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Matpa in Bhutan


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Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
20,000 Chocangacakha Buddhism 0.00 % 0.00 % No No   

Matpa in Bhutan

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Approximately 25,000 Matpa people are concentrated in the lower areas of Mongar District in eastern Bhutan. Their two largest villages are Tsamang and Tsakaling. A number of Matpa villages are also located within the Lhuntse District further to the north, especially in and around the village of Kurmet.

Matpa is the ethnic name of this group. They have also been listed by their language name, Chocangacakha, which is closely related to Dzongkha, Bhutan's national language spoken by the Drukpa people. All Matpa people are followers of Tibetan Buddhism.

Despite being a tiny country with one of the smallest populations of any country in the world, 'Bhutan has an enormous number of religious buildings. According to one count, 525 lhakhangs [temples] are owned by the state and another 144 are in the care of reincarnate lamas. In addition, there are another 800 village temples and an estimated 500 privately-owned temples. Each was designed for a different purpose to suit the wishes of the founders, architects or sponsors.' Given that realistic estimates put Bhutan's population at around 600,000, that means there is an average of one Buddhist temple for every 300 people in Bhutan.

The question of Bhutan's population is one of the strangest demographic inconsistencies in the world. Figures given by respected publications range from 600,000 to more than two million. One book, printed in 1998, explains the history behind this odd situation: 'In 1971, when Bhutan applied for UN membership, the population was estimated at just less than one million. No census data existed and government officials estimated the population as best they could, choosing to err on the high side in order to help gain world recognition.

Over the years, this nearly-a-million-figure was adjusted upward in accordance with estimates of Bhutan's population growth figures, finally reaching the 1.2 million figure. In some publications, this total was even listed at 1.5 million! The 600,000 estimate is based on the census of 1988 and is now the accepted figure.'

Being an official Buddhist kingdom, Bhutan has been largely locked away from the influence of the gospel for centuries until recent decades, when migrants from Nepal and India have brought Christianity into the country for the first time on any significant scale. The Buddhist groups, however, have remained largely untouched by the gospel. They see Christianity as a foreign religion with little relevance to their lives. Others see Christianity as a threat to traditional Bhutanese values and culture.

The importance of Tibetan Buddhism and the unity that it fosters are best seen among the Matpa people during festivals and ceremonies. The whole community attends, dressed in their festive best. Participants wear gruesome masks depicting powerful demons, and stories are told of how the Buddhist sage Padmasambhava defeated demonic forces with the truth of Buddhism. There are no known Christians among the Matpa people in Bhutan today, and no Scripture translations, Jesus film or gospel recordings are available in their language.

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Country: Bhutan
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, South
Persecution Rank:45 (Only top 50 ranked, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
10/40 Window: Yes
Population in Country:20,000
Largest Provinces:
Eastern (18,000)Western (2,000)
Location in Country:They are concentrated in the lower areas of Mongar District in eastern Bhutan. Their two largest villages are Tsamang and Tsakaling. A number of Matpa villages are also located within the Lhuntse District further to the north.
(Source: Peoples of the Buddhist World, 2004)
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Matpa
People Name General: Matpa
Alternate People Names:
ROP3 Code: 115324
Joshua Project People ID: 19268
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 20,000
Population all Countries: 20,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
People Cluster: South Asia Buddhist
People Name General: Matpa
Ethnic Code: CNN25
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Chocangacakha (20,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): cgk    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religions:
Buddhism100.00 % 
Christianity0.00 %(Evangelical: 0.00 %)
Ethnic Religions0.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam0.00 % 
Non-Religious0.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent0.00 %
Protestant0.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic0.00 %
(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 1   Less than 2% Evangelical. Some evangelical resources available, but no active church planting within past 2 years
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]
Audio RecordingsMegaVoice Audio Bible and Stories
Audio RecordingsAudio Bible teaching (GRN)
Ministry Activity
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Data Notes
Data Sources

Matpa in Bhutan

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    South Asia Buddhist     Asia, South    
      Matpa Bhutan    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Matpa in Bhutan          
      Religion Language  
      Buddhism     Chocangacakha  
    All Religions                              

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