MINORITY GROUPS IN NORTHERN VIETNAM

MINORITIES IN THE SAPA AREA

Sapa (250 miles northwest of Hanoi) is a remote hill tribe market town that has become a popular tourist destination. Hill tribes found in the Sapa area include the Hmong (Miao), Zao and Tay tribes. "Red Zao" women wear a huge folded red cloth, decorated with silver coins and large red tassels, piled high on their head. Their long red embroidered tunics were sewn with beads and tassels.

The market in Sapa draws members of the Hmong, Zao, Muang, Dao, Xaphos and Tay minorities, many of whom are dressed in colorful and beautifully embroidered traditional clothes and headdresses, and live in villages situated among rice terraces in the nearby mountains. They sell vegetables, grains, fabric, blankets pots and pans and brown balls of Golden Triangle opium.

Sapa Love Market (in Sapa Town) takes place every Saturday night and attracts mainly tourists and members of the Hmong and Red Dao minorities. The market is a place for trading and exchanging local goods and products, as well as a meeting place for young people who seek partners by singing love songs and playing pan-pipes and mouth organs. Traditionally, when the sun goes down, the Hmong and Red Dao boys and girls cluster together in groups of five to ten. Looking and smiling at each other, they sit side by side in the dim yellow light and sing and talk through the night. When they have met their soul mate, they exchange gifts and make plans to see each other again the following week. This cultural activity has a long history and is still significant in the modern life of the minority people.

The minorities in the Sapa area still prefer their herbal remedies to clinics and continue to practice animal sacrifices. Some villages have electricity, which they use to provide light in their huts but not to power radios and televisions. Many of the young people prefer to stay home with their tribe rather than migrate to the cities to make money.

See Places.

Is Tourism Corrupting Hill Tribe in the Sapa Area ?

After losing a game of pool in a Sapa bar to a 14-year-old Hmong girl, Mindy Tan wrote in the electric new paper (.sg), Mindy Tan wrote in the electric new paper (.sg), "Winning the game deftly, the Hmong girl sauntered off with the cue in one hand and a Tiger Beer in another. This was the same girl whom I had seen selling ethnic sling bags for US$5 ($7) when I arrived at the tourist-filled Sapa town earlier that day. Her mother, also in a Hmong costume, was carrying a baby on her back and stitching intricate cloth bracelets by the road. Guiltily, I wondered about how the tourist dollar had lured women like her from minding their paddy fields to hawking cheap trinkets in the streets of the town. Tourists are drawn to Sapa mainly because of the hill people and their colorful costumes. Some visitors find the sight of Hmong girls sporting baseball caps instead of their traditional head dress amusing. [Source: Mindy Tan, The electric new paper (.sg), December 29, 2007 \\\\]

"But what shocked me was the group of young Hmong girls drinking and playing cards at Tau Bar. Ask their age, and you would get a well-rehearsed '16-years-old' reply. But probe further and some girls may just shout abuses at you. At 7pm the next day, the same elderly Hmong women were sewing under street lamps. Sapa, once a French resort, is filled with western bars and restaurants. Up a stairway was a quirky restaurant and bar blasting Top 40 hits from the '90s. I was looking forward to my spicy hotpot dinner. Instead, I came face to face with two young giggly Hmong girls drinking in the company of five male tourists. The local waitress refused to serve the girls, who, incidentally, spoke excellent English. So the men bought bottles of chilled beer and served it to them. 'Let me teach you how to play cards,' said one man, moving closer, twiddling with a Hmong girl's silver earrings to her delight. \\\\

"The girls can sing Madonna songs. And hold their liquor better than you can imagine. They were also quick to learn new games, including mind-games that had everyone running around in circles. Referring to their mothers carrying babies on their backs, they say they did not want to get married. Said one girl to a tourist: 'Local men are no good. They drink and spend all the money.'... Returning on a tourist class train to Hanoi, I had a companion. A Flower Hmong girl, in her bright ethnic outfit, was sharing my VVIP carriage. Three (male) tourists had bought her a ticket to Hanoi. Was she ever going home? Had she secured a return ticket? 'I have an Australian boyfriend. My mother knows,' she told me. \\\\

Typical Northern Tribal Women and Their Life

Ta Thu Giang wrote in the Viet Nam News, Carrying a bamboo basket on her back braced by a wire tied round her forehead full of farming products, while hanging a three-month-old baby at the breast ,Hanhi ethnic minority woman LyXe Ho quickens her steps toward the local market, despite the path-way being nearly invisible due to dense fog in the highland commune of Y Ty in the northern mountain province of Lao Cai. After walking for about 3km, Ho reaches the fair at 5am. It may be early, but she is one of the latest traders to arrive. She quickly ar-ranges her produce including beet, sweet tomato and vegetables on the ground and moves her newborn to her back before covering him with a piece of nylon. The baby still sleeps, he seems to be well acquainted with the cold weather and noise. The market opens every Saturday morning. It stretches across about 500 square meters, with only a fifth covered by roofing. It looks like a small street market in an urban area, with about 20 stalls displaying farming products and home essentials on the ground. Ho cannot speak Vietnamese, but it doesn’t matter to her as Kinh majority Vietnamese customers can barter and trade with her by sign language. [Source: Ta Thu Giang, Viet Nam News, March 12-25, 2010 +++]

"Speaking to the Viet Nam News through an interpreter, Ho says she works six days a week while waiting for the market."I can sell my products for money or exchange food for other goods. The market is the only place for me to meet and talk to people," says Ho. However, Ho says she is handicapped by not being able to speak Vietnamese. She has never travelled beyond her commune because she cannot understand what people are saying."That is why I try my best todo the domestic chores to en-sure my children can continue studying," says Ho. Ho, 29, married young and now has five children. The eldest is in 6th grade and the youngest is just three months old. Although she has given birth five times, she still looks young."Building a house is the most important thing in life. My husband and I have our own house. We have both girls and boys. That is enough," says Ho. +++

"Smiles seem to be the only way many Hanhi people can greet visitors, especially women, as most annot speak Vietnamese, but there are several people that can speak the majority Vietnamese language, including heads of the village or communal officials .Children are an exception. Ly Mo Xa, whose house is next to Ho’s, says he has two sisters. All are studying at local schools. "My parents said to me that I needed to learn words that would help me earn money more easily in the future. I don’t know how to earn money with such words but I obey my parents and believe what they say is right," says Xa."My teacher told me that we local children can study at a higher level until we cannot follow it. If we are talented, we would have the opportunity to go out of the commune to study in a big city."Through his teacher’s lesson, Xa says he can imagine cities full of light at night and cars and motor-bikes on the road, however, his parents believe that graduating from senior secondary school is enough for him."In my village, finishing high school study is a source of pride for a family," says Xa who is studying 8th grade at Y Ty Junior Secondary School. According to the head of the village, Sanbo Gio, all the children in the village go to school, and almost all of them have finished their grade. Xa wants to be a doctor in the future, treating local villagers. It is too soon to say if he can turn his dream into reality, but he has a dream that the older generation never would have considered. As for Ho, travelling beyond the commune is something incredible to imagine, but for Xa it will be a normal thing in the future, a future that promises brighter opportunities. +++

Typical Northern Tribal Village and House

Ta Thu Giang wrote in the Viet Nam News, "Seeing Ho’s home of Chon Then Village from a distance, it gives the impression that the houses are clustered together like colossal mushrooms. The village stands at more than 1,000m above the sea level and is home to 48 Hanhi households. They live on rice cultivation of burnt-over land or terraced fields. They are one of the few groups who have traditional experience in reclaiming land for terraced fields on mountain slopes, digging canals and building small dams. They use ploughs and harrows pulled by buffalo to work the fields. Their gardens are often close to their houses. Carrying a bamboo basket on her back braced by a wire tied round her forehead full of farming. [Source: Ta Thu Giang, Viet Nam News, March 12-25, 2010 +++]

"Like others in the village, Ho’s family lives in an earthen-walled house. It has no window, but the house is always cool in summer and warm in winter. The house’s wall is about 9 meters long and 8 meters wide, in between there are small stones. Each house measures some 65-80 square meters with a four-cornered roof covered with dry grass. There is a main door and one door inside, with the room housing a bed and an open kitchen. Deputy chairman of Y Ty Commune People’s Committee, Trang A Lu, says local residents always build houses on mountain sides near untouched forest. Rites for construction are simple but meaningful. After digging the foundation, the house owner throws three paddy grains into the foundation which represent the wish for a large family with many children and grandchildren, good animal husbandry and bumper crops. Animal husbandry and cloth-weaving are common. Most Hanhi can produce clothes for themselves. +++

"Lu says almost all Hanhi men know how to build earthen-walled houses and do carpentry. Walls are made of compacted soil so houses must be built in the dry season from September to January. Local residents always help each other build houses without charge. Lu recalls the day a year ago when he began building, many of the neighbours came to share the work. This traditional custom helps bring local villagers closer together."In the past, women always helped cut thatch to make roofing, while men cut trees to make the house frame. Nowadays, many local families use fibro-cement instead of thatch so the women help the owners by making a meal and cleaning the new house," says Lu. When the building is completed, the house owner usually invites neighbours to a party. If the houseowners are not in a position to invite the neighbours, they will only invite their relatives. +++

Ethnic Groups That Live in Laos and Vietnam

The Katu is a group of 40,000 slash-and-burn rice farmers and cassava and maize cultivators that live along the Laos-Vietnam border, Katu means “savage,” a name given to them by outsiders. They share some of the unusual customs of the Toraja in South Sulawesi---buffalo sacrifice, ritual masks and above-ground burial of the dead.

The Khua is a group with 5,000 members that lives in northern Vietnam and east-central Laos. The Pacoh is a group with 15,000 members that live in the highlands of Thien province in Vietnam and bordering Laos. The Duane live in central Vietnam and Laos. Little is known about them.

The Brao are an ethnic group that lives in mostly in Vietnam, with a small number in Laos. There were about 50,000 of them in 1985, with around 40,000 of the them in Vietnam. They are culturally similar to the Kao and some anthropologists feel they are best classified as a Kalo subgroup.

The Halang Doan is a group of about 2,000 slash-and-burn farmers that lives in Attopeu Province in Laos and Dac Lac Province in Vietnam. Many consider them to be a subgroup of the Jeh.The Tai (Ta Hoi) is a group with perhaps 40,000 members that live in Saravane Province in Laos and in bordering areas in Vietnam. They practice both slash-and-burn dry-rice agriculture and fish.

Bo Y Ethnic Group

Bo Y ethnic group lives in Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Ha Giang and Tuyen Quang provinces in northern Vietnam. Also known as the Chung Cha, Trong Gia, Tu Di, Tu Din and Pu Na, they numbered only 1,864 people according to the 1999 census. The Bo Y language belongs to the Tay - Thai Group. Women wear a full skirt, a five-paneled shirt and a bra. Some of the women have adopted the Nung or Han way of dressing. The Bo Y practice slash-and-burn agriculture. Every year, when the rainy season arrives, the Bo Y go to the rivers to catch spawn and fish to put in their ponds and submerged fields. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

Ancestor worship is the basis of Bo Y religion. The Bo Y live in houses built on the ground. There is always an extra room in this type of house constructed of wooden boards that rest on the main beams of the house. These rooms serve as the bedroom for unmarried boys and as a granary. The wedding ceremony of the Bo Y is a complicated and expensive endeavor. A unique characteristic of this wedding ceremony is that the groom does not attend the ceremony. Instead, he sends his younger sister to the bride's family to lead a pink horse during the wedding. When the parents die, the children must practice strict mourning rites, 90 days to mourn their mother and 120 days to mourn their father. ~

Cong Ethnic Group

The Cong (also known as the Xam Khong, Mang Nhe, and Xa Xeng) live in Muong Te District in Lai Chau province and along the Da River in far northwest Vietnam. There were 1,676 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. The Cong language belongs to the Tibet-Burman Group. The Cong folk arts are diverse. Their songs are characteristically composed of smooth melodies with alternating songs that are sung at communal ceremonies. The Cong use a slash and burn method of cultivation. The Cong grow cotton which is used to barter for other cloth. Other handicraft activities include basketry and, particularly, red dyed rattan mat making. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

The Cong live in houses built on stilts. Each Cong lineage has a leader, its own social taboos, and its own manner of worshipping their ancestors at the altar. According to customs, young men and women can each take initiative in marriage. People of direct relations can only get married to their seventh generation relative. The man's family actively proposes marriage. After the betrothal, the man lives with his future wife's family for several years. Women wear their hair knotted in a chignon on top of their heads which shows that they are married. The wedding is often celebrated once the couple has had children. The man must then offer pieces of silver money to his wife's parents. The woman's family must prepare a dowry for the bride to bring to her husband's house. Every year, each Cong Village holds a communal ceremony where several rites are performed to pray for bumper crops. ~

Co Lao Ethnic Group

The Co Lao (also known as the Ke Lao) live in Dong Van and Hoang Su Phi districts in Ha Giang Province in far northern Vietnam. There were 1,865 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. The Co Lao language belongs to the Kadai Group. Ceremonies and festivals are held on the 3rd day of the 3rd lunar month, the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, the 15th day of the 7th lunar month, and the 9th day of the 9th lunar month. The Lunar New Year Festival is the biggest festival of the year. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

Each village has about 15 to 20 households. The Co Lao houses are built level with the ground. A patriarchal system has been adopted. During pregnancy, Co Lao women observe strict abstinence to facilitate delivery and to give healthy babies. In Dong Van District, people incinerate the placentas of new born babies. Three days and nights after their birth, male babies are baptized by their parents. ~

Men wear trousers like many other ethnic groups around the northern borders. Women also wear trousers and a five-panel dress running below the knees. The dress buttons under the left armpit and is decorated with bands of different colored cloth that are attached to the chest from the middle to the right armpit along a fringed slit. ~

The Co Lao practice terraced farming and grow maize in mountain rock hollows. Basketry and woodwork are popular handicrafts that are produced by this group. The Co Lao are also known for their bamboo mats, lattices, large winnowing baskets, panniers, tables, chairs, and horse saddles. ~

Dao Ethnic Group

The Dao in the Sapa area is famous for its "love market." At dawn every Saturday, members of the tribe walk up to 25 miles from their villages to Sapa, which they reach at nightfall. Husbands and wives separate and woo different partners, usually other Dao, with songs and dancing and later have sex with them in an old shed.. The husbands and wives then link up again and walk home. Children that are born in the one-night stands are accepted by the man's family. The customs developed, some anthropologists believe, to help the tribe survive by increasing birthrates. The Dao love market has become a big tourist attraction. Sometimes the tourist are too intrusive and the-one night unions are kept from taking place. Foreign film maker have offered to pay the Dao a lot of money for explicit "love market" scenes. Dao women carry scarves.

The Dao (also known as the "Dao Quan Trang" (Dao with white trousers), "Dao Quan Chet" (Dao with tight trousers), "Dao Tien" (Dao with coins), "Dao Thanh Y" (Dao with blue dress), "Dao Do" (Red Dao), Man, Dong, Trai, Xa, Diu Mien, Lim Mien, Lu Giang, Lan Ten, Dai Ban, Tieu Ban, Col Ngang, Col Mua and Son Dau) live in The Dao live along the Sino-Vietnamese and Vietnamese-Lao borders and in some midland provinces and provinces along the coastline of northern Vietnam. There were 620,538 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

The Dao worship their ancestors called Ban Ho. Two forms of matrilocals exist, a temporary matrilocal and permanent matrilocal. Their funerals reflect many ancient customs. In some regions, dead people from 12 years old and older are cremated. The houses are built either on stilts, level with the ground, or half on stilts and half on beaten earth. ~

Dao language belongs to the Mong-Dao Group. The Dao have long used Chinese writings (but pronounced in the Dao way) called Nom Dao (Dao Demotic Script). The attire of the Dao men consists of trousers and short vests. Women's attire is more diversified and is often decorated with many traditional motifs. The Dao mainly live off of rice cultivation and by growing subsidiary crops. Sideline occupations include weaving, carpentering, blacksmithing, papermaking and vegetable oil production. ~

Giay Ethnic Group

The Giay (also known as the Nhang, Dang, Pau Thin, Pu Na, Cui Chu and Xa) live in far northern Vietnam in Bat Xat, Bao Thang and Muong Khuong districts (Lao Cai Province); Yen Minh and Dong Van districts (Ha Giang Province); Phong Tho and Muong Te districts (Lai Chau Province); and Cao Bang Province. There were 49,098 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. Giay language belongs to the Tay-Thai Group. The cultural heritage of the Giay is rich including many ancient tales, poems, proverbs, puzzles, and alternating songs. The Giay practice rice cultivation in submerged fields and rear animals to provides for additional income. The Giay also rear plenty of horses as pack animals and for transport. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

The Giay worship not only their ancestors but also the genies of the heaven, the earth, and the kitchen, including the Goddess of Childbirth. The Giay villages are very crowded, containing hundreds of households. Houses are built on stilts or on level ground. The central bay of the house serves as a place for receiving guests and for the ancestor altar. ~

Patriarchal customs rule Giay families. The children take on the family name of their father. The family of a young man usually seeks a marriage for their son. During pregnancy, Giay women must obey certain taboos and a special altar is set up for the delivery. Men wear trousers, short vests and wind a turban around their heads. Women wear a five-paneled vest open at the side, which buttons under the right armpit, and trousers. They wear their hair wound around their head or wind it in a turban. ~

Halang

The Halang Doan is a group of about 2,000 slash-and-burn farmers that lives in Attopeu Province in Laos and Dac Lac Province in Vietnam. Many consider them to be a subgroup of the Jeh.The Tai (Ta Hoi) is a group with perhaps 40,000 members that live in Saravane Province in Laos and in bordering areas in Vietnam. They practice both slash-and-burn dry-rice agriculture and fish.

Ha Nhi Ethnic Group

The Ha Nhi(also known as the U Ni and Xa U Ni). live in Lai Chau and Lao Cai provinces. There were 17,535 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. The Ha Nhi language belongs to the Tibet-Burman Group. The Ha Nhi use a slash-and-burn method of cultivation and plant on terraced fields. Animal husbandry is well developed as well as weaving cloth and basketry articles. The women of Lai Chau wear a decorated dress in various raw colors. This is different from the dress of the Lao Cai women which is only indigo in color. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

The Ha Nhi have adopted a sedentary lifestyle. Every year during Tet (New Year's Day), the people of the same lineage get together to listen to an elderly man speak about their ancestors. Young men and women are free to choose their partners. Each marriage goes through two stages. In the first stage, young men and women become husband and wife and take the family name of the husband. The second stage is organized when the couple becomes established and has a child. When a person dies, the bedroom partition of the deceased is dismantled, as well as the altar for their ancestors. The dead body is placed on a bed in the kitchen and a good hour and day must be chosen for the burial ceremony. ~

The Ha Nhi possess many ancient tales and long versed stories. Young men and women enjoy dancing. Young couples express their love by playing leaf panpipes, lip organs and a vertical flute. Young girls like to play "am ba" and "met du" and young boys like to play "la khu". There are many types of songs in Ha Nhi society such as lullabies, duet songs, wedding songs, mourning songs, songs reserved for new houses, receiving guests, and welcoming Tet holidays. ~

The Hanhi consists of many family lineages. Each lineage comprises many branches. Every year, at Tet (lunar new year holiday), the people of the same lineage get together to listen to an elderly man recounting stories of their ancestors. The children often take the name of their father or the name of the animal corresponding to their year of birth as their middle names. The young men and women are free to choose their partners. Each marriage goes through two stages. In the first stage, the young man and women become husband and wife. The second stage is organized when the couple become rich or have a child.

Hanhi Women and Their Life

Ta Thu Giang wrote in the Viet Nam News, Carrying a bamboo basket on her back braced by a wire tied round her forehead full of farming products, while hanging a three-month-old baby at the breast ,Hanhi ethnic minority woman LyXe Ho quickens her steps toward the local market, despite the path-way being nearly invisible due to dense fog in the highland commune of Y Ty in the northern mountain province of Lao Cai. After walking for about 3km, Ho reaches the fair at 5am. It may be early, but she is one of the latest traders to arrive. She quickly ar-ranges her produce including beet, sweet tomato and vegetables on the ground and moves her newborn to her back before covering him with a piece of nylon. The baby still sleeps, he seems to be well acquainted with the cold weather and noise. The market opens every Saturday morning. It stretches across about 500 square meters, with only a fifth covered by roofing. It looks like a small street market in an urban area, with about 20 stalls displaying farming products and home essentials on the ground. Ho cannot speak Vietnamese, but it doesn’t matter to her as Kinh majority Vietnamese customers can barter and trade with her by sign language. [Source: Ta Thu Giang, Viet Nam News, March 12-25, 2010 +++]

"Speaking to the Viet Nam News through an interpreter, Ho says she works six days a week while waiting for the market."I can sell my products for money or exchange food for other goods. The market is the only place for me to meet and talk to people," says Ho. However, Ho says she is handicapped by not being able to speak Vietnamese. She has never travelled beyond her commune because she cannot understand what people are saying."That is why I try my best todo the domestic chores to en-sure my children can continue studying," says Ho. Ho, 29, married young and now has five children. The eldest is in 6th grade and the youngest is just three months old. Although she has given birth five times, she still looks young."Building a house is the most important thing in life. My husband and I have our own house. We have both girls and boys. That is enough," says Ho. +++

"Smiles seem to be the only way many Hanhi people can greet visitors, especially women, as most annot speak Vietnamese, but there are several people that can speak the majority Vietnamese language, including heads of the village or communal officials .Children are an exception. Ly Mo Xa, whose house is next to Ho’s, says he has two sisters. All are studying at local schools. "My parents said to me that I needed to learn words that would help me earn money more easily in the future. I don’t know how to earn money with such words but I obey my parents and believe what they say is right," says Xa."My teacher told me that we local children can study at a higher level until we cannot follow it. If we are talented, we would have the opportunity to go out of the commune to study in a big city."Through his teacher’s lesson, Xa says he can imagine cities full of light at night and cars and motor-bikes on the road, however, his parents believe that graduating from senior secondary school is enough for him."In my village, finishing high school study is a source of pride for a family," says Xa who is studying 8th grade at Y Ty Junior Secondary School. According to the head of the village, Sanbo Gio, all the children in the village go to school, and almost all of them have finished their grade. Xa wants to be a doctor in the future, treating local villagers. It is too soon to say if he can turn his dream into reality, but he has a dream that the older generation never would have considered. As for Ho, travelling beyond the commune is something incredible to imagine, but for Xa it will be a normal thing in the future, a future that promises brighter opportunities. +++

Typical Han Hi Tribal Village and House

Ta Thu Giang wrote in the Viet Nam News, "Seeing Ho’s home of Chon Then Village from a distance, it gives the impression that the houses are clustered together like colossal mushrooms. The village stands at more than 1,000m above the sea level and is home to 48 Hanhi households. They live on rice cultivation of burnt-over land or terraced fields. They are one of the few groups who have traditional experience in reclaiming land for terraced fields on mountain slopes, digging canals and building small dams. They use ploughs and harrows pulled by buffalo to work the fields. Their gardens are often close to their houses. Carrying a bamboo basket on her back braced by a wire tied round her forehead full of farming. [Source: Ta Thu Giang, Viet Nam News, March 12-25, 2010 +++]

"Like others in the village, Ho’s family lives in an earthen-walled house. It has no window, but the house is always cool in summer and warm in winter. The house’s wall is about 9 meters long and 8 meters wide, in between there are small stones. Each house measures some 65-80 square meters with a four-cornered roof covered with dry grass. There is a main door and one door inside, with the room housing a bed and an open kitchen. Deputy chairman of Y Ty Commune People’s Committee, Trang A Lu, says local residents always build houses on mountain sides near untouched forest. Rites for construction are simple but meaningful. After digging the foundation, the house owner throws three paddy grains into the foundation which represent the wish for a large family with many children and grandchildren, good animal husbandry and bumper crops. Animal husbandry and cloth-weaving are common. Most Hanhi can produce clothes for themselves. +++

"Lu says almost all Hanhi men know how to build earthen-walled houses and do carpentry. Walls are made of compacted soil so houses must be built in the dry season from September to January. Local residents always help each other build houses without charge. Lu recalls the day a year ago when he began building, many of the neighbours came to share the work. This traditional custom helps bring local villagers closer together."In the past, women always helped cut thatch to make roofing, while men cut trees to make the house frame. Nowadays, many local families use fibro-cement instead of thatch so the women help the owners by making a meal and cleaning the new house," says Lu. When the building is completed, the house owner usually invites neighbours to a party. If the houseowners are not in a position to invite the neighbours, they will only invite their relatives. +++

Hmong

See Hmong, See Mong

Katu

The Katu is a group of 40,000 slash-and-burn rice farmers and cassava and maize cultivators that live along the Laos-Vietnam border, Katu means "savage," a name given to them by outsiders. They share some of the unusual customs of the Toraja in South Sulawesi—buffalo sacrifice, ritual masks and above-ground burial of the dead.

Khang Ethnic Group

The Khang (also known as the Xa Khao, Xa Xua, Xa Don, Xa Dang, Xa Hoc, Xa Ai, Xa Bung, and Quang Lam) live in Son La and Lai Chau provinces in northern Vietnam. There were 10,272 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. Khang language belongs to the Mon-Khmer Group. Khang women dye their teeth black and chew betel like the Thai. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

The Khang live in houses built on stilts, with three rooms. Each house has two kitchens, one kitchen is used to cook daily meals and the other is used to warm and cook meals which are offered to worship dead parents. Khang marriage ceremonies go through three steps. First, a marriage proposal is made. Next, parental approval is sought; and finally the wedding occurs. The first stage is held for the groom's family and the second stage is held in order to accompany the bride to her husband's home. ~

The Khang mainly practice slash-and-burn cultivation using traditional techniques such as digging holes and planting seeds in these holes. They grow sticky rice which serves as their food staple. Their weaving products include chairs, baskets, flat baskets, suitcases, packs, and wooden boats. The Khang also grow cotton and exchange it for cloth and garments. ~

Kho Mu Ethnic Group

The Kho Mu (also known as the Xa Cau, Mun Xen, Pu Thenh, Tenh, and Tay Hay) live in Nghe An, Lai Chau, Son La, Thanh Hoa, and Yen Bai provinces in northern Vietnam. There were 56,542 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. The Kho Mu language belongs to the Mon-Khmer Group. A rich heritage of tradition and culture can be found in this ethnic group. The Kho Mu live on slash-and-burn cultivation, hunting, and gathering. Basketry is also a very developed skill among the members of this group. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

The Kho Mu still live a nomadic lifestyle. Their houses are built with temporary and rudimentary materials and have very little furniture. The husband must live with his wife's family for one year after marriage. Marriage between the same lineages is strictly forbidden. The Kho Mu believe in the existence of spirits. The heavens, the sound of thunder, the earth, the forests, and the field are all assisted by spirits. The worshipping of spirits of the village and of ancestors is very common. They also pray for bumper harvests and good annual production. The garments of the Kho Mu resemble the Thai group, but the women's ornaments are unique to this group. ~

La Chi Ethnic Group

The La Chi (also known as the Cu Te and La Qua) live in Xin Man District in Ha Giang Province, and Muong Khuong and Bac Ha districts in Lao Cai Province in northern Vietnam There were 10,765 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. The La Chi language belongs to the Kadai Group. The La Chi grow wet rice in terraced fields. La Chi women have a tradition of weaving and indigo dyeing. The La Chi live a sedentary life that revolves around villages. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

The typical La Chi house is built on stilts has three apartments and an ancestral altar in the largest apartment. Each household has its own drums and gongs which are used in ritual ceremonies conducted by the head of the family lineage. Children take the family name of their fathers. As part of the wedding presents, the groom's family has to offer the amount of money that was needed to pay for the bride's upbringing. The 7th Lunar Month Festival is the largest and merriest activity of the La Chi culture. ~

Men wear five-panelled shirts that fall below their knees (nowadays these shirts are shorter), wide trousers, and head turbans. The women usually wear a four-panelled dress with a belt, a bra, and a long turban, along with a pair of trousers or a skirt. Young boys and girls like to sing "nica" songs. The traditional musical instruments of this group include drums, gongs, three-stringed zithers (dan tinh), and lip-organs made from tree leaves. Popular games played at festivals are con throwing, top spinning, and swinging. ~

La Ha Ethnic Group

The La Ha (also known as the Phlao, Xa Khan and Khla) live in Son La and Lao Cai provinces in northern Vietnam. There were 5,686 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. The La Ha language belongs to the Kadai Group. They live on slash-and-burn farming. Nowadays, many villages cultivate rice in submerged fields and build embankments to protect the soil from erosion. The La Ha grow cotton but do not weave. They dress the same as the Black Thai. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

The La Ha house is built on stilts with two entrances and ladders at both ends. Young boys and girls are free to seek their love. A young boy will visit a young girl at her house playing a flute or a two-string violin to try to engage her in normal conversation. After the marriage proposal, the bridegroom lives in the bride's family house for four to eight years before the wedding actually takes place. The bride then joins her husband's family and takes his family name. ~

Old customs require that a dead person be buried along with their money and a rice paddy. The La Ha believe there are many supernatural forces including spirits of the forest, the water, the mist, and the house. In each family, only the soul of the father, which will turn into the spirit of the house after his death, is worshipped. Every year, when the ban flowers blossom, a celebration is held by every family to honour their parents. ~

La Hu Ethnic Group

The La Hu (also known as the Xa La Vang, Co Rung, Khu Sung, and Kha Quy) live in Muong Te District of Lai Chau Province in northern Vietnam. There were 6,874 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. La Hu language belongs to the Tibeto-Burman Group. The La Hu live on slash-and-burn cultivation and hunting. La Hu men are very skilled at blacksmithing and making rattan chairs, trays, mats. Women wear trousers and a long-lap shirt that falls to their ankles. They also wear a short vest during festive days. The collar, chest stripes, and sleeves are either embroidered or sewn with colorful pieces of cloth, silver, tin coins, or red fringes. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

The La Hu live in villages built on mountain slopes. These houses are level with the ground and divided by bamboo partitions. The altar for the ancestors and the kitchen are always placed at the bay of the house, which is used for the family sleeping quarters. The right of inheritance is only reserved for sons. Young men and women are free to choose their partners. After the wedding, the groom has to live with his wife's family for several years, but then takes his wife to his family house. ~

La Hu women usually give birth in their bedroom. Three days later, the baby is given its name. If an unexpected guest comes during this time, he or she is given the honour of naming the newborn. The worship of the ancestors is reserved for the dead parents. Every year the La Hu hold ceremonies to worship the spirits of the earth and to pray for peace. They conjure up the souls of the corn and the rice spirits after the sowing and harvesting duties have been completed. ~

There are a dozen "khen" (pan-pipe) dances in La Hu culture. The songs are sung in the Ha Nhi language, but the La Hu have kept their own rhythms. The La Hu have a rich heritage of ancient tales, and they even maintain their own calendar in which the days are defined corresponding to twelve animals, including the tiger, rabbit, dragon, mouse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, pig, squirrel, snake and buffalo. ~

Lao Ethnic Group

The Lao(also known as the Lao Boc and Lao Noi) are concentrated northeastern Vietnam in Dien Bien City (Dien Bien Province); Phong Tho and Than Uyen districts (Lai Chau Province); Song Ma District (Son La Province), There were 11,611 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. They are the same ethnic group that dominate Laos. The Lao language belongs to the Tay-Thai Group. The Lao primarily grow rice in submerged fields using advanced techniques such as ploughing, harrowing, and irrigating. Additional family income is generated through weaving, blacksmithing, pottery, and silver production. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

The Lao worship their ancestors and are influenced by Buddhism. The Lao often take the family names of Lo, Luong, or Vi. Children take the family name of their father. When a person dies, a funeral ceremony and burial is carefully organized. Cremation occurs only if the deceased is the chief of a "muong" or a "ban" (village). ~

The "mo lam" (shamans) of Lao culture are very good at writing and narrating ancient tales and folksongs. Lao folklore and its legacy is heavily influenced by Thai culture. The "lam vong" (Lao folk dance) are always performed during festivals and ceremonies. Women wear black skirts that are knotted at the front and come up to their chests. The hems are usually decorated with two bands of embroidered motifs in different colors. Lao men used to have a Han script and an animal tattooed on their wrist and thighs. ~

Lo Lo Ethnic Group

The Lo Lo (also known as the Mun Di, Lo Lo Hoa and Lo Lo Den) live in northern Vietnam in Dong Van and Meo Vac districts of Ha Giang Province, Bao Lac District of Cao Bang Province and Muong Khuong District of Lao Cai Province. There were 3,307 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. The Lo Lo language belongs to the Tibeto-Burman Group. Their written language used pictographic scripts which are no longer in use. The Lo Lo depend mainly on maize and rice as forms of income generation. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

The Lo Lo mainly worship their ancestors. Their villages are located on mountain slopes close to sources of water. They live in grouped villages, each village having 20 to 25 houses. These houses are built either on stilts, half on stilts and half on the ground, or level with the ground. People of the same lineage live in the same village. The leader of the lineage is called the Thau Chu. This leader is responsible for ritual ceremonies and the preservation of the customs of that lineage. The Lo Lo practice monogamy and the wife comes to live in her husband's house after marriage. The Lo Lo use bronze drums for special occasions, but bury these drums in the earth for maintenance, and unearth them only for usage. The head of each family lineage is the keeper of the bronze drums. These drums are only used at funerals or to keep time during dances. ~

The calendar of the Lo Lo divides the year into 11 months, each corresponding to the name of an animal. The folklore culture of the Lo Lo is diverse. It is expressed particularly well in dances, songs, and old tales. The Lo Lo people have a high level of education, as many are university graduates or they have finished secondary education. The Lo Lo Hoa women often wear a low-neck vest and a pair of trousers underneath a short skirt. Lo Lo Den men wear pajama-style trousers and a square necked vest pulled over their heads. Colorful designs are incorporated into their turbans, vests, skirts, and trousers. ~

Lu Ethnic Group

The Lu(also known as the Nhuon and Duon) live in northwestern Vietnam Phong Tho and Sin Ho Districts of Lai Chau Province.. There were 4,964 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. The Lu language belongs to the Tay-Thai Group. The Lu has been engaged in farming for a long time. The Lu also utilize slash-and-burn land to grow corn, cassava, groundnut, indigo, and cotton. They practice Buddhism. After their dead is buried, the family hold a rite which brings the dead's soul to the pagoda. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

The Lu lives in houses built on stilts with two roofs and the entrance to their homes faces the northwest. The Lu like to sing "khap" (song verses), tell old stories, proverbs, recite poems, play flutes, two-string violins, and drums. Lu men wear trousers and women wear skirts. Their garments are decorated with colorful motifs on dark indigo cloths. ~

Young men and women are free to choose their partners. Their parents' approval must be sought first, however, before the marriage can take place. The couple must then consult a fortune-teller for an age examination. If the fortune-teller finds that the ages of the couple are compatible, they can then prepare for marriage. The children take the father's family name after birth. Boys have a common middle name, "Ba", and girls, "Y". The Lu are a very friendly and faithful group of people. Divorce rarely takes place in Lu society.The Lu enjoys eating sticky rice with chilly and drinking tea. ~

Mang Ethnic Group

The Mang (also known as the Mang U and Xa La Vang) live in northwestern Vietnam in Sin Ho, Muong Te, Phong Tho districts of Lai Chau Province; and Muong Cha District of Dien Bien Province. There were 2,663 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. The Mang language belongs to the Mon-Khmer Group. The Mang practice slash-and-burn cultivation techniques with rudimentary home-made tools. The Mang cultivate rice in terraced fields similar to the Tha and practice basketry. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

The chief of the village, together with the council of the oldest men, takes responsibility for the affairs of his village. The houses are built on stilts. Young Mang men and women are free to choose their own partners. According to customs, the two families are made to struggle for the bride on the wedding day as the bride is brought from the house of her family to worship the heavens. ~

Chin tattooing is considered a rite for young men to mature into adulthood. Men wear garments consisting of a short vest open at the front and trousers. Women wear a long skirt, a short vest open at the front, and a piece of white cloth decorated with various motifs. ~

May

The May is a group with 1,500 members that live northern Vietnam along the Laos border. They used be semi-nomadic slash-and-burn farmers but now are mostly settled.

Mong (Hmong) Ethnic Group

The Mong (also known as the H'Mong or Hmong) live in The Mong are concentrated in Ha Giang, Tuyen Quang, Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Lai Chau, Son La, Cao Bang and Nghe An provinces. There were 787,604 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. The Hmong in Vietnam are subdivided into the: 1) Mong Do (White Mong), 2) Mong Lenh (Variety Mong), 3) Mong Si (Red Mong), 4) Mong Du (Black Mong) and 5) Mong Sua (Man Mong). Mong language belongs to the Mong-Dao Group. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

Each lineage lives within a group setting. The head of the village assumes the common affairs for the lineage. Young Mong men and women are free to choose their partners. Marriages are absolutely forbidden between men and women of the same lineage. Matrimonial life of the Mong is very harmonious and divorce is very rare. ~

The Traditional Tet (New Year's Day) of the Mong is organized every December. They refrain from eating green vegetables during the three days of the Tet Holiday. The musical instruments of the Mong include various kinds of "khen" (pan-pipes) and lip organs. After a hard working day and to celebrate spring, the young men and women often play "khen" and lip organs to express their feelings for their partners. ~

The Mong make their clothes from linen. Women's attire consists of a skirt, a blouse that opens at the front and has embroidery on the back, an apron to cover the skirt at the front, and leggings. The Mong live mainly on slash-and-burn cultivation. They also grow rice and corn on terraced fields. Their principal food plants are corn, rice, and rye. Apart from these crops, they also grow medicinal plants and linen plants to supply the fibers for cloth weaving. ~

Ngai Ethnic Group

The Ngai (also known as the Ngai Hac Ca, Lau Man, He, Sin, Dan, and Le) live in northern Vietnam in Quang Ninh, Bac Giang, Bac Ninh Lang Son, Cao Bang, Bac Kan and Thai Nguyen provinces. There were 4,841 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. The Ngai wear garments similar to the Hoa (or Han Chinese). The Ngai language belongs to the Han group. The Ngai maintain a love duet called the "Suong Co" that exemplifies their rich cultural heritage. Other forms of entertainment include a lion dance, a stick dance and a follow-the-leader game. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

A typical Ngai house consists of three rooms. All families have ancestor altars, and all hamlets have temples and pagodas built to honour the dead. The Ngai have great respect for their ancestors, as well as souls and spirits. Young women do not receive their inheritance after their parents die. Young Ngai people must obey their parents’ wishes. Marriage is comprised of two steps: a wedding and a nuptial rite. ~

The Ngai live mainly on rice cultivation and fishing. They have a very elaborate system of water irrigation as a result of digging canals, building dams and water reservoirs, and reinforcing sea dykes. They are also good at mat-making, bamboo screen making, blacksmithing, carpentry, and lime, tile and brick-baking. ~

Nung Ethnic Group

The Nung(also known as the Xuong, Giang, Nung An, Nung Coi, Phan Sinh, Nung Chao, Nung Inh, Qui Rin, Nung Din, and Khen Lai) live in northern Vietnam in Lang Son, Cao Bang, Bac Thai, Bac Giang, Bac Ninh and Tuyen Quang provinces. There were 856,412 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. The Nung language resembles the Tay, and belongs to the Tay-Thai Group. The Nung mainly wear indigo attire and live on rice and corn. They also grow cash crops and fruit trees, such as tangerines and persimmons, and anise. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

The Nung mainly worship their ancestors, spirits, saints, Confucius, and Kwan Yin. Nung villages are often built on hillsides. There is usually a submerged field in front of the house and a garden in the back. The Nung houses are always built on stilts. The "Lung Tung" (Going to the Fields) Ceremony is very well known and attracts many people of all ages. This ceremony is always organized on the first month of the lunar year. ~

The Nung have a written language called Nom Nung (Nung scripts) which has prevailed since the 17th century. The Nung have an abundant wealth of folk arts and cultural activities including folksongs and alternative songs ("sli"). The smooth melodies of the "sli" are harmonious with the natural sounds of the forests and mountains. This type of folksong is a combination of verse and music. ~

Tay and Nung people in northwestern Vietnam (including Lang Son and Cao Bang) typically build their stilt houses up against a slope. Ideally, the front of the house should overlook fields; close views of mountains, rivers and forests are avoided. The Tay and Nung believe that a mountain peak is like an arrow, which, if pointed at a house, might injure its residents. Trees, meanwhile, are associated with fierce beasts, and thought to bring bad luck to livestock. Nearby streams are thought to cause money to flow away from a house. Tay and Nung houses are usually narrow in front and supported by seven or nine rows of columns running along the sides. Villages typically consist of houses set parallel to each other along a hillside. [Source: vietnam-culture.com]

Making Money from Wild Vegetables in Vietnam

Rural villagers are raising their families’ incomes by cultivating wild vegetables and rice in local forests to sell at the market. Cong Thanh wrote in the Viet Nam News, “A villager in Minh Phuong Village, Ba Be District of north-eastern Bac Can Province has significantly raised his family’s income by growing a vegetable normally only found in the wild near rivers or in rainy valleys. Farmer Duong Van Tot is the first villager to plant bo khai (Sainat), which grows well in the shadow of big trees in highland forests. The 42-year-old Tay ethnic minority earns around VND40 million (US$2,200) per year from his 2ha forest, wild vegetable plots and rice. "I grow the vegetable to increase our income, because terrace paddy-fields do not bring bumper crops. Vegetable sales earn me VND8 million ($450), a fifth of my family’s annual income," Tot said. "The local people pick bo khai in the forest to sell in the market, but I bring the vegetable back to grow on my 2,000sq.m garden under fruit trees and logs," he added. [Source: Cong Thanh, Viet Nam News, March 1, 2009 ^*^]

“The vegetable grows at a time of the year when most people in the village must earn their living by hunting or harvesting various forest products, causing damaging effects to ecological systems. Tot said bo khai sells out quickly in the market because it’s a clean and safe vegetable. It is also popular due to its common usage by the local Tay for curing kidney ailments. According to Minh Phuong official Duong Thi Van, the village is home to 3,450 people; most families produce around 630kg of rice and maize on terraced slopes of an annual income per capita of around VND2.5 million ($144). ^*^

"Tot’s cultivation sets an example for other households in the village on how to increase their living standards. We want to encourage villagers to develop more vegetable gardens, creating another income generating stream for their lives to complement harvesting forest products and breeding," Van said. "However, to help them do this we need technical support and finance from Bac Can Province," she added. As scheduled, the provincial Department of Agricultural and Rural Development will plan a pilot project for growing this special crop in the northern district. An official said the project will build a standard sample before expanding to numerous households in the village. ^*^

“Ba Be District is home to another popular wild vegetable called don (a member of the fern family) – which grows profusely in damp valleys or near streams. In Ha Hieu Village, home to nearly 3,000 people mostly from the Tay, Dao and Nung ethnic minority groups, farmers have cultivated the don vegetable on lower slopes and valleys. The communal Youth Union began farming a small 10ha plot three years ago, a wooded lot reserved for them to plant don from which they expect to have 100kg of crop. "After planting, we can harvest the vegetable and sell it in two years," said Youth Union member Be Van Duy. ^*^

“Duy, 23, a Nung man on the farm for the last two years, said they just earned VND2 million ($120) from the vegetable sale last year. But, he expects the figure to increase by 10 times this year. "We asked the Ba Be District administration for a VND600 million ($34,000) preferential loan in the second quarter of this year, solely for planting don and bo khai," Duy added. He also said that the farm, which has attracted dozen of young farmers, will also invest in planting trees for logging, cattle, poultry and vegetable to diversify. ^*^

“As part of the loan, Ba Be, Pac Nam and Na Ri districts receive a $21 million loan for the Pro-Poor Partnerships for Agroforestry Development Project from the International Fund for Agricultural Development for 2009-12 period. It is the young famers’ hope to receive full financial support from the province and the youth union. The project will target poor upland farmers living in the three poorest districts of Bac Can Province: Pac Nam, Ba Be and Na Ri, which have the highest concentration of ethnic minority groups and the highest incidence of poverty in Viet Nam due to the limited agricultural land and rugged mountainous terrain. ^*^

Then Song

The then song is the religious music of the Tay, Nung minorities. This type of song can be considered a religious performance of Long Poems which depict a journey to the heavens to ask the Jade Emperor to settle trouble for the head of the household. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

Long Poems consist of several chapters with different contents and lengths. The longest poem ever collected was 4,949 sentences with 35 chapters. The then song is a general performance of music, singing, dancing, and making gestures in different circumstances. In the ceremony procession, not only must the artist carry out religious activities, but the actor must also sing, play music, dance, and show gestures to demonstrate the meaning of the sentence he is singing. Sometimes the artist also performs other activities. ~

Music is the main element that completely penetrates the performance. Sometimes the music is accompanied with song, and at other moments the music serves as a background for dance or connecting parts of a song. The main musical instruments in a then performance are the tinh tau (a traditional stringed musical instrument resembling a guitar) and a chain of shaking instruments. Sometimes the band also has a bell. All people in the Tay, Nung community, regardless of their age, sex, and religion, are fond of the then song. Some groups such as the Kinh living in the same region have also incorporated this kind of art form into their spiritual lives.

Pa Then Ethnic Group

The Pa Then (also known as the Pa Hung and Tong) live in communes in Ha Giang and Tuyen Quang provinces in northern Vietnam. There were 5,569 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. The Pa Then language belongs to the Mong-Dao Group. The Pa Then live mainly on slash-and-burn cultivation. Rice and corn are their food staple. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

Pa Then houses are built either on stilts, level with the ground, or half on stilts and half on the earth. Marriage is strictly forbidden within the same lineage. According to customs, after marriage the husband lives with his wife's family for a certain amount of time. If the wife has no brothers, the husband will live with his wife's family forever, and he has to worship the spirits of his wife's family. Half of the children take the family name of their father, and the rest takes the family name of their mother. The Pa Then worship their ancestors at home. They worship the spirits of the soil and the new rice crop, pray for the rain, and worship the souls of the dead. ~

The Pa Then have managed to preserve a rich heritage of folk culture through legends, folk songs, lullabies, and dances. They also have a lot of musical instruments such as panpipes, string instruments called the "tay nhay", and bamboo flutes. The Pa Then costumes look very colorful. Men wear shirts, long indigo trousers, and cover themselves with a long scarf. Women wear long skirts, a bra and a shirt. They like to wear their hair wound up in a turban which is trimmed with colorful motifs. ~

Phu La Ethnic Group

The Phu La (also known as the Xa Pho, Bo Kho Pa,Mu Di Pa, Pho, Va Xo and La Dun Dang) live in northwestern Vietnam in Lai Chau, Son La, Lao Cai, and Ha Giang provinces. The largest settlements are in Lao Cai Province. There were 9,046 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. The Pu La language belongs to the Tibeto-Burman Group. Men's garments have unique characteristic such as an open shirt with many glass beads and figures that are arranged in a cross shape. Women's dresses are embroidered with many colorful motifs. The women often wear square aprons that are embroidered with motifs and attached with glass beads sewn in parallel lines or in an eight tipped star pattern. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

The Phu La worship their ancestors and believe in animism. They live in various villages, each village containing about 10-15 households. The house is built very simply with three rooms and a thatched roof. The oldest men, the village chiefs, and the lineage heads play a significant role in managing public affairs. The young people are not forced to marry. After an engagement the bride comes to live with her husband's family; the wedding, however, may be held one or two years later. ~

The Phu La depend on farming using the slash-and-burn method and planting on terraced fields. They rear buffaloes, horses, and pigs. Basketry is another form of income and they are well known for their beautifully decorated bamboo and rattan articles. The Phu La often sell or barter articles for other commodity goods from other ethnic groups. ~

Pu Peo Ethnic Group

The Pu Peo (also known as the Ka Beo, Penti, and Lo Lo) live in northern Vietnam along the Chinese-Vietnamese border in Dong Van, Yen Minh, and Meo Vac districts of Ha Giang Province. The Pu Peo language resembles that of the Co Lao, La Chi and La Ha, and belongs to the Kadai Group. The Pu Peo farm on burned land and terraced fields, growing maize, rice, rye, and beans. Their farm tools include ploughs and harrows. They use buffaloes and oxen to serve as draught animals. Their staple food is steam cooked corn flour. There were 705 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

Houses are usually built on the ground in tiny clusters be side a Hoa or H'Mong village. Each family lineage has its own system of middle names. Pu Peo society follows a patriarchal system, as the father or husband has the right to own the house. The Pu Peo attach great importance to ancestral worship. Small earthen jars, each symbolizing a generation, are often placed on their altar. ~

The Pu Peo hold ceremonies to pray for peace and the beginning of the new working season. This particular ceremony is held during the New Year in the first half of the first lunar month, and continues to the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. The Pu Peo are one of few ethnic groups still using bronze drums. In Pu Peo custom, male and female drums sets exist. The attire of Pu Peo women still maintain their vibrant colors as pieces of different colored cloths are sewn to make colorful designs. They wear scarves, skirts, vests, and aprons. The men, however, dress like other ethnic groups in the region. ~

San Chay Ethnic Group

The San Chay(also known as the Cao Lan, San Chi, Man Cao Lan, and Hon Ban) live in northern Vietnam not far from Hanoi in Tuyen Quang, Thai Nguyen, and Bac Giang provinces. Communities of San Chay are also found scattered in Quang Ninh, Yen Bai, Lang Son, and Vinh Phuc provinces. There were 147,315 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. The language of the San Chay is classified with the Tay-Thai Group. The San Chay cultivates wet rice and agriculture, which plays an important role in their livelihood. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

Ancestral worship is widely practiced but is influenced by Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Houses are usually built level to the ground. The San Chay house is said to resemble the "Buffalo Genie", the four pillars of the house symbolize the four legs of the buffalo, the paths around the house represent the ribs, and the roof represents the backbone. One of the two corners of the penthouse is usually used as the altar for the ancestors and is regarded as the holiest section of the house. ~

The San Chay inhabitants belong to various family lineages, each lineage having several branches. The father is the head of the family. After a wedding, the wife lives with her parents and she settles permanently at the husband's house only after her first childbirth. The San Chay have many old tales, folksongs, proverbs, and sayings. A particularly popular cultural activity is the "sinh ca", an alternating love song chant. Their musical instruments include castanets, small copper bells, cymbals, wind instruments, and drums. The modern attire of the San Chay tends to resemble the Kinh or Tay. ~

San Diu Ethnic Group

The San Diu—also known as the San Deo, Trai, Trai Dat, and "Man Quan Coc" ("Man in Shorts")—live in northern Vietnam not so far from Hanoi in the midlands of Quang Ninh, Hai Duong, Bac Giang, Bac Ninh, Vinh Phu, Thai Nguyen, and Tuyen Quang provinces. There were 126,237 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. The San Diu language belongs to the Han Group. The San Diu have gradually adopted the Kinh style of dress. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

The San Diu house is built level with the ground. The roof is usually covered with thatch or tile, the walls are built of bricks, and the houses are clustered closely together in each village. The husband (father) is the head of the family. The children take the family name of the father and only sons have the right of inheritance. The parents also decide when their children should marry. The funeral ceremony of the San Diu has many rites. The San Diu worship their ancestors and the God of the Kitchen. They hold many annual ceremonies usually before crop planting, after crop planting, after the new rice matures, and when they need to pray for rain. ~

The San Diu sing alternating songs (soong co) during cultural activities and at festivals. They have many musical instruments such as horns, clarinets, drums, flutes, cymbals, and castanets. They also like to play many games such as walking on sticks, a game involving sticks, badminton in the San Diu way, and tug-of-war. The San Diu engage in rice farming practices through submerging their fields, animal and forest exploitation, fishing, fish breeding, tile and brick making, blacksmithing, and basketry. The San Diu also manufacture the no-wheel "quet" cart drawn by a buffalo to transport goods. ~

Si La Ethnic Group

The Si La (also known as the Cu De Xu, Kha Pe) live in Lai Chau Province. There were 840 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. The Si La language belongs to the Tibeto-Burman Group. The main forms of income are rice and corn cultivation. Hunting and gathering are also a significant part of the life of the Si La. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

The Si La live in houses built level to the ground. The kitchen is usually placed at the center of the house. Relationships between the members of a lineage are very close. The head of a lineage is usually the oldest man who plays an important role in the village. He also acts as a leader in charge of internal affairs, and especially during worship. The "mo" (shamans) is well respected. The Si La wedding ceremony is celebrated in two stages with one year passing in between the stages. The family of the groom must hand wedding presents to the bride's family prior to meeting the bride and bringing her home. ~

The burial ground of the dead occupies a plot at the end of the village. Graves of members of the same lineages are grouped together. The Si La often build the funeral house for the dead first, then dig the grave for the house. The coffin is made from a hollowed tree trunk. When a person dies, the Si La organize different kinds of ceremonies. They never clean the graves or exhume the dead's remains, but they maintain the custom of mourning their parents for three years. The Si La also worship their ancestors and the spirits of the village. ~

The attire of women is quite unique. The upper parts of their dresses are different colors and decorated with silver and tin coins. Their headgear varies according to age. When travelling, they always carry a woven handbag with red fringes attached to the hems of the handbag. In the past, men have painted their teeth red and women have painted theirs black. This custom is no longer observed by the young people.

Tay Ethnic Group

Tay is a general term used to describe Thai-speaking farmers and rural people in Vietnam. There are about 1.5 million of them and they are regarded as the largest ethnic group in Vietnam after the Vietnamese. It is not clear exactly how they are defined and counted. Today they are highly assimilated into Vietnamese society. The leader of Vietnam through much of the 2000s, Nong Duc Manh, is a Tay. He is widely rumored be the illegitimate son of Ho Chi Minh and Tay Ho's housekeeper—Nông Thi Trung—from 1941-42.

The Tay have traditionally been wetland rice farmers and slash-and-burn rice cultivators. They also raised sugar cane, watercress, maize, buckwheat, manioc and various kinds of vegetables. The Tay tend to establish themselves in regional counties areas and do businesses at local markets that rotate between a series of villages in that region. There has traditionally been a lot of trade with Vietnam and Chinese merchants.

The Tay (also known as the Tho, Ngan, Phen, Thu Lao, and Pa Di) live mainly along the valleys and the lower slopes of the mountains in Cao Bang, Lang Son, Bac Kan, and Quang Ninh provinces, and in some regions of Bac Giang and Bac Ninh provinces. There were 1,477,514 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. The Tay language belongs to Tay-Thai Group. The Tay has developed agricultural practices quite well and are able to cultivate all kinds of plants including rice, maize, and sweet potato. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

Culture of the Tay Ethnic Group

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

Tay and Nung people in northwestern Vietnam (including Lang Son and Cao Bang) typically build their stilt houses up against a slope. Ideally, the front of the house should overlook fields; close views of mountains, rivers and forests are avoided. The Tay and Nung believe that a mountain peak is like an arrow, which, if pointed at a house, might injure its residents. Trees, meanwhile, are associated with fierce beasts, and thought to bring bad luck to livestock. Nearby streams are thought to cause money to flow away from a house. Tay and Nung houses are usually narrow in front and supported by seven or nine rows of columns running along the sides. Villages typically consist of houses set parallel to each other along a hillside. [Source: vietnam-culture.com]

The dan nhi is a bow instrument with two strings, commonly used among the Viet ethnic group and several national minorities: Muong, Tay, Thai, Gie Trieng, Khmer. The dan nhi comprises a tubular body made of hard wood with snake or python skin stretched over one end and a bridge. The neck of the dan nhi has no frets. Made of hard wood, one end of the neck goes through the body; the other end slants slightly backward. There are two pegs for tuning. The two strings, which used to be made of silk, are now of metal and are tuned in fifths: C-1 D-2; F-1 C-2; or C-1 G-1.

Then Song

The then song is the religious music of the Tay, Nung minorities. This type of song can be considered a religious performance of Long Poems which depict a journey to the heavens to ask the Jade Emperor to settle trouble for the head of the household. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

Long Poems consist of several chapters with different contents and lengths. The longest poem ever collected was 4,949 sentences with 35 chapters. The then song is a general performance of music, singing, dancing, and making gestures in different circumstances. In the ceremony procession, not only must the artist carry out religious activities, but the actor must also sing, play music, dance, and show gestures to demonstrate the meaning of the sentence he is singing. Sometimes the artist also performs other activities. ~

Music is the main element that completely penetrates the performance. Sometimes the music is accompanied with song, and at other moments the music serves as a background for dance or connecting parts of a song. The main musical instruments in a then performance are the tinh tau (a traditional stringed musical instrument resembling a guitar) and a chain of shaking instruments. Sometimes the band also has a bell. All people in the Tay, Nung community, regardless of their age, sex, and religion, are fond of the then song. Some groups such as the Kinh living in the same region have also incorporated this kind of art form into their spiritual lives.

Poor Tay Village

In 2007, AFP reported from Na Lia, a poor village in northwest Vietnam, "Vietnam's cities are being transformed by rapid economic growth which has brought fashion boutiques, fast food and traffic jams, but most people in this remote northern village wouldn't know. A rice farming hamlet of about 400 Tay ethnic minority people without telephones, television or even electricity, Na Lia is part of another Vietnam, the rural hinterland that is struggling to catch up with the boom. [Source: Agence France Presse, November 8, 2007 <<<]

"Few people in Na Lia — an hour's drive from the nearest highway in a valley in Lan Son province — have seen Hanoi, where people bring laptops to wi-fi cafes and play the stock market. One of the few villagers who has made the trip is Vi Van Phong, 31, who travelled to the capital for the first time this year, to visit the museum of Vietnam's first president Ho Chi Minh. Back in the one-room house he shares with his mother, he says what most impressed him about Hanoi was electricity, but otherwise he didn't really like the big city. Hanoi's once-sleepy streets are now choked with scooters and, increasingly, the luxury cars of the new rich, including several Humvees. Phong, who like some 80 percent of the people of Na Lia does not own a moped, made the six-hour trip by motorcycle-taxi and bus for 12 dollars return, a small fortune for him. <<<

Communist Vietnam is now on track to raise average per capita GDP to 1,000 dollars a year by 2010, moving the country of 84 million to middle-income status. Phong says he survives on less than 100 dollars a year. For the most part, Na Lia is a small, cashless economy, where people live off what they can grow but lack surplus produce or the means to transport any excess to the nearest market town. Rice grows in small paddies but the hills are denuded from erosion caused by slash-and-burn farming and felling of trees by villagers to sell for timber. Like other villagers here, Phong says he runs out of rice for several months each year so must switch to corn and cassava. He eats meat or fish once or twice a month -- a far cry from Hanoi, where sushi bars have mushroomed, fast-food chain KFC opened its first outlets this year, and health authorities warn of rising obesity rates. <<<

"There's a vast disparity between Vietnam's rural and urban areas," said Hassan Ahmad, whose Singapore-based group Lien Aid has launched an anti-poverty project here, funded by the city-state's Ian Ferguson Foundation. "You see Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City -- bright lights, big cities -- but people here haven't tasted the economic growth yet," he told AFP. "I wouldn't say it's the dark side of Vietnam, but here people say they suffer food shortages for three months a year." Vietnam's government and its foreign donors are aware of the growing urban-rural divide, a problem common to much of Asia. Asian Development Bank president Haruhiko Kuroda, at a Hanoi conference this year, warned that in Asia, "although absolute poverty is being significantly reduced, the gap between the poor and the rich is rising". While the World Bank has praised Vietnam for poverty reduction it has also stressed that "the poverty rate among ethnic minorities and communities in mountainous areas is much higher compared to the national average," standing at 60 percent in 2004 for these groups. Making a difference isn't always easy, but neither is it impossible, said Ahmad, speaking at the opening of a new primary school and library here, built as part of his group's first rural development project in Vietnam.<<<

Not so long ago just getting water was a daily struggle in Na Lia, where people had to fill water buckets from nearby creeks. Lien Aid has installed sand-filtered water tanks in all 71 households, fed via pipes from the nearby stream, where an eco-turbine generates power to light the new school, which replaces a dark timber shack. Vietnamese agriculture experts have introduced soy beans and a high-yield rice, doubling output. They plan to soon buy a single bull to genetically improve the local livestock. High-protein grass has been planted for the cows to feed on in enclosures — increasing cattle yield, converting manure into organic fertiliser, and preventing the animals from destroying other plants. At a nursery, seedlings have been planted for fast-growing acacia trees that will stabilise the hillsides and can later be sold as timber, said one of the group's agriculture experts, Cao Viet Hung. The group plans to expand into orange, longan and lychee trees, to green the hills, improve the villagers' diets and earn cash. "What we have done here is not genius, and it's not expensive," said Ahmad, whose project cost 150,000 dollars and half a year to set up, using know-how from Singapore's Nanyang Technological University. "People from other villages have come to take a look," he said. "We believe this project can be replicated. The real needs in Vietnam are in places like this, beyond the mountains and at the ends of inaccessible roads." <<<

Making Money from Wild Vegetables in Vietnam

Rural villagers are raising their families’ incomes by cultivating wild vegetables and rice in local forests to sell at the market. Cong Thanh wrote in the Viet Nam News, “A villager in Minh Phuong Village, Ba Be District of north-eastern Bac Can Province has significantly raised his family’s income by growing a vegetable normally only found in the wild near rivers or in rainy valleys. Farmer Duong Van Tot is the first villager to plant bo khai (Sainat), which grows well in the shadow of big trees in highland forests. The 42-year-old Tay ethnic minority earns around VND40 million (US$2,200) per year from his 2ha forest, wild vegetable plots and rice. "I grow the vegetable to increase our income, because terrace paddy-fields do not bring bumper crops. Vegetable sales earn me VND8 million ($450), a fifth of my family’s annual income," Tot said. "The local people pick bo khai in the forest to sell in the market, but I bring the vegetable back to grow on my 2,000sq.m garden under fruit trees and logs," he added. [Source: Cong Thanh, Viet Nam News, March 1, 2009 ^*^]

“The vegetable grows at a time of the year when most people in the village must earn their living by hunting or harvesting various forest products, causing damaging effects to ecological systems. Tot said bo khai sells out quickly in the market because it’s a clean and safe vegetable. It is also popular due to its common usage by the local Tay for curing kidney ailments. According to Minh Phuong official Duong Thi Van, the village is home to 3,450 people; most families produce around 630kg of rice and maize on terraced slopes of an annual income per capita of around VND2.5 million ($144). ^*^

"Tot’s cultivation sets an example for other households in the village on how to increase their living standards. We want to encourage villagers to develop more vegetable gardens, creating another income generating stream for their lives to complement harvesting forest products and breeding," Van said. "However, to help them do this we need technical support and finance from Bac Can Province," she added. As scheduled, the provincial Department of Agricultural and Rural Development will plan a pilot project for growing this special crop in the northern district. An official said the project will build a standard sample before expanding to numerous households in the village. ^*^

“Ba Be District is home to another popular wild vegetable called don (a member of the fern family) – which grows profusely in damp valleys or near streams. In Ha Hieu Village, home to nearly 3,000 people mostly from the Tay, Dao and Nung ethnic minority groups, farmers have cultivated the don vegetable on lower slopes and valleys. The communal Youth Union began farming a small 10ha plot three years ago, a wooded lot reserved for them to plant don from which they expect to have 100kg of crop. "After planting, we can harvest the vegetable and sell it in two years," said Youth Union member Be Van Duy. ^*^

“Duy, 23, a Nung man on the farm for the last two years, said they just earned VND2 million ($120) from the vegetable sale last year. But, he expects the figure to increase by 10 times this year. "We asked the Ba Be District administration for a VND600 million ($34,000) preferential loan in the second quarter of this year, solely for planting don and bo khai," Duy added. He also said that the farm, which has attracted dozen of young farmers, will also invest in planting trees for logging, cattle, poultry and vegetable to diversify. ^*^

“As part of the loan, Ba Be, Pac Nam and Na Ri districts receive a $21 million loan for the Pro-Poor Partnerships for Agroforestry Development Project from the International Fund for Agricultural Development for 2009-12 period. It is the young famers’ hope to receive full financial support from the province and the youth union. The project will target poor upland farmers living in the three poorest districts of Bac Can Province: Pac Nam, Ba Be and Na Ri, which have the highest concentration of ethnic minority groups and the highest incidence of poverty in Viet Nam due to the limited agricultural land and rugged mountainous terrain. ^*^

Tay Tet Sacred Ball Throwing Game (Nem Con)

Each ethnic group in Vietnam has unique ways of celebrating Tet. The Tay people of Cao Bang and Lang Son Provinces have a special Tet game that not only ushers in the spring but also serves as a matchmaker. According to Tay legend, Pia, an orphan, war poor and lonely. Discouraged with life, he went to the forest and gathered pieces of fruit to throw around. One time, he threw a fruit so hard it flew straight to heaven, where a fairy caught it. The fairy flew down to the earth to play with Pia. Before long, they fell in love and became husband and wife. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

The people of the mountain village believed that the fruit had brought Pia happiness. To celebrate this story, young men and women toss balls (nem con) each year from the third day of Tet until the end of the first lunar month. Players gather on a level field where villagers have planted a tall bamboo tree. A bamboo ring about 30-40 cm in diameter hangs from the tree. Gaudy fabric covers the balls, which the makers have stuffed with rice grains (representing food) and cotton seeds (clothing) along with their hidden desires. A multicolored tassel decorates the balls. ~

According to tradition, before playing, the Tay people first prepare a tray of food, which they take to the field and offer to the Sky and Earth. Two balls and a bamboo ring on the tray represent vitality and virtue. The festival leader, who must have high status, prays to the Sky and Earth lo brings rain so that the community will have a good harvest. After this ceremony, the leader tosses the two balls high into the air. Everyone competes to catch them, signaling the beginning of festivities. ~

At that point, each family may throw its own household ball through the bamboo ring for good luck. Naturally, some balls do not make it through on the first try. The owners may try over and over until they are successful. The festival leader closes with a prayer for a good planting season, then slashes the ball open and distributes seeds to everyone. These seeds bring good luck and will sprout quickly because they unite the forces of am and duong (yin and yang) in the warmth of women's and men's hands. Everyone receives the holy seeds of the Sky, the Earth and Humanity with the belief and hope that their crops will increase, people will prosper and the entire village will have sufficient food, clothing and happiness. For this reason, the ball game is a major feature of Tay tradition. ~

Thai Ethnic Group

The Thai (also known as the Tay, Tay Dam, Tay Khao, Tay Muoi, Tay Thanh, Hang Tong, and Pu Thay) live mainly in northern Vietnam in Lai Chau, Dien Bien, Son La, Hoa Binh, and Nghe An provinces. There were 1,328,725 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. The Thai language belongs to the Tay-Thai Group. The Thai are experienced in cultivating rice and orchards. They also breed cattle and poultry, make bamboo articles, weave cloth, and produce ceramic ware. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

The Thai worship their ancestors, the heavens, the earth, ban, and "muong". They also hold rituals to pray for good crops.The Thai live in houses built on stilts. Among the Black Thai, they prefer roofs that are shaped like a tortoise carapace with decorations called "khau cuts" at each ridge. A Thai man first lives with his wife's family for several years until the couple has a child; they then move to the house of the husband's family. The Thai organize funerals as a farewell party to see off the dead to the other world. ~

People of the Thai minority erect funerary "trees" to launch the dead toward heaven. They have a valuable legacy of myths, legends, ancient tales, versed stories, and folksongs. They like to sing and recite the "khap" along with the accompaniment of string instruments and a dance performance. Their folk dances such as "Xoe", "Sap", "Han Khuong", and "Con" are reflection of the Thai's unique cultural characteristics. The men have adopted the Kinh's clothing style, while Thai women have retained their traditional clothes which include short vests, long black skirts, scarves, and ornaments. ~

All houses in a Thai village face high mountains and forests, since this view is thought to increase vitality. It is considered unlucky to build a house facing a gap between two mountain peaks. Like other groups, the Thai position their houses facing north to south. They divide the living space into two: a higher level, restricted to family members, is used for worship, relaxation, and sleep; the lower level is where the family entertains guests, cooks and weaves. There are two doors and two covered porches. The left-hand door is called chan and the right-hand door is called quan. Family members may use both doors, but visiting women must use the chan door, while visiting men must use the quan door. A new son-in-law sleeps in the right porch, which is called the tang quan. The left porch, or tang chan, is used for drying rice and clothes. Thai houses have beautiful windows, measuring 60cm by 100cm, set close to the floor in the front wall. The roofs are highly distinctive in that they are comprised of four panels. Two flat panels are linked by curved gables over the porches. [Source: vietnam-culture.com]

The White Thai ethnic minority today suffers from high heroin addiction rates—as it lives along drug smuggling routes—even though it traditionally was not involved in opium cultivation. Their folklore includes the story "xong chu xon xao" (seeing off and instructing the loving heart).

The dan nhi is a bow instrument with two strings, commonly used among the Viet ethnic group and several national minorities: Muong, Tay, Thai, Gie Trieng, Khmer. The dan nhi comprises a tubular body made of hard wood with snake or python skin stretched over one end and a bridge. The neck of the dan nhi has no frets. Made of hard wood, one end of the neck goes through the body; the other end slants slightly backward. There are two pegs for tuning. The two strings, which used to be made of silk, are now of metal and are tuned in fifths: C-1 D-2; F-1 C-2; or C-1 G-1.

Xinh-Mun Ethnic Group

The Xinh Mun (also known as the Puoc, and Pua) live in Son La and Lai Chau provinces and along the Vietnamese-Lao border regions in northwestern Vietnam. There were 18,018 of them in 1999 according to the census taken that year. The Xinh Mun language belongs to the Mon-Khmer Group. The Xinh Mun grow glutinous rice and corn on burned land and terraced fields. They also gather, rear animals, hunt, make basketry articles, and have developed a system of bartering goods. They wear garments that resemble the Thai and Lao. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

Xinh Mun houses are built on stilts, have vaulted roofs shaped like a tortoise shell and stairways at both ends of the house. The children take the family name of the father. After the death of the father, the eldest brother is elevated to an important position. During the production of rice, people hold many ceremonies and maintain many taboos. The villagers annually organize a ceremony to honour the spirit of the village. ~

According to marriage customs, the family of the groom must give money to the bride's family. After the proposal, engagement, and wedding, the husband goes and lives with his wife's family. A few years later, when the married couple has a few children, the wife is then welcomed to her husband's house. The couple must change their name and take another name given by the mother-in-law's younger brother. It is the habit of the Xinh Mun to chew betel nut, dye their teeth black, and drink alcohol. ~

Image Sources:

Text Sources: Encyclopedia of World Cultures, East and Southeast Asia edited by Paul Hockings (G.K. Hall & Company, 1993); New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Vietnamtourism. com, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, CIA World Factbook, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, Fox News and various websites, books and other publications identified in the text.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated May 2014

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