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Yong in Thailand


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Yong in Thailand map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
14,000 Yong Buddhism 0.00 % 0.00 % No No   

Yong in Thailand

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More than 12,000 members of the Yong ethnic group live in scattered parts of northern Thailand. They inhabit villages within three provinces: Lamphun (Muang, Pasang, Ban Hong and Mae Tha districts); Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.

Joachim Schliesinger, in his excellent book Tai Groups of Thailand, quotes a population source of between 240,000 and 320,000 Yong people in Thailand. This high figure is unlikely, since if it were correct the Yong would be one of the largest ethnic groups in northern Thailand. As it is, few people outside of their immediate areas have ever heard of them.

Schliesinger states that the Yong 'are in fact ethnic Lu people who once lived in Muang Yong of today's Shan State of Burma. As is common practice among Tai peoples, the Tai Yong derived their new group name from their location at Muang Yong.... The King of Siam ordered the Chiang Mai rulers to launch several military raids north and west into the [Shan, Khun and Yong] villages and towns to capture the inhabitants and resettle them as war captives to Chiang Mai, Lamphun and Lampang. The largest influx of Yong occurred in 1805, when 10,000 people were taken from Muang Yong to be resettled in northern Thailand.'

The first Yong arrivals in Thailand settled in the Pasang District of Lamphun Province. They named their village Ban Vieng Vong. This remains an active Yong habitation to this day. At Ban Vieng Vong, 'the Yong reinforced ritual power and social stratification. The oldest monastery in Ban Vieng Vong shelters the four guardian spirits of their former Muang Yong in Burma, which they took with them when they were resettled.' The names of these four idols, symbolized as stone white elephants, are suranna, pittiya, lakkhana and thewada. They are considered sacred to the Yong people, who not only worship and appease these spirit beings, but who also see their identity and history as a people intricately bound up with the safe transport of these idols from their original homeland.

The Yong language is a member of the Southwestern Tai linguistic branch. There are numerous languages in this group, with speakers dispersed over a wide geographical area from India to Laos. Most of the Southwestern Tai groups are strong believers in Theravada Buddhism.

Although Buddhism is the chosen religion of the Yong people, their beliefs are heavily mixed with animistic ritual and spirit-worship. The Yong 'honor the spirit of the land and the ancestral spirits and believe in many other spirits of the surroundings. On full moon in June, the villagers flock to the local spirit shrine to make sacrifices. of pig heads, chicken, and nine different kinds of fruit.'

There is now (2019) a report of at least one Christian believer among the Yong. Others are blinded by their deep religious devotion to idols and traditions and in need of much prayer.

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Country: Thailand
Continent: Asia
Region: Asia, Southeast
10/40 Window: Yes
Location in Country:The Yong reside in scattered parts of northern Thailand. They inhabit villages within three provinces, Lamphun, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.
(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: Yong
People Name General: Yong
Alternate People Names:
NyongTai Yong
ROP3 Code: 111090
Joshua Project People ID: 16053
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 14,000
Population all Countries: 14,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: Southeast Asian Peoples
People Cluster: Tai
People Name General: Yong
Ethnic Code: MSY49z
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Yong (14,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): yno    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religions:
Buddhism90.00 % 
Christianity0.00 %(Evangelical: 0.00 %)
Ethnic Religions10.00 % 
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

Yong in Thailand

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

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