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Lao Wieng in Thailand

Lao Wieng

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Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
57,000 Language unknown Buddhism 0.60 % 0.60 % No No   

Lao Wieng in Thailand

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At least 50,000 people in central and north-east Thailand are known as the Lao Wieng. They inhabit villages in the provinces of Prachinburi, Udon Thani, Nakhon Sawan, Nakhon Pathom, Chai Nat, Lopburi, Saraburi, Phetchaburi and Roi Et. In the past 20 years a significant number of Lao Wieng have moved to Bangkok in search of employment.

The Lao Wieng do not usually appear on lists of ethnic groups in Thailand, but there is little doubt that they are a group with a cohesive self-identity, a common history and a proud culture.

The Thais name this group 'Wieng' because they are the descendants of prisoners of war who originally came from Wieng (Vientiane) in Laos. Joachim Schliesinger, in his excellent book Tai Groups in Thailand, recounts the tumultuous time that led to this group being present in Thailand today: 'Because of rivalry for the throne, the once united and powerful Lao kingdom of Lan Xang split in 1713 into three weak kingdoms. The result was that the rulers of all three states soon had to acknowledge Siamese suzerainty. King Anuvong of Vientiane took offense at the Siamese taking thousands of Lao slaves for doing corvée labor in central Siam. In 1827, he recruited a large army to attack the Siamese garrison in Nakhon Ratchasima and seized vast areas in the Isan region. The Siamese army immediately counterattacked and overran the Lao defense. Within a few days the Siamese sacked Vientiane and following an order from their King Nangklao (Rama III) totally destroyed Vientiane, completely depopulating it and deporting thousands of its inhabitants—the Lao Wieng—to central Thailand as war captives.'

After generations as slaves, the Lao Wieng and other communities were granted their freedom by King Chulalongkorn. Today they are full citizens of Thailand.

Despite their long separation from their homeland, the Lao Wieng still retain different cultural and linguistic traits from the Thais surrounding them. Until recently Lao Wieng women wore a traditional dress, which consisted of a knee-length phaa sin, woven from rough cotton and interwoven with several multicoloured stripes of cloth. These days the Lao Wieng wear the same clothing as their Thai neighbours (except for certain festivals). The Lao Wieng men who live in farming areas are hard-working agriculturists, while those living in more remote rural locations are skilled hunters and fishermen. They use bamboo traps to catch field rats, the meat of which is considered a delicacy.

From long before their forced departure from Laos, the Lao Wieng have been Buddhists. 'The spirits, however must be propitiated by offerings of food at small spirit houses located in the compound or under the eaves of houses. Every Lao Wieng village has a communal spirit house outside the village, where the villagers meet once a year to bring sacrifices of chicken, pig heads, and rice whiskey to the guardian of the village, to ask for protection and good luck for the community.' There are just a few Christians among this needy unreached people group.

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Country: Thailand
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, Southeast
10/40 Window: Yes
Location in Country:They inhabit villages in the provinces of Prachinburi, Udon Thani, Nakhon Sawan, Nakhon Pathom, Chai Nat, Lopburi, Saraburi, Phetchaburi and Roi Et.
(Source: Peoples of the Buddhist World, 2004)
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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: Lao Wieng
People Name General: Lao Wieng
Alternate People Names:
Lao WiengchanTai Wieng
Thai WiengchanVieng
ROP3 Code: 115541
Joshua Project People ID: 19272
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 57,000
Population all Countries: 57,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster: Lao
People Name General: Lao Wieng
Ethnic Code: MSY49b
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Language unknown (57,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): Unknown     
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religions:
Buddhism79.40 % 
Christianity0.60 %(Evangelical: 0.60 %)
Ethnic Religions20.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam0.00 % 
Non-Religious0.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent0.00 %
Protestant80.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic20.00 %
(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
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: Help start a Bible Translation
New Testament: None Reported
Complete Bible: None Reported
Ministry Resources [7]
None Reported
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

Lao Wieng in Thailand

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Lao     Asia, Southeast    
      Lao Wieng Thailand    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Lao Wieng in Thailand          
      Religion Language  
      Buddhism     Language unknown  
    All Religions                              

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