Tay ethnic group

Name of ethnic group: Tay (Tho, Ngan, Phen, Thu Lao, and Pa Di).
Population: 1,477,514 people (Year 1999).
Locality: The Tay lives along the valleys and the lower slopes of the mountains in Cao Bang, Lang Son, Bac Kan, and Quang Ninh provinces, and in some regions of Bac Giang and Bac Ninh provinces.
Language: Tay - Thai

 

 
   

 

   

 

Customs and habits
Ancestor worship is a religious rite of the Tay. The altars for the ancestors are placed in a central location in the house. The altar room is such a sacred place that guests is not allowed to sit on the bed in front of the altar. After giving birth, women are also not allowed to sit on the bed in front of the altar.
Tay villages are always built at the foot of a mountain and are often named after a mountain, field, or river. Each village contains about 15-20 households.
Culture
The Tay language belongs to Tay-Thai Group. There is a rich traditional folklore with all kinds of poems, songs, dances, and music. Tay songs include the "Hat Luon" (a kind of duet between lovers), wedding songs, and lullabies.
Costumes
Tay women wear knee-length dresses, which are split at the right side with five buttons along the armpit, and narrow sleeves.
Economy
The Tay has developed agricultural practices quite well and are able to cultivate all kinds of plants including rice, maize, and sweet potato.

 

   

 

   
 

 

Thai ethnic group

Name of ethnic group: Thai (Tay, Tay Dam, Tay Khao, Tay Muoi, Tay Thanh, Hang Tong, and Pu Thay).
Population: 1,328,725 people (Year 1999).
Locality: Lai Chau, Dien Bien, Son La, Hoa Binh, and Nghe An provinces.
Language: Tay - Thai

 

 
   

 

   
Customs and habits
The Thai worship their ancestors, the heavens, the earth, ban, and "muong". They also hold rituals to pray for good crops.The Thai live in houses built on stilts. Among the Black Thai, they prefer roofs that are shaped like a tortoise carapace with decorations called "khau cuts" at each ridge. A Thai man first lives with his wife's family for several years until the couple has a child; they then move to the house of the husband's family. The Thai organize funerals as a farewell party to see off the dead to the other world.
Culture
The Thai language belongs to the Tay-Thai Group. They have a valuable legacy of myths, legends, ancient tales, versed stories, and folksongs. They like to sing and recite the "khap" along with the accompaniment of string instruments and a dance performance. Their folk dances such as "Xoe", "Sap", "Han Khuong", and "Con" are reflection of the Thai's unique cultural characteristics.
Costumes
The men have adopted the Kinh's clothing style, while Thai women have retained their traditional clothes which include short vests, long black skirts, scarves, and ornaments.
Economy
The Thai are experienced in cultivating rice and orchards. They also breed cattle and poultry, make bamboo articles, weave cloth, and produce ceramic ware.

 

   

 

   
 

 

Bo Y ethnic group

Name of ethnic group: Bo Y (Chung Cha, Trong Gia, Tu Di, Tu Din and Pu Na).
Population: 1,864 people (Year 1999).
Locality: Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Ha Giang and Tuyen Quang provinces
Language: Tay - Thai

 

 
   

 

   

Customs and habits
Ancestor worship is the basis of Bo Y religion. The Bo Y live in houses built on the ground. There is always an extra room in this type of house constructed of wooden boards that rest on the main beams of the house. These rooms serve as the bedroom for unmarried boys and as a granary. The wedding ceremony of the Bo Y is a complicated and expensive endeavor. A unique characteristic of this wedding ceremony is that the groom does not attend the ceremony. Instead, he sends his younger sister to the bride's family to lead a pink horse during the wedding. When the parents die, the children must practice strict mourning rites, 90 days to mourn their mother and 120 days to mourn their father.
Culture
The Bo Y language belongs to the Tay - Thai Group.
Costumes
Women wear a full skirt, a five-paneled shirt and a bra. Some of the women have adopted the Nung or Han way of dressing.
Economy
The Bo Y practice slash-and-burn agriculture. Every year, when the rainy season arrives, the Bo Y go to the rivers to catch spawn and fish to put in their ponds and submerged fields.

   

 

   
 

 

Giay ethnic group

Name of ethnic group: Giay (Nhang, Dang, Pau Thin, Pu Na, Cui Chu and Xa).
Population: 49,098 people (Year 1999).
Locality: Concentrated in Bat Xat, Bao Thang and Muong Khuong districts (Lao Cai Province); Yen Minh and Dong Van districts (Ha Giang Province); Phong Tho and Muong Te districts (Lai Chau Province); and Cao Bang Province.
Language: Tay - Thai

 

 
   

 

   

Customs and habits
The Giay worship not only their ancestors but also the genies of the heaven, the earth, and the kitchen, including the Goddess of Childbirth. The Giay villages are very crowded, containing hundreds of households. Houses are built on stilts or on level ground. The central bay of the house serves as a place for receiving guests and for the ancestor altar.
Patriarchal customs rule Giay families. The children take on the family name of their father. The family of a young man usually seeks a marriage for their son. During pregnancy, Giay women must obey certain taboos and a special altar is set up for the delivery.
Culture
Giay language belongs to the Tay-Thai Group. The cultural heritage of the Giay is rich including many ancient tales, poems, proverbs, puzzles, and alternating songs.
Costumes
Men wear trousers, short vests and wind a turban around their heads. Women wear a five-paneled vest open at the side, which buttons under the right armpit, and trousers. They wear their hair wound around their head or wind it in a turban.
Economy
The Giay practice rice cultivation in submerged fields and rear animals to provides for additional income. The Giay also rear plenty of horses as pack animals and for transport.

 

   

 

   
 

 

Lao ethnic group

Name of ethnic group: Lao (Lao Boc and Lao Noi).
Population: 11,611 people (Year 1999).
Locality: Concentrated in Dien Bien City (Dien Bien Province); Phong Tho and Than Uyen districts (Lai Chau Province); Song Ma District (Son La Province).
Language: Tay - Thai

 

 
   

 

   

Customs and habits
The Lao worship their ancestors and are influenced by Buddhism. The Lao often take the family names of Lo, Luong, or Vi. Children take the family name of their father. When a person dies, a funeral ceremony and burial is carefully organized. Cremation occurs only if the deceased is the chief of a "muong" or a "ban" (village).
Culture
The Lao language belongs to the Tay-Thai Group. The "mo lam" (sorcerers) of Lao culture are very good at writing and narrating ancient tales and folksongs. Lao folklore and its legacy is heavily influenced by Thai culture. The "lam vong" (Lao folk dance) are always performed during festivals and ceremonies.
Costumes
Women wear black skirts that are knotted at the front and come up to their chests. The hems are usually decorated with two bands of embroidered motifs in different colors. Lao men used to have a Han script and an animal tattooed on their wrist and thighs.
Economy
The Lao primarily grow rice in submerged fields using advanced techniques such as ploughing, harrowing, and irrigating. Additional family income is generated through weaving, blacksmithing, pottery, and silver production.


 

   

 

   
 

 

Lu ethnic group

Name of ethnic group: Lu (Nhuon and Duon).

Population: 4,964 people (Year 1999).
Locality: Phong Tho and Sin Ho Districts of Lai Chau Province.
Language: Tay - Thai

 

 
   

 

   

Customs and habits
The Lu practice Buddhism. After their dead is buried, the family hold a rite which brings the dead's soul to the pagoda. The Lu lives in houses built on stilts with two roofs and the entrance to their Homes faces the northwest.
Young men and women are free to choose their partners. Their parents' approval must be sought first, however, before the marriage can take place. The couple must then consult a fortune-teller for an age examination. If the fortune-teller finds that the ages of the couple are compatible, they can then prepare for marriage. The children take the father's family name after birth. Boys have a common middle name, "Ba", and girls, "Y". The Lu are a very friendly and faithful group of people. Divorce rarely takes place in Lu society.The Lu enjoys eating sticky rice with chilly and drinking tea.
Culture
The Lu language belongs to the Tay-Thai Group. The Lu like to sing "khap" (song verses), tell old stories, proverbs, recite poems, play flutes, two-string violins, and drums.
Costumes
Lu men wear trousers and women wear skirts. Their garments are decorated with colourful motifs on dark indigo cloths.
Economy
The Lu has been engaged in farming for a long time. The Lu also utilize slash-and-burn land to grow corn, cassava, groundnut, indigo, and cotton.

   

 

   
 

 

Nung ethnic group

Name of ethnic group: Nung (Xuong, Giang, Nung An, Nung Coi, Phan Sinh, Nung Chao, Nung Inh, Qui Rin, Nung Din, and Khen Lai).
Population: 856,412 people (Year 1999).
Locality: Lang Son, Cao Bang, Bac Thai, Bac Giang, Bac Ninh and Tuyen Quang provinces.
Language: Tay - Thai

 

 
   

 

   

Customs and habits
The Nung mainly worship their ancestors, spirits, saints, Confucius, and Kwan Yin. Nung villages are often built on hillsides. There is usually a submerged field in front of the house and a garden in the back. The Nung houses are always built on stilts.

Culture
The Nung language resembles the Tay, and belongs to the Tay-Thai Group. The Nung have a written language called Nom Nung (Nung scripts) which has prevailed since the 17th century. The Nung have an abundant wealth of folk arts and cultural activities including folksongs and alternative songs ("sli"). The smooth melodies of the "sli" are harmonious with the natural sounds of the forests and mountains. This type of folksong is a combination of verse and music.
The "Lung Tung" (Going to the Fields) Ceremony is very well known and attracts many people of all ages. This ceremony is always organized on the first month of the lunar year.
Costumes
The Nung mainly wear indigo attire.
Economy
The Nung live on rice and corn. They also grow cash crops and fruit trees, such as tangerines and persimmons, and anise.


 

   

 

   
 

 

San Chay ethnic group

Name of ethnic group: San Chay (Cao Lan, San Chi, Man Cao Lan, and Hon Ban).
Population: 147,315 people (Year 1999).
Locality: Concentrated in Tuyen Quang, Thai Nguyen, and Bac Giang provinces. Communities of San Chay are also found scattered in Quang Ninh, Yen Bai, Lang Son, and Vinh Phuc provinces.
Language: Tay - Thai

 

 
   

 

   

Customs and habits
Ancestral worship is widely practiced but is influenced by Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Houses are usually built level to the ground. The San Chay house is said to resemble the "Buffalo Genie", the four pillars of the house symbolize the four legs of the buffalo, the paths around the house represent the ribs, and the roof represents the backbone. One of the two corners of the penthouse is usually used as the altar for the ancestors and is regarded as the holiest section of the house.
The San Chay inhabitants belong to various family lineages, each lineage having several branches. The father is the head of the family. After a wedding, the wife lives with her parents and she settles permanently at the husband's house only after her first childbirth.
Culture
The language of the San Chay is classified with the Tay-Thai Group. The San Chay have many old tales, folksongs, proverbs, and sayings. A particularly popular cultural activity is the "sinh ca", an alternating love song chant. Their musical instruments include castanets, small copper bells, cymbals, wind instruments, and drums.
Costumes
The modern attire of the San Chay tends to resemble the Kinh or Tay.
Economy
The San Chay cultivates wet rice and agriculture, which plays an important role in their livelihood.


   

 

   
 

 

Co Lao ethnic group

Name of ethnic group: Co Lao (Ke Lao).
Population: 1,865 people (Year 1999).
Locality: Dong Van and Hoang Su Phi districts in Ha Giang Province.
Language: Kadai

 

 
   

 

   

Customs and habits
Each village has about 15 to 20 households. The Co Lao houses are built level with the ground. A patriarchal system has been adopted. During pregnancy, Co Lao women observe strict abstinence to facilitate delivery and to give healthy babies. In Dong Van District, people incinerate the placentas of new born babies. Three days and nights after their birth, male babies are baptized by their parents.
Culture
The Co Lao language belongs to the Kadai Group. Ceremonies and festivals are held on the 3rd day of the 3rd lunar month, the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, the 15th day of the 7th lunar month, and the 9th day of the 9th lunar month. The Lunar New Year Festival is the biggest festival of the year.
Costumes
Men wear trousers like many other ethnic groups around the northern borders. Women also wear trousers and a five-panel dress running below the knees. The dress buttons under the left armpit and is decorated with bands of different coloured cloth that are attached to the chest from the middle to the right armpit along a fringed slit.
Economy
The Co Lao practice terraced farming and grow maize in mountain rock hollows. Basketry and woodwork are popular handicrafts that are produced by this group. The Co Lao are also known for their bamboo mats, lattices, large winnowing baskets, panniers, tables, chairs, and horse saddles.

   

 

   
 

 

La chi ethnic group

Name of ethnic group: La Chi (Cu Te and La Qua).
Population: 10,765 people (Year 1999).
Locality: Xin Man District in Ha Giang Province, and Muong Khuong and Bac Ha districts in Lao Cai Province.
Language: Kadai

 

 
   

 

   

Customs and habits
The typical La Chi house is built on stilts has three apartments and an ancestral altar in the largest apartment. Each household has its own drums and gongs which are used in ritual ceremonies conducted by the head of the family lineage. Children take the family name of their fathers. As part of the wedding presents, the groom's family has to offer the amount of money that was needed to pay for the bride's upbringing. The 7th Lunar Month Festival is the largest and merriest activity of the La Chi culture.
Culture
The La Chi language belongs to the Kadai Group. Young boys and girls like to sing "nica" songs. The traditional musical instruments of this group include drums, gongs, three-stringed zithers (dan tinh), and lip-organs made from tree leaves. Popular games played at festivals are con throwing, top spinning, and swinging.
Costumes
Men wear five-panelled shirts that fall below their knees (nowadays these shirts are shorter), wide trousers, and head turbans. The women usually wear a four-panelled dress with a belt, a bra, and a long turban, along with a pair of trousers or a skirt.
Economy
The La Chi grow wet rice in terraced fields. La Chi women have a tradition of weaving and indigo dyeing. The La Chi live a sedentary life that revolves around villages.

   

 

   
 

 

La Ha ethnic group

Name of ethnic group: La Ha (Phlao, Xa Khan and Khla).
Population: 5,686 people (Year 1999).
Locality: Son La and Lao Cai provinces.
Language: Kadai

 

 
   

 

   

Customs and habits
The La Ha house is built on stilts with two entrances and ladders at both ends. Young boys and girls are free to seek their love. A young boy will visit a young girl at her house playing a flute or a two-string violin to try to engage her in normal conversation. After the marriage proposal, the bridegroom lives in the bride's family house for four to eight years before the wedding actually takes place. The bride then joins her husband's family and takes his family name.
Old customs require that a dead person be buried along with their money and a rice paddy. The La Ha believe there are many supernatural forces including spirits of the forest, the water, the mist, and the house. In each family, only the soul of the father, which will turn into the spirit of the house after his death, is worshipped. Every year, when the ban flowers blossom, a celebration is held by every family to honour their parents.
Culture
The La Ha language belongs to the Kadai Group.
Costumes
The La Ha dress the same as the Black Thai.
Economy
The La Ha live on slash-and-burn farming. Nowadays, many villages cultivate rice in submerged fields and build embankments to protect the soil from erosion. The La Ha grow cotton but do not weave.

   

 

   
 

 

Pu Peo ethnic group

Name of ethnic group: Pu Peo (Ka Beo, Penti, and Lo Lo).
Population: 705 people (Year 1999).
Locality: Concentrated along the Sino-Vietnamese border in Dong Van, Yen Minh, and Meo Vac districts of Ha Giang Province.
Language: Kadai

 

 
   

 

   

Customs and habits
Houses are usually built on the ground in tiny clusters be side a Hoa or H'Mong village. Each family lineage has its own system of middle names. Pu Peo society follows a patriarchal system, as the father or husband has the right to own the house. The Pu Peo attach great importance to ancestral worship. Small earthen jars, each symbolizing a generation, are often placed on their altar.
Culture
The Pu Peo language resembles that of the Co Lao, La Chi and La Ha, and belongs to the Kadai Group. The Pu Peo hold ceremonies to pray for peace and the beginning of the new working season. This particular ceremony is held during the New Year in the first half of the first lunar month, and continues to the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. The Pu Peo are one of few ethnic groups still using bronze drums. In Pu Peo custom, male and female drums sets exist.
Costumes
The attire of Pu Peo women still maintain their vibrant colours as pieces of different coloured cloths are sewn to make colourful designs. They wear scarves, skirts, vests, and aprons. The men, however, dress like other ethnic groups in the region.
Economy
The Pu Peo farm on burned land and terraced fields, growing maize, rice, rye, and beans. Their farm tools include ploughs and harrows. They use buffaloes and oxen to serve as draught animals. Their staple food is steam cooked corn flour.

 

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