The Tho of Vietnam
At the end of the 1700's when Vietnam was in chaos, several ethnic groups united with the native groups of Thai speaking peoples. These people became known as the Tho. Today, they are regarded as an official minority in Vietnam. The Tho prefer to be known as "Tay," since the term "Tho" is now considered derogatory.
Since the 1945 revolution and the reunification of North and South Vietnam, many changes have taken place. Various agencies are currently working to improve their standard of living.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Traditionally, the Tho were master hunters. They used traps, cages, and automatically triggered arrows. Today, they hunt very little because of the changed ecological conditions.
The Tho mainly live in houses built on the ground. These houses are private property, as are their accompanying gardens. However, there are still some Tho who live in houses built on stilts. The architecture of these homes is simple, without the fancy gables and decorative work commonly seen on other houses. Today, nearly all the Tho are part of a "collectivized agricultural program" in the form of community (collective) farms. Farm land is seen as community property that people are free to use, but not own.
Villages used to be the center of economic activity, with local markets rotating among a series of villages and trading mainly with the Vietnamese and Chinese communities. Today, however, the Tho have been primarily assimilated into the Vietnamese society.
Tho families are usually small and the line of descent is traced through the father. Children begin school at six years of age and older. There, they begin studying the Vietnamese language. Young people choose their own marriage partners, and after a betrothal ceremony, many marriage rituals are performed. The groom is expected to perform some work for the bride's family as payment.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Traditionally, most Tho villages had temples where they worshipped a multitude of gods associated with earth, water, fire, and important ancestors. Many other spirits and ghosts were also worshipped. The major ceremony of the year was held at the beginning of the farming season, when the various deities were asked permission to prepare the farm and plant the seeds. Folk literature and art were also of importance in religious life.
What Are Their Needs?
Less than 1% of the Tho in Vietnam are Christian. Currently, there are only portions of the Bible available in Tho. Prayer is the first step toward seeing these people reached with the Gospel.Prayer Points
See also the following Tho Group:
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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