Tai Doi in Laos

Tai Doi
Photo Source:  Copyrighted © 2024
Peoples of the Buddhist World, Asia Harvest  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source:  Joshua Project / Global Mapping International
People Name: Tai Doi
Country: Laos
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 300
World Population: 5,400
Primary Language: Tai Loi
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Unspecified
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Mon-Khmer
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

There is a measure of confusion regarding the differences between Tai Doi and Tai Loi. Tai Doi simply means "mountain people." The authoritative Ethnologue lists it as a dialect of Tai Loi. There seems to be evidence that the Tai Loi and Tai Doi are closely related yet are geographically separated. The Tai Loi live further to the north, near the juncture of Laos, China and Myanmar. Neither group is even mentioned in official Lao literature as an ethnic group.

Another point of confusion is their language. The Ethnologue places it under the Palaungic branch of the Mon-Khmer language family, while the Atlas des Ethnies et des Sous-Ethnies du Laos places Tai Loi under their Tai section, and even states the Tai Loi language is close to Tai Dam, while their culture is similar to the Lu. We believe the Tai Doi are a Mon-Khmer speaking group, but the confusion is caused by the fact they have lived for centuries surrounded by Tai-speaking peoples and have absorbed many linguistic and cultural influences.

The Tai Doi have lived in Long District of Luang Namtha for at least five generations. In April, 1994, some 19 Tai Doi families reportedly left the Muang Kham Village with all their possessions, and walked two days to join themselves with Lu and Tai Dam villages.

Tai Doi people inhabit three villages in the Long District of Luang Namtha Province in northern Laos. The names of the three villages are Muang Kham, Dondchay and Muong. The Tai Loi are also located on the other side of the Mekong River in the eastern part of Myanmar's Shan State. Most of them live in Myanmar.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Tai Doi live in mixed villages with the Lu and the Akha. The Tai Doi traditionally had a clan system, but it is no longer used today. Each Tai Doi house contains two families. They put their villages near a river or stream after consulting a shaman for the most auspicious place.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Tai Doi are animists. They also worship their ancestors once a year. Some adhere to Theravada Buddhism, having been influenced by their Lu neighbors. There are no known followers of Christ among the Tai Doi of Laos, though there are some in Myanmar.

What Are Their Needs?

Pray that Asian Christians would be burdened for the salvation of the Tai Doi.

Ask God to send Holy Spirit anointed workers to share the gospel with the Tai Doi.

Pray the Tai Doi in both Myanmar and Laos would soon be blessed with a movement to Christ.

Prayer Points

Peoples of Laos, Asia Harvest, Copyrighted © Used with permission

Text Source:   Joshua Project