Nyaw in Thailand

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

China is the original homeland of the Nyaw, and most other tribes now living in northern Thailand. They gradually migrated southward due to pressure by the Chinese. As they traveled, they conquered many peoples along the way. By the tenth century, Thailand was their home.

Most of the tribes in northwestern Thailand live along the lower slopes of the mountains. They speak various languages which come from either the Mon-Khmer or Tai group. Most of the people are bilingual, speaking both their own language and Northern Thai. Many also use the Northern Thai script.

Northern Thailand is the site of the early Mon kingdom, which was founded in the sixth century. The kingdom fell to the Thai during the thirteenth century, and this allowed the northwestern region to remain independence from Bangkok until the late nineteenth century. From that time forward, tribes like the Nyaw have had to answer to the Thai government.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Most of the tribes live in the mountainous areas of northern Thailand where they practice the slash and burn method of farming. Unfortunately, this has caused many of the tropical forests that grow naturally in this region to be destroyed. For this reason, the tribes must continually move their villages. Although the farmers have been encouraged by the Thai government to move to the plains and cultivate rice in irrigated fields, many have continued to use the slash and burn method.

Rice is the staple crop for most of these groups. They also raise maize and opium poppies. The Nyaw cultivate dry rice with a digging stick rather than with a plow or oxen. Those who grow rice for consumption and sale still use simple wooden farm equipment drawn by buffalo.

For years, opium was the major source of cash among the tribes. However, because of the gradual suppression of the opium trade, the government has encouraged the people to raise pigs and peppers instead.

Nyaw villages are located either on raised ground surrounded by rice fields, or on high ground on either side of a road or pathway. There are various types of houses in the villages. The wealthier people often live in sturdy, mahogany homes that are raised off the ground and have plank floors and tile roofs. Those with lower incomes may live in thatched roof, bamboo houses with dirt floors.

The people of this region are very polite, respectful, and hospitable. The family is the basic unit of society. Beginning at a very young age, they teach their children proper social behavior. They base this code of conduct on having respect for those with higher rank. Social rank is organized based on age, occupation and wealth. For example, they rank rural farmers below artisans, merchants and city government officials. The priests form their own separate class.

The single most important social institution in the village is the Buddhist temple. It symbolizes unity among the villagers and provides a wide variety of activities.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Buddhism was introduced into Thailand in 329 B.C.; and today, most of the Nyaw profess to be Buddhist. Most have mixed elements of Buddhism with their traditional animistic beliefs (the belief that non-living objects have spirits). They often seek help through supernatural spirits and objects. Ancestor worship (praying to deceased ancestors for provision and guidance) is also common. They think their ancestral spirits cause illnesses if they do not appease them. Families usually have small altars near their homes where they make sacrifices and offerings to the spirits. The people also believe that each village has a guardian spirit, as well as various spirits that are linked to the elements of nature.

What Are Their Needs?

The Nyaw people need to put their faith only in the King of kings and Lord of lords. They need to make a way for Christ to transform their lives so they can experience life to the full.

Prayer Points

Pray for Nyaw people in Thailand to have open and receptive hearts, and that they would encounter the King of kings.

Pray that movements to Christ would explode, as followers make followers, and that they would place their identity in Christ.

Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the spiritual soil through worship and intercession.

Ask the Lord to bring forth a vigorous Nyaw church for the glory of his name!

Scripture Prayers for the Nyaw in Thailand.

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Nyaw
People Name in Country Nyaw
Alternate Names Jo; Ngeou; Ngo; Nyo; Ou; Su; Tai No; Tai Nyo; Tai Yor; Yo; Yor
Population this Country 83,000
Population all Countries 101,000
Total Countries 2
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 1  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Pioneer Workers Needed 2
People ID 16148
ROP3 Code 111248
ROP25 Code 306236
ROP25 Name Nyaw, Tai Nyo
Country Thailand
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Sakon Nakhon, Nakhon Phanom, Udon Thani, Bueng Kan, Maha Sarakham provinces: Sa Kaeo province: isolated area on Cambodia border.   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 Sakon Nakhon, Nakhon Phanom, Udon Thani, Bueng Kan, Maha Sarakham provinces: Sa Kaeo province: isolated area on Cambodia border..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religion Percent
74.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
1.00 %
Ethnic Religions
25.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Nyaw (83,000 speakers)
Language Code nyw   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Unknown
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Nyaw (83,000 speakers)
Language Code nyw   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Nyaw

Primary Language:  Nyaw

Bible Translation Status:  Translation Needed

Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Photo Source Copyrighted © 2024  Peoples of Laos, Asia Harvest  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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