Tay in Vietnam

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

Lying along the China Sea in southeast Asia, Vietnam is home to a number of distinct people groups. However, the majority of the population is ethnic Vietnamese. Historical upheavals forced the major people groups to intermingle with others, separate, and eventually live in scattered localities. Their cultures, languages, and lifestyles were all affected, resulting in a somewhat blurred national character.

At the end of the 1700s 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. They 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?

The Tay are mostly peasants who live in the low, sloping mountains between the high mountains and the plains of southeast Asia. They grow wet rice and use slash and burn techniques to grow dry rice, maize, buckwheat, watercress, sugar cane, and other vegetables. They grow hemp and use it for making bags and nets for fishing. They sell or exchange products for household items and use forest products for food.

Traditionally, the Tay were master hunters. They used traps, cages, and automatically triggered arrows. Today, they hunt very little because of the changed ecological conditions.

The Tay mainly live in houses built on the ground. These houses are private property, as are their accompanying gardens. However, there are still some Tay 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 Tay 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 Tay have been primarily assimilated into the Vietnamese society.

Tay 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?

The Tay worship a multitude of gods. Ancestor worship (praying to deceased ancestors for protection and guidance) is commonly practiced. The Tay are also animistic (believe that non-living objects have spirits).

Traditionally, most Tay 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?

Over 44 years of war played havoc with the Vietnamese economy, making recovery particularly slow. Moreover, Vietnam remains one of the few Communist nations of the world.

Prayer is the first step toward seeing these people reached with the Gospel.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to Vietnam and share Christ with the Tay.
Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Tay Christians.
Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Tay toward Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
Pray that God will open the hearts of Vietnam's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Tay.

Scripture Prayers for the Tay in Vietnam.

Profile Source:   Bethany World Prayer Center  

People Name General Tay
People Name in Country Tay
Pronunciation tay
Alternate Names Kha Phong; Moung; Nha Lang; Phen; Tai Tho; Tai-lo; Takarir; Tày; Thai; Tho; To; T'o
Population this Country 1,886,000
Population all Countries 1,889,000
Total Countries 3
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 1  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Pioneer Workers Needed 38
People ID 15309
ROP3 Code 109909
ROP25 Code 308023
ROP25 Name Tay
Country Vietnam
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 35  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Northeast of Ha Noi city, near China border, widespread; 15 provinces, possibly in Laos.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Vietnam
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 35  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country Northeast of Ha Noi city, near China border, widespread; 15 provinces, possibly in Laos..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Map of Tay in Vietnam Ethnolinguistic map or other map

Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Major Religion Percent
39.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.03 %)
1.00 %
Ethnic Religions
52.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
5.00 %
Other / Small
3.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Tay (1,886,000 speakers)
Language Code tyz   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Tay (1,886,000 speakers)
Language Code tyz   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Tay

Primary Language:  Tay

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1938–1979)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (2017)
Bible-Complete Yes  (2022)
FCBH NT (www.bible.is) Online
YouVersion NT (www.bible.com) Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Film / Video Indigitube.tv Video / Animation Create International
General Bible for Children Bible for Children
General Faith Comes By Hearing - Bible in text or audio or video Faith Comes by Hearing
General Scripture Earth Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
General YouVersion Bible versions in text and/or audio YouVersion Bibles
Mobile App Android Bible app: Tay YouVersion Bibles
Mobile App iOS Bible app: Tay YouVersion Bibles
Photo Source Copyrighted © 2024  Jimmy Tran - Shutterstock  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.  
Profile Source Bethany World Prayer Center 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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