Ha Giang Ethnic Groups

Ha Giang ethnic groups, ethnic groups in Ha Giang Vietnam, Ha Giang ethnic minority people, Ha Giang ethnic tribes, Pu Peo, H'mong, Tay, Nung, Lolo in Ha Giang province.

The Pu Peo Ethnic Group in Ha Giang Vietnam

Pu Peo ethnic minority people live only in the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang. According to the 1999 survey, there were only 705 people living in the districts of Dong Van, Meo Vac and Bac Me. The Pu Peo ethnic group ranks 53rd in the Vietnamese community in term of population.

The Pu Peo in Vietnam were first mentioned as the La Qua by scholar Le Quy Don in his book Kien Van Tieu Luc written in the middle of the 18th century. In early 19th century documents, the Pu Peo were mentioned as the Penti, Pentilolo, Kaobeo and also Pu Peo. In Ha Giang province, the Pu Peo, with a small population, live scattered on high mountainous areas along the Vietnam-China border. Different from the H’Mong people who live high on the mountains, the Pu Peo establish their villages on the flat grounds in mountainous areas. They reside in Pho La, Sung Trang and Phu Lung which has a sub-tropical climate. In this natural condition, the Pu Peo can grow wet rice and make use of forests to earn their living. They believe that the success or failure of each family and each individual depends largely on the position of their land and house. That is why their house building process follows very strict religious procedures, from selection of the land, trees for pillars and the building itself to the relocating ceremony.

The Pu Peo worship three generations including Pe, or parents, Te Ngan, or grand-parents and Te Gao, or great grand-parents. For each generation, they put a loog ten or jar on the altar. Offerings to ancestors on the first day in the new house will be put in the jars. Very often, in each jar, they put a chicken, five small balls of cooked rice and some meat. All procedures must be fulfilled before dawn. After that, relatives and neighbours will come, each bringing a chicken, a bottle of wine or some money to wish the host good luck.

The Pu Peo use the calendar of China’s Zhou dynasty. According to this calendar, a khuop mai or cycle comprises 12 years and a year comprises 12 months. Twenty-nine or 30 days will make a month and 12 “hours” will make a day. Similar to the current lunar calendar, there is a leap year every three years. So, the Pu Peo also celebrates the lunar New Year festival (Tet) as other ethnic groups do.

The Lo Lo ethnic minority in Ha Giang Vietnam

The Lo Lo ethnic group can be divided into Flower Lo Lo and Black Lo Lo. Living in Lung Cu since ancient time, the Lo Lo people have made many efforts in reclaiming the virgin land and in grasping to this northernmost part of the country. The Lo Lo folkloric culture is very rich and unique, demonstrated with dances, songs, legends. The decoration on their turbans, shirts, skirts and trousers are particularly colourful. The Lo Lo calendar divides a year into 11 months, each corresponding to an animal’s name.

The ancient bronze drumps are the holy thing of the Lo Lo people, burried for protection and sometimes dug out only for use. The head of each family is entitled to keep the drumps which are used only during funerals or festivals to maintain rythms for dances. The Lo Lo people are among the few ethnic groups in Vietnam who still use bronze drums, a traditional musical instrument closely associated with a legend about the Flood. According to the legend, a catastrophic flood took place to raise water up to the sky. The God saved a girl and her younger brother by putting the girl in a big bronze drum and the boy in a small bronze drum. When the flood retreated, the sister and brother stayed on in the mountains, becoming a couple, the re-Creator of the mankind.The Lo Lo people’s perception on Yin and Yang, on birth is perhaps still preserved by playing at the same time the male and female drums. The drums are hanged on a stand at the feet of the dead, facing to each other. The drummer stands in between, playing alternately each drum with only one end of the same drumstick. Only single men or married men but whose wives are not pregnant can play the drums. The bronze drums are not only a precious asset but also a holy instrument. Only with the sound of the drums can the soul of the dead find the way to return to the birthplace of his/her ancestors.

The Giay ethnic tribe in Ha Giang province

Giay people mainly live on planting water rice and farming milpa. Every years, they organized the “Roong Pooc” ceremony to begin their farming season. Giay built pigsties and hen-coops far away from their houses to fields. Their noteworthy handicraft making are weaving and bamboo knitting.

The dress of Giay people is simply, almost without embroydery and design. Men’s clothing consists of shirt opened at the right armpit with wide sleeves and wide trousers shortened down to the knees. Women’s dress consists of a buttock covering robe, opened at the right arm pit, broad sleeves with a piece of differently coloured cloth.

The Giay live in stilt houses with the middle compartment reserved for ancestor worship. The altar has 3 joss-stick bowls for the Land God, the Kitchen God and the ancestors. When the youth attains the age of marriage, their horoscope has to be taken and only suitable couple can marry. The Giay folkloric culture is very rich with poems, proverbs, phrases, parallel sentences. 

The Nung ethnic group in Ha Giang Vietnam

Nung people mainly distribute in Quan Ba district, they live in valleys nearly rivers, streams or hills and live on farming rice, with high cultivation technique. Their animal husbandry highly developed while other handicraft makings are very diverse such as forging, casting, carpenters, knitting, paper making and especially cloth weaving.

Clothing mainly in an indigo color, the Nung women wear five-panel robes with buttons under the right armpit. Men wear shirts upright collar leaving open at breast and belly but having a row of cloth bottons and four pockets without cover.

They live in wide stilt house with the outer compartment reserved for men and ancestor worship and the inner one reserved for women. Nung people do not celebrate death anniversaries, which makes birthday (celebration of life) for those beyond 50 years old and worship for the dead on July 15th, of lunar calender.

Wedding ceremonies still preserve many ancient customs and the brother of the groom’s mother plays a very important role in representing the groom’s family in mariage proposal and organising all ceremonies related to the wedding. The Nung flokloric culture is very famous with the “Sli”, a love dialogue song of the youth.

The Tay ethnic minority people in Ha Giang Vietnam

The Tay is the second large ethnic minority in Ha Giang, account for 25 percent total population of province. They mainly live on planting wet rice in fields near river, mountain foot and farming slope. Tay villages are usually at mountain foot and include about 15 to 20 houses. They live in house of stilt, thatch roofed houses using palm leaves or grass.

Their family handicraft is quite developed such as, knitting,  making wooden furniture, pottery. Besides, weaving fabric of Tay is quite well known, especially, the type of blankets, brocade turbans with rich pattern which a lot of people love. Tay ethnic usually wear cotton clothes, dyed indigo, wear silver necklace and silver rings at their wrists and ankles. Their main color on costumes is indigo. The culture of Tay is very diversified with different kind of ceremory involving production, human life, wedding, funeral, new house celebration. The folkloric literature of Tay community are a rich treasure of legends, myths, ancient stories, verse stories, folkloric songs. Of which, Tay’s folkloric songs are well known for song “ glider”- this is a form of culture of the Vietnamese.

The Dao ethnic tribe in Ha Giang province

The Dao ethnic group in DVKP can be divided into sub-group such as Red Dao (Dao ??), Coin Dao (Dao ti?n), White Trousers Dao (Dao qu?n tr?ng), Long Robe Dao (Dao áo dài), Lo River Dao (Dao lô giang) who live by slope and terrace farming. The Dao people have some unique handicraft making such as forging, casting, jewellery, embroidery and wax printing-dyeing clothes. They live in stilt, earth or half stilt-half earth houses, close to water sources. Their dresses usually show traditional features and designs using colour thread, with lots of turban, shirt, skirt types. Their traditional religious culture is very complex, demonstrating communal spirit, conscience and conception. Worshiping and wizardry are not simply superstition but something special indicating the depth of their culture. The Dao folkloric literature is very rich in legends, myths, narratic stories, pop songs, quizzes, proverbs implying their communal perception of the universe and human life.

The H'Mong ethnic group in Ha Giang Vietnam

The H'Mong, also called the Mong is the largest ethnic group of seventeen ethnics community in Dong Van karst plateau Geopark. Mong people in Ha Giang province is similar to that in some northern mountainous border Viet Nam -China originated from China, then migrated to Vietnam more than 300 years ago.

They mainly concentrate  in the mountainous provinces, including Ha Giang, Tuyen Quang, Lao Cai, Yen Bai, etc. Mong in Ha Giang account for 32 percent total population of province, comprises two main sub-groups: White Mong and Flower Mong.

The Mong people are  famous for traditional farming milpa, planting rice,  maize and other crops.  Handicraft productions of Mong ethnic minority achieved high levels of skillfulness such as weaving, knitting, forging and casting, making wooden furnitures.
The H’Mong house is made from earth with three compartments, the middle one is reserved as the altar for ancestor cult. The main and extra doors are opened inward. Traditional clothing of the Mong women are very unique. A suit of women clothes consists of a skirt, a blouse, a shirt parcelled at the breast couple with a brassiere, a belt, leggings, and a turban winded around the head. The skirt is usually in the form of a truncated cone with a series of creases which can spread widely. Sometime the skirt is in the form of a tube dress with creases at the two haunches. Decorative patterns on the dress are butterflies, snakes, flower, harrow teeth, eyes of birds, pig feet with the harmony of colour.

The wealth of traditional culture of the Mong people are quite abundant with customs, habits, ceremonies and rites, religion and beliefs. The Hmong families have different ways of ancestor cult. Some principal worships are “ door ghost worship”, “ great mother ghost worship” with different number and content of worship, arrangement, eating and drinking place. the literature and art of the Mong shows their community psychology and awareness, and other issues about nature, society and history. Prominent things are love songs using pan-pipe, flute, leaf-horn, lip-horn. They all are invaluable assets of the Mong community which have been conserved and inherited generations by generations.