Orient-Tours

Ethnics

Ethnics I


ethnics
I suppose when one goes on holiday to a country like Vietnam, you are not immediately struck by the amount of different Ethnic groups here, in fact, you would hardly notice that there were so many different groups for many can only be found high in the northern hills Some of the clothing shows only slight differences and therefore, the 54 Ethnic groups are not immediately obvious. One reason for this is because people go on holiday for adventure or for relaxation and not for social and ethnological studies into the social structure of Vietnam. Some people however, get back from a holiday in Vietnam and want to know more about these fascinating and very colourful groups that they meet on their travels, and so we have specially compiled this page for those people, if you have any further questions about the Ethnic communities here don't hesitate to contact me, Steve, at Orient Tours. 



A special word of thanks to a very kind Pamela Cross, who has allowed us to use her photographs for this Ethnics page. Pamela is fast becoming one of a handful of experts in Ethnic textiles and her site is well worth a visit for anyone who wants to know more about Ethnic textiles. 

Southeast Asia has a huge amount of Ethnic groups, probably because of its position as regards the many sea routes that come together here. The Polynesians were, after all, the very first sailing and exploring sea people. The first people in Vietnam moved there from the North, all others after that, clashed with these people and tried to find a place in this vast country. This was the start of a complex and highly colourful movement of people as well as the creation of a multi-ethnic society. The Viet people today are a mixture of Tai and Malay people. 

Vietnam is a country steeped in many cultural traditions, varying geographic environments and past history that has made it and shaped it, a sprawling long and narrow piece of land, with highlands, lowlands, deltas and all types of influences that has created the modern-day Vietnam. A veritable multi-coloured blanket of great variation and colour. The lowlands is the home to the Viet people, the majority of Vietnamese people, while the highlands is a thronging hive of colourful Ethnic groups who have carved out an existence there. The highlanders can be split into two distinct types; The northern population are related to peoples in south China, while the southern groups are connected to peoples of Indonesia, Cambodia and the Mon-Khmer groups. There is also a division between these Ethnics groups and the Ethnic groups in the Central Highlands and other parts of the southern part of the country. 
Now let's take a look at some of these Ethnic groups: 

The Lo Lo Ethnics
In the Ha Giang Province, you will find many types of Ethnics settled here, one group is the Lo Lo ethnics, who are also referred to as the Pu Peo, the Ka Beo and the Penti depending on where they are situated. The Lolo could be the same group as the 65,000 Pu tribe who live in China. The Pu group has been included under the official Yi nationality by the Chinese authorities, which contains more than 90 loosely-related tribes and sub-groups speaking more than 30 distinct languages which is a little strange to say the least. In China, the name Lolo is not very nice, in fact it is in reference to the small baskets the Yi people carried around with them. They believed these baskets contained the souls of their deceased ancestors. The Lolo in Vietnam are also called Pen Ti Lolo, which means 'decapitated Lolo' and is not meant in a nice way. Their name may stem from the word 'Luoluo' which means 'tiger tiger' whch is the name of a large Ethnic group in the province of Yunnan. The Lo Lo can be divided into two distinct groups; one which arrived about 500 years ago and the other arrived around 1800, the one is the Black Lo Lo and the other is the Colourful Lo Lo. They have different languages and customs.

ethnics lolo
Linguistically they belong to the Kadai language group (but could also belong to the Tibeto-Burman group) which also encompasses Co Lao, the La Ha and the La Chi groups. The Lo Lo are traditionally farmers who work in terraced fields and who grow the usual crops such as rice, corn beans and, of course, rye. Lo Lo women normally dress colourfully with much dark blue and reds and pinks.
You will find this friendly group living on the banks of the Hoa and the Mong. When it comes to finding a suitable partner the Lo Lo carefully study the lineage of the newcomer and only one family member is allowed to marry into another family, the other members have to find a suitable person from a totally different family. Girls become members of the boys families. The Lo Lo quite often find partners outside their own Ethnic group. In the Lo Lo tradition ancestors are worshipped. During a Lo Lo funeral you will often see bronze drums being beat, with one person standing between a set of two drums. 

The Co Lao Ethnics
The Co Lao also live in the province of Ha Giang, there are just about 1,500 of them and can be found around the regions of Hoang Su Phi and Dong Van, linguistically they also belong, like the Lo Lo, to the Kadai group. The Lo Lo are also a farming community who work their terraced fields around the above-mentioned regions. Their main harvest consists of rice, but unlike the Lo Lo, they are also very good in handicrafts and working with different types of natural material, such as bamboo, leather and wood to name a few. Baskets, and some fine furniture as well as leather and saddles which are just some of the handicraft products that the Co Lao create. The males, like the Lo Lo males, wear trousers and dress like most Ethnic males. The Co Lao women wear a dress that halts just below the knee, and like the Lo Lo women they have bands of cloth attached to the dress which run to the right armpit. The villages here in the North are small with about 20 houses, they are not stilted houses but are just built on the ground. The sons do not go and live with their parents when they marry. 


Life and Death
The Co Lao group do intermarry but strictly controlled within families, for eample the daughter of a maternal aunt can marry the son of a paternal uncle. The chances of a healthy baby is increased because the mother follows a strict regime up till childbirth. The placentas of new born are quite often burnt . The child is named by the mother's mother. On death, rocks are placed into circles around the place of burial, the circles denote each decade that the person has lived, then the earth is placed over these circles. Quite a lot of ancestral worship takes place in the home of the Co Lao, and they also venerate the so-called genie of the earth and the genie of the fields. Pairs of days and months are common for celebration; the 3rd of the 3rd or the 5th of the 5th of the lunar year is celbrated.

The Hre
This group are also a medium-sized group with a total of just under 100,000, you will find them in the following provinces; Quang Ngai and Binh Dinh. Linguisitically they belong to the Mon-Khmer group and are also closely related to the Xo-Dang and Ba Na. 
They are great believers in Theism and also believe that there a whole system of supernatural powers which include a whole variety of spirits. 
The Hre group farm rice, but like the Lo Lo are skilled in handicrafts such as basket-making and weaving. The male has changed his dress drastically in the past years, from wearing loincloths with naked torsos, they now wear similar clothing to the Kinh. Their headgear has not changed however, and they still wear jewelry, as do the women. They are fond of ornaments, such as bracelets and necklaces, the females also wear ankle chains and earrings. One tradition that has died out in past years is the tradition of filing one's teeth. It seldom takes place nowadays. There are also two spaces specially reserved in most of the Hre houses, one for the ladies to receive guests, and the other for the men to receive their guests. Each village has a chief who is held in high esteem. The Hre are a very musical group and some of their members are multi-instrumentalists and it's a joy to listen to their singing and playing. Many of the songs are about love, often unrequited about high moral relationships. They have a huge amount of musical instruments, some are typically for the ladies and others are played by both sexes. The gongs supply a great rhythm section and if you want to visit a Hre Village and listen to a music session, please contact Steve, very early, these are difficult to organise and many Hre are shy and humble when it comes to playing for tourists. 

Housing and Villages
ethnicsThere is also a clear and distinct difference between the style of housing and villages between the Northern tribes, the central highlands groups and the Ethnics along the Mekong Delta. The houses in the Red River delta in the north are close together in a small village setting, with quite a few of the houses in these villages built on stilts. Along the Mekong, you will find that housing is much more strung out and further apart, quite a lot being individual farms, and on the Central Coastal Plain the housing is also close together and, are, more often than not, beside some form of waterway, be it river or canal. You will also notice that the Cham and Khmer groups are similar to the Vietnamese people. 

Languages
 
If you look at the languages spoken in Vietnam you will discover that it takes a huge amount of work to discover where their origins spring from. Vietnamese itself has been heavily influenced by Chinese although it belongs to the family of languages collectively known as the Mon-Khmer group. There is also the Khmer and Cham groups who have interesting origins; Cham is heavily influenced by Indian and can still be heard in the Central Coastal Plain. Khmer is, like Vietnamese itself, related to the Mon-Khmer language group. Then you have a whole collection of Ethnics living in the Highlands who were known to the French collectively as "Montagnards" which means mountain people, these include the Jarai, the Chru as well as the Roglai all of whom speak Austronesian languages which would connect them to Indonesians and even Malasians. If you look further, you will find other groups such as the Pacoh, the Hre, the Rengao, the Sedang, the Bahnar, the Mnong, the Bru, the Katu, and the Mang. All these groups speak a form of Mon-Khmer which would connect them to the Khmer. 
Looking at the Ethnic tribes in the Northern Highlands; you could trace some of their linguistic influences right back to three countries, Thailand, Laos, and, of course, China. Chinese influences can be heard in the Hmong and the Mien tribes.

Ethnics II

The Ethnic Tribes of Vietnam and their Roots....  The Bana Ethnics
BanahunterThe Bana of the Kon Tum, Phu Yen and Binh Dinh provinces has over 130,000 people. They have a whole collection of names ranging from Y Lang, Roh, Con Kde, Kpangkong and Bo Mon. Linguistically they belong to the Mon Khmer group as the Lo Lo and others do. This ethnic population like many in the North live on burnt-over land and sew rice and vegetables mainly, they also grow cotton for weaving their own clothing. They also keep livestock such as cattle, pigs, chickens and goats. Some Ethnic groups have potteries and they can produce a simple type of pottery. They can also make baskets and mats (this is done by the male members)........ They have a bartering system that still takes place even today. Like many other Ethnic tribes they live in the traditional stilted house, each house offers shelter to one family and there is normally a communal house in the village which is the 'rong' which is normally larger and more decorative than the average house. Here, all types of cultural activity take place. It is also the centre fo all the social activities in the village as well as acting as guest house. 


The children of Ba Na families are, regardless of sex, included in inheritance, this reflects the way in which all members live in harmony with each other. Villagers are never given the same name. When a couple are married, they live alternately in both parents' houses, the timespan for each period is agreed upon by both sets of parents. Women as well as men have the opportunity, and quite often use it, to propose marriage. People are buried and after a certain amount of time, a grave-leaving ritual is carried out, this is because the Ba Na concept of death is that the deceased becomes a soul that will return to the ancestral land after leaving its grave. Literature and music rates high among the cultural and artistic activities of the Ba Na, these include dances, songs, and music. They play a wide variety of instruments such as trumpets, zithers, gongs and xylophones. Check out their wonderful wood carvings if you get the chance which are used as decoration in their 'rongs' , these carvings represent the colourful and active life of the Ba Na.

The Bo Y Ethnics
Bo_YThe Bo Y can be found in four provinces namely; Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Ha Giang and Tuyen Quang. They have, like many groups, a collection of different names such as the Tu Din, the Tu Di and the Chung Cha, to name but a few. The Bo Y number in total just over the 1,500 and belong to the Tay-Thai group. Linguistically, they belong to the Tay-Thai language group. What you see quite clearly in their religion is a reverence towards ancestors and forefathers, you will find that they place three joysticks on their altar, in the centre you will find the God above and on either side is the god of the kitchen, and one joystick for the ancestors. This group is predominantly slash and burn farmers who also have livestock and are quite skilled in fishing and fish farming. Thirty years ago, they pursue a variety of skills including the likes of stonemasony, furniture making etc. Like most Ethnic groups they grow their own cotton and have small weavers, they are also very good with a variety of needlework. Silver ornaments are much loved by the women of the group, they wear large indigo turbans which sticks out like a crow's beak, and their dresses have 5 panels. Unlike most Ethnics they normally live in houses that are at ground level, the unmarried sons of the household normally live in the extra room, or it can be used for their harvest or at least some of it.
Each member of the group have a whole collection of names between first and family names, these words denote generations and the bearer's place in the family. The Bo Y have a complicated and very expensive wedding ceremony which includes leading a pink horse to the bride's house. If a parent dies, there is a strict period of 90 days mourning for mothers and an extra 30 days for fathers, which has to be observed. Women very seldom give birth nowadays sitting up but this used to be the norm; nowadays it's the exception. Their cultural skills are, like a lot of tribes, finely tuned and sitting in a house filled with Bo Y musicians is a real treat.

The Brau
The Brau can be found in the village of Dak Me in the province of Kon Tum. They are a very small group and only have about 200 members nowadays, this probably comes from their roving ways and dread of settling in the past. Linguistically they belong to the Mon-Khmer language group. They have animism as their main religion and they believe that Pa Xay is the creator of heaven, earth and all of nature. Nowadays, the Brau are farmers who slash and burn, they are a very primitive people with the most primitive of farming implements. Like most Ethnics they live in stilted houses, they still file their teeth and tatoo their bodies. The Man lives with the wife's family for a few years before actually returning home. Men propose, and gifts are given to the bride's family. The deceased is placed in a tree trunk which has been hollowed out, this acts as the coffin, the coffin is brought to a house which has been built for the wake. The villagers come to pay their last respects at this house. After a few days, the person is buried. The Brau have some unusual instruments, one makes sounds by the clapping of hands, it's like a wind instrument, with long pipes made of bamboo. The children enjoy kite flying and of course stilt-walking.

The Bru Van Kieu
The Bru Van Kieu can be found in the mountainous areas of Quang Tri, Quang Binh and in the Thua Thien-Hue province, they also have a variety of names including Ma-Cong, Khua and Tri. There are over 40,000 of them in all and they are farmers who work hard in the fields. They cultivate rice and hunt as well as keepingBruVanKieu livestock. They are good handicraft workers who can put baskets or mats together fairly fast. 

The Bru Van Kieu villagers hold their chief in high esteem. Their houses are stilted and gives accommodation to husband, wife and children. The houses, you will notice, are almost invariably along the banks of rivers. In other areas they are normally built in cirlcles with the communal house in the centre. Some houses nowadays don't have the traditional stilts. They can still tell tales of long-gone family members. Choice of partner is left to the children and parents respect their choices. The bride has to go through a various amount of rituals after the wedding. At weddings, a sword is handed from the man's side to the woman's side of the family. The brother of the mother, unusually enough, has the last say at marriages and funerals, plus he gives advice in house-building. Like many other ethnic groups, the Bru van Kieu venerate their ancestors, they also worship the genie of the mountain, the genie of the earth and genie of the kitchen as well as other genies. If you do make it to a Bru Van Kieu village, make sure you try to get to a music gathering, these people are tops when it comes to playing their multitude of instruments

chamThe Cham
The Cham can be found in the Ninh Thuan and the Binh Thuan provinces, but you will also find them in Ho Chi Minh City and other towns and cities as well. There are approximately 100,000 of them. You can also find a smaller related group of Cham called the Hroi who have also settled in Binh Thuan province. Linguistically they belong to the Malayo-Polynesian language group. There are two dominant religions, one is Islam the other is Brahmanism. They are farmers who are handy with irrigation systems for their fields, they are also good business people. Like other Ethnics they are good at weaving and growing cotton. 

Their houses are arranged like a chess board. Their villages are not large; about 1,500 people on average. Their houses always face south or even west but seldom in other directions. Women are the bosses in this Ethnic group, and they are also quite often the heads of the family. The man comes to live in the bride's house after marriage which is not very unusual. Inheritance is only for the daughters, and the youngest daughters normally get a bigger percentage since they normally care for the parents. The Cham is fighting a losing battle in their fight for survival as a distinct Ethnic group.




The Co 
They are also referred to as the Cor, the Cua and Trua as well as other names. You can find them in the Da Nang and Quang Ngai provinces. Linguistically their language belongs to the Mon-Khmer group. They practice Animism and believe in souls especially the soul of rice. They also carry out slash and burn farming, one of their specialities is growing cinnamon which is grown a lot in the district of Tra My. Their lifestyle has greatly improved since the introduction of cinnamon. The villages they live in are called after the Chief, a local forest or a river or some other aspect of nature. The Co Ethnics live in long houses with their extended families, each house has several parts and each part has a separate family. Nowadays, the Co Ethnics build their houses on ground level and their houses are shorter in length. The Co are not weavers by nature, they buy material from the Kinh and the Xo-Dang. Men are naked from the waist up, the women wear skirts. The women like jewelry and wear all types of jewels and chains. The elders are highly respected, the elderly men are usually chiefs, the chief must be knowledgeable and must have the goodwill of the village inhabitants. Ho has been a very popular name among the Co Ethnics since Ho Chi Minh.
The bride lives in the groom's house and their wedding is a simple one, the Co now marry outside their own Ethnic group , they are fond of singing and dancing and have a great love for stories from their own culture.

Ethnics III

The Cong
cong
The Cong have a collection of names ranging from Xam Khong to Xa Xeng depending on where they are situated, though most of them can found along the Black River (Da River). Linguistically they belong to the Tibeto-Burman language group. The Cong are excellent at fishing, they can catch fish by hand but they also use another approach namely; a poisonous plant. They are first and foremost farmers though, and they cultivate their land becoming more and more modern in their approach, now some groups even use ploughs. Cotton is grown, but the Cong are not accomplished at weaving cloth and so they barter their cotton for cloth.


They are also skilled basket makers. They still live in stilted houses and each house has thin walls that divide the house into compartments, the central part is reserved for receiving guests. They celebrate their ancestors as many groups do, they used to marry inside their own group but now they have been known to intermarry with Thai and Ha Nhi people. The father is the boss of the family. Women wear a knot in their hair to show that they are married. In the Cong tradition a dowry is customary and a nice touch is that the husband must give the parents of the bride gifts of pieces of silver on the birth of children. The Cong have their own calendar, each month is represented by an animal.


The Co Ho
cohoThe Co Ho population are 100,000 strong and are also known as the Xre, the Nop, The Chil, the Lat and the Tring, they can be found in the province of Lam Dong, the Xre group has the greatest number of members and can be found on the Di Linh Plateau. Linguistically they belong to the language group of the Mon-Khmer. The Co Ho cultivate rice on burn and slash land. This group is skillful in farming and techniques related to growing. They also breed silkworms and grow all types of fruit in their gardens. The Co Ho females play an active role before marriage and the male lives in the house of the female after marriage. They believe in a great number of genies, their supreme god is called Ndu, under Ndu you have forces representing all types of natural objects such as the sun, the moon and the mountains to name a few. Buffalo stabbing rituals also take place amongst this group. Between crops a great feast is organized with lots of music, stories which have been passed down are told and poems and lyrics recited. Dances take place at many festivals and ceremonies. Organs, flutes, pan-pipes zithers and even oboes are amongst the instruments that they play on these occasions.


The Co Tu
cotuThe Co Tu ethnic group can be found in the province of Da Nang and in Hue, they have many different names including the Ha, the Ca Thang, the Gao and the Ha, linguistically speaking they are of the language group Mon-Khmer. They are farmers who also slash-and-burn, they grow rice and keep various animals. They are also skilled weavers and are good in basketry. They believe in genies and worship Giang (a Genie). They are fine hunters and fishermen. They barter their products. A form of ellipse is the popular form for laying out houses in their villages, they also, like many Ethnics, have a communal house (rong). It is the biggest building in the village and is normally finely decorated, like many groups, they hold ceremonies and many festivals and meetings here. The elderly of the village gather here quite often and recount past tales. Co Tu clothing is simple; the men are naked from the waist up and wear loincloths and the women wear skirts. Bracelets and earrings and other forms of jewelry are worn by the women and are very much in demand. There are still men who file their teeth and tatoo their bodies but they are more the exception than the rule. The father is the head of the family and children take his name, the sons receive the inheritance. The lineage is the most important unit of mutual dependency, tales and songs exist about many ancestral lines. People are buried close to each other in the village graveyard or burial ground, a funeral house is normally erected on the site of the burial ground and they surround it with all types of wooden statues. There are now memorials for the dead in the Co Tu group. Lineages are not allowed to repeat in marriages, so if a man marries another lineage another man of the same lineage is not allowed to marry into that lineage. Wives can marry brothers of dead husbands and you can also marry by payment of a certain amount which is quite common here. Rich Co Tu have quite often a harem of wives. There are many ceremonies held in which the genies are venerated, buffalo-stabbing is a village affair, while genie worshipping is a family affair.



The Dao (Yao)
daoMainly concentrated in Quang Ninh Province. The Yao originated in China (where more than two million members of the Yao nationality still reside). Most or all of the Yao in Vietnam (where their name is officially spelt Dao) are part of the Iu Mien group. Iu Mien is also spoken in Laos, Thailand and Myanmar. The Dao are a group who can be found in along the borderlines with China, Laos and on the coastline above Hanoi. There are almost a half million of them and they have great names such as the Red Dao, the Dao with white trousers, the Dap with coins, the Dao with blue dress and other names such as Lu Giang, Lan Ten, Tien Bang, Coi Ngang and many more again depending on their village. This trait of given themselves different names is also seen throughout southern China, where the Dao "are thought to have as many as 300 different names ... making the research and classification of this Ethnic group an almost impossible task. You also have different Yao groups in China, but they are probably not related. The Dao are believed to have started moving towards Vietnam the late 1700s. They tried to avoid persecution in their native homelands in the provinces of Fujian, Guangdong and Guangxi. Linguistically they belong to the Mong-Dao Group. Again we find ancestor veneration here, they grow rice and some slash-and-burn but more just use burnt land. They are skilled weavers and wood-workers, they can forge and make their own oil and paper. They have small farm animals such as pigs and chickens. The houses of the Dao are stilted, semi-stilted and some are built on the ground. The women have highly decorated dress and wear their hair long, the men now mostly have their hair short. This group sometimes cremate their dead but they have to be in their teens for that to happen. Their rituals are expensive and they believe in demons and souls. Names define your place in the lineage and people of the same lineage can be very close. Chinese writing is still used with their own brand of pronunciation, and they are skilled in medicine making.

Ethnics IV

The Giay Ethnics 
giay
The Giay are situated in the provinces of Lao Cai, Ha Giang, Lai Chau and Cau Bang and linguistically they belong to the Tay-Thai group of languages. As we have seen with many othe Ethnic groups, they have many different names depending on the area they are from, for example; the Nhang, the Dang, the Pau Thin and Xa are some of the names given them. They are farmers and grow rice primarily, they also keep small farm animals for sacrifice and larger animals as beasts of burden such as horses and buffalo. The men of the tribe wear trousers and vest with a turban around their heads. Women wear vests with 5 panels. They wind their hair or also might wear a turban. The women tend to add colour to their dress. Villages are often crowded, the centre point of the house is reserved for guests and for the ancestral altar.



It is a patriarchal tribe with the man as head of the household, children are called after their fathers, the man's family normally seek a marriage partner for the son, and the bride normally goes to live in the husband's family, however, matrilocality (living with the bride's family) is also known. Young men had to 'kidnap' their women in the past when they couldn't afford the expense of the ceremonies. 
Genies and ancestors are worshipped, especially the genies of heaven, earth and of course, the kitchen, as in many other groups. Culturally this group is just as musical and steeped in culture as the above-mentioned groups, they often use the dual narrative song and many of their songs and poems deal with the elements of nature.


The Gia Rai Ethnics
giarai
The Gia Rai are situated in the province of Gia Lai, but you will also find small numbers of them scattered in the provinces of Kon Tum and Dak Lak. Linguistically, they belong to the Malayo-Polynesian groups. There are almost 25,000 of them in all and have many names including; the To Buan,the Hobua and the Hdrung to name a few. They hold many rituals and summon up the genies whom they believe in. Rice is grown in burnt or terraced fields, they are equipped with the most primitive of farming implements such as machetes etc. They keep and breed livestock including cattle and pigs as well as others animals. Elephants are also bred by the Gia Rai! They are skilled in basketry and weaving. They live in stilted houses like many Ethnic tribes and have the traditional 'rong'or communal house for ceremonies and other social activities. It is a matriarchal system in which the woman is the head of the family, and of course, the man lives with the wife's family after marriage. However, men do play an important part in the community, though women retain their firm position at home. Men are buried with their wives and not as in days gone by; with their mother's or matriarchal lineage. They, like most other Ethnics, have a rich oral tradition as well as great music skills. They are very fond of dancing as well.


The Gie Trieng
gietrieng
The Gie Trieng Tribe are situated in the province of Kon Tum and Da Nang, they belong linguistically to the Mon-Khmer group and have almost 30,000 members. Like the majority of other tribes they have a series of names depending on where they are situated, examples are the Tareh, the Ta-Lieng, the Ve, the La-Ve and the Giang Ray amongst other names. Like the other Ethnics they cultivate burnt land, and they also keep livestock mainly for sacrifices which is not unlike the other Ethnic groups. Dress is fairly simple and straightforward, the men wear loincloths and women wear skirts, leggings are worn by the Bnooong group women who also belong to this Ethnic group. Their villages are layed out in such a way that the houses form a circle with a 'rong' in the centre. The 'rong' is unusual for it has a hallway running through the middle which separates the women from the men. Family descent is again very important, and ancestors are important. Young men file their teeth in their early teens and a few years later are married. The girl is respected in her choice of partner, young women should have certain skills, for example they should be able to play the gongs, and weave etc. The couple move from the girl's to the boy's house during their married years until one of the parents die, then they settle in that house. Many rituals are held and there is a great belief in souls and spirits. The knifing of a Buffalo is also a popular ceremony in this tribe. The Dead are buried and there is a ceremony for the leaving of the grave of the soul, again this is also quite common in Northern Ethnic tribes.


The Ha NhiHaNhi
The Ha Nhi are situated in the provinces of Lai Chau and Lao Cai, linguistically they belong to the Tibeto-Burman group and have over 10,000 members. Like most of the other groups, ancestor worship is the most common form of worship, rice growing is also important in this group as in most others and you can see them work their terraced fields. They are good weavers and breed animals and are skilled in basketry. Female dress differs depending on the group and which province they are settled in. They are highly skilled in irrigation techniques in terraced fields. An elderly recollects the family line every New Year. Men and women are free to choose their partners. In the Province of Lai Chau, the bride takes the husband's name and moves to the man's family house, but it is exactly the opposite in Lai Cai, where theman goes to live in the woman's house. The egg plays an important role in deciding where someone should be buried, it is thrown into the air and wherever it lands, that is where the person is buried. The hour and day must be specially and carefully chosen for burial. The Ha Nhi have no official burial ground. The girls are normally highly skilled in playing their collection of flutes. The men play a stringed instrument resembling a zither. An infamous wedding song of this group has over 400 verses. Like all their Ethnic counterparts, they are a highly musical tribe


The Hoa 
hoa
The Hoa are situated all over the country, they can be found in Hanoi and the surrounding area and down south, they have various dialects in their language which belongs to the Han group of languages, this group is also referred to as the Han. It is quite a large group with almost a million people. They can be found in all walks of life from farming to teaching and are historically highly skilled in crafts of various types. They also have various dress codes especially the men who dress like the Nung and the Giay. Conical hats and unbrellas are popular. It is a patriarchal society, the sons inherit anything left by the parents. The Hoa allow business and social background to determine their choice of partner for their children. The 'big three' is the major influence in their spiritual lives. Death can be quite complicated with many rituals, the road of the soul and the wrapping of the corpse are two of the many rituals that take place. They are skilled in the playing of a huge range of instruments and love dancing. 

Ethnics V

The Kho Mu
KhoMu
The Kho Mu can be found in the provinces of Nghe An, Lai Chau, Son La, Thanh and Yen Bai and are linguistically attached to the Mon-Khmer group of languages. They have a variety of names such as the Xa Cau, the Tay Hay and Pu Thenh to name but a few. They, like a lot of Ethnic tribes, live on slash-and-burn agriculture which means that they cultivate land and when the land becomes poorer they leave it and go onto another piece. Cassave and sweet potatoes make up part of their crops. They use the most primitive tools and are breeders of livestock, to be used for ceremonial purposes mostly. They do not know how to weave and buy their clothes from the Thai.


They are primarily nomads, their villages are small, their houses are temporary with very few belongings and decorations. Their traditional dress is seldom seen nowadays, but the use of all types of ornaments is still very much in demand. One very interesting detail is that they believe that many animals in nature belong to their ancestral family and therefore do not eat animal meat or kill animals. Parents are equal in esteem and the man must live in the woman's house after marriage, the children only take the man's name after they have moved back to the man's house. The Maternal uncle plays an important role as match maker and advisor to the young people when seeking a partner. They are a people who greatly believe in genies , like many Ethnics, and so you have many genies in their system of belief. Most of these genies have something to do with nature. There are many rituals and ceremonies especially for good harvests, they seem a satisfied and happy people who are steeped in tradition. 

The La Chi
laChi
The Lai Chi are a relatively small ethnic tribe with only 8,000 people, they can be found in the provinces of Ha Giang and Lao Cai. Linguistically they belong to the Kadai group, and they have, like many tribes, many names such as the Cu Te, the Tho Den and La Qua.
They are good at growing wet rice in their submerged fields and are also handy at irrigation. Weaving and dyeing are skills that they possess in abundance and they keep livestock. 
The La Chi live in stilted houses, attached to the stilted house you will notice a mud hut which is used as the kitchen. The largest area in the house is taken up by the altar for homage of the ancestors. Their dress is quite elegant and charming, the men wear a longish dress, with underneath, baggy trousers and turbans. The women wear turbans and they also wear trousers . Bracelets are worn by both sexes. Each separate family line has its own percussion instrument which they use in ceremonies. The girl's family must receive a sum of money from the bride's parents at marriage. They believe in souls and invoke the spirits help with crops and seeds etc. They are a playful and happy group who have a rich musical heritage. 

kinhkinhThe Kinh
The Kinh can be found in every province of Vietnam and are by far the biggest group with approximately 56,000,000 people. Linguistically they belong to the Viet-Muong language group. They are quite good at irrigation and working in submerged fields where they grow wet rice. Pottery is also a skill of the Kinh as well as livestock and fishing. They are typical betel chewers who have many so called bad habits such as smoking, cigarettes and pipes, as well as heavy tea drinkers. The Kinh men in the north wear a sort of brown suit which is loose fitting, the women wear robes. In the south on the plains you will see both sexes wear black dress.
It is a patriarchal society, which means that the children take the father's name, they worship ancestors and the oldest boy is the one responsible for worshipping dead parents and grandparents. They are strictly monogamous and the man's family organise marriage. High esteem is placed on faithfulness and virtues, especially those of the bride, and the bride live with the man's parents. Vietnamese Buddhism is practised by the Kinh in which you have the three major influences of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. They are great lovers of art and literature. 

LaHuThe La Hu
The La Hu are situated in the provinces of Lai Chau and linguistically they belong to the Tibeto-Burman group, they also have names such as the Co Rung, the Khu Sung and the Kha Quy, they have a total population of only 5,300 people. The La Hu are farmers who also practice slash-and-burn techniques, recently they have turned to cultivating rice in submerged fields, they are excellent in furniture making and they are also good in forgery. Some La hu villages are situated in the lowlands , their housing is sturdier, with the ancestral altar in the bedroom of the head of the house. Women wear embroidered dresses. It's a patriarchal society, with sons inheriting. Young people are free to choose their partner, and when babies are born, they are given a name only after three days, if however, in those three days, an unexpected guest arrives they may choose the name of the baby. Like many Ethnic tribes, their dead are placed in hollowed trees, genies are venerated, there are souls in corn and rice and maize. Days in the La Hu culture are represented by nature; tiger, dragon, louse, sheep etc. They have a rich culture of dance and song and story.

Ethnics VI

The Lao
You can find the Lao in the provinces of Lai Chau, Son La and Lao Cai, there are almost 10,000 of them in total and linguistically they belong to the Tay-Thai language group. They are first and foremost farmers, who grow rice in submerged fields and are skilled in ploughing and irrigation. Other skills of the Lao are weaving, pottery and even jewelry making. There knowledge of working with silver is quite advanced. They, like most of the Ethnic tribes , worship ancestors and are heavily influenced by Buddhism.


The lao are not nomadic, and their villages can be quite big, with sometimes more than 100 houses. The houses are roomy, and are reminiscent of the shell of a tortoise. Lao women can be recognised by their black dresse that are knotted in the front and the edges or hems are decorated with rows of embroidery. Single Lao women wear their hair in a knot which is usually on the right hand side. The Lao women wear scarves or wear silver pins iin their hair. If you check out the backs of their hands you'll notice that normally they have a tatoo of a plant of some kind tatooed there. The men tatoo their wrists and their thighs. When a couple marries, they normally live with the wife's parents for a number of years and then go to live in the husband's house or they may build their own house.
The tribe has sorcerers who are narrators of folk tales and songs, and often write or rewrite songs and tales. They are fond of song and dance and have a rich musical culture. 

The Lu
The Lu can be found in the provinces of Lai Chau and Dien Bien, and liguistically they belong to the Tay-Thai language group. They are also called Nhuon and Duon and are relatively small in number with a total of just under the 4,000 people. They are primarily farmers, who are skilled at all aspects of growing and harvesting as well as irrigating fields. They grow indigo and cotton and weave their own clothes. Familes can have a whole collection of looms and they are excellent at decorating with embroidery. Their houses are built on stilts, the houses always have two kitchens and the second, in which tea is boiled, is specially for guests. The young people of the group are allowed to choose their own partners, a sort of fortune teller, checks out the ages of both partners and if there's a fit, marriage will take place. In this group, like other groups, the men live for several years in the girl's house and then live in their own house. Divorce or separation hardly ever takes place amongst these people who are open and friendly. A fine is levied to anyone looking for a divorce. They are Buddhsts and follow the Buddhist ceremony of burial when one dies. Like most tribes they like singing and telling tales. They are also skilled musicians.

The Ma
The Ma can be found in Lam Dong, and linguistically they belong to the Mon-Khmer group, there are five major groups called many names such as the Chau Ma, the Ma Xop, the Ma To and others. They have a relatively large group of 26,000 people. Their villages are called bons and are scattered, each village has a chief and the houses are long; in the middle of the last century some houses reached over 100 metres, nowadays they are smaller but still very long and have been occupied by the same family line for many generations. They grow rice and cotton and use primitive farm tools, the buffalo trample the fields and then the seed is planted in the steps of the buffalo. Weaving is one of their foremost skills and they are excellent at decoration of materials. They have forgeries and forge their own tools. 

Their dress is simple, skirts fall just below the knee and men wear loincloths. Blankets are used in the winter to keep warm. Teeth filing and earlobe lengthening are normal and they are fond of ornaments. The groom must stay in the bride's house until he has got enough presents to satisfy the family of the bride, then he can move with his wife to his own house. The Ma believe in genies with the usual genie of the mountain and genie of the land and genie of the rice etc etc. After the Tet festival, the Ma knife Buffalo, this is about one month after Tet. Like other Ethnic groups the Ma are steeped in culture and are masters of many instruments. More than 30,000 people of the Ma minority are concentrated in the Lam Dong Province in southern Vietnam. A few Ma have settled in neighboring Cat Tien district of Dong Nai Province.
Ma men and women dress in a manner very similar to their neighbors, the Mnong and Koho. Men do not wear shirts, but cover their torsos with a blanket during the colder months. Ma women traditionally have stretched ear-lobes. They are pierced when they are babies and after years of wearing objects such as pieces of ivory or bamboo in them, they sometimes stretch down as far as their shoulder. They also like to adorn their wrists and ankles with copper rings.
The Ma are not afraid of their animals being stolen, as punishment for such an act is severe. The Ma never clear certain primitive parts of the forest, which they consider to be sacred. They believe these areas are the home of a powerful spirit called K'bong, who is the creator of vegetation.
The Ma living in the Cat Tien district of Dong Nai Province are more settled. They have learned the art of cultivating rice in irrigated fields from other Ethnic groups. Each Ma house contains a garden which grows crops such as tobacco, papaya, jack-fruit, coffee, tea, cotton and mulberry. In the main fields the Ma grow corn, melons, chili, pumpkins and other crops.
In Dong Nai Province the Ma are skilled at making boats from tree trunks, which they use for fishing and transportation along the river systems in the area.
The Ma have many legends, folk-songs, epics and poems that have been handed down from one generation to another. These stories are mostly about romance, faithfulness and loyalty, and the creation of the world. The Ma love to sing to the accompaniment of copper gongs, three-hole flutes, drums, pan-pipes and bamboo zithers.
Ma children are given names that rhyme with the names of a dead relative of the previous generation. The names of males are also chosen to rhyme, while the names of females rhyme with each other. 
Most Ma are animists. They participate in the annual water buffalo sacrifice ceremony, which lasts for more than a month. They also worship the spirits of fire, mountains and rice. 

The Mang
The mang are to be found in the province of Lai Chau and belong to the Mon-Khmer group linguistically and are relatively small with a total of just over 2,000 people, you can recognize the men from their tatooed chins, which is a sign of coming of age. They are also known as Mang U and Xa La Vang. They grow rice and maize and practice slash-and-burn techniques in farming. You can now see some of them working in terraced fields in much the same style as the Thai. They also farm small animals such as pigs and poultry mostly for ceremonial purposes, they also breed cattle and horses. Each village has a chief who, with the help of the elders, is totally responsible for all village affairs. There villages contain the stilted house which a lot of other Ethnic villages have. They still barter products and farm produce and their basket work is becoming more popular. The men wear a sort of vest and trousers and the women wear a long skirt and a vest, decorated at the front. In this group, belief is in three worlds, the upper, which is the country of Genies and then, the earth, and beneath the earth you have the land of demons. The Mang have kept their unique identity although there are many influences from outside especially from the Thai.

The Mong

The Mong can be found in the provinces of Ha Giang, Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Lai Chau, Con La and others, they have many names such as Mong Do, Mong Lenh, Mong Si Mong, Du Mong Sua and linguistically they belong to the H'mong-Dao language group. There are just over a half a million Mong. A lot of them are nomadic farmers though some of them are now working terraced fields. They are good in medicine and are skilled weavers, they grow flax as well corn and rice. The women wear leggings up to their knees. They also wear a many-folded skirt. The head of each lineage deals with all the day-to-day affairs of the community. Young people are allowed to choose the partner of their choice. Divorce very seldom takes place and they are a happy and contented people. One is not allowed to marry inside the same lineage. Instruments are played in the evenings as an expression of feelings and as a calling device.
 

Ethnics VII

The Muong
muong
The Muong can be found in the provinces of Hoa Binh and Thanh Hoa, they are almost a million in number. Linguistically they belong to the Viet-Muong language group. Like most Ethnic groups they have a number of names; the Mol, the Mual, the Moi, the Moi Bi, Au Ta andAo Ta. The Muong are believers in multi Gods or polytheism as it's called and of course, like many of the other Ethnic groups they worship their ancestors. They're a settled people who can be found in the North of Vietnam, they are mostly farmers and are skilled in rice growing, they also have a large number of secondary crafts such as bee-keeping, Furniture making and cinnamon growing. They are no strangers to weaving and basketry and are good in their silk and loom weaving. 


The men wear a loose-fitting trousers dyed indigo and the women normally wear a long skirt which has rich embroidery patterns. Certain powerful Moung families have been traditional rulers in these areas, families such as the Dinh family, the Bach family, the Quach family and others have been in a seat of power in these regions for a long time. Children are given a proper name when they are one year old. They have a variety of festivals such as rain praying, going to the field, washing rice leaves and the coming of the new rice. They are a poele rich in art and literature as well as many cultural highlights such as song, music and folktales. 

The Ngai
The Ngai population are not very large, in fact there are fewer than 1,200 members and it seems to be decreasing, they are scattered throughout many provinces for such a small group including Cao Bang and Lang Son. Linguistically they belong to the Han language group. These are traditionally farming people who are skilled rice growers, though the small groups in the coastal provinces are generally fishermen. They were of old, some of the finest water management experts in the country building canals and irrigation systems that were technically excellent. Nowadays they are involved in all types of secondary work such as carpentry, brick making and bamboo and mat making. They are called many different names in various regions, such as the He, the Le, the Dan, the Sin, the Lau Man and the Ngai Hac Ca. They look very much like the Han when it comes to costume though they wear many kinds of hats and scarves and even carry umbrellas. This is a highly patriarchal cummunity, the boys hold high esteem in the family, and the girls do not receive any share of the inheritance when the parents die. The family chooses a girl for their son, the women must follow a strict regime when pregnant, they may not eat beef, or sew clothes as well as a whole list of other different unusal things that they may not do. They are only allowed to visit their parents' home after a certain period following the birth of their child. On death, a funeral is carefully organised; and there are ceremonies after a certain amount of days and then continuously for the follwing three years. They are, like many Ethnics, ancestor worshippers. A rich musical heritage prevails amongst these people and if you ever get the chance to listen to an evening of song don't refuse it. 

The Nung
The Nung, numerically, have a fairly large group, almost 800,000 people in the provinces of Ha Bac, Cao Bang, Tuyen Quang and Lang Son. They have many names including the Nung An, the Nung Coi, the Phan Sinh, the Nung Inh and the Nung Din to name some of them. Linguistically they belong to the Tay-Thai language group, and like many of the other Ethnic groups they practice ancestor worshipping, the altar is situated in the house surrounded by dieties, genies and saints. They are also farmers who are skilled in growing and selling their produce especially fruit. Secondary skills are basketry ceramics. They live quite often on the edges of hillsides and mountains with their crops stretching out in front of them, their houses are stilted and the roofs can either be thatched or tiled. They wear indigo coloured dress, which is the colour associated with fidelity in the Nung culture. In the first month of the lunar year, they hold a similar ceremony to the Moung which is also called 'going to the fields'. They have a great heritage of songs, stories and folk tales and they are skilled in the harmonious singing with many natural sounds intruding or should I say, blending with the lyric.

O Du
One of the smallest Ethic tribes in Vietnam is on the brink of fading from this planet, it has just 194 people who can be found in Kim Hoa and Xop Pot, and the remaining few are scattered around these two places in the Nghe An province. Linguistically they belong to the Mon-Khmer language. These people are also known as Tay-Hat. They slash-and-burn and grow mainly rice. They still hunt and they gather fruits in the wild. Their small amount of animals is intended for their ceremonies. Historically they never used family names, nowadays they have names such as Lao or Thai. The husband lives with the wife's family for a certain amount of time before he returns with wife and children to his own house. Souls leave the body on death and come and watch over the house of the ones left behind. Nowadays many O Du are a little ashamed of their tribal links and quite often want to pass as Thai or some other Ethnic tribe. Their language has almost gone for good with just a handful of speakers left, they are fast becoming extinct which would be a great pity. 

PaThenThe Pa Then
This group is not the smallest but not it is not a powerful force either with just under 4,000 people they can be found in the provinces of Ha Giang and Tuyen Quang. They have a larger group in the south of China where there are more than 32,000 Pa Then in Guangxi and Guizhou provinces, where they are known officially as the Baheng. Oral tradition and local records state that the Pa Then migrated to northern Vietnam from southern China in the late 1700s and early 1800s. They are now far removed from their original starting point in China which is in southern Guizhou and northern Guangxi, at least 300km from the Vietnamese border. The Pa Then see themselve as being descendents of eight ancient clans. Their name in Chinese shows this quite clearly; (Ba=eight and then=clans). The Pa Then language is confusing for linguists. it has been traced back to a Western Hmong language, distantly related to the speech of the Hmong today.They have, like most Ethnics, a mixture of names, such as the Pa Hung and the Tong. Linguistically they belong to the Mong-Doa language group. Nowadays they still live in a clan system which is strong among the Pa Then. Each clan has its own totem which they worship. They live in a collection of different houses, such as stilted, half-stilted or even flat houses. The villages are usually strategically placed near a stream or some other waterway. They have colourful traditional dress with indigo and blue The turbans that they wear are red. The women are fond of silver ornamental jewelry. The same lineage may not marry, and after marriage the husband lives in the woman's house for a period of 12 years, if there are no males in the family, the husband must stay there for good, he must also take the wife's ancestors as his worshipping objects. Genies abound, with soil genies and forest and rice genies. They have their own distinct collection of music and folksongs and tales and are also skilled musicians. 

Ethnics VIII


sanChayThe San Chay
The San Chay tribe is relatively large with approxinamtely 150,000 people. Linguistically they belong to the Tay-Thai group of languages. You will find them spread across three provinces namely; Bac Thai, Tuyen Quang and Ha Bac, there are also small pockets of them in other provinces but this is where the main concentartion is to be found. Like all Ethnic groups they have a variety of names; the Yen Bai, the Hon Ban, the Mon Cao Lan and the Cao Lan are the most common. It will come as no surprise that they practice ancestor worship with touches of Buddhism especially the Vietnamese type. They grow rice and many other crops, but rice is the most dominant crop.


Their houses are built in the form of a buffalo and each house contains an altar for ancestor worship. Their dress is similar to that of the Kinh and the Tay. It is a patriarchal community and each family line has a whole regime that has to be followed and which is peculiar to that family line. The wife doesn't move into the husband's parent's house until she has had the first child. In the San Chay culture it is always the young man's family who is responsible for all the matrimonial organisation. The San Chay are steeped in folklore and custom, and their song, story and dance is of the finest that can be found, they use a lot of percussion instruments in their music.

sandiuThe San Diu
This tribe is also fairly large with just under 100,000 members. They are also spread like the San Chay all over the country but especially in the provinces of Hai Hung, Vinh Phu, Tuyen Quang and Quang Ninh. Linguistically, they belong to the language group of the Han. No surprises when I say that they do have other names depending on where they are; the San Deo, the Trai and the Man Quan Coc are just a few examples. Typical farmers who work in submerged fields and burnt lands, they breed fish and work in forestry as well as making their own bricks. The women are betel chewers, and are skilled in embroidery. The houses are not stilted but are on ground level. It is a patriarchal community and the sons inherit. Parents have the last word when it comes to choosing a partner for their children. When someone dies they are buried temporarily for a period of three years, then the body is exhumed and laid to rest in its final burial place. Many ceremonies dealing with farming are held annually. They are skilled musicians and have a collection of playful past-times. 

The Lai Chau
This tribe are not very large, in fact, they only have about 500 to 600 people and are to be found in just one province and that's Lai Chau. They are also known as the Cu De Xy. Linguistically they belong to the language group of Tibeto-Burman. They are farmers who live on rice production and use burnt land to grow crops, though they are now using submerged fields more and more. Like the San Diu they do not live in stilted houses, but buildings that are level with the ground. The women decorate their dress, especially the upper half, with silver and coins. Earlier, both sexes used to colour their teeth, red for the men and black for the women, but nowadays this is no longer the case. The eldest man in each family line has most esteem and must make some important decisions regarding worship and in casting judgements etc. The Si La sorcerers are second only to the eldest man in the family line.
At weddings, the groom's parents must hand over presents to the brides parents before the ceremony is allowed to proceed. Coffins are made of hollowed out tree trunks and the length of time for mourning is fixed at three years. Genies, ancestors and many spirits fill the daily life of these people and they still have a tough life in which they suffer from infant mortality at a high rate and other diseases which have taken their toll.

The Tay
tay
Most Tai are Buddhists of the Theravada school. In the villages of many Tai groups, the pagoda is both the social and the religious centre. Most young men spend a period of time as monks. Along with the Buddhist tradition there exist pre-Buddhist animistic beliefs; shrines are dedicated to spirits important in day-to-day affairs. These animistic beliefs tend to be strongest among those people farthest from the traditional centres of Dai Buddhism.
You couldn't call the Tay a tribe anymore with over 1,000,000 members, it is the largest of all the Ethnic groups in Vietnam. Liguistically, of course, they belong to the Tay-Thai language group. The group has many names such as the Tho, the Ngan, the Phen, the Thu Lao and the Pa Di. They are spread out over four different provinces including Cao Bang and Lang Son. The Tay have always been farmers, they grow a variety of crops including sweet potato and rice. They are not settled as high as some of the other Ethnic groups, in fact, most of them are on the lower slopes of the mountains and hills. Their houses are stilted or level with the ground. The Tay dress is normally dyed with indigo , the women's dress falls to just below the knee It is a patriarchal community. Men and women seem to find compatible partners, because there is little divorce. Like most Ethnics, the ancestors of the Tay are revered, and the altar is normally a centrepiece in the house. There are many rules when visiting a Tay house, and the Tay have a huge amount of strange rules which one should observe when visiting a Tay house or village. They are also steeped in folklore with collections of songs and poems and even songs for couples which they sing alternately. The Tay are highly sociable and friendly.
Their descendents are the people who speak some form of Tai, and their most common activity is the cultivation of rice, dry rice in the highlands and wet in the valleys. The usual Tai household consists of a husband, wife (or wives), and unmarried children. The status of women is high. None of the Tai people has a caste system. The basic structure of their villages is similar, with communal leadership being provided by an elected village headman, together with the Buddhist monks and elders. Dai cultural identity has remained strongest among the Shan of Myanmar, the Thai of Thailand, and the Lao. 

TaOiThe Ta Oi
This tribe has just 26,000 people, which is not a great amount in comparison. Liguistically they belong to the Mon-Khmer language group. Like many Ethnic groups they have many names; the Pa Co, the Ba Hy, the Toi Oi and the Ba Ghy. They are farmers who slash-and-burn, nowaday they are growing in submerged fields more and more. They are not only skilled farmers, they are also very good in breeding fish. Their dress consists of a skirt and a shirt for the ladies and loincloths for the men. They are fond of many types of ornaments and glass beads and teeth filing and tatoos are no longer favoured by the young. If you enter a Ta Oi village the first thing you'll notice is the 'rong'which is the communal house in the centre of the village. The Ta Oi have what they call ""Spirit Houses" they worship here during festival time. A room of each house hold one family and the houses are fairly long ones, though houses are getting shorter. Family lines are very important to the Ta OI, and it is a typical patriarchal community. Young people are free to choose their partners, matchmakers are called in to help in getting the wedding underway. The bride then becomes a member of the groom's family. Animism is dominant in this culture and genies are also venerated. There are ceremonies for the dead and they are rich in folklore.

The Thai
thai
The Thai are a major group with abut 1m peoplein the provinces of Lai Chau, Nghe An and Hoa Binh amongst others. The language is, of course, Tay Thai and they have a lot of names such as the Tay Khao, the Tay Thanh, the Hang Tong and the Pu Thay. There are at least six groups and six distinct languages. The largest of these groups is the Black Thai, who are more than 500,000 people strong. The White Thai total about 200,000, the Phu Thai 150,000, and the Red Tai more than 100,000. Several smaller groups include the Tai Hang Tong and Tai Man Thanh. Each group still sees itself as different from the rest, and has different customs, histories and languages. Despite their name, it should be noted that none of the Thai groups in Vietnam are the same as the Thai people of Thailand. People belonging to the same ethnic groups as the Thai in Vietnam are also found in Laos, Thailand, China.The Black Thai primarily live along the Red and Black rivers in northern Vietnam. The Red Thai live along the Red River further south. The White Thai live in communities alongside the Black Thai, and in many areas have learned to speak Black Thai. The Black Thai originated in southern China, but gradually migrated into Southeast Asia due to oppression by the Chinese.
Irrigation is the Thai's major skills outside of rice growing, they are highly skilled at all types of water irrigation. They also keep animals and are skilled at ceramics. Their dress is black and they live in villages with up to 50 houses which are stilted. It's a patriarchal society, though they live in the bride's house until the first born. Death is a farewell till in the next life and not a scene of great sorrow. They are a literate folk and have been for a long time, they are also rich in folklore with tales and songs of glorious days.

The Tho
This tribe is also fairly large with over 50,000 members. Linguistically they belong to the Mon-Khmer group of languages. They have many names such as; the Keo,the Mon, the Cuoi, the Ho and the Tay Poong among others. They are good at growing rice and they also grow hemp. They grow a lot of hemp which is used in bags and even fishing nets.They are skilled in hun itng and eat a lot of meat. They eat from the forests of Vietnam when the stock is low and the harvest time is still a while away or if it fails altogether. The Tho believe they own their land collectively and so they work together in sewing and planting the land. There is a custom in this community which has the young people sleeping next to each other and looking for a partner in this fashion. The man has to work for his future in-laws before the wedding. Funerals are complex with many rituals, like many Ethnics, the coffin is hollowed from a tree trunk. People are buried alongside the nearest stream. Genies and spirits are worshipped, all ancestors are worshipped as well as the first person who founded the village. 'Going to the field' is a major celebration each year, They have many celebrations for their crops and in the name of their crops and their religion can sometimes be very practical.

xoDangThe Xo Dang
The Xo Dang tribe are a reasonable-sized tribe with 97,000 people, they can be found in the province of Kon Tum, and in the mountainous regions around this province. Liguistically they belong to the language group of the Mon-Khmer. This tribe have many names such as; the Ca-Dong, the To-Dra, the Ha-Lang, the Bri La and the Con Lan to name just some of the names given them in different areas. They believe that all living things have a spirit and like many animists their ceremonies are for the Genies of the field or the genie of the rice. The To Dra are reknowned for their forging skills and are also livestock breeders with a good variety of animals. The Xo Dang villages all have a 'rong' or communal house and the chief of the village is held in high esteem. The houses are long with sometimes many families in the same long house, though everyone is free to set up house for themselves. They do not use family names only first names with an a, or a y, as prefix to indicate sex. They use to go in for teeth filing but this is fading out altogether. There is never a permanent move to one of the families houses after marriage and couples usually rotate residence in both houses. Buffalo offerings, in which the buffalo is knifed is still very popular. The tribe are fond of folklore and have a collection of songs and stories. They also practice martial arts, painting, and sculpture. Architecture seems to be a hobby of the Xo Dang who can build the most intricate inter-connecting building without the use of one nail.
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