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Southeast Asia

The Tai-Kadai are Buddhist, but they are also heavily influenced by animism. They believe in "guardian spirits" and "locality spirits," which are identified with different levels of society.

Ministering to the Tai-Kadai people since July 2001

About the People

At one time, the Tai-Kadai* people had their own Kingdom. During the 19th century they were captured by a neighboring country and about half their population was relocated. In the 20th century, their land became some of the most heavily bombed real estate on the planet.

Today the Tai-Kadai number about 111,000 in Southeast Asia.

The Tai-Kadai are Buddhist, but they are also heavily influenced by animism. They believe in “guardian spirits” and “locality spirits,” which are identified with different levels of society. They believe that one must please these spirits in order to avoid curses and receive blessings.

The Tai-Kadai work as farmers in higher elevations using terraces. Some also use slash and burn techniques. The rice they grow is of the wet rice variety. Along roads they are also blacksmiths, merchants, businessmen, skilled workers and civil servants. Wealthier Tai-Kadai live in sturdy, teak or mahogany paneled houses that are raised off the ground and have a plank floor and tile roof. Less wealthy live in low-pitched, bamboo-framed houses with thatched roofs and earthen floors. The basic social unit is the family. While they are patriarchal there is almost no division of labor by sex. They are hardworking and habitually save things for future use.

The Tai-Kadai people are also renowned for the silk weaving. They are responsible for inspiring their captors (the Queen of Thailand) with a renewed interest in traditional silk weaving.

Social life includes “merit-making” ceremonies, ordinations of monks, marriages, and housewarmings. The ideal family size is to have five children: a daughter first (to help mother), then three boys to work and be monks, then another girl. It is a great honor for the eldest to become a monk, which is believed to better the family positions.

The Tai-Kadai currently do not have any portion of the Bible translated into their language.

Asian food is very diverse. However, curries are very important to Southeast Asian cuisines. Rice is a staple starch to people in this area, but they also eat a variety of leavened and unleavened breads and egg noodles. Garlic, ginger and chili peppers are common spices. Seafood and other meats are a big part of their diet as well.

About the Project

Adventist Frontier Missions has several projects in Southeast Asia. This part of the world is as diverse in people as it is in landscape. This region has seen many wars, not only in this century, but in centuries past.

AFM is actively working to reach the unreached people groups in this area. One of the primary strongholds of Buddhism today, Southeast Asia is truly a mission frontier.

Due to the sensitive nature of this project and the fact that the country in which we are operating is unfriendly toward evangelism, most of the information we share is general. If you are interested in serving as a missionary with the Tai-Kadai, please contact our recruiter who will give you more specific information.



People-Group Facts