shan, Nua, Paiyi, Shan Tayok, Tai Che, Tai Khe, Tai Kong, Tai Le, Tai Loe, Tai Neua, Tai Nua, Tai Nue, Tai Nuea, Tai Yai, Yunnanese|
|Persecution Rank||28 (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)|
|Location in Country||North Shan State; east Kachin State. Source: Ethnologue 2016|
|Primary Language||Tai Nua (101,000 speakers)|
|Language Code||tdd Ethnologue Listing|
|Written||Yes ScriptSource Listing|
|People Groups||Speaking Tai Nua|
Primary Language: Tai Nua
|Bible Translation ▲||Status (Years)|
|Possible Print Bibles|
|Forum of Bible Agencies|
|World Bible Finder|
|Resource Type ▲||Resource Name|
|Audio Recordings||Audio Bible teaching (GRN)|
|Text / Printed Matter||World Missionary Press Booklets|
|Major Religion ▲||Percent *|
|Christianity (Evangelical 0.35 %)||
|Other / Small||
|Christian Segments ▲||Percent|