The Talaing of Thailand
The Talaing live in scattered settlements just north and south of Bangkok, and in the provinces of Khorat, Kanchanaburi, Lopburi, Pathum, Thani, Surat Thani, and Rat Buri. They speak a Mon-Khmer language called Mon. Most of the Talaing have integrated with the surrounding Thai and can no longer read their original script.
The Talaing migrated from the northern territories into what is now known as Thailand and Myanmar (Burma), and established the first great civilization in that region. They pioneered wet rice farming, introduced the nationals to Buddhism, and gave them their alphabet. Between the fifth and eighth centuries, their kingdom was at its peak. However, in the centuries that followed, they were at constant war with the Burmese.
The Talaing were finally defeated by the Burmese in 1757, and the time of their political independence ended. Today, most of the Talaing are the descendants of the fugitives who fled from the Burmese.
What are their lives like?
The Talaing live in village settlements from the last three or four hundred years. Their houses are similar to Thai homes, except that they are always situated east and west. They are rectangular, wood-framed houses raised above ground on poles. The walls and floors are made of woven bamboo mats, and the roofs are made of thatch. The wealthier Talaing may live in homes with plank walls and floors. There is a verandah in front and a kitchen at the back of the house. A monastery is located in each village.
Most of the Talaing are peasant farmers, although a few are merchants and craftsmen. The farmers generally raise fruits or vegetables. Irrigated rice is their principal crop, and it is grown for both consumption and trade. The wet rice farmers cultivate their fields with plows drawn by buffalo or oxen. Vegetables, sugar cane, and pineapples are grown in home gardens. Supplementary crafts for the men include carpentry and brick making; while the women engage in pottery, weaving, and basket-making. Some of the men have full-time jobs as blacksmiths.
Talaing families are not particularly patrilineal (male-dominated), except when dealing with the "house spirit." This deity is located in the home of the eldest living male of a lineage. The spirit's clothing and gear hang in a basket on the southeastern post of the house.
The Talaing do not have formal weddings. Instead, when a boy and girl decide to marry, the boy's friends tell the girl's parents. The groom is allowed to move in with the bride and her family for up to three years. The couple then establishes their own separate household.
Physically, the Talaing are taller and stronger than the Thai. Today, most of them dress like the Thai.
What are their beliefs?
Religion is very important to the Talaing. A majority of them are ethnic religionists, practicing a mixture of spirit worship and Buddhism. The others are Theravada Buddhists. Those who are traditional animists believe that good and evil spirits inhabit non-living objects. Their beliefs have been partly influenced by Hinduism, where spirits known as tewatao are associated with trees and fields. Other spirits, such as ancestral spirits, spirits that cause illness, and spirits that have magical influence, are called kalok.
Buddhist monks act as mediators between villagers and the spirits. Other practitioners include shamans (priests or priestesses), doctors, astrologers, and witches. Witches often cause illnesses or spirit possession. The Buddhists believe that a sick person has an insufficient accumulation of "merit," so offerings are made to the Buddha images on his behalf. To alleviate the illness, shamans (mostly women) put on "spirit dances," at which time they usually become possessed by evil spirits. The doctor then seeks to exorcise the spirits by reciting chants.
What are their needs?
There are currently two missions agencies working among the Talaing of Thailand. However, less than 1% of Talaing have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. Additional Christian laborers and evangelistic materials are needed to reach these people with the Light of the Gospel.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into Thailand to minister to the Talaing.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to the missions agencies that are targeting the Talaing.
- Pray that the Jesus film and Gospel radio broadcasts will soon be made available to the Talaing.
- Ask the Lord to reveal Himself to the Talaing through dreams and visions.
- Pray that God will give the Talaing believers boldness to share Christ with their own people.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Talaing bound.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the spiritual soil through worship and intercession.
- Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Talaing church for the glory of His name!
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Talaing
- Country: Thailand
- Their language: Mon (Takanoon)
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 725
- Scriptures in their own language: Bible
- Jesus Film in their own language: None
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
- Mission agencies working among this people: 2
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 33,000 (33%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 67,800 (67%)
- Country: Thailand
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 40
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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