Tai Gapong in Laos


Population
Main Language
Largest Religion
Christian
Evangelical
Progress
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

In their language, Gapong means "brain"—therefore the autonym of this interesting group means "Brainy Tai." Other Tai groups call them Phutai, but although the Tai Gapong say they are distantly related to the Phutai, they are now a distinct tribe with their own customs, history and dialect. In fact, even the Phutai who live in the Tai Gapong village in Thailand consider them different.

The Tai Gapong say that they originated in Borikhamxai Province, Laos, in a district known as Gapong, from which they took their name. According to Joachim Schliesinger, “the ancestors of the Tai Gapong in Thailand migrated westwards from central Laos, crossed the Mekong and settled in their present location in 1844 or 1845. The reason for their migration is unclear; they may have been taken as war captives and resettled across the Mekong River by the Siamese army or migrated voluntarily.”

The majority of the Tai Gapong people inhabit a single village in Thailand—Ban Varit in Waritchaphum District of Sakhon Nakhon Province, though a smaller number live in Laos. The Tai Gapong in Laos inhabit Ban Nahuong near the Lao border with Vietnam.


What Are Their Lives Like?

For generations, Tai Gapong women have worn an elaborate traditional dress that sets them apart from other tribes. It consists of a short skirt that falls just below the knees, “with white, red, brown, and yellow horizontal stripes at its lower part, a long sleeved dark colored vest buttoned in the middle with silver coins and decorated with red bands along the hem, collar and sleeve ends.”


What Are Their Beliefs?

All Tai Gapong people in Thailand are Buddhists, while among those in Laos the situation is not so clear. Although many Tai Gapong families in Laos claim to be Buddhists, their ceremonies and rituals are dominated by animistic practices.

Even in Thailand the Tai Gapong reportedly “believe in an array of spirits, such as the spirit of the village, the spirit of the house, the spirit of the water, the spirit of the tree, but their most important spiritual being is chao pu mahaesak, an angel-like being, humanized in the form of a man-like statue in his shrine. The Tai Gapong honor chao pu mahaesak each year on a specific day with flowers, whisky, rice, and other small sacrifices.”


What Are Their Needs?

Because few people are even aware of the existence of the Tai Gapong people, little or no Christian outreach has ever been conducted among them. Few Tai Gapong have heard the gospel. They continue—as they have for centuries—to live their lives without the slightest knowledge of Jesus Christ or his salvation.


Prayer Points

Pray for a movement of Jesus to heal and strengthen Tai Gapong communities.

Pray for a "Book of Acts" type of movement to Christ among the Tai Gapong.

Pray for the Tai Gapong people to understand and embrace that Jesus wants to bless their families and neighborhoods.

Pray for Holy Spirit anointed believers from the Tai Gapong people to change their society from within.

Pray for a movement in which the Holy Spirit leads and empowers Tai Gapong disciples to make more disciples.


Scripture Prayers for the Tai Gapong in Laos.


References

Peoples of the Buddhist World, Asia Harvest, Copyrighted © Used with permission


Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Tai Gapong
People Name in Country Tai Gapong
Population this Country 500
Population all Countries 2,800
Total Countries 2
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group Yes
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
Alternate Names Phu Tai Gapong; Tai Kapon
People ID 19263
ROP3 Code 115538
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 Mainly in Bolikhamxai, Savannahkhet, and Khammouan provinces; Salavan Province, centered in Toumlan district; Xiangkhoang and Champasak provinces.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
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 Mainly in Bolikhamxai, Savannahkhet, and Khammouan provinces; Salavan Province, centered in Toumlan district; Xiangkhoang and Champasak provinces..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Map of Tai Gapong in Laos Ethnolinguistic map or other map

Primary Language Phu Thai (500 speakers)
Language Code pht   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Unknown
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Phu Thai (500 speakers)
Language Code pht   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Phu Thai

Primary Language:  Phu Thai

Bible Translation Status:  Translation Started

Resource Type Resource Name
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religion Percent
Buddhism
75.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
25.00 %
Hinduism
0.00 %
Islam
0.00 %
Non-Religious
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
Unknown
0.00 %
Christian Segments Percent
Anglican
Unknown
Independent
Unknown
Orthodox
Unknown
Other Christian
Unknown
Protestant
Unknown
Roman Catholic
Unknown
Photo Source Copyrighted © 2022  Peoples of the Buddhist World, Asia Harvest  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source People Group location: SIL / WLMS. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.  
Profile Source Joshua Project  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more