Category Archives: Vietnamese People

Giay people

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

Giay people

Giay people

History: The earliest records of the Giay show them living in southwestern China, where many still live.  About two centuries ago, many began migrating southward.  They fled to Vietnam to escape persecution.  This was about the time of the Black and Yellow Flag Wars in China, which may have caused them to make the decision to leave their homeland.

There seems to have been a second wave of departures two or three decades after the first.  They lived in the community of the Bo Y peoples in China, and are often included in that people group.  In Vietnam, however, they have become a distinct people, though often remaining in the general area of their Bo Y cousins.

The Giay are similar in numerous ways to the Tay, Bo Y, Thai, and Nung people groups. They are all of the same language family. Customs, clothing, and their daily life all show a close relationship with the above people groups. They consider themselves a people distinct from the others, however, and close observation confirms their self-identification.

The Giay brought a class system with them from China, where upper classes had political control, and the lower classes were forced to pay heavy taxes and provided other services to their superiors. This system has been replaced by one in which all Giay are under the control of Vietnamese government officials. Oppressive self-government has been replaced by repressive central government, in other words.
How do they live? The Giay live in mountain valleys near their fields where they cultivate wet rice. They traditionally built houses on stilts, though today (particularly in Lao Cai and Lai Chau) they often build houses level with the ground. They also often have temporary houses near their fields, often occupied by the elderly, who have the job of protecting the crops. In areas where houses are being built on the ground, they use an upper level of the house as a drying place. Sometimes, though, a porch near the front of the house is used as the drying area. The Giay are also noted for weaving baskets and making bamboo objects for their own use. The Giay have enjoyed good relations with their neighbors. This despite the pressures of growing populations, caused mainly by lowland Vietnamese encroaching on areas inhabited by minority peoples. Natural resources in these areas are strained to their limits.

The interior of Giay houses is comprised of three rooms. The family altar is in the middle room of the three. Usually the front room is used for receiving guests, and the rear area is for the private use of the family. Otherwise, the houses found in Giay villages are not particularly unusual or different from those of other peoples in the area. Giay villages are very crowded, with some comprising hundreds of households. Fields in Giay areas are often cultivated in common, which is somewhat unusual. Most tribal peoples have resisted Communist pressures to adopt rural commune structures.
Giay society is based upon the nuclear family, which is patriarchal. Marriages are monogamous, and family lineage is reckoned through the male line. Women must be able to show that they are under the authority of a man. Wives are under their husband’s authority, unmarried girls must obey their fathers, and widows defer to their sons.

Marriage. Marriage is thought of as a purchase of a bride for a young man of the family. Complex negotiations are conducted by both families, and the bride-price is expensive (and must be paid in silver). The agreement to the marriage is sealed by the giving of a silver necklace and bracelet. In addition, each relative of the bride must receive a chicken, a duck, and a silver coin. A common way around this expense is to arrange a “kidnapping” of the young girl, similar to the customs of the Hmong. The young couple will then present their elders with the marriage as an accomplished fact.

Birth. Giay women usually give birth in a squatting position. The birth room is furnished with an altar to invite the spirits to attend and bless the family. The placenta is saved and buried beneath the new

Little Giay girl

Little Giay girl

mother’s bed. When the baby is one month old, the parents arrange a ceremony to inform the ancestors of the birth. At this time a sorcerer is asked to consult a horoscope to learn the expected future of the child. An “age concordance” will be prepared which will give the predicted day and time of the child’s marriage and death. A female godmother is appointed for sickly babies. Since the Giay believe that the souls of children will be reincarnated if they die while young, a mark is placed behind a child’s ear to prevent this unwanted rebirth.

The Giay use handmade musical instruments similar to those used by their neighbors. They have a rich heritage of wise sayings, maxims and moral codes which are often cited to resolve conflicts. They do have a form of written language, though few are literate in it. They have many legends, humorous tales, epic verses, riddles and folk songs. They often sing stylized songs on such occasions as farewell songs, night songs, and feast songs.

Livelihood Agriculture, especially wet rice production, is the basis of the Giay society. They are noted for their skill in growing rice in irrigated terraced fields. But, in addition to rice growing, they also practice traditional slash-and-burn cultivation, used to grow corn (maize), potatoes, cassava, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, beans, and other vegetables. They do raise domestic livestock such as chickens, other poultry, pigs, and horses. Water buffalo are raised as draft animals. Their animals are usually allowed to roam at will through uncultivated lands surrounding the community. The weaving of baskets and tile making are specialties of the Giay. But they also weave cotton and make metal tools and silver jewelery. They mainly produce craft objects for their own use.

Giay women

Giay women

Giay women normally wear a blouse that buttons at the side, below the right armpit. They also wear trousers, usually indigo in color. Their hair is worn in a bun or braids wound around the back of the head. They often wear a turban. Their costume is often woven of bright colors, with pinks, greens and blues perhaps the most common. Their clothing is decorated at the neck and hems with a strip of contrasting bright cloth. For festive occasions, they may wear clothing with embroidered motifs. They usually wear some form of jewelry, such as rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings and chains.

Giay men wear clothing similar to the Viet, but for ceremonial occasions they wear turbans, indigo or blue trousers, with matching tunics, sometimes with embroidered hems.
Unreached People. The Giay in Vietnam are an unreached people group. There a small number of Catholics among the Giay in China; however, no known believers exist in Vietnam.

Their bondage is to a mix of traditions, but the dominant belief system is polytheism. Most of the Giay understand that life is more than materialism. They are correct in this belief. Unfortunately, they know no other way to deal with spiritual things than to try to worship or appease false gods and spirit beings that, if they exist at all, are demonic. Some of the younger generation have embraced atheism, probably due to their indoctrination under the Communist system of education.
The Lahu practice a religion termed polytheism. But the religious world-view of the Giay, like most minority groups in Vietnam, is complicated. Their beliefs combine elements of Taoism, ancestor worship and animism, as well as other superstitious ideas. Polytheism is the worship of many gods. Animism holds that both living and non-living things possess spirits. These beliefs combine to create a life of bondage to and fear of the spirit world. The main deities that they worship through rituals are the spirit of heaven, the spirit of the earth and the spirit of the kitchen. They also worship ancestors, including the ancestors of the female side of the family, and consider them the family guardians. One other commonly-worshipped goddess is the Goddess of Childbirth. Some of these deities are derived from Taoism.

Taoist Painting:
Ancestor worship. Like the Tay, Nung and many other minority people, the Giay worship their ancestors. They believe that the spirits of their ancestors can assist and bless them. They worship not only their parents, but also more distant ancestors on both sides of the family. An exception may be made in the case of serious illness. In that event, the previous three generations may be entreated for help and healing. The altar dedicated to worship of the parents is located in their homes at the head of their bed.

Other Beliefs.
Each Giay village has a “forbidden forest” where the biggest tree is considered sacred. Twice each year the spirit of the village is worshipped at the foot of the tree. Whenever these rituals take place, outsiders and visitors are strictly forbidden to enter the village. Bamboo barricades are erected at the entrances of the village to keep strangers away. Parts of sacrificed animals are then hung from the tree; pig or buffalo ears, chicken’s feet, and tufts of animal hair are commonly used.


The Giay believe the universe is comprised of three separate levels. The upper level is the abode of spirits and the souls of the deceased. It is a beautiful and glorious place. The middle strata contains humans, animals and this world, while the lowest level is situated under the earth, a place of evil and wickedness. When there is a death, the immediate family has the responsibility to conduct a proper funeral to make sure that the soul is escorted to the upper level. If the funeral is not done correctly, the soul will be doomed to the third level underground. Their customs mandate that the dead be kept in the home for three to five days before burial. They fear that some evil power might steal the body on the way to the burial place, so the funeral procession proceeds very rapidly — some even run! If a person dies a violent death, burial must take place immediately. The Giay mourn their father for 90 days and their mother for 120 days. During the period of mourning, they do not shave or cut their hair. Just before the Lunar New Year festival, a ceremony to end the mourning is held, regardless of the date of death.

Christian Witness.
Because of their isolation, the Giay in Vietnam have never heard a clear presentation of the claims of Jesus Christ. The are no strong Christian communities near them. They have been overlooked by local Christians, generally. Despite the few Giay Christians in China, Christian materials are not available. No Giay version of the Jesus film is available, and there are not even gospel recordings. No Giay Bible has been translated nor are there radio broadcasts.

This means that the Christian literature needs of the Giay have received little to no attention from the Christian community. They remain spiritually isolated.


Tay People

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

History : The Tay have been in Vietnam very soon, possibly from the second half of the first millennium BC.

Customs and habits:

Ancestor worship is a religious rite of the Tay. The altars for the ancestors are placed in a central location in the house. The altar room is such a sacred place that guests is not allowed to sit on the bed in front of the altar. After giving birth, women are also not allowed to sit on the bed in front of the altar.

Tay villages are always built at the foot of a mountain and are often named after a mountain, field, or river. Each village contains about 15-20 households.

Festivals : Every year on New Year with many different meanings. New Year, New Year’s open and full moon festival in July, offering the great souls are the festival was held spiritual home of all. Year necromancer cattle held on June 6 th lunar month, after the implant and new rice festival, held before a harvest festival is very specific to the country’s rice agriculture.

Arts : The Tay has many folk songs such as eel, Room SLU, phuoi pac, phuoi, illumination, ven eng … Are always considered glide, glide Qty, then gliding, gliding her Oh … is love singing style was widespread in many regions. People often hovering in loose total, the wedding, celebrate a new house or when there are guests to the. In addition to dancing in ceremonies at some local puppets with wooden puppets is quite unique.

Economic characteristics : The Tay is a fairly traditional agriculture development with various crops such as rice, corn, potatoes … and vegetable season has traditionally Tay do.Nguoi of farming country, from the oldest known intensive and widespread application of measures such as digging irrigation ditches, gutters north, up the fade, as irrigation water is . They have custom threshing in the fields on the wooden trough which they called oil burden Loong then paddy home. Apart from rice paddy Tay was dry, crops, fruit trees …

Community organization :

The person’s hands in the foothills or along streams. Name commonly known by the name of hills, fields, rivers. They prefer to live in crowded villages, each with 15 to 20 roofs, many with hundreds of rooftops. The big split small neighbor. The Tay Valley residents in the northeastern provinces from Quang Ninh, Bac Giang, Lang Son, Cao Bang, Bac Can, Thai Nguyen, Ha Giang, Tuyen Quang to Lao Cai, Yen Bai.

Optical mode is a form of social organization-specific manner early feudal aristocracy in nature, the collective, hereditary.

Within the scope of its dominant optic is fully owned land, forests, rivers and streams … hence the dominant powers who lived on that land and labor exploitation of them by car service, forced to labor and not the kind car, forced tribute. Optical mode appears very early and persists until the late nineteenth century early twentieth century.

Culture :

The Tay is a traditional art background rich enough to be poetry, song, dance music … Proverbs, folk songs make up a significant amount. The folk dance is the most popular songs glide, wedding songs, lullabies. The Tay hospitable, open, easy to know and enjoy talking. They are very important people of the same age, when friends have sworn they viewed each other as siblings, his kin ..

Food : In the past, in some places, people eat glutinous Tay is the main and almost every family has flung and site security. During the Tet holiday, holidays are often left as many cakes as cakes, biscuits, shoes, hemp bread, cakes phlegm, wind cake, donuts, cakes away, wheeled see … In particular, attractive pastry dough with the egg’s comments and nuggets are made from non flaming sticky rice, or roasted and then take retirement.

Homes :

Housing the floor, housing and some areas bordering the defensive kind. In the south room in addition to discrimination, women in the chamber.

Traditional house of the Tay is the slope to the floor with style truss 4, 5, 6 or 7 rows of columns. House with 2 or 4 roof tiles, paintings or palm leaves. Around the barrel house covered with wooden planks or bamboo Liep.

When choosing land to make the check out, see old, select good day. During the day the new home of the family to a fire and keep the flame burning through the night to morning.

Costumes :

Have own unique aesthetic style. The Tay usually wear indigo dyed cotton.


Traditional costumes of the Tay from self-woven cotton cloth, dyed indigo, almost no embroidery, decoration. Women wear skirts or trousers, a short blouse inside and outside dress. Ngan group wearing a bit shorter, the team wore brown Phen, Thu Lao team wrapped into forking over your head, groups Pa along the roof cap to wear while Aboriginal groups as the Thai in Mai Chau (Hoa Binh) .

Clothings : Men’s dress shirt by Tay are 4 body types (slua com), five relatives dress, turban, pants and canvas shoes. Austria itself is cut off 4 chest, high round neck, no shoulder, cut wrong, fabric buttons (7 pieces) and two small pockets below the front two. During festive occasions, the men wear more kinds dress armpit to 5 friendly lumber, or cloth buttons bear the same buttons. Clothing (lock) also made of indigo dyed cotton fabrics such as clothing, military-style cross-cut, medium-term shock to the ankle. Pants are not always draw large scorpion, when

Women’s Apparel : Women’s clothes usually include blouse, long in body, skirt, belt, turban, his shoulders. Blouse is a fourth body in the chest, round neck, two flap pockets below the previous two, is often cut may indigo or white cloth. When the Assembly is often present in the dress lining. So Tay called to slua longing (white people) to distinguish them from the Nung only indigo. Ao Dai is also a body of five or cutting arm to install cloth or copper buttons, sleeves and round neck is narrow waisted body. Previously women skirt, but wear the recent popularity; it is in principle pants cut like men may have the narrower dimensions. Tay is women towel towels indigo when the team folded square cross breeds like ‘beak ravens’ of Scripture. Women’s Hats Tay quite unique. Hats bamboo leaf thatched roofs with wide hats. Jewelry Women Tay simple song with all the basic categories of necklaces, bracelets, anklets, bar area … There where also wearing a cloth bag.

The unique concern of the dress is not the way Tay pose a common way of using indigo, uniform dress and way men and women wearing white underwear inside out indigo shirt. Many people also use the indigo race but also in other colors and decoration on clothing, in the Tay almost iridescent colors used in the present pattern brocade blankets or sheets. Private group Pa Di (Lao Cai) in style and posed quite nicely decorated in the style scarf and dress.

Means of transport: With the second smallest of hands for the oil to burden or to the bag to wear over the shoulder, also for those big, bulky, use lifting or strength of buffalo. In addition, they are used, the array for transportation.

The Tay has developed agricultural practices quite well and are able to cultivate all kinds of plants including rice, maize, and sweet potato.

 Source: (synthesized)


H’mong People

Name of ethnic group: Mong (H’Mong): (Mong Do, White Mong, Mong Lenh (Variety Mong), Mong Si (Red Mong), Mong Du (Black Mong) and Mong Sua (Man Mong).
Population: 787,604 people (Year 1999).
Locality: The Mong are concentrated in Ha Giang, Tuyen Quang, Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Lai Chau, Son La, Cao Bang and Nghe An provinces.

Customs and habits:

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.


Mong language belongs to the Mong-Dao Group. 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.



Dao People

Dao ethnic group

Name of ethnic group: Dao (“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).
Population: 620,538 people (Year 1999).
Locality: The Dao live along the Sino-Vietnamese and Vietnamese-Lao borders and in some midland provinces and provinces along the coastline of northern Vietnam.

Customs and habits
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.