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Tai Lue in Thailand

Tai Lue

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Tai Lue in Thailand map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
91,000 Lu Buddhism 0.50 % 0.10 % No   

Tai Lue in Thailand

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Introduction / History
The Tai Lue inhabit the tropical forests and valleys scattered throughout northern Thailand, especially around Chiangrai at the border of Laos. Thailand is located in the center of mainland Southeast Asia and was once known as "Siam." Other Tai Lue communities can be found in China, Myanmar, and Laos.

China is the original homeland of the Tai Lue, however many have migrated south due to pressure by the Chinese. During World War II, when the establishment of a Communist regime ended the Tai Lue kingdom, they fled to Burma and Northern Thailand.

The tonal language of the Tai Lue belongs to the southwestern group of Tai languages. Most of the Tai Lue are bi- or tri-lingual. Central Thai is the language used in schools; Northern Thai is used in town for trade and employment; and Lu is used exclusively for talking to other Tai Lue people. They are proud of their native language and are eager to be identified as Lu.

What are their lives like?
Most of the Tai Lue are farmers living in river valleys. There, they grow wet rice for consumption and sale. They still use primitive, wooden equipment drawn by buffalo. The Tai Lue are also good fishermen and clever silver smiths. The men fabricate the famous Tai Lue swords, and the women's specialties include weaving and embroidery.

The refugee population of northern Thailand, particularly in the town of Mae Sai, is restricted by the Thai government as far as their movement. Many of these earn a living by making reed brooms, while others are employed in factories as cutters and polishers of precious stones.

Tai Lue villages are located either on raised ground surrounded by rice fields, or on high ground on either side of a road or pathway. Their houses are the characteristic Thai "pile" dwellings, with floors made of split bamboo and straw thatched roofs. Each village is headed by a semang, or chief, whose task is to choose the right place to sow rice. Rather than a strict form of social control, there is evidence that witchcraft is used to keep the people oppressed. Public opinion, gossip, and the like are manipulated in Lu villages.

Tai Lue men are bigger, taller, and stronger than the Shan or Northern Thai. They traditionally dress in blue coats; dark blue bell trousers with bands of red, yellow, or white; and large white turbans. The men are known for their unusual and picturesque sword dances. The women wear light blue embroidered jackets that are adorned with small pieces of silver. They also wear red or scarlet skirts and turbans.

Homes contain ancestral shrines that are used during marriage ceremonies and in the control of sexual behavior. Premarital sexual relations seem to be accepted among the Tai Lue. Once a couple is married, their living arrangements are decided according to which household most needs the services of the couple.

What are their beliefs?
The majority of the Tai Lue practice ethnic religions. Thervada Buddhism is often mixed with folk animism. They believe that non-human objects have spirits, and that people have multiple souls. They also believe that there are territorial spirits, which are identified with different levels of society. In addition, they practice ancestor worship (praying to deceased ancestors for guidance). They live in fear of their gods and constantly strive to appease them with religious chants, rituals, and sacrifices.

The Tai Lue put great emphasis on reincarnation, believing that if they live a good life they will be reborn into a higher social order. If they are wicked, however, they will be reborn as degraded animals.

What are their needs?
Progress has been slow with the Tai Lue of Thailand. Their only copies of the New Testament are from a 1933 translation which they can no longer read.

Prayer Points
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Tai Lue towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Ask God to raise up long-term workers to live among the Tai Lue.
* Pray that God will call out prayer teams to break up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of believers.
* Pray that the Holy Spirit will complete the work begun in their hearts through adequate discipleship.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local fellowships of believers among the Tai Lue of Thailand.

View Tai Lue in all countries.

Prayer Links
Global Prayer Digest: 2012-06-04
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Country: Thailand
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, Southeast
10/40 Window: Yes
Location in Country:Nan and Phayao provinces; scattered in north.
(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: Tai Lue
People Name General: Tai Lue
Alternate People Names:
Dai LeDai Lu
Lu Ge ZiLu Ren
NhuonPa Hng
Shui DaiSipsongpanna Dai
ROP3 Code: 114183
Joshua Project People ID: 18566
Indigenous: No
Population in Country: 91,000
Population all Countries: 1,098,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster: Tai
People Name General: Tai Lue
Ethnic Code: MSY49z
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Lu (91,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): khb    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religions:
Buddhism79.50 % 
Christianity0.50 %(Evangelical: 0.10 %)
Ethnic Religions20.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam0.00 % 
Non-Religious0.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent10.00 %
Protestant45.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic45.00 %
(Evangelicals distributed across Christianity segments)
Progress Indicators [5]
Progress Scale[6]   Few evangelicals and few who claim to be Christians. Little, if any, history of Christianity.
Least-Reached: Yes
GSEC Status:Level 2   Less than 2% Evangelical. Initial (localized) church planting within past 2 years
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: 1921-1932
New Testament:
Complete Bible: None Reported
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)
Film / VideoGod's Story Video
Film / VideoJesus Film: view in Lu
Ministry Activity
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Description: Register your ministry activity among this people group. Contact the Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse and Unleashed for the Unreached to learn about others that might be focused on this people group.
Data Notes
Data Sources

Tai Lue in Thailand

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Tai     Asia, Southeast    
      Tai Lue Thailand    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Tai Lue in Thailand          
      Religion Language  
      Buddhism     Lu  
    All Religions                              

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