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  Vietnam Ethnic Groups
  The Nung Ethnic Group
Proper name: Nung
Population: 705,709 people
Local groups: Nung Giang, Nung Xuong, Nung An, Nung Inh, Nung Loi, Nung Chao, Nung Phan Sling, Nung Quy Rin, Nung Din…
Language: The Nung language belongs to the Tay-Thai language group (Tai-Kadai language family), and is in the same group with the Tay, Thai, and Choang of China
History: The majority of the Nung immigrated to Vietnam two or three centuries ago from Quang Tay, China
Production activities
The Nung are very good at cultivating fields. However, because they live on places where wet fields can not be exploited, they have to work on terraced fields instead. Beside corn and rice, the Nung also plant some other root vegetables, calabashes, and green vegetables.
The Nung know how to make many handicraft products from weaving, metal working, poonah-paper making, and tile making. Though many of those handicrafts are family traditions, they are still secondary professions, and done during spare time when there is a break from farming. Moreover, handicraft products serve mainly family needs. Today, some of them are diminishing (weaving), and some are preserved and highly developed (metal working). In Phuc Xen village (Quang Hoa, Cao Bang), many families practice blacksmithing, and there is at least one person in each family knows how to hammer well.
Nung makets are highly developed. They go to fairs to trade, sell, and buy goods. Young people, especially the Nung Phan Slinh group, like to go to fairs and sing love duets
Diet: In many regions, the Nung eat mainly corn. Corn is ground into flour to make thick soup. Foods are fried, stir-fried, or well-cooked, but seldom boiled. Many people don’t eat water buffalo, beef, or dog meat
Clothing: The Nung’s traditional clothes are fairly simple, and are often made from rough, handmade, self-dyed fabrics, and have almost no embroidery or decorations. Men wear shirts with standing collars, which have cloth buttons. Women wear long shirts with 5 panels, buttoned up under the right arm
Housing: the Nung live in the northeast of the country, and mix in together with the Tay. They stay mostly in stilt houses. Some live in earthen houses built with paper or brick walls. In the past, on the border, there were houses built like a fort with blockhouses and loopholes to prevent and defend robbers
Transportation: Traditional ways of transportation are carrying goods in the arms, on the shoulders, and using shoulder poles. In some places today, the Nung use carriages with ties or runners, which are pulled by animals as a mean of transportation
Social organization: Before August Revolution, Nung society had developed as much as the Tay’s. Fields and terraces had become private possessions, and thus could be transferred or sold. Two social classes were formed: landlords and tenants
Marriage: Young Nung men and women are free to date and to love. While dating, they often give gifts to each other. A young man may give his girl a shoulder pole, a basket for storing cotton (hap li), a basket for storing thread (com lot). In return, a girl may give her young man a shirt and an embroidered bag. It is the parents, however, who decide if a couple can marry each other. They need to see if the two families are of the same social rank, and if the fates of the two children match together. The bride’s family often demands gifts or meat, rice, wine, and some money. The more the gifts are, the higher the girl’s value is said to be. Marriage has to go through many steps, and the most important one is the ceremony to bring the bride to the groom’s family. After the wedding, the wife still stays with her own family until she is about to give birth, then she will move to her husband’s house
Funerals: There are many rituals with the main goal: to bring the dead person’s spirit to the next world
New house: Building a new house is one of the Nung’s most important tasks. Therefore, when it happens, the Nung pay close attention in choosing the land, the direction, the day to move in. they do all of these steps carefully in hopes that in the new house, they will have a prosperous life
Beliefs: The Nung mainly worship their ancestors. The altar is put in the house, and is nicely decorated. In the center of the altar is a monument (phung slan) written in Chinese that records the origin of a family. In addition, the Nung also worship theland God, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, Midwife, door’s ghost (phi hang chan), etc. They hold worshipping rituals when there is natural disaster, or disease plague. In contrast to the Tay, the Nung celebrate the birthday, not the anniversary of an individual’s death
Festivals: The Nung celebrate lunar New Year like the Vietnamese and the Tay
Calendar: The Nung use the lunar calendar
Education: The Nung use a script based on Chinese characters, and read in Nung and Tay-Nung language, which is based on the Latin script
Artistic activities: Sli is love duet for young men and women to sing in groups. Often, two boys sing with two girls. They sing sli together on holidays and festival occasions, at a fair, or even on trains, cars
Entertainment: For festivals and holidays, there are games such as throwing shuttlecock, badminton, spinning top, and tug of war, etc
  Se Dang Ethnic Group
Proper name: Xo Teng (Hdang, Xdang, Hdra), Mnam, Ca Dong, Ha Lang (Xlang), Tay Tri (Tay Tre), Chau
Other names: Hdang, Kmrang, Con lan, Brila
Population: 96,766 people
Local groups: Xo Teng, To Dra, Mnam, Ca Dong, Ha Lang, Tay Tri, Chau
Language: Sedang language belongs to the Mon-Khmer language family (Austroasitatic language family). Their language is very similar to Hre, Bahnar and Gie-Trieng languages. There are some different vocabularies among groups. The Sedang use the Latin alphabet for their writing system
History: The Sedang are long time inhabitants around the area of Truong Son – Tay Nguyen central highlands regions in Quang Nam, Quang Ngai provinces
Economic activities: A faction of the Sedang practice wet-rice cultivation. Their cultivation technique is not all that well-developed. They work the fields by herding water buffaloes into it, so that the buffalo’s hooves work the soil. They use hoes, which are made from wood (steel ones are used now). The majority of Sedang work on terraced fields, using the same techniques and tools as other ethnic groups in the region. They use the axe and machete to cut down trees, and then burn them. To plant seedlings, a hole in the ground is made using a pointed digging stick with an iron tip. To weed, the Sedang use little hoes made from tree branches. At harvest, the Sedang pluck the ears of rice off with their hands. In addition to rice, the Sedang also plant millet, corn, cassava, pumpkin, tobacco, melon, pineapple, banana, sugar cane, etc. traditional domestic animals are water buffaloes, goats, pigs, dogs, and chickens. Fruit picking, hunting and fishing are also play an important role in their economy. Among the Sedang, weaving appears in many regions. Hammerings is highly developed within the To Dra group. They know how to transform one into iron for hammering. In some places, the Sedang are gold-washers. Bamboo is also developed to produce household furniture. Although barrier trade was commonly practiced, nowadays, the Sedang use money for most of their transactions
Diet: The Sedang eat rice and sticky rice with chili salt and food hunted or gathered in the forest. Only when worshipping do the Sedang eat meat and poultry. Popular foods included soup cooked with vegetables or bamboo shoot mixed with fish and meat, snails, and grilled foods. The Sedang drink fresh water (many boiled water nowadays), and wine. There is a special wine made from millet which is much better then from rice or cassava.
In some places, the Sedang have the custom of eating betel nut. Men and women both smoke tobacco into powder and chew it instead of smoking it
Clothing: Men wear loin cloths. Women wear skirts and blouses. When it is cold, they wrap themselves in blankets. In the ancient past, many of the Sedang wore clothes made from bark. Today, Sedang men wear clothes in a style similar to the Viet, and women wear shirts and skirts made from ready made materials. Sedang traditional textiles are either white or lack, with only a little black, white or red decoration
Lifestyle: The Sedang live in Kon Tum province, Tra My and Phuoc Son district of Quang Nam province, and Son Tay district of Quang Ngai province. The largest population of Sedang is around the Ngoc Linh Mountain. They live in stilt houses. In the past, the Sedang households used to live together in a longhouse, but now there is a greater tendency to split into small family units. The location of houses differs among groups; in some groups, private houses are clustered around a communal house. Building techniques rely on the use of columns, and fiber lashings hold the various architectural elements together. There are two rows of columns in each house
Transportation: The Sedang use carrying baskets those vary in form and technique. Some are thickly woven, others are of thin weave. Some baskets have lids, others do not; some are decorated. Men have their own three-compartment baskets (some in the form of a snail, others resembling bat wings) which they carry on the shoulder to transport just about everything
Social organization: Each village is self-ruled, with the eldest man as its leader. The village’s territory is communal, and every individual has the right to own land. Even though there has long been a distinction between rich and poor, there has not been a practice for the former exploiting the later. In the past, there was servitude, but servants were not badly treated. A sense of community is highly regarded
Marriage: This custom is a bit different in each region. However, it is a popular Sedang custom that after the wedding, the couple rotates the residence every couple of years so that they can live with both set of parents. The couple will live permanently in one place only after both sets of parents are deceased. In the wedding, the groom and bride chicken thighs, wine, and food which symbolize the connection between the two. Marriage is not commercialized
Funerals: Everyone in the village comes to offer their condolences, and to help with the funeral. The coffin is made from unpolished wood. People are normally buried in the village cemetery. Sedang funeral customs aren’t completely analogous to those of other ethnic groups in the region: the ceremony to abandon the tomb, characteristic of the Bahnar and Giarai, does not exist everywhere. The custom of chia cua (conservation of property like the clothing, personal objects, farming tools and household utensils, etc.) for the deceased is widespread
Beliefs: The Sedang believe in supernatural powers. Gods and ghosts are called Kiak (Kia), or “Ong”, “ba”, some places call them Yang. Important gods are Lighting God, the Sun God, Mountain God, Rice God, and Water God. The water God is in the image of a serpent, or a big eel, or a pig with a white nose. The Sedang Rice God is in the image of an ugly, old but kind woman, who later becomes frog. There are many rituals offered to supernatural powers to pray for good harvest, for peace, and to send away bad lack
Festivals: The most important festivals are the rituals to the Water God on the yearly occasion of repairing water pipes. There are other rituals held at the beginning of each crop season, while seeding, in the middle of the crop season, when harvesting, when there is someone sick, when building a new house, when children are grown up, etc. There are many communal religious festivals such as the offering sacrifices to the Water God and the buffalo sacrifice held by a family or a village. Traditional holidays happen at different times in different villages and families, but they usually occur in January and lasts for 3 to 4 days
Calendar: There are 10 months in the Sedang calendar connected to the agricultural cycle. There is a rest after the harvest to wait for a new crop. Each month has 30 days. Each day is divided into specific moments and called different names. There are good days and bad days. For examples, the last day of a month is good for planting corn; if the Sedang chop down bamboo at this time, it is said that they can use it for a long time and it won’t spoilt
Artistic activities: The Sedang have many kinds of musical instruments (two-stringed Chinese violin, flute, pipe, drum, gong, horn, etc.). Some are for daily use; some are for festival use only. Instruments and melodies are different among groups. Popular types of music are: call and response or alternating verse of young couples, songs of grown-ups, lullabies. The Sedang perform dances in some festivals; there are specific dances foe men, women, and both together. Sedang folktales are rich and distinctive
  The Sandiu Ethnic Group
Proper name: San Deo Nhin (or Son Dao Nhan)
Other names: Trai, Trai Dat, Man quan coc (which means “man-in-shorts”), Man vay xe (“man in split cloth”)
Population: 93,530 people
History: The Sandiu migrated to Vietnam about 300 years ago
Production activities: The Sandiu cultivate more on dry fields and less on submerged fields. Apart from their common crops such as rice, maize and manioc, they also grow many kinds of root plants. The Sandiu have long used manure to fertilize the soil. Thanks to an extra blade, their ploughshares are much shaper and, thus, more suitable for cultivating the tough and gravelly land of the Sandiu region
Diet: The Sandiu mainly eat ordinary rice, often mixed with sweet potatoes and manioc. After meals, they like to have watery porridge of a type also enjoyed by the Nung
Clothing: The traditional costume of the Sandiu women includes a black shawl and a long blouse with single or double layers. If a double-layered blouse is worn, there is a white shorter blouse inside the indigo-colored outer blouse, a red brassiere and a white, pink or blue belt. Their dress is made from two separate laps connected in one hem; its length stretches to the knees. It is dyed indigo while the waist-band is white in color. Sandiu jewelry for women is comprised of a necklace, bracelet, earrings and the silvery sa tich. Sandiu men’s costume is much like the Viet’s style: traditionally, they wind their hair on the top of the head, and wear turbans, black ao dai (traditional long dress), and white pantaloons
Lifestyle: The Sandiu mainly live in the midlands in the northern region, from the left-bank of the Red River to the east. Their villages are similar to Viet villages, often surrounded by bamboo rows and fences between houses. They live in cottages with earthen or plank walls
Transportation: Apart from using their shoulders to carry things, they also use the no-wheel carts as a means of transporting goods. This cart is made of bamboo and wood, drawn on sled ties by buffaloes and used for transporting everything from rice to fire-wood, to manure. Because the cart does not have wheels, it operates well on a variety of terrains
Social organization: Before the August Renovation in 1945, land and fields had been privatized and social classes was clearly defined. Landlords and rich peasants occupied most of the land and fields and exploited peasants and farmers though renting land, hiring labor, and charging high interest loans. In addition to the administrative government, each village has a chief elected by the people to govern public affairs
Marriage: Boys and girls are given the freedom to love, but their marriage also depends on their “destiny” and on their parents’ final decisions
There are many rites in a Sandiu wedding ceremony. Most notably, there is often a ceremony called le khai hoa tuu (opening ceremony of the flower liquor) at the home or the girl’s family. People prepare a bottle of wine and a dish on which two pieces of paper flowers are put – the white flower is put under the red one which rests on top. Two boiled eggs are put on the dish, threaded with red string and tied with two coins on either ends. After worshiping, the shells of the boiled eggs are taken off and their yolk is mixed with the wine for a drink toasting the couple
Funerals: When the dead body is lowered into the grave, his or her children standing at the foot of the coffin should crawl around the grave. The boys should do it from the left, and the girls do it in the opposite direction. They should be pushing the soil into the grave while crawling. When they stand up, each one will take a handful of soil and run fast towards their homes and put he soils into the buffalo pens and pigsties with the hope that the cattle and animals will grow quickly. Then they will also run into their houses, and sit in a rice basket in belief that those whose have lots of rice sticking to their bodies will be the lucky ones. Finally, each person tears a piece from a boiled chicken to eat. The eldest will get the cockscomb and those next in line receive the head, neck, and wings
The grave house is often flat-roofed structure covered with forest leaves. In an exhumation ceremony, the bones of the deceased are put in a small earthenware coffin or a big jar and arranged in a sitting manner. If a fortunate day has yet to be selected beforehand, the dead will be re-buried at the foot of a hill or on a field bank
New house: When a person or a family builds a house, relatives and villagers are willing to come and help out without being asked to do so. To celebrate a new house, the house owner should invite an elder in the lineage to bring fire, a lime pot and seeds into the house
Beliefs: Usually three incense bowls are put on the altar to worship ancestors, the shaman and the Kitchen God. If the host is not initiated, there will be only two incense bowls. An incense bowl is also put on the altar but at a lower level to worship the dead. In addition, the Sandiu also worship earth spirits at joss houses and the village’s tutelary god at shrines
Festivals: The Sandiu also celebrate different festivals like other groups in their regions. In particular, the winter Tet season expresses their hopes for many descendants. Couples who do not have a child long after their marriage will move to live at the parents’ house after the Tet festival. The husband, then, will send a middle man to ask his wife back and they will hold a brand new wedding ceremony
Calendar: The Sandiu respect the lunar calendar
Education: In the past, young people learned Chinese to become ritual specialists, but few know Chinese today
Artistic activities: Like other groups, Sandiu couples also sing alternating songs at night, which they call soong co. Some performances last for several nights
  The Hoa Ethnic Group
Other names: Khach, Han, Tau.
Population: 900,185 people
Local groups: Quang Dong, Quang Tay, Hai Nam, Trieu Chau, Phuc Kien, Sang Phang, Xia PHong, Thang Nham, Minh Huong, He…
Language: The Hoa or ethnic Chinese, speak a language belonging to the Chinese, language group (Sino-Tibetan language family)
History: The Hoa have migrated to Vietnam in different periods since the 15th century. Later on, other waves of Hoa immigrants came at the end of the Minh, or beginning of the 20th century
Production activities: In rural areas, the Hoa live mainly as farmers, who plant rice in wet fields. In urban areas, they are active in trading in service businesses. Handicrafts, such as pottery making, is highly developed (in Quang Ninh, Song Be, Dong Nai provinces), as is paper and incense making (in Ho Chi Minh City). Fishing and salt production are economic of a small group of Hoa who live along the coastline. In business, the Hoa always respect the word “trust”
Diet: Rice is the main food. However, they often eat wanton, rice noodle soup, and stir-fried noodles. In middle class family people eat rice soup with salty duck eggs for breakfast. The Hoa have good cooking techniques. They prefer stir-fried dishes with lots of spices. Hoa drinks, on top of quenching one’s thirst, are also considered as medicine: good for the whole body. Ginseng tea, chrysanthemum tea…are popular drinks in every family. On festival occasions, men like to drink wine. Many people smoke tobacco, including women, especially the elderly ones
Clothing: Hoa traditional dress can only be seen on old people, or on special occasions like weddings and funerals. Women like to wear a blouse with a high collar, buttoned down along one side, and high cuts along each side panel. The long Hoa dress, tight around the hip, and with high cut panel along one side, is also very popular. Women, especially young ones, like to dress in red, pink or dark colors. The men wear black, or dark green shirts, which have buttons on one side, standing collar, and cut panels on the two sides. The shirt with four laps, standing collar, cut in the middle and with pockets, is also popular for men. The women are fond of jewelry, especially bracelets (made of brass, gold, stone, or jade), earrings, and necklaces. The men like to implant gold teeth as an accessory
Housing: Those who are farmers form their own villages that usually lie on the foothills, on terraces, and along beaches. The above sites have the advantage of being close to water sources, and are convenient for traffic and transportation. In the villages, those who have houses close to each other’s are usually relatives. In urban areas, they form their own Hoa neighborhoods
There are three kinds of houses: those with 3 rooms and 2 wings, those shaped like a gate, and those with shapes like w mouth. They are usually built from stones and bricks, have earthen wall, and have either tile or thatched roofs. Altars to worship ancestors, Buddha, and God stand out in the Hoa house. Carved wooden couplets or parallel sentences, scrolls, and Chinese calligraphy on pink paper pray for luck, success, and peace and are also popular things to hang in the house
Social organization: The Hoa are highly patriarchal and there are evident differences between the rich and the poor. Relationships among relatives are very important. Each family tree has an ancestor temple for worshipping. Every year, on a specific day, everyone in the family gets together for the anniversary of their ancestors’ death. Business groups and guilds have the same tradition as well. They all have an ancestor founder and a yearly anniversary day. The Hoa have stable, monogamous marriages, and patriarchal family structure. Marriage usually occurs within people of the same local group. The head of a family line, the matchmaker, and local officials play an important role in a marriage. Today, women get married fairly late (average age is 28, 30), and have fewer children (2 to 3 each family)
Festivals: There are many holidays in a year: the Lunar New Year, the festival of the first moon night of the year Pure Light festival, double Five Festival (on the 5th day of 5th lunar month), all Soul’s Day (15th day of 7th lunar month), mid-autumn festival. The Hoa Lunar New Year lasts from those final days of one year to the 15th of January of the next year (lunar calendar). The festival to celebrate the year’s 1st moon is the most important Hoa event, where prominent religious and traditional cultural activities occur
Beliefs: Ancestors, family spirits, guardian Gods (kitchen God, land God, and the God of wealth), and Buddha are popular worshipped figures. Pagodas and temples are widely developed. They are also the Hoa’s place for a social headquarters or a school, and where communal activities and festivals take place
Education: The Chinese language is taught and studied in grade school
Artistic activities: The Hoa have varieties of traditional culture activities, such as singing, dancing, comedy, etc. they also play a wide range of instruments: several kinds of flutes, moon-shaped flute, zither, two-string Chinese violin, etc. skylark singing (san co) is enjoyed by many younger ones. The popular amateur cultural group that has traditionally been around is called “nhac xa”. Lion, tiger, and dragon dances are popular artistic shows, which are performed everywhere in big festivals and on New Year’s
  The Viet Ethnic Group
Other name: Kinh
Language: The Viet have their own language and writing system. Vietnamese belongs to the Viet-Muong language group (of the Austroasiatic language family)
History: Since ancient times, the ancestors of the Viet had settled in Northern and central Vietnam. Throughout their history, the Viet have played an important of drawing together and uniting all the other ethnic groups to build up and to protect the nation
Production activities: Viet agricultural is based on wet rice cultivation, and was developed very early. Through many, many generations of working in the rice fields, the Viet’s ancestors summarized all the experience of what needed for a crop to be successful in just couple of profound words” First water, second fertilizer, third hard work, fourth good seeds.” The grand system of dikes and dams which the Viet have today served as eloquent proof of their forefather’s persistent spirit in conquering hardships to live and to produce. Raising pigs, poultry, birds, and fishing are also fairly developed among the especially precious animal to the farmer. The Viet are renown in producing a wide variety of handicrafts. More than few handicraft villages have [parted from the work of farming. Village markets, fairs, and district markets are very busy. Today, metropolitan areas and industrial sites are developing more and more as the nation industrialized and modernized
Diet: “Rice, green tea” are said to form the basic everyday food and drink of the Viet people. Sticky rice is only used in festivals occasions. Fish, vegetable or crab soups often appear as part of the daily meals. The Viet are especially fond of eating sauces made from shrimp, fish and crab, and pickles made from green onions, mustard greens, egg-plant, etc. Sweet soya sauce and other spices like chili, garlic, and ginger are popular. Alcohol is consumed at parties and festival occasions. In the past, eating betel nuts, and smoking tobacco by water pipes were popular, but were also part of Viet customs and rituals
Clothing: In the olden days, a Viet man used to wear chan que trousers ( a kind of wide-legged pants that looked like a skirt), with a brown shirt (in the North) or a black shirt (in the South). Traditionally, the Viet did not wear shoes. On special occasions white trousers, a long black shirt, pleated ready-to-wear turban, and wooden sandals were worn. Viet women traditionally black skirts and brown blouses. In the North, they wore black scarves. On festivals occasions, Viet women wore the traditional ao dai, which have remained popular today. In the winter, both men and women wore double layer cotton jackets. Dresses for different ages were distinguished not by style, but usually by different colors and sizes. The quality of textiles distinguished the clothing of the wealthy from those who were less affluent. Only the wealthy wore jewelry
At the beginning of the century, Viet men in rural areas were seen to wear only loincloths
Lifestyle: The Viet usually live in one story houses. Their houses were combinations of living quarters-yards-gardens-ponds. The main house used to have from three to five rooms with the middle one being the most important, where the ancestor’s altars were placed. Other areas were places where all family activities and relaxation took place. There were always little wings where the women slept and where foods and family possessions were kept. Kitchens were located nest to pigsties. In many Southern provinces, kitchens were built nest to the main living quarters. Yards, used for drying things, family activities, as well as for relaxing, are well suited to the region’s humid, tropical climate
Transportation: The Viet transport their goods by road and water, using a variety of methods: - By road: carrying a basket or things on the shoulder using different kinds of carrying poles, such as ganh quang, ganh cap, don ganh, don soc and don can, etc.; carrying items using a stick or don khieng; carrying by a stretcher of mat sacks and sackcloth, pack-saddling goods using bicycles, pull carts, buffalo and ox carts. – By water: using boats, rafts, floats, canoes and ships. Each of these means has different shapes, sizes, materials and devices
Social organization: The majority of the Viet live in villages. Several villages form a commute district. Many of these communes are actually part of one big village, and smaller villagers may just be split from the main village. There are different hamlets in a village, some are bigger than others. Before the Revolution system-fairly efficient self-ruled, the ruler’s group was called Phe Giap. They united the villagers to take care of all the village’s affairs from managing labors to matters of etiquette to worshiping village’s founders. Handcraft villages organized guilds for each profession. Within a village, the segregation between villagers and outsiders was outlined in its charter. A village’s traditions and customs were highly regarded and every one followed them conscientiously
Family: Viet families are mostly small, with two generations living together in a patriarchal system. Nevertheless, women still play an important role in managing the family’s economy
The Viet have numerous family names, and some of the most popular one are Nguyen, Tran, Le, Pham, Vu…, which can be seen everywhere. Each family clan has its own worshiping house. There are many of shoots in a family clan, and there are many branches in an offshoot. Each of these branches includes grandparents, parents, sisters, and brothers. Relations from the father’s side are well-kept from generation to generation. Relatives are close and loving to each other
Marriage: Loyalty in love is of utmost importance to the Viet. Under feudal rules, parents chose wives and husbands for their children. Nowadays, young men and women are free to choose their life partners. These are the traditional steps which a young Viet couples goes through to become husband and wife:
- Proposing: The groom’s family asks a matchmaker to go to the future bride’s family to propose the marriage
- Engagement: The groom’s family buys offerings and gifts to bring the bride’s house for official talks with her parents and relatives
- Wedding: The ancestors are worshipped, gifted are presented to families, relatives and friends of both sides, and the groom comes to take the bride to his home
- Revisiting: The newly-wed couple revisits the bride’s family. It is only upon completion of all of the above elaborated rituals, and the legal registration, that the young couple then becomes husband and wife
Funerals: Viet funerals are very solemn, highly ritualized, and include all these steps: shrouding, putting the body in the coffin, saying farewell, lowering the coffin into a grave, food offerings, weekly ritual sacrifices, one hundred days’ ritual, exhumation, etc…Every “Pure Light” day, every Chinese New Year, and every death anniversary, each family visits their loved ones at the grave. The Viet regard exhumation as a very sacred ritual
New House: There is a popular sentence: “marry a kind wife, build your house facing south.” House that faces the South will be warm in the winter, cool in the summer. When building a new house, besides choosing the right direction, the owner’s age has to be examined to pick out a good date to start construction. Once construction is completed, a good date needs to be selected again to bringing ancestors to the new house, and to celebrate the new house
Beliefs: The worshipping of ancestors is the most important practice of the Viet. They usually place the ancestral altar in the grandest place in the house. Rituals are held for every festival occasion, every full moon, and the first day of the lunar month etc. The custom of worshipping the House God and Kitchen God are popular as well. More than a few families worship Buddha and the God of Wealth at home. In every village, there are temples for the founder; pagodas for Buddha, places to worship Confucius, etc…There are sections of the population in both rural and urban areas whom are Catholics, Christian, Caodist, etc…
Festivals: The Chinese or lunar New Year is the biggest holiday of the year, followed by many spring festivals. There are other festival occasions, though, such as the first full moon of a year, day of “Pure Light”, double Five Festival (on 5th day of the 5th Lunar month), Autumn Festival, etc. Each of these has its own meanings and ceremonial rituals
Calendar: For a long time, the lunar calendar has been used in the Viet’s lives, customs, and religions. They use it to count age, count death anniversaries, count planning days for crops, count bag and good days for big occasions such as building a house, wedding, funeral, etc. Nevertheless, the Western calendar is the official one, which is used more regularly nowadays
Education: The Viet have moved from using Chinese and Vietnamese characters to the writing system used today. In the old kingdom of Thang Long (present-day Hanoi), the Ly dynasty had built the Temple of Literature, considered the first national university of Vietnam, to train intellectuals
Literature and arts: There are rich varieties of folktales and literature such as fairy-tales, folk songs, pop songs, proverb, etc, which reflect the people’s lives. They contribute profoundly to preserving the national character. Written literature had also reaped successes under the Ly and Tran Dynasties. The 15th century gave birth to talented writers such as Nguyen Trai, Nguyen Binh Khiem, House Xuan Huong, etc…Other arts like fine arts, music, and theatre are highly developed and professional
Entertainment: The Viet have games for different ages, genders, seasons, individuals and groups. There are games that require refined enjoyment such as releasing birds, flying kites, playing chess. There are sporty and communal games like tug-of-war, swings, wrestling, and boat racing. Many games bear the nation’s history and characters such as rice cooking competitions. Children’s games are countless, and differ in each region. Spring festivals are where traditional games are most prominent
  The H'mong Ethnic Group
Proper name: Hmong, Na Mieo
Other names: Meo, Mieu Ha, Man Trang
Local groups: White Hmong, Chinese Hmong, Red Hmong, Black Hmong, Green Hmong, Na Mieo
Population: 558,053 people
Language: The Hmong speak a language that belongs to the Hmong – Dao language family
Production activities: Farming is done on terraced or swidden fields where corns, rice, and wheat are planted. The farmers inter-plant other crops together with the main product, including such crops as lotus, potato, vegetable, peanut, sesame, beans, etc. The plough of the Hmong is famous for its good quality as well as its efficiency. Growing flax, poppy (in the past), and fruit trees such as apple, pear, peach, plum, together with weaving flax are distinctive activities of the Hmong. The Hmong raise water buffaloes, cows, pigs, chickens, and horses. The horse is the most effective source of transportation in these mountainous areas, and they are beloved animals of each Hmong family. The Hmong handicraft industry is well-developed with works like embroidery blacksmithing, and the making of horse saddles, wooden furniture, rice paper and silver jewelry. All of the above items are produced according to need. Though the Hmong practice their crafts part-time, their products, such as ploughs, barrels, and wooden furniture are quite famous and well known. Markets of the Hmong satisfy not only the trading need but also fulfill their other social pursuits as well
Diet: The Hmong usually eat 2 meals per day, but during harvesting time, they increase to 3 meals per day. There are traditional dishes in a daily meal, like steam corn flour or rice, fried vegetables and soups. The Hmong use wooden spoons to eat the corn flour, and rice on holidays and festivals. The Hmong like to drink wine made from corn and wine. They smoke tobacco in long pipes. Offering guests pipe which the tobacco is stuffed by the host is an affectionate gesture of hospitality. In the past, smoking opium was fairly popular
Clothing: Hmong clothing is rich in color and types. White Hmong women grow flax, and weave it into textiles. They dress in white skirts, and buttoned shirts ornamented with embroidery patterns on the sleeves and back. They shave some of their hair, and wrap a long scarf around their head. Chinese Hmong women wear indigo skirts with a flower patterns embroidery design. They wear quilted tops which split above the under arm. Hmong women wear their hair long, and wrapped in a bunch affixed with a twig. Black Hmong wear skirts made from indigo, ornamented with batik flower-patterns, and buttoned shirts. Green Hmong women wear long wrapped skirts. Those who are married arrange their hair in a chignon or bun on the top of their head, and fastened with a little bone or animal hoof comb. On top of that, they wear a scarf that is tied in the shape of two horns. The main decorations on their dresses are made by quilting and embroidery
Housing: The Hmong live gathered in villages, each one composed of several dozen households. Their houses are one story, with 3 rooms, 2 wings, and 2 or 3 doors. The family altar is located in the middle room. The houses of well-to-do families may be decorated with wallpaper, have wooden columns placed on pumpkin-shaped stone, tiled roof, and wooden floors. The altar is placed in the middle room. More typical, though, are houses made with bamboo walls and straw roofs. Food-staffs are stored on high shelves. In some places, there are food storage areas right next to residential houses. Cattle barns are paved with planks, and are high and clean. In high mountainous areas, there is often a big space between two houses, and there are 2-meter-tall stone walls to separate them
Transportation: The Hmong use horses for transportation. They use carrying baskets that have two handles
Social organization: There are many skin lines in a village, and several prominent lines that tend to play a more decisive role in the village’s social structure. The head of the village takes care of all the disputes, either by fine or by social pressure. Inhabitants of each village voluntarily follow its rule in agricultural production, cattle raising, forest protection, and more over in helping each other. The Hmong pay a great deal of attention to family branches which share the same ancestors. Each of these has some special traits, which are evident in rituals to honor the ancestors and the spirits, and include how many incense bowls there are, where they are placed, and how to pray. There are also differences in the funeral customs of different branches of a family: where the corpse is placed in the house, how to leave the dead outside before burying, where to locate the graves, etc. People in the same kinship line, though do not necessarily always knows each other, and though they belong to different generations, could still recognize each other by these special customs, it’s a taboo for people in the same family line to marry each other, because those kinsmen are very close. The head of a family tree has much authority, is respected and trusted by every one. The Hmong have small patriarchal families. The bride, once she is introduced in the wedding ritual and walks through her husband’s family’s doorway, is said to completely belong to the husband’s family line. Husbands and wives are very affectionate, and are always side by side; they go to the market, work in the terrace, and visit relatives, etc, together
Beliefs: There are many sacred places in the house that are reserved specifically for worshiping, such as a place for ancestors, for house spirits, door spirit, and kitchen spirit. Those men who are traditional healers or ritual specialists have altars to worship the founders of their profession, there are many rituals duding which the strangers are forbidden to walk into the Hmong’s houses and villages. After worshiping a spirit to pray for someone, a good-luck charm is worn
Education: The Hmong writing though edited like the national alphabet since the 60s is no longer widely used today
Festivals: While the Vietnamese are busy to finish those last days of the year, the Hmong have already started those first days of the next year. Counting by the Vietnamese Lunar Calendar, the Hmong’s New Year is in December to coincide with their traditional agricultural calendar, and it is about one month earlier than the Vietnamese Tet. During the New Year’s Festival, villages play shuttlecock, swing, flute, and sing and dance at public areas around the villages. The second biggest holiday is the 5th of May (lunar calendar). Outside these two, depending on location, some places celebrate the 3rd of March, 13th of June, or 7th of July holidays (of the lunar calendar)
Artistic activities: Young people like to play pan-flutes while dancing. Flutes and drums are also used in funerals, when visiting someone, or during worshipping. Flutes made from leaves and whistles are vehicles for young people to express their feelings
  The Cham Ethnic Group
Other name: Cham, Chiem, Chiem Thanh Cham Pa, Hoi, etc
Local groups: Cham Hroi, Cham Poong, Cha Va Ku and Cham Chau Doc.
Population: 98,971 people
Language: Cham language belongs to the Malyo-Polynesian language family
History: The Cham, who have lived along the coast of central Vietnam for a long time, possess a rich culture profoundly influenced by Indian culture. Until the 17th century, the Cham had successfully maintained their own nation, known as Cham Pa. The local population is composed of two groups: those living in Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan believing in Brahmanism, with a smaller group following Bani (old Islam). Those residing in Chau Doc, Tay Ninh, Dong Nai and House Chi Minh City follow what is referred to as new Islam
Production activities: The Cham have a tradition of wet rice cultivation. They are experienced in intensive farming and gardening and use irrigation. Apart from wet rice cultivation, the Cham also cultivate an annual crop of rice on dried swidden fields located on the mountainsides. Meanwhile the economy of the Cham living in the South is characterized by fishing, agriculture, textile weaving and small-scale enterprise. Handicrafts are fairly well-developed, especially silkworm textiles and handmade pottery wares that are baked in open kilns. The Cham engaged early on in external trade with other population, as the central coast used to be a busy hub for commercial transactions by famous merchant ships
Diet: The Cham eat rice cooked in large and small earthen pots. It is often accompanied by fish, meat and bulb vegetables, which are obtained from hunting, gathering, husbandry and agricultural production. Popular drinks are rice and can (pipe) wines. Betel chewing is very important to people’s daily life and traditional rituals
Clothing: Both men and women wear long one-piece sarongs or cloth wrappers. Men wear shirts fastened down the center with buttons, while women wear long-sleeved pullover blouses. The main color of their daily dress is cotton white. Nowadays, the Cham dress like the Viet in other parts of central Vietnam, with long-sleeved blouses which is only worn by elderly women
Lifestyle: The majority of Cham live in Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan. They build their houses on the ground, with the rooms being arranged according to a particular order: the sitting room, rooms for the parents, children, and married women, the kitchen and warehouse (including the granary), and the nuptial room of the youngest daughter
Transportation: Te chief means of transporting goods and produces is the back-basket. The Cham are also expert boat builders, which serves river and sea fishing. They also make heavy-weight buffalo carts for transporting large quantities of goods by land
Social organization: The Cham family is traditionally matriarchal, though in the past Cham society was a feudal one. In areas where people follow Islam, the family structure may be somewhat patriarchal, although traces of matriarchal still exist in family relationships and ancestors worship. The local population was originally divided into two major family lineages, including Cau and Dua, such as the Nie and Mlo of Ede then became a working class, while the Dua was the class of aristocracy and priests. Under each lineage were the mother-governed sub-lineages, always headed by an aged woman, of the youngest lineage. The lineages can have numerous family branches. The ancient Cham society also set out ranks for different social classes, including that of the ancient Indian society. The social classes lived in different areas, and there were certain barriers between them that prevented cross-marriage, co-existence in the same village, eating from a shared tray of food
Marriage: Cham women take the initiative in marriages. The couple lives with the wife’s family, and children are named after the family name of the mother. Wedding gifts are prepared by the bride’s family. Monogamy is a principle of all marriages
Funerals: Cham traditions have two forms of sending the deceased to the world beyond: burial and cremation. Brahmanists often cremate the deceased according to their religious principles, while other Cham bury their loves ones. Members of the same family lineage are buried in the same place as their mother
Building a New House: the Cham living in Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan believe that they have to perform certain religious rituals before the building of a new house, particularly praying for the land’s god and asking for his permission to cut down trees in the forest. A ritual is also held to receive the trees when they are transported to the village. A ground-breaking ceremony called phat moc is also held
Festivals: Various agricultural rites are performed each year. These include ceremonies for the opening of a canal and embankment, for young rice, for the appearance of paddy ears. The most important event, called Bon Kate, is held by the Cham towers in the tenth moth of the lunar year
Calendar: The Cham make their agricultural schedule based on the lunar calendar. Education: The Cham developed their own writing system early. Many literary works written on stelae and ancient manuscripts are still preserved today. The Cham script is based upon Sanskrit, but its use is limited to the upper classes of the aristocracy and priests. Instruction and professional training is essentially transmitted orally and by memorization
Artistic activities: Among the more striking Cham musical instruments are their drums with leather drum heads, called Paranung, cylindrical drums, and the xaranai clarinet. Cham folk songs and ancient Cham music have influenced considerably the music and folk songs of the Viet people in the central parts of Vietnam, particularly cylindrical drum music, songs relating sad or tragic stories, and traditional songs of Hue. Traditional Cham dances are also found in the important annual event of Ban Kate held by the Cham towers
Games: Children are font of games such as kite flying, mock combats, flag seizing, hide and seek, etc
  The Dao Ethnic Group
Proper name: Kim Mien, Kim Mun (jungle people)
Other names: Man
Population: 473,945 people
Local groups: Dao Do or Red Dao (Dao Coc ngang, Dao sung, Dao Du lay, Dao Dai Ban), Dao Quan Chet or Dao with tied or belted trousers. (Dao Son Dau, Dao Tam Dao, Dao Nga Hoang, Du Cun), Dao Lo gang (Dao Thanh phan, Dao Coc Mun), Dao Tien or Dao with silver coins or money (Dao Deo tien, Dao Tieu ban), Dao Quant rang or Dao with white trousers (Dao House), Dao Thanh Y or Dao with blue vest, Dao Lan Ten (Dao Tuyen, Dao Ao dai or Dao with long tunics)
Language: The Dao language belongs to the language family of Hmong-Dao
History: Dao people originally came from China, immigrating between the 12th or 13th century and the early 20th century. They claim themselves descendants of Ban House (Ban vuong), a famous and holy legendary personality
Production activities: Dao communities cultivate swidden fields, rocky hollows, and wet -rice paddies. These cultivation activities play a dominant role among different groups and areas. Dao Quan Trang (white trousers) people, Dao Ao Dai (long tunic) and Dao Thanh Y (blue clothes) specialize in wet-rice cultivation. Dao Do (Red Dao) people mostly cultivate in rocky hollows. Other Dao groups are nomadic, others are settled agriculturists. Popular crops are rice, corn and vegetables, such as gourds, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes. They raise buffaloes, cows, pigs, chickens, horses, goats in the middle regions of mountains and highland areas
Cotton farming and weaving are popular among the Dao groups. They prefer garments dyed indigo. Most village wards have forge kilns serving for farming tools repairing. In some places, people make matchlock and flint-lock rifles and cast-iron bullets. The silversmith trade, handed down through generations, mostly produces necklaces, earrings, rings, silvers chains, and betel nut boxes
Dao Do (Red Dao) and Dao Tien (Coin or Money) groups are well-known makers of traditional paper. The paper is used when writing history, story and song books, when making petitions, when sending money for funeral services, and on other occasions. Other Dao groups are noted for pressing certain fruits to extract oils which they use to illuminate their lamps. Sugarcane is also refined
Diet: Dao people have two main meals a day-lunch and dinner. Breakfast is eaten only during the busy harvesting season. The Dao eat mostly rice. However, in some places, people eat corn or soup instead of rice. Popular rice meal is made of wood and bamboo. Mortars are divided into several types, such as pillar-shaped mortars or water sprout mortars, with rice-pounding pestles controlled by hands or feet or by water power. The Dao prefer boiled meat, dried or sour mixed meat and sour bamboo shoot soup. When eating is finished, the Dao have a tradition that they never put down the chopsticks on the bowl because it signifies that there is a death in the family. Dao people usually drink distilled alcohol. In some places, they drink a kind of local wine, having a slightly sour and hot taste. Dao people smoke cigarettes or locally grown tobacco with pipes
Clothing: In the past, men had long hair with chignon or top tuft, with the rest shaved smoothly. Different groups have different types of head-scarves and ways of wearing them. They wear short or long shirts
Dao women’s clothes are diverse. They usually wear a long blouse with a dress or trousers. Their clothes are colorfully embroidered. When embroidering, they create designs based on their memories. They embroider on one side of the cloth so that the design is seen on the other side. They have several designs such as the letter “van”, the pine tree, animals, birds, humans, and leaves. Their method of creating batik garment is unique. They put the batik stylus or pen into hot bee’s wax and then draw the design onto the cloth. The portion of the cloth receiving the waxed patterns resists the indigo blue dyeing a cloth of beautiful blue and white patterns
Housing: Many Dao communities are found about half-way up most of the northern mountainous regions. However, there are several Dao groups that live in valleys, such as the Dao Quan Trang (white trousers), as well as high-mountain dwellers like the Dao Do (Red Dao). Wards and houses are scattered around. There are a variety of architectural styles, as some Dao build their houses directly on the ground while others build them on stilts. Some Dao houses combine both these elements
Transportation: Dao people in highland areas use black baskets with two straps to transport goods and produce. Those living in the lower elevantor carry goods with a pair of containers suspended on each end of a carrying pole that rests on the shoulders. Cotton bags or net bags or net back-packs are preferred here
Social organization: Village relationships are essentially regulated by parentage or by being neighbors. The Dao people have many family surnames, the most popular being Ban, Trieu. Each lineage or each branch possesses its own genealogical register and a system of different middle names to distinguish people of different generations
Birth: Dao women give birth to their children in the seated position, and usually in the bedroom. The newborn is given a bath with hot water. The family of the expectant mother usually hangs green tree branches or banana flowers in front of their door to prevent evil spirit from doing harm to the baby. When the baby is three days old, they celebrate a ritual in honor of the mother
Marriage: Boy and girl who want to get married must have their dates of birth compared and consult with a diviner who interprets their future in a ritual using chicken legs to see if they are a compatible match. During the course of the marriage ceremony, the Dao have the custom of stretching a piece of string in front of the procession, or exchanging songs between the couple’s families before entering the house. When the bride comes to the groom’s house, she is carried on his back, and she must step over a pair of blessed scissors when crossing the threshold into the husband’s home
Funerals: A men called thay tao plays an important role in the funeral. When there is a death in the family, the deceased’s children will have to invite him to supervise the rituals and fine a piece of land for the grave. Care is taken so that the corpse will not be laid out at the same time someone in the family has been born. The deceased, who may be wrapped in a mat, is placed in the coffin inside the home. Then it is carried to the grave. The grave is built of earth and lined with stones. In some Dao areas, the body is cremated if the deceased is older than 12 years old of age. Funeral rituals celebrated to ensure that the deceased rests in peace may take place mane years after the burial. The ceremony usually coincides with initiation rites (cap sac) for a Dao man of the family. The celebration takes place over the course of three days. The first day liberates the spirit of the deceased, and is likened to a break from jail. On the second day, the deceased is worshiped in the house. Then, on the last day, the man’s initiation rite takes. At this point, a particular rite returns the deceased’s spirit to its homeland, Duong Chau
Building a New House: the age of different members of the family must be considered before a new house is built. This is especially true in the case of the age of the head of the household. The Dao ritual for selecting the land for a new house is considered very important. It takes place at night and involves digging a hole as big as a bowl, arranging grains of rice to represent people, cows, buffaloes, money, rice, and property. And this is placed into the bowl. Based on the dreams that follow in the night, the family will know whether it is good to build the house. The next morning, the family inspects the hole to see if the rice remains and if it is possible to build the house
Beliefs: Dao religious beliefs include traditional practices and agricultural rituals mixed with elements of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism. Ban vuong is considered the earliest ancestor of the Dao people, so he is worshiped together with the ancestors of the family. In Dao tradition, all grown-up men must pass an initiation rite, cap sac, which expresses the traits of Taoism and the ancient rituals
Calendar: Dao people use the lunar calendar for all of their activities
Education: In most wards, people know Han nom (Chinese) characters and the Dao language. Instruction is necessary for reading the ritual texts, folktales and poems
Artistic activities: The Dao have a rich folk literature and arts with old stories, songs and verse. The Gourd and the Flood Disaster and the Legend of Ban vuong are particularly popular Dao stories. Dancing and music are performed mostly in religious rituals
Games: Dao people like playing swings, spinning top, and walking on stilts
  The Thai Ethnic Group
Proper name: Tay or Thay
Other name: Tay Thanh, Man Thanh, Tay Muoi, Tay Muong, Hang Tong, Tay Do and Tho
Population: 1,040,549 people
Local groups: Black Thai (or Tay Dan) and White Thai (Tay Don or Khao)
Language: Thai language belongs to the Tay-Thai group (of the Tai-Kadai language family)
History: The Thai originated from inland Southeast Asia where their ancestors have lived ancient times
Production activities: Early in their history, the Thai adopted wet rice cultivation, using suitable irrational networks. The work can be summarized in the Thai saying “muong-phat-lai-lin” (which means digging of canals, consolidating of banks, guiding water through obstacles, and fixing water gutters) in the fields. While the Thai once grew only one sticky rice crop a year, nowadays they have converted to two crops of ordinary rice. They also cultivate swidden fields, where they grow rice, corn, and subsidiary crops, especially cotton, indigo and mulberry for cloth weaving
Diet: Today, ordinary rice has become the main food of the Thai, while sticky rice is still being eaten traditionally. Sticky rice is steeped in water, put in a steaming pot and put on a fire and cooked. A meal can not go without ground chili mixed with salt and accompanied by mini, coriander, leaves and onion. Boiled chicken liver, fish gut, and smoked fish called cheo could be well be added to the meal. Ruminate meat should be accompanied by sauce taken from the internal organs (nam pia). Raw fish should be either cooked into salad (nom) or meat-in-sauce (nhung), or sauced. Cooked food processing ranges from roasting, steaming and drying to condensing, frying, and boiling. The Thai enjoy foods with more hot, salty, acrid and buttery tastes, in contrast to those that have sweet, rich and strong tastes. They smoke with bamboo pipes, lighted by dried bamboo pieces. Before smoking, the Thai maintain their custom of hospitality by inviting others to join in, much as they would do before a meal
Clothing: Thai women are beautifully adorned in short and colorful blouses, accented down the front with lines of silver buttons in the shapes of butterflies, spiders and cicadas. Their blouses fit beautifully with their tube-shaped black skirts. The bell is a green colored silk band. They wear a key chain round their waists. On festivals occasions, Thai women can wear extra black dress, with an underarm seam or like a pullover which has an open collar, thus revealing the silver buttons inside. The black dresses are nipped at the waist; include large shoulders and decorative pieces of cloth that are attached to the underarms or to the front of the shoulders in a manner similar to the White Thai. Black Thai women wear the famous pieu shawl with colorful embroidery. Thai men wear shorts with a belt; a shirt with an open collar and two pockets on either side. White Thai men have an additional upper pocket on the left and their collar is fastened with a cloth band. The popular color of all clothes is black, pale red, stripped or white colored
On festivals people wears long black dresses, with split underarm seams and an internal white blouse. A head turban is worn as a headdress, around the carrier’s forehead; at times, pack horses are used. Along large rivers, the Thai are famous for transporting goods and people using swallow-tailed boats
Social organization: The original social structure is called ban muong, also known as the phia tao regime. The Thai lineage is called Dam. Each person has three key lineal relationships: Ai Noong (every born from a common fourth-generation ancestor); Lung Tay (every male member of the wife’s family throughout generations); and Nhinh Xao (every male member of the son-in-laws)
Marriage: In the past, the Thai respected the selling and buying of marriage and the son-in-law’s staying with the girl’s family. To marry a husband, the girl’s family needs to take two basic steps:
Up marriage (dong khun) – means the introduction and bringing of the son-in-law to live with the girl’s family, which is a step to test his personality and hard work. The Black Thai women generally adopt the custom of wearing their hair in as bun or chignon immediately after this first wedding ceremony. The son-in-law will stay at his wife’s home for 8 to 12 years
Down marriage (dong long) – the bringing of the couple and their family
Birth: Women give birth in the seated position. The placenta is put into a bamboo cylinder and hung on a branch in the forest. The mother is warmed by fire, fed rice using a bamboo tube, and must abstain from certain foods for a month. The bamboo tubes are hung on a tree branch. There are rituals to educate the child in gender-specific work and a Lung Tay is invited to the house to name the baby
Funerals: Basically, there are two steps in a funeral:
- Pong: the bringing of offerings o the deceased and bringing the deceased to the forest for burial (White Thai)
- Xong: Calling the spirit to come back and live in the section of the house reserved for the worshipping of ancestors
New House: Showing the host his new house, the Lung Ta kindles a new fire. In celebrating a new house, people carry out spiritual rites on the spot, reading spiritual texts to drive away bad lucks and to bring good lucks, and to worship ancestors
Festivals: The Black Thai worship their ancestors on the 7th and 8th month of the Lunar Year. The White Thai also celebrate the New Year according to the lunar calendar. Villagers also worship the gods of land, mountain, water and the soul of the central post of the village
Calendar: The Thai calendar follows the ancient horoscope or cosmology (which contains 12 key animals) like the lunar calendar. But the Black Thai’s calendar has a time difference of six months
Education: The Thai have their own Sanskirt-style writing system. Their language is taught orally. The Thai have many ancient written works on their history, traditions, customary laws, and literature
Artistic activities: The Thai perform their xoe dance and play many kinds of flutes. They sing out verses and vivid alternate songs
Entertainment: Thai popular games include con throwing, tug-of-war, horse racing, boat cruising, archery, xoe dance, spinning top, and mak le balls. There are many other games for kids
  The Bahnar Ethnic Group
Proper name: Bahnar
Other names: Bo Nam, Roh, Kon Kde, Ala Kong, Kpang Kong, etc
Population: 136,859 people
Local groups: Ro Ngao, Ro Long (or Y Lang), To Lo, Go Lar, Krem
Language: Bahnar language belongs to the Mon-Khmer language group (of the Austroasiatic language family)
History: The Bahnar are long-term inhabitants of Truong Son-Tay Nguyen central highlands. They have created a unique local culture and their own socio-culture identity
Production activities: The Bahnar live mainly on the cultivation of swidden fields and slash-and-burn agriculture. The hoe is main food used in agricultural production. Intensive land cultivation of swidden fields using the slash-and-burn method dispenses with the notion of allowing fields to go fallow after a period of time. In general, swidden fields are located near rivers and stream and have long been popular among the Bahnar. But since the beginning of the 20th century, wet rice cultivation using harrows is also practiced. Horticulture and diversified crops also appeared quite along time ago. Animal husbandry and craft production, such as basketry, cloth weaving, pottery and blacksmithing, are less developed
Lifestyle: The Bahnar people live in vast areas from Gia Lai and Kon Tum to the west of Binh Dinh, Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa provinces. They mostly live in stilt houses, which are characterized by having the entrance door at the front of the house. The roofs are decorated with horns at either end. There is a communal house (nha rong), identified from other dwellings by its magnificent high roof. The communal house is a place where public activities are held, including education for the youth, ceremonies, trials, etc
Transportation: The chief means of transporting things is the gui (bamboo or rattan backpacks). The gui has many sizes and types and can be woven differently, but usually follow traditional motifs
Social organization: The village is primary social unit. Vestiges of matriarchal social structure are still in evidence in b family relations, lineages systems, and marriage. The decline of matriarchy has raised the position of men, but social relationships still tend to be closer to the mother’s family. After marriage, the Bahnar custom still prevails that the groom stays at his wife’s house. Society is differentiated among those who are rich, those who are poor, and those who are classed as servants
Marriage: Monogamy is a basic principle of Bahnar marriage. The exchange of living places by the newly-married couples is increasingly popular. After a period of time when the husband lives at his wife’s house, and vice versa, the couple then moves to a new place to settle and becomes a new cell of the community
Education: Education for youths takes place at the communal house, taught by the village elders. This traditional education includes job training, marital arts, combat techniques, and the values of the community
Artistic activities: Folk songs are ample, but more popular ones are hmon and roi lyrics. Musical instruments played by the Bahnar include percussion and aero phone instruments as well as chordophones (stringed instruments). Traditional dances are popular, performed on ceremonial occasions and seasonal festivals. The long poems and folktales of the Bahnar are unique, traditional works that are an important part of Vietnam’s cultural patrimony
Games: Among the popular games are chasing (dru dra), rope seizing, stone throwing, ball kicking spinning top, and khang playing
  The Bo Y Ethnic Group
Proper name: Bo Y
Other names: Chung Cha, Trong Gia
Population: 1,420 people
Local groups: Bo Y and Tu Di
Language: The Bo Y group speaks Tay-Thai language (which belongs to the Tai-Kadai language family while the Tu Different speak Han or Chinese language family)
History: The first Bo Y people traveled south to Vietnam from China about 150 years ago
Production activities: The Bo Y people were originally experienced in wet rice cultivation. However, since settling in the northern mountainous regions of Vietnam, they have had to rely mainly on slash-and-burn agriculture-primarily growing corn, their main crop. In addition, each family usually has a vegetable garden. Apart from raising livestock and poultry, the local people are also involved in various crafts such as cloth weaving, black-smithing, pottery-making, stone carving, silver engraving, plaiting and woodwork, etc.
Clothing: Formerly, Bo Y women wore full skirts like those worn by Hmong, or ornamented with batik bee’s wax designs and dyed indigo. The blouse is short, often having five panels with a bodice covering the chest and abdomen. Silver ornaments are popular, such as necklaces, wrist chains and ear-rings. The women wear their hair wound in a chignon at the top of their head. Their headgear is traditionally an indigo turban which or ornamented with colorful embroidery. Nowadays, some Bo Y people have adopted the neighboring Nung’s way of dressing. Some also wear shirts lie the Han but with removable sleeves
Lifestyle: The Bo Y live in Quan Ba (Ha Giang province) and Muong Khuong (Lao Cai). They live in houses built on the ground with a thatched, wooden or tiled roof and clay walls. The house usually has three sections, with an extra bay for the unmarried boys or used as a rice granary
Social organization: The society’s social classes are clearly defined. The upper classes consisted of the village chief (known as Pin Thau) and his assistant (Xeo Phai)
Marriage: There are three steps involved to organise a Bo Y wedding:
Step 1: The boy’s family sends two female matchmakers to ask the girl’s family for her personal information, date of birth, so tht match-making calculations can be made. The girl’s family, in return, often shows their good-will by offering the guests 10 red colored chicken eggs. If the boy’s family finds that the couple is well-matched, then they will again send two matchmakers-this time male to read the horoscope of the girl and to consult the girl’s family on the price for an engagement ceremony
Step 2: After the engagement ceremony, the marriage is agreed by the boy’s and the girl’s families
Step3: The wedding. The bride-groom’s family presents the wedding presents to the bride’s family. Apart from food, some clothes for the bride are also included. The bridegroom does not go to the bride’s house; instead, the bride rides on a horse to the bridegroom, attended by the bridegroom’s sister who walks alongside. She brings with her a pair of scissors and a small hen, which she will release to the forest at mid-way
Birth: In the past, according to local customs, the women often sit when they deliver. They cut the baby’s umbilical cord with a bamboo knife and the placenta is often buried right under the bed. Three days later, a ceremony is held for the goddess, believed to be the creator and protector of the baby, and also to nickname the baby. Only when the child reaches two or a tree year is he or she given an official name. It a child is ailing all the year round, a foster father will be chosen so that the child’s spirit has a place to rest
Funerals: Funerals reflects the sentiments of the living towards the dead, which, according to Bo Y beliefs, will take the deceased’s sprit back to his or her country land. Four rifle shots are fired before the funeral, and the deceased’s feet should go first as the coffin is carried to the grave yard. Between the deceased’s home and the grave yard, three stops are made (if the deceased’s wife or husband is still living) or four (if both have died). Mourning is maintained by the family members for three years, during which time, the men are not allowed to drink wine, the women can not wear ornaments, and boys and girls are not allowed to get married
Beliefs: Three incense bowls are placed on the altar, which is dedicated to heaven, to the spirit of the heart, and to ancestors. Under the altar, three is an incense bowl dedicated for worshiping the land’s god. If the wife’s parents both died without a son, the son-in-law is responsible for setting up a small altar in the doorway
Festivals: There are many Tet occasions celebrated by the Bo Y, such as Nguyen Dan (Lunar New Year), Ram Thang Gieng (mid-lunar-January festival), 30th of Lunar January festival, Han Thuc, Doan Ngo, 6th of Lunar June, mid-Lunar-July and New Rice festival, in particular, is held on the 8th or 9th day of Lunar September, featuring the square sticky rice cake, chay cake and colored steamed rice
Calendar: The Bo Y calculate the date based on the lunar calendar
Education: In the past, some Bo Y people still used Chinese for writing their family annals, their ritual texts, and their destiny accounts sheet
Artistic activities: In the Tu Di group, the youth often take part in exchanging songs sung at the beginning of the spring marketplaces or at their homes. Most songs are in Chinese, accompanied by ken la, a wind instrument made of leaves
Games: On special occasions, the Bo Y play with swings, Chinese chess, spinning top, and khang playing
  The Anak Ede Ethnic Group
Proper name: Anak Ede
Other names: Anak, Ea De, Ra De (or Kha De), E De, Egar, De
Population: 194, 710 people
Local groups: Kpa, adham, Krung, Mdur, Ktul, Dlie, Hrue, Bih, Blo, Kah, Kdrao, Dong Kay, Dong Mak, Ening, Arul, Hwing, Ktle, Epan…
Language: The Ede language belongs to the Malayo-Polynesian group (Austronesia language family)
History: The Ede have long lived in the Tay Nguyen or high plateau region of central Vietnam. Traces of their origin are reflected in their epic poems, their architecture, and their popular arts. Up to today, the Ede community remains a society imprinted with matrilineal traditions
Production activities: The Ede’s principal food crop is rice, cultivated on swidden fields which, after a period of time, after left fallow before being exploited anew (cleared and burned). Each period of exploitation of a field varied between 5 and 8 years, based on the quality of the soil. Crop rotation and intercropping is practiced and there is only one wet rice harvest per year. Wet rice fields are found only among the Bih near Lac Lake
The most numerous animals and poultry raised on the family farm are pigs, buffaloes, and chickens, but they are mostly used when there are ritual sacrifices to perform. The most widespread family handicrafts are the plaiting of household objects out of bamboo, the cultivation of cotton in order to weave cloths with the aid of looms similar to those found in Indonesia. Pottery and blacksmithing are not well-developed among the Ede. Barter was the most spread marketing practice in the former time
Diet: The Ede eat rice cooked in clay pots or in large-sized metal pots. Ede food includes a spicy salt, game meat, bamboo shoots, vegetables and root crops abstained from hunting and gathering activities. Ruou can, fermented alcohol consumed using a bamboo drinking tube or straw, is stored and served in large earthen jars. Steamed sticky rice is reversed for ritual occasions. Men and women chew betel nut
Clothing: Women wear a long cloth wrapper or sarong which reaches to the toes; their torso may remain unclothed or they may wear a short pullover vest. Men wear the loin cloth and a vest of the same style. When they are cold, men and wears wrap themselves in blankets. Ede jewelry includes glass beaded necklaces, rings made of copper or nickel that are worn around the neck, wrists, and ankles. Men are women alike have their teeth filed, blacken their teeth, and prefer distended earlobes. Head coverings include the turban and the conical hat
Housing: The Ede primarily live in Dac Lac province, the south of Gia Lai province, and the west of Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa provinces. The traditional Ede house is a construction whose length is reminiscent of the shape of a boat which is cut lengthwise or across giving it a shape of a reversed trapezoid. The structure rests on two rows of columns and not on the ground. The interior space is divided into two parts along the length. The first section is called Gah; it is both the reception area of the large matrilineal extended family. The other part, ok, is divided into many small rooms, each of which is reserved for a couple in the extended family
Transportation: The plaited carrying basket with two shoulder straps remains the principal way for the Ede to carry their goods. In the Krong Buk region, the footed basket is the most widely used, but not all that popular nowadays
Social organization: The Ede family is matrilineal: marriage is matrilocal, the children carry the name of the mother’s family, and the youngest daughter is the inheritor. Ede society is regulated by customary laws based on the matriarchal system. The community is divided into two lineages in order to facilitate marriage exchanges. The village is called buon and constitutes a unique kind of habitat. The inhabitants of the buon can belong to many branches of the two lineages, but there is also a nuclear branch. The head of village is the po pom ea or the master of the place of water. He directs, in the name of his wife, the affairs of the community
Marriage: It is the women who take the initiative in matrimonial relations. She chooses the intermediary in order to ask for a young man in marriage, and once the couple marries, they live with the wife’s family. If one of the couple dies, the family of the deceased’s lineage must replace the spouse according to the chue nue (continuing the line) custom so that the surviving spouse is not alone. It also ensures that the thread of love tied between the two lineages, Nie and Mlo, do not rupture-in conformity to the teachings of the ancestors
Funerals: The chue nue must be observed for each death. In the case of the death of old age or sickness, the funerals are organized at the home before the burial at the cemetery. In the past, if the people of one lineage died on dates near to those of the death of the same lineage, the deceased would be buried in the same grave. Consider that the other world is a reincarnation of the present world, the Ede share the deceased’s goods and dispose of them in the funerary structure. From the time that the funerary house is made, the celebration of the abandonment of the tomb takes place to put an end to the cares to the soul of the deceased and to his tomb
New house: The construction of a new h is of interest to the entire village. Villagers help bringing material (wood, bamboo, straw) or help with manual labor in a system of exchanging labor (called H’rim Zit). The inauguration of the new house will take place when one has finished planting a row of trees along the wall. However, one can move well in advances of this date if the condition is not organized for the inauguration. Women, led by a khoa sang – the female head of the matrilineal family are the first ones authorized on walk on the new floor. They carry with them water and a fire in order to give coolness and heat to the new house. It is an Ede way to wish happiness on the members of the new house
Festivals: Festivals are celebrated in the course of the last month of the lunar year, after the harvest time. After the festival of the new rice, h’ma ngat, it is the festival mnam thun, in honor of an abundant crop. It is the largest of the year, with wealthy people killing a buffalo or an ox as an offering, and others offering a pig or poultry. The spiritthe most important is Ae Die and Ae Du, the Creator, followed by the spirit of rice, yang mdie, and others. The Ede are animists. The agricultural spirit is the good spirits, while thunder, lightning, whirlwinds, tempests, and floods are the bad spirits. There are rituals that follow the course of a person’s life, rites that ask for happiness and health. The more rites there are, and especially those with the sacrifice of many buffaloes and oxen and great quantities of jars (for the fermentation of alcohol), the more the organizer are held in esteem by the villagers
Calendar: The traditional agricultural calendar is fixed to the evolution of the moon. The 12-month year is divided into 9 periods corresponding to the 9 steps of agricultural work: clearing the fields, burning the vegetation, turning over the soil, wedding…each month is comprised of 30 days
Education: Apprenticeship to a trade or craft and the dissemination, and oral transmission. Ede writing based on Latin script made its appearance in 1923
Artistic activities: The khan is a long epic poem that one recounts in vivid exclamations and illustrates with gestures. There are alternating songs, riddles, genealogical histories…Ede music is celebrated by the ensemble of 6 flat gongs, 3 gongs with projections, a gong for rhythm, and a drum. The gongs would never be absent from a festival or a cultural activity. Aside from the gongs, there are bamboo instruments and calabashes resembling those of other ethnic groups in the Tay Nguyen region, though they are distinctively Ede
Entertainment: Children like spinning top, kite flying, and flute playing. Stilt-walking is enjoyed by many. Hide and seek and lance or javelin throwing at a target are also currently enjoyed
  Bru - Van Kieu Ethnic Group
Proper name: Bru, according to some researchers
Other names: Bru and Van Kieu
Population: 40,132 people
Local groups: Van Kieu, Tri, Khua and Ma Cong
Language: The Bru language belongs to the Mon-Khmer language group (of the Austroasiatic language family), which is close to languages spoken by the Tay Oi and Cotu people. A new Bru writing system is now emerging, which uses Latin transcription. Some vocabulary and phrases are different between certain sub-groups
History: The Bru are believed to be the most permanent residents in the Truong Son region
Production activities: The Bru live mainly on swidden fields, using simple tools such as the axe, the cutlass, and the rice harvesting knife. They practice slash-and-burn agriculture, using a digging stick to make holes in the ground for sowing seeds. Weeding and rice harvesting are done by hand. Multi-crop and rotating cast crops are grown each year between March and October. Apart from paddy, the Bru also grow manioc, gourd, banana, egg-plant, pineapple, sweet potato, etc. Forests and streams are the two main sources for additional food and other benefits. Almost every family raises buffalo (later cows), pigs, chickens, and dogs. Local handicrafts are less developed. Meanwhile, the Bru engage in barter trade primarily with the Viet people as well as with Laotians
Diet: The Bru-Van Kieu enjoy eating roasted meat. Soup usually made with a combination of vegetables, rice, and fish or frog meat. For everyday meals, ordinary rice is often eaten with the hands. On special occasions, sticky rice is cooked in a fresh bamboo tube. Unboiled water and can (pipe) wine are the most popular drinks (although nowadays distilled spirit is becoming more and more popular). Men and women smoke cigarettes and pipes made from earth or the le plant (a sort of bamboo shoot)
Clothing: According to Bru customs, the men wear loin cloths and the women wear dresses with a sleeves blouse or pullover. The Bru buy textiles from Laos. Dressing in the style of the Viet people is becoming more and more popular, with cloth wrappers still being worn. In the past, people used to make clothing from the fibre of tree bark. People adorn themselves with chains, necklaces, and earrings. Formerly, Bru men and women wore their hair wrapped in a bun or chignon on the top of their heads. For an unmarried girl, the chignon of a married woman is generally at the center top of the head
Lifestyle: The Bru-Van Kieu live in the Truong Son-Tay Nguyen region in the west of Quang Tri, Thua Thien_Hue and Quang Binh. Each village is a residential community. Each family owns a house, built on stilts, with the heart and kitchen placed on the ground level. The Bru-Van Kieu avoid sleeping in a direction that is across the width of the house, in the sub-groups of Tri, Khua and Ma Coong, the house is divided into smaller bedrooms for the aged parents
Transportation: The Bru uses many kinds of woven back-baskets, with the straps being tied around the shoulders of the carrier. The multi-purpose back-basket and the carrier inseparable like the human body and its shadow
Social organization: Villagers, who are of different family lineages, live in harmony, with land plots (even fallow land) being divided for each family. The eldest person in the village plays an important role in the village’s life. The gap between the rich and the poor is increasing, but there is little difference in the standard of living at the village level. Valuables are counted in gongs, pots, cooking pots and buffalo, etc. Human exploitation or servitude is uncommon
Marriage: Traditionally, the bride is brought to her husband and the wedding is organized by the bridegroom’s family. Customary wedding gifts are the sword and a bronze cooking pot. After the wedding, and once the couple has sufficient economic resources, they hold a “second wedding” called Khoi ceremony, where the wife is officially regarded as a member of her husband’s family. According to the customs, cross-marriages within a family lineage is encouraged, such as between the aunt’s son and the uncle’s daughter, between the widow and her dead husband’s brother, and vice versa. In addition, if a woman in lineage A is betrothed to a man in linage B, lineage B is no longer able to offer women in marriage to men of lineage A
Birth: Pregnant women must abstain from eating the meat of hunted animals and from walking over a tree log that lies across the road. Bru women usually deliver at home, helped by a mid-wife. The baby is named after three months; the name must nor coincide with the names of the dead members of the family, but only bear a similarity in sound or syllable
Funerals: According to Bru customs, the dead person is placed across the house floor, with the feet pointing to the windows. In the sub-groups of Khua and Marriage Coong, the deceased is laid along the floor, with the feet pointing to the main door. The funeral is often held two or three days later, and the deceased is buried at the village’s common graveyard. The coffin, made of a kind of soft wood, has a cover. In the past, the deceased used to be wrapped in bark or a bamboo-woven sheet. The burial place is determined by dropping an egg onto the place, which is acceptable if the egg breaks. Before the burial, food is put into the deceased’s mouth, and the deceased is buried together with plenty pf personal belongings, food, and the seeds of cane, corn, and Indian taro, etc
Beliefs: The Bru attach great importance to ancestor worship. They believe that the embodiments of their dead love one’s souls exist in such objects as a fragment of a pot or a bowl. Etc. in some places, people believe in the god of their own fortunes: each member of the family has a bowl to his or her own fate, placed on a common altar. People also believe in various Yang (God) such as god of paddy plants, and mountain, the land and earth, the river, the tree and the kitchen, etc. the genie or protective spirit of the wife’s family is also worshipped by the husband-in-law
Festivals: The Bru perform different rituals in an attempt to harvest bumper crops. These rites are connected to specific stage of agricultural production, such as clearing the field, sowing the seeds, and harvest. Sowing seeds, in particular, is organized as major festivals of the village. The life of a Bru is accompanied by serials of rituals: birth, sickness, marriage, death…The most important event is the buffalo sacrificing ceremony. Tet is celebrated in villages at different times, usually after the rice has been harvested and threshed
Calendar: their calendar is made based on the position of them moon. The Bru identify days of good luck (the 4th, 7th, 9th of the lunar month) and bad luck (30th and 1st of the lunar month). Each year, the agricultural calendar adopted by the Bru comprises 10 months, followed by holidays, before entering into the next crop cycle
Artistic activities: The Bru preserve a large number of old tales about the origin of local family lineages, peoples, and orphans, etc. Folk singing is popular, such as Oat (alternative chants between men and women); Prdoak, songs of greetings; Xuot, songs of public occasions; Roai tol, Roai trong, sad sung stories; and Adang kon, the lullaby. When there are burials and buffalo sacrifice festivals, songs are often accompanied by dances. The most popular musical instruments are: gongs, drums, string instruments (achung, plua, talu), and wind instruments (aman, taral, kho lui and pi), etc
  The Brau Ethnic Group
Other name: Brao
Population: 231 people
Language: Brau language belongs to the Mon-Khmer language group (of the Austroasiatic language family)
History: The first Brau came to Vietnam about a century ago. They live mainly in southern Laos and northeastern Cambodia. At present, most Brau communities are still living in the basins of Xe Xan (Xa ma cang) and Nam Khoong (Mekong) rivers. The Brau are pround of their traditions, which they recall in such legends as Un cha dac lep (rising blaze, rising water), about how great floods were weathered by the Brau people
Production activities: The Brau live mainly on swidden fields, cultivating sticky rice o\and ordinary paddy, corn and manioc. Slash-and-burn agriculture is widely practiced, with people using digging sticks to make holes into the ground for sowing deeds. Harvesting is done manually. Hunting and gathering still play an important role today, which ensures a sufficient daily food supply for the family. In addition, every Brau village has a blacksmithing workshop where agricultural tools are made. Brau men are skilled in weaving and plaiting. Local people often barter agricultural and forestry products for clothes and textiles supplies by other minority groups
Diet: The Brau cook ordinary rice in earthen pot, but use a fresh length of neohouzeaua (a type of bamboo) to prepare the sticky rice dish called com lam. They grow corn and manioc as feeds for livestock and poultry. Popular foods include salt with chili, vegetable, fresh bamboo shoots, fish, and the meat of certain animals. Can (pipe) wine is enjoyed by both men and women. Moreover, people of all ages like smoking local tobacco with a khan pipe
Clothing: In the past, men wore loin cloths and women wore one-piece-long dresses. In summer, people often left their upper torso naked or wore a short pullover. In winter, they often covered their bodies with a heavy blanket. A mark of beauty for Brau women is the stretches earlobe, meant to carry yellow bamboo ornaments or ivory earrings. Women’s jewelry includes wrist-chains and necklaces, often made of bronze, silver or aluminum. According to Brau customs, boys and girls who reach the age of puberty (between 15 and 16 years old) must have the four front teeth of their upper jaw evenly filed, a deed which fully integrated them into village life as adults
Lifestyle: The Brau live in the Dac Me village of Bo Y commune, Ngoc Hoi district, Kon Tum province. They live in houses in stilt with steep roofs. The floor of the house is arranged at different elevations which clearly define the various activities of the family members. A plank connects the main house with the adjacent rooms. Brau homes are oriented with their main doors, built with their main doors, built below the gable, opening towards the centre of the village where the communal house stands. This arrangement results in circle of houses radiating out from the spokes of a cart-wheel
Transportation: The bamboo-woven back-carrier is the most popular means of transporting goods and produce
Social organization: The Brau’s society is now an early stage of differentiation between the rich and the poor. More patriarchal nuclear families are appearing, with increased equality between men and women. Traces of matriarchy still exist and remain influential in some places
Marriage: The Brau wedding is organized at the bride’s home, but the cost are borne by the bridegroom’s family. After the wedding, the husband stays at his wife’s family for about four to five years, followed by a change of residence to the husband’s family
Funerals: When a family member passes away, the funeral host beats the drums and gongs to inform other villagers of the death. The body of the deceased is placed in a coffin made from a hollowed-out tree trunk, and put in a makeshift funeral house erected near the family’s home. The coffin is often half-buried in the ground. A funerary shelter is built over the grave to hold the property inherited by the inherited by the deceased. Some of these items will be destroyed through breaking, piercing or chipping
Building a new house: When a new house is finished, the veneration of the village’s gods takes place followed by a big house-warming party that is attended by the whole village
Festivals: A ceremony for celebrating “new rice” after each harvest time is the principal festival of the year. It does not have a precise date because it depends upon the planting schedule, and the timing may vary from family to family
Calendar: As in the past, an agricultural calendar, based on phases of the moon each month is used for fixing the schedule for planting and harvesting
Education: The communal house in the heart of the village serves as a traditional school for the village children and youth. It is often run by the village elders. The students are vocationally oriented and taught about the cultural as well as fighting skills to ensure public security and to protect their own village and customs
  The Colao Ethnic Group
Proper name: Colao
Other names: Tu Du, House Ki and Voa De
Population: 1,473 people
Local groups: Colao Sanh (or green Colao), Colao Trang (white Colao), and Colao Do (red Colao)
Language: Colao language belongs to the Kadai group, which also includes La Ha, La chi and Pupeo languages (part of the Tai-Kadai language family). In the past, local Colao sub-groups spoke different dialects. Nowadays, however, they no longer use their own mother tongues. Instead, they speak Cantonese, Pupeo and Hmong languages
History: The Colao came to Vietnam about 150-200 years ago
Production activities: The Colao people who live in high, rocky, mountainous areas practice slash-and-burn agriculture, cultivating swidden fields and growing maize in mountain rocky hollows. Corn is the main crop. They also grow beans, wheat, peas, kohlrabi, etc. the Colao use cattle manure, ashes and fertilizers for enhancing the soil. Ash is put into the rocky hollows after corn seeds are inserted. Some Colao who live in lowland areas cultivate terraced rice fields. Rice is the main crop and food. Traditional handicrafts include basketry (flat bamboo baskets, winnowing baskets and lattices) and woodwork (desks, cases, horse saddles, coffins and containers). Many villages have blacksmiths who produce their farm tools
Diet: The Colao eat ground corn, called men men, or rice and use wooden bowls and spoons
Clothing: Colao women adopted Nung and Giay styles, but they usually wear longer dresses falling below the knees. Their blouses are decorated with bands of multi-colored cloth outside hem, on the front, and on the sleeves. Formerly, the White Colao and Green Colao wore an extra short-sleeved shirt outside to show the colorful patches on the inside blouses ‘sleeves
Housing: Colao villages are generally comprised of between 15 and 20 families. The house is divided into three compartments and two lentos, with thatched roofs or roofs made of split bamboo. The red Colao also make earthen houses, as do their neighbors, the Pupeo
Transportation: The horse is a popular means of transportation among the Colao. They also use gui (back-baskets) with two shoulder straps to transport goods and produce. The Colao usually have to carry water to their homes. In low mountainous areas, people also make ducts or a system of gutters to bring water to their own homes
Social organization: Each Colao sub-group has its own definite family lineages, such as Van, House, Senh and Chao (among White Colao), Min, Cao, and Su Li (Red Colao) and Sang (Green Colao). If a family does not have a son, it is likely they will let their daughter marry a local boy and allow him to stay with them. The son-in-law is entitled to inherit the property of his wife’s family. He must set up an altar for both his wife’s parents and his own ancestors
Marriage: Marriages are different among the Colao sub-groups. According to Green Colao traditions, the bridegroom wears a long green vest and a red band of cloth draped over the shoulder. The bride must wear her hair with s chignon or bun on the top of their head. When she reaches the husband’s home, she stops at the gate and steps on a bowl and spoon which were intentionally placed on the ground. She stays at her husband’s house the first night. Wife seizing customs also occur in some Colao areas, similar to custom practiced by the H’mong
Birth: The Colao custom is to burn the placenta and put the ash in the rocky hollows. A baby boy is usually named after three days and three nights, while girls are usually named after waiting two nights and three days. In some places, grandmother gives babies their names and presents them with gifts when the babies are one month old. This is particularly the case when a child receives a name connoting respect for the ancestors or receives the name of Ghi Trenh, a protective spirit of children
Funerals: Sometimes, two ceremonies are held in a Colao funerals-burial and the ceremony for the repose of the soul-the latter may be celebrated among the Green Colao at burial or several years later. Through prayers, it is hoped that the dead person’s spirit will return to Chan San, the homeland. According to Red Colao traditions, rocks are placed in a circle around the tomb, each circle of stones corresponding to 10 years of the deceased’s age. If the stones completely encircle the tomb, then additional stones will be placed on top as needed according to the age of the deceased
Beliefs: The Colao believe that each person has three souls; rice, corn, and animals also have souls. The souls or spirits of rice (mother-rice, father-rice, wife-rice and husband-rice) are worshipped at the end of the harvest time and on the fifth lunar month. Ancestors of three to four generations are worshipped at home. The spirit of the earth is venerated by each family and also by the whole village
Festivals: Like other groups in northeastern Vietnam, the Colao celebrate the Lunar New Year, and festivals are held on the 3rd lunar month, the 5th of 5th lunar month, the 15th of the lunar month, the 9th of 9th lunar month, etc
Education: The Chinese language is commonly used in ceremonies. Nowadays, Colao children learn Vietnamese and the national writing system
  The Coho Ethnic Group
Proper name: Coho
Local groups: Xre, Nop (or Tu Nop), Co Don, Chil, Lat (or Lach) and To Ring (or Thai’ring)
Population: 92,190 people
Language: Coho language belongs to Mon-Khmer group (which is part of the Austroasiatic language family)
History: The Coho are permanent inhabitants in the Tay Nguyen region
Production activities: With the exception of the Xre, who practice wet rice cultivation (the name Xre means sub-merged fields), other Coho sub groups cultivate rice on swidden fields which they change periodically, using the slash-and-burn method to prepare the land for planting. In general, the Coho’s farming methods and tools are similar to other groups in the Tay Nguyen region. Apart from the using of digging sticks to make holes in the scorched earth to insert seeds, the Chil people also use a tool called the p’hal, which has a long wooden handle, a blade of about 28cm in length and 3-4 cm in width, and is used both for making the holes and putting the seeds into the earth. Among the Xre, the typical farming tools are the wooden-made ngal (plough), which has a flat base and wooden blade (later made of iron) and the rake with wooden tines. Ploughs, rakes and kor (to even out the field’s surface) are drawn by oxen or buffalo. Paddy rice is the main crop, but the Coho also grow corn, manioc, gourd, pumpkin, loofah, and beans, etc. The Coho practice informal animal husbandry. They raise livestock to draw the ploughs in their fields and as animal offerings in certain ceremonial scarifies. Basketry and blacksmithing are practiced in every family, but textile weaving only prevails among the Chil sub-group. Hunting, fishing, and gathering remain popular ways to supplement the family diet
Diet: The Coho usually eat three meals a day. Formerly, they prepare rice and soup in a length of bamboo. Later, they use earthen cooking pots, and then bronze and cast-iron ones. Food is often served dry because the Coho have a tradition of eating with their hands. Soups are cooked with vegetables, with chili and salt being added as main seasonings. Meat and fish are cooked in a fish sauce with water or boiled with the trunk of a young banana tree. The Coho store water in dried gourds or ghe. Can (pipe) wine, or tornom, which is made from rice, corn and manioc and fermented from special forest tree leaves, is popular drinks that the Coho consume at parties and festivals. Many people still enjoy smoking locally-grown tobacco
Clothing: Coho men wear lion cloths and women wear short skirts. The Coho loin cloth is square piece of fabric, 1.5cm to 2cm in width, with designs on the two vertical hems. A cloth wrapper or sarong is neatly wound around the body, with one corner being tucked into the waistband. The cloth wrapper is often dyed black, with white designs being arranged along the two sides. During cold weather, people tend to wrap themselves with blankets (ui). The most popular ornaments are necklaces, wrist chains, bead strings and earrings
Housing: The Coho live mainly in Lam Dong. They live in sprawling houses on stilts with curved, thatched roofs, bamboo-woven walls for resisting the cold, and a staircase in the front. There is often an altar facing the entrance, together with a line of pots, baskets and wide-bellied jars is found on the side of the wall opposite the entrance. All family activities take place around the heart
Social organization: The Coho village (or bon) reveals many traces of the earlier matriarchal social structure. A Coho village is headed by a chief (kuang bon). In popular area, a volunteer alliance among neighboring villages is established, led by a M’drong, or head man. The Coho have two kinds of families: extended and nuclear families. Extended family, however, is disappearing and giving way to smaller families, particularly along national highways and near the districts or townships. Matriarchy is popular. The women take the initiative in marriage. After the wedding, the husband comes to stay with his wife’s family and the children are named after their mother’s family name. Coho couples marry at a young age (girls at 16-17 years old, and boys at 18-20 years old). This accounts for a high reproductive rate among the Coho, and it is not uncommon for a Coho woman to give birth at least five times in her life
Beliefs: The Coho believe that every aspect of life is decided by supernatural forces. They believe that while people are blessed by their own God (Yang), there are also devils and ghosts (Cha) causing disasters and mishaps. Therefore, the Coho pray for success in everything they do, seeking help for good crops, marriages, funerals, or sicknesses. People believe that the spirits like eating meat and drinking wine, and it is a function of the importance of the ceremony that one sacrifices a buffalo, pig, goat, or chicken, together with alcohol
According to Coho tradition, rituals are regularly held relating to agriculture, such as the sowing of seeds, the appearance of new ears of rice, and rice storage. The altar nao is placed in the most respected and solemn corner of the house. There is often no longer a sophisticated wooden altar. Some simple altars take the form of tree branches on the ceiling, opposite the entrance door
Education: A written form of the Coho language was invented in early 20th century; it is primarily based on the Latin system. Although it has been revised over the years and was taught in some of the local schools, Coho script is not widespread nowadays
Artistic activities: Coho folktale is abundantly rich. The verses of lyrical poems of lyrical poems evoke romantic sentiments. The Coho also have many traditional dances, which are performed at festivals and ceremonies. Their traditional musical instruments include the set of six-pattern gongs, gourd oboes (kombuat), bamboo-flutes, deer-skin drums, etc, which are used for ensemble or solo performance
Festivals: Each year in December after the harvest, the Coho celebrate their Tet or New Year holidays. Coho families take turns sacrificing a buffalo for the village buffalo sacrifice ceremony. The ceremony is held outdoors, either in front of the house of the host who has offered the buffalo, or in front of the village chief’s house, or in the a spacious, public area in the village. People sing and dance around a ceremonial pole, called cay nieu. The meat of the sacrificed buffalo is divided and allocated to every family in the village, and its blood is applied to the foreheads or the villagers as blessings. The Tet occasion usually takes 7-10 days. The villagers circulate among the different village families to convey their greetings of the New Year. It is only after Tet, when one has eaten the new rice that one begins to implement important affairs such as building houses, moving the village to a new location, etc
  The San Chay Ethnic Group
Proper name: San Chay
Other names: Hon Ban, Chung, Trai
Population: 114,012 people
Local groups: Cao Lan and San Chi
Language: The language of the Cao Lan belongs to the Tay-Nung group (of the Tai-Kadai language family) and the language of the San Chi belongs to the Handicrafts groups (of the Sino-Tibetan language family)
History: The Sanchay migrated from China to Vietnam about 400 years ago
Production activities: The Sanchay are an agricultural people who farm mainly wet rice paddies, but they also cultivate swidden fields which they prepare by the slash-and-burn method. They use the digging stick to make holes for seedlings. Fish catching plays an important role in their economic life as well. With their unique fishing tools, such as hand nets and woven baskets, fish catching supplies the Sanchay food and improves their daily meals
Diet: The Sanchay eat mainly ordinary rice. They also drink a lot of wine especially during the Tet holidays or festivals. Men smoke tobacco in a water pipe. Women chew betel
Clothing: Sanchay women wear the Cham-style skirt and long shirt or tunic which is decorated around the bottom hem and on the back. For daily wear, Sanchay women wear one Cham0style cloth belt, but on special occasions, like the Tet New Year festival, they wear two or three silk belts of different colors
Housing: The Sanchay live in the provinces of the northeast. They live in the stilt houses of a style similar to those of the Tay, who live in the same area
Transportation: The Sanchay usually carry goods on a bag on their back like a back pack
Social organization: Before the August Revolution, land and fields were private property and social classes were more distinct. Landowners and rich peasants were part of Sanchay society. Depending on the area, the colonial government had some positions such as quan man, tai cha, quan lanh…In addition, there was an autonomous system of governance in the village, one that was voted by villagers and called khan thu. There are a variety of Sanchay lineages, with some of the largest family lineages being the Hoang, Tran, La, Ninh. Both the branches of the family lineages and worshiping cults play important roles in Sanchay community life
Marriage: Before receiving the bride, the offerings and the clothing of the reception group must be brought together and placed in the middle of the house in order to be blessed by the son of the ritual specialists. On the way to the groom’s house, the bride must walk without wearing shoes. After the marriage, the bride will stay in husband’s house. The matchmaker is respected by the bride and groom and is considered as the couple’s parents, and when the matchmaker dies the couple must take part in her funeral rituals
Birth: Within 42 days after giving birth, strangers are forbidden to enter the house. During this time, if someone enters the house by accident and then a child gets sick, the stranger must bring offerings to worship the gods. Three day after giving birth, the Sanchay hold the ba mai ceremony (matchmaker ritual)
Funerals: Funerals will be led by Thay Tao (ritual specialist) and consist of many rituals which are affected deeply by Taoism and Buddhism. The Sanchay burial vault is built meticulously
New House: The Sanchay pay much attention to choosing the land, the direction of the house, and the date and time to build a new house
Beliefs: There are many altars in the typical Sanchay house. In addition to worshiping ancestors, they also worship heaven and earth, Tho Cong (Earth Spirit), Ba Mu (Goddess), Than Nong (Agricultural Spirit) and the cattle breeding spirit. The most popular cults worship Ngoc Hoang (Goa in Heaven), Nam Hoa Buddha), Tao Quan (Kitchen Spirit)
Tet holidays and festivals: The Sanchay also have Tet holidays, similar to the Tay people
Calendar: The Sanchay use the Han character in worshiping and in writing songs
Artistic activities: In addition to telling old tales and reading poems, the Sanchay also like singing. The most popular Sanchay songs are the sing calendar, alternating love songs of young people. There are two kinds of sing calendar: those sung in the village at night and those sung on the way to or at the market. The Sanchay also sing for weddings and sing lullabies
Entertainment: Badminton and top spinning are popular Sanchay games. At ceremonies and festivals they play a game of standing on the head, called van rau cai
  The Tay Ethnic Group
Proper name: Tho
Population: 1,190,342 people
Local groups: Tho, Ngan, Phen, Thu Lao, and PaDi
Language: Tay language belongs to the Tay-Thai language group (Tai-Kadai language family)
History: The Tay have been present in Vietnam for millennia, perhaps as early as 500BC
Production activities: The Tay are farmers who have a long tradition or wet rice cultivation. They have a long history of intensive cultivation and irrigation methods like digging canals, laying water pipes, etc. They also maintain the custom of harvesting the rice and thrashing the grains out on wooden racks, which they call loong, while still in the fields, then carrying the threshed rice home in baskets. In addition to cultivating wet fields,the Tay also plant rice on terraced fields along with the other crops and fruit trees. Cattle and poultry raising are well-developed, but a free range style of animal husbandry is still popular. Household crafts are worthy of note. The most famous Tay craft is weaving brocaded designs of beautiful and original patterns which are highly prized. The market is also an important economic activity
Diet: In the past, in several places, the Tay ate mainly sticky rice, and almost every family used stew and steam pots for cooking. On festival occasions, they make many kinds of cakes, such as square rice cakes (banh chung), round rice cake (banh day), black rice sesame cake (banh gai), lime-water dumpling, fried rice cake, marble dumplings made of rice white rice flour with rock sugar fillings, patty make of mashed rice, etc. There are special cakes made from flour with an ant egg filling, and com, a young rice confection made from smoked sticky rice, roasted, and pounced
Clothing: Tay traditional dress is made from homegrown cotton that is indigo dyed. There is usually not much embroidery or other decorations. Women wear skirts or trousers, with short shirts inside and long one worn on the outside. The Ngan group wears shorter shirts, the Phen group wears brown shirts, the Thu Lao group wears conical-shaped scarves on their heads, the Pa Di group wears hats that look like house roofs, and the Tho group tend to dress like the Thai in Mai Chau (Hoa Binh province)
Lifestyle: The Tay have settled in valleys in the Northeastern part of the country: Quang Ninh, Bac Giang, Lang Son, Cao Bang, Bac Can, Thai Nguyen, Ha Giang, Tuyen Quang, Lao Cai, Yen Bai. Their villages are characteristically large and crowded, and there are villages with hundreds of houses
The Tay traditional house is built on stilts with a frame of rafters and 4, 5, 6, or 7 rows of columns. A house has from 2 to 4 roofs made from tiles, straw, or palm leaves. Wood or bamboo is used to make the walls
Transportation: The Tay use shoulder poles and baskets to carry small, tidy bundles, or carry them over the shoulder in cloth bags. Larger bulkier items are carried by buffalo or with the help of other people. Rafts and floats may also be used to transport items by water
Social organization: The Tay’s Quang regime is a form of social organization which resembles a feudal system that is aristocratic and hereditary. Within its rule region, the Quang owns all lands, forests, rivers, etc. Hence, it has the right to control everyone who lives on that land and to exploit these people through forced labor, imposing duties on commodities, and enforcing the payment of tributes and offerings. The Quang regime appeared very early and persisted until the end of the 19th century or the beginning of the 20th century
Marriage: Young Tay men and women are free to love and to date each other. However, the decision to become husband and wife depends on their parents and whether their fates match each other’s suitably. That’s why in the marriage proceedings, the groom’s family asks for the bride’s fortune to be read and then brings it home to compare it to the fortune of their son. After the wedding, the wife stays with her parents until she is pregnant. It is only before giving birth that the wife goes to her husband’s family to live
Birth: While pregnant, and after giving birth, the mother and even the father have to avoid many different things in order for both mother and child to be healthy, for the child to grow up quickly, strongly, and to avoid evil spirits
Three days after an infant is born, purification is performed while establishing the altar to honor the midwife. One month after the birth, there is a celebration and naming party for the infant
Funerals: Tay funerals are lavishly and elaborately organized with many rituals in order to fulfill filial duty and to bring the spirit of the deceased to the world of the afterlife. Three years after burial, there is a ritual to end the mourning period and to bring the spirit to the ancestral altar. There is an annual day for worshiping
New House: When building a new house, the owner has to choose a new house, the owner has to choose the land and the direction for the house, examine the age of the man who will head up the construction of the house, and select a good day for building. On the day they move to a new house, the head of a family must start a fire and keep it burning all night
Beliefs: The Tay mainly worship ancestors. They also worship the House God, Kitchen God, and the Midwife
Festivals: there are many festivals and holidays which bear different meanings in a year. The Lunar New Year that starts a new year and the mid0July festivals are the most lavishly organized. A spirit-calling festival for cows and water buffaloes happens on the 6th of June (according to the lunar calendar). Ceremonies held after seeding and for the new rice festival held before harvest are characteristic among farmers who practice wet rice cultivation
Calendar: The Tay follow the lunar calendar
Education: The Tay’s alphabet is pictographic, similar to the Viet’s alphabet at the beginning of the 20th century. It is used to write poems, stories, songs, prayers, etc. The Tay-Nung alphabet builds on the Latin alphabet and was invented in 1960. it remained in use until the mid 1980s and was used in elementary schools where there Tay and Nung people lived
Artistic activities: The Tay have many folk song melodies such as luon, phong slu, phuoi pac, puoi ruoi, ven eng…Luon includes different tunes of luon coi, luon sluong, luon the, luon nang oi, which are alternating verses popular in many regions. The Tay sing luon at long tong festivals, weddings, new house parties, or when there are guests in the village. Besides, festival dancing, in some local groups, there are also puppet performances using unique wooden puppets
Entertainment: On the occasions of long tong festival, people in many places play con throwing, badminton, tug-of-war, dragon dancing, chess, etc. Children play spinning top and other games such as khang and chat or o an quan.
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