Wa in Thailand

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge


The Wa are one of the most prominent groups in southern China. They have been granted official status by the Chinese, although the Kawa, Lawa, and Ben are also included as part of the nationality. The name Wa means "mountaineer."

"In recent times some Wa communities from Burma have crossed the border and settled in Thailand, where they have no official status as a Hill Tribe. The Wa live mainly in the Mae Sai District and Mae Yao subdistrict of Chiang Rai Province, as well as in Wiang Pa Pao District in southern Chiang Rai Province and Chiang Dao District in Chiang Mai Province. In Thailand the Wa having come recently from Burma are often referred to as 'Lawa', although they do not strictly belong to the latter ethnic subgroup." (from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wa_people#Thailand, retrieved 10/12/2022)


For centuries the Wa engaged in head-hunting for the purpose of ensuring a good harvest. The practice is still rumored to continue in remote parts of Myanmar's Shan State. The evil spirits that control the Wa demanded human sacrifice to guarantee a good crop. In 1962 a Wa man from Daigela Village cut off a person's head by mistake while working in the fields. The victim's village retaliated by cutting off the heads of more than 60 people from Daigela. In the past, incidents like this often sparked a sequence of killings that would continue for generations. In 1936 more than 100 households in the Ximeng Mountains of China were butchered by the Wa of Zhongke. Only three people were able to escape. "The booty of severed heads was transported back in the loaded saddle-bags of eight cows." There are hundreds of stories of similar diabolical actions. The Wa have an expression, "There is no sight so beautiful as the three-pronged fork" - referring to the poles in their villages that they used to hang the heads of their victims on.


Even in the 1950s, after the Communists came to power in China, no effective measures could be found to stop the Wa's head-hunting. There were 110 reported cases in 1956 and 34 in 1957.


Before 1956 the Ximeng Wa settlement sacrificed 3,000 cows a year to appease spirits and to obey the orders of the local shamans. Yuesong Village was particularly notorious. This village of 407 households with 1,487 people slaughtered 874 cows for religious purposes between 1955 and 1957 - an average of two cows per household. This kept the people trapped in dire poverty. All the Wa children were stark naked in this village; their parents could not afford to buy clothes.


American Baptist missionary William Young was used by God to first bring the gospel to the Burmese Wa in the early 1900s. In a remarkable testimony of God's love and power, thousands of heathen Wa were swept into God's kingdom. Young moved to China in the 1920s. By 1948, 22,369 Wa in China had been baptized. Vincent Young translated the New Testament into Wa in 1938. Although one recent report lists a figure of 75,000 Wa Christians in China, few of these "believers" have even a basic understanding of salvation.

Prayer Points

Scripture Prayers for the Wa in Thailand.

Profile Source:   Operation China, Asia Harvest  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  

People Name General Wa
People Name in Country Wa
Pronunciation Wa
Alternate Names Baraog; Baraoke; Kawa; K'awa; Parauk; Praok; Va; Vo; Wa Pwi; Wakut
Population this Country 7,100
Population all Countries 852,000
Total Countries 3
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 5
Unreached No
Frontier People Group No
Pioneer Workers Needed
People ID 15759
ROP3 Code 110476
ROP25 Code 308522
ROP25 Name Wa / Kawa
Country Thailand
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Scattered; probably north, northwest.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Thailand
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Scattered; probably north, northwest..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Map of Wa in Thailand Ethnolinguistic map or other map

Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 15.00 %)
30.00 %
Ethnic Religions
69.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
1.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Wa, Parauk (7,100 speakers)
Language Code prk   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Wa, Parauk (7,100 speakers)
Language Code prk   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Wa, Parauk

Primary Language:  Wa, Parauk

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1934-1935)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1938-2019)
Bible-Complete Yes  (2006-2012)
FCBH NT (www.bible.is) Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Film / Video God's Story video God's Story
General Bible for Children Bible for Children
General Faith Comes By Hearing - Bible in text or audio or video Faith Comes by Hearing
General Scripture Earth Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
Text / Printed Matter Literacy primer for Wa, Parauk Literacy & Evangelism International
Text / Printed Matter Love letter to you from scripture Father's Love Letter
Text / Printed Matter Topical Scripture booklets and Bible studies World Missionary Press
Photo Source EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid - Flickr  Creative Commons 
Map Source People Group location: Ethnologue / Wikipedia. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.  
Profile Source Operation China, Asia Harvest  Copyrighted ©  Used with permission 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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