Into Their World…The Dakpa of Bhutan

The Dakpa of Bhutan

Nearly one hundred percent of Dakpa in Bhutan are Buddhist. Add to this the fact that this tribal group which dwells in the eastern area of the country is distrustful of outside groups and one can see the challenges in sharing the gospel with the Dakpa.

Bhutan sits to the north of India and to the south of China. Four main groups are found in this small but important nation—the Bhotia of Tibet, the Eastern Bhotia, the Nepalese and many tribal groups. The Dakpa fall into this last catagory and are made up of mostly farmers. The Dakpa speak Mira Sagtengpa and live mainly in the Sakteng Valley.

Because only three percent of the land in Bhutan is available for agriculture, many of the crop fields are built on terraces up the mountainsides. In addition to farming, many Dakpa also herd yaks and sheep and spin and weave wool.

Dakpa women wear red and white silk ponchos, red silk jackets decorated with animal designs and red wool capes. They keep their hair long and wear turquoise earrings. Dakpa men wear leather or cloth pants under big, white wool trousers, red wool jackets and sleeveless garments made of leather or felt. The Dakpa wear flat, felt hats made from yak hair which have five tail-like sprouts that allow water to drain and the head to stay dry.

There is no rigid caste system within the Dakpa but social status is based on economic position. Many of the Dakpa follow the “Red Hat” sect of Tibetan Buddhism; many also practice traditional Tibetan shamanism. Shamanists (priests or priestesses) communicate with ancestral spirits, demons and gods on the people’s behalf. Most Dakpa also have some type of shrine (whether large or small) in their homes for worship.

For centuries these people have been isolated from other nations. As a result, they are distrustful of outsiders and hold tightly to ancient traditions. There are very few known Dakpa Christians. Pray for Christ’s light to shine on these hard-working peoples.

For more information on the Dakpa of Bhutan, visit:

(Information compiled from

(Note: The website links above are intended to provide you with more information about this people group. Some of the links are to groups that are not religious in nature but who provide information and background that may be helpful in researching this people group. The content of each of the websites linked to is the sole responsibility of the linked-to organization. Views expressed on these websites do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of the staff or writers of Lausanne World Pulse or those of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, Institute of Strategic Evangelism, Evangelism and Missions Information Service or Intercultural Studies Department.)

Laurie Fortunak Nichols is editorial coordinator of Lausanne World Pulse. She also serves as editorial coordinator for the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College and managing editor and book review editor of Evangelical Missions Quarterly (EMQ). She has edited a number of books, including the recent Extending God's Kingdom: Church Planting Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, with A. Scott Moreau and Gary R. Corwin.