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Lawa, Western in Thailand

Lawa, Western

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Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
8,800 Lawa, Western Buddhism 16.00 % 2.00 % No   

Lawa, Western in Thailand

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More than 65,000 Western Lawa people live in two main regions of Asia. The majority (approximately 55,000) inhabit China's Yongle and Zhenkang counties in Yunnan Province, while numerous Western Lawa villages are also found in northern Thailand's Chiang Mai and Maehongson provinces. The Western Lawa generally inhabit thickly forested mountainous areas. There may also be a small number of Western Lawa in Myanmar. An additional 30,000 Bulang people in China speak Western Lawa as their mother tongue.

The Western Lawa language is unintelligible from the Eastern Lawa language spoken in northern Thailand. The majority of Western Lawa in China are now bilingual in Mandarin, while those in Thailand can speak Northern Thai. Western Lawa is related to other Mon-Khmer languages in southern China and northern Myanmar.

The Western Lawa in China are officially considered part of the Wa minority group, although they never participated in the head-hunting for which other Wa people are infamous. The Western Lawa adopted Theravada Buddhism under the influence of the Tais many centuries ago. Consequently, they became a more peaceful people than their wild head-hunting cousins.

Western Lawa women like to wear lots of jewelry and intricate embroidery and adornment on their blouses and dresses. Large earrings are common, especially in China. In the past the Lawa had no written form of their language, so they communicated by sending objects to other villages. 'Sugarcane, banana or salt meant friendship, but pepper meant anger, feathers urgency, and gunpowder and bullets the intention of clan warfare.'

A curious religious mix exists among the Western Lawa. Although the majority of this group professes Theravada Buddhism, their beliefs are mixed with animistic practices and spirit appeasement. Hundreds of Christian churches are also found among their villages in south-west China. Christianity has made less of an impact among the Western Lawa in Thailand, although there are small pockets of known believers among them.

The forefathers of the 10,000 Western Lawa Christians first received the gospel from the American Baptist missionary William Young in the 1920s. Their conversion was not obtained by forceful preaching as much as by Young's sacrificial love. Once, in 1924, Young came across a sick woman left to die in a ditch outside a Lawa village. Guessing she was a victim of smallpox, 'Young immediately erected a shed and washed her sores continuously for three days. To draw out the puss, Young did not hesitate to use his own mouth. His devotion and compassion opened the hearts of countless [Lawa] to receive his message.' Many Western Lawa churches today are liberal and syncretistic. Many people attend church out of tradition rather than in pursuit of a living relationship with Christ.

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Country: Thailand
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, Southeast
10/40 Window: Yes
Location in Country:Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son provinces.
(Source: Ethnologue 2016)
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Country Map:Political map
Ethnolinguistic Map:University of Texas or other map
Linguistic Map:Ethnologue language map
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Lawa, Western
People Name General: Lawa, Western
Alternate People Names:
LuwaMountain Lawa
Tame WaWestern Lawa
ROP3 Code: 110791
Joshua Project People ID: 15375
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 8,800
Population all Countries: 8,800
Least-Reached: No
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster: Mon-Khmer
People Name General: Lawa, Western
Ethnic Code: AUG03z
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Lawa, Western (8,800 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): lcp    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religions:
Buddhism70.00 % 
Christianity16.00 %(Evangelical: 2.00 %)
Ethnic Religions14.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam0.00 % 
Non-Religious0.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent5.00 %
Protestant55.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic40.00 %
(Evangelicals distributed across Christianity segments)
Progress Indicators [5]
Progress Scale[6]   Evangelicals have only a very small representation among all who claim to be Christians.
Least-Reached: No
GSEC Status:Level 6   Greater than or equal to 10% Evangelical
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: 1961-1967
New Testament:
Complete Bible: 2001
Possible Bible Sources: Forum of Bible Agencies
 World Bible Finder
 World Christian Resource Directory
 Gospel Go
Ministry Resources [7]
Audio RecordingsMegaVoice Audio Bible and Stories
Audio RecordingsAudio Bible teaching (GRN)
Audio RecordingsOnline New Testament (FCBH)
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Data Notes
Data Sources

Lawa, Western in Thailand

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Mon-Khmer     Asia, Southeast    
      Lawa, Western Thailand    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Lawa, Western in Thailand          
      Religion Language  
      Buddhism     Lawa, Western  
    All Religions                              

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