The Phuan people (พวน), also known as Tai Phuan, Thai Puan (Thai: ไทพวน) or Lao Phuan, are a Theravada Buddhist Tai people spread out in small pockets over most of the northeastern Isan region with other groups scattered in central Thailand and Laos (Xieng Khouang Province). There are also approximately 5000 Phuan in Mongkol Borei District of Banteay Meanchey Province in Cambodia.[1] According to the Ethnologue Report, the Phuan number 204,704 and that is split fairly evenly between populations in Laos and Thailand.


The language is closely related to other tribal Tai languages, such as the Thai Dam and the Thai Loei. Unlike other tribal Tai languages in the Isan region, the Phuan language is not losing ground to the standard Thai language or the local Isan/Lao trade language.

The Phuan are famous for handwoven textiles, especially the striped and patterned pakama, a short sarong worn by men, and a pasin tin jok, a longer women's skirt. Due to their proximity and very similar culture and language, Phuan culture is very similar to other tribal Tai groups and the Isan and Laotian people with whom they are neighbours. One interesting custom is the use of elephants to parade initiates into the monastery, usually held before Songkran.[2]


  1. ^ Schliesinger, Joachim (8 October 2011). Ethnic Groups of Cambodia, Volume 3: Profile of the Austro-Thai-and Sinitic-Speaking Peoples. White Lotus Co Ltd. p. 10. ISBN 9744801794. Retrieved 17 February 2016. 
  2. ^ Cummings, J., et al. Lonely Planet: Thailand. Lonely Planet Publishers, 2003, p. 393.