Viet (Kinh) ethnic group
Name of Ethnic Group: Kinh (Viet).
Population: About 65 million people.
Locality: These people live in all provinces but are densely clustered in the delta areas and urban centres.
Customs and Habits: The Kinh villages are usually surrounded by bamboo groves. The communal house is a place for meeting and conducting common ritual ceremonies. The Kinh also live in mud houses. They enjoy the habits of chewing betel, smoking water pipes and cigarettes, drinking tea, and eating ordinary rice.
The husband is considered the head of the family. Children take the family name of their father. The eldest son is responsible for the worship of dead parents and grandparents. Each family lineage has a temple for their forefathers and the head of the family lineage handles all common affairs.
Monogamy is observed during marriage. The family of the man approves the marriage and organizes the wedding for him. After the wedding party, the bride goes to live with her husband’s family. The Kinh attach much importance to fidelity and the virtues of the bride.
They worship their ancestors and also practice Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism or Christianity to various extents.
Culture: The Kinh have a rich collection of literature which includes old tales, folk ballads, and proverbs. The written literature takes many forms such as poems, writings, books, and edicts. Song, music, sculpture, painting, dance and performance are also well developed and and popular.
Costumes: The traditional attire of the Kinh in the north is a brown pajama set for men. A four paneled robe, bra, and trousers for women, also in brown, are usually worn. In the southern delta plains, both men and women wear black pajamas. At present, the Kinh’s costumes resemble western clothing.
Economy: Rice cultivation in submerged fields is the main economic activity of the Kinh. They also erect dykes and dig canals which helps in the growing of wet rice, gardening, and sericulture. They also raise cattle and poultry. Pottery production has been very developed for a long time.
Chut ethnic group
Name of Ethnic Group: Chut (Ruc, Sach, Arem, May, Ma Lieng, Tu Vang, Pa Leng, Xe Lang, To Hung, Cha Cu, Tac Cuc, Ymo, and Xa La Vang).
Population: About 2,400 people.
Locality: Minh Hoa and Tuyen Hoa Districts of Quang Binh Province.
Customs and Habits: Though most Chut live a sedentary life, their villages are quite separated and their houses are temporary. Each lineage has its leader and an altar to worship their common ancestors. Among the leaders of the lineages, those who can win the highest prestige will be proclaimed village chief. Matrimony is still practiced. The Chut have very simple funerals.
Culture: The Chut language belongs to the Viet-Muong Group. The Chut have inherited a rich folk art and culture. The folk songs are called Ka-tum and Ka-lenh, and are very popular among many people. The ancient tales of the Chut are diverse and have various themes. The Chut play pan-pipes and six-hole flutes.
Economy: The Chut are primarily involved in agriculture and they practice slash and burn cultivation. They also practice hunting, gathering, fishing, and animal husbandry. Carpentry and basketry are another means of income generation.
Muong ethnic group
Name of Ethnic Group: Muong (Moi, Mual, Moi, Moi Bi, Au Ta and Ao Ta).
Population: More than 914,600 people.
Locality: The largest population is concentrated in Hoa Binh Province and the mountainous districts of Thanh Hoa Province.
Customs and Habits: In former days, the “lang dao” system characterized Muong society. The “lang dao” ruled the Muong regions. A head of a “muong” was a “lang cun”, “lang xom”, or “dao xom”.
Muong marriage customs are similar to the Kinh. When a woman is giving birth to a child, her family surrounds the main ladder to the house with a bamboo fence. The child will be given a name when it is one year old. The Muong hold funerals with strict rules. Muong practice a polytheistic religion and ancestor worship.
Culture: The Muong language belongs to the Viet-Muong group. The popular literature and arts of the Moung are rich and include long poems, “mo” (ceremonial songs), folksongs, dialogue duets, proverbs, lullabies, and children’s songs. The gong is a favorite musical instrument of the Muong, as are the two stringed violin, flutes, drums and pan pipes.
The Muong hold many ceremonies year round such as the Going to the Fields Ceremony (“Khuong Mua”), Praying for Rain Ceremony (during the fourth lunar month), Washing Rice Leaves Ceremony (during the seventh and eighth lunar months), and the New Rice Ritual.
Costumes: Men dress in indigo pajamas. Women wear white rectangular scarves, bras, long skirts, and short vests that are open at the front (or at the shoulders) without buttons. The skirt is complemented by a very large silk belt embroidered with various motifs such as flowers, figures, dragons, phoenixes, deer, and birds.
Economy: The Muong have practiced farming for a long time. Wet rice is their main food staple. Other family income is generated through the exploitation of forest products including mushrooms, dried fungus, ammonium, and sticklac. Muong handicrafts include weaving, basketry, and silk spinning. Muong women are known to be very skilled at loom weaving.
Name of Ethnic Group: Tho (Keo, Mon, Cuoi, Ho, Tay Poong, Dan Lai, and Ly Ha).
Population: More than 51,000 people.
Locality: The Tho live in the western parts of Nghe An Province.
Customs and Habits: Formerly, the Tho lived in houses built on stilts. Now they prefer houses built on the ground. Close relationships and a desire to help each other have existed for a very long time in Tho society. Young Tho boys and girls have enjoyed considerable freedom through a custom known as “Ngu Mai”. They are allowed to lie together and have heart-to-heart talks with each other. In the course of these nocturnal parties, each boy and girl will eventually find their sweetheart. As for marriage, a boy’s family must spend a lot of money in preparation for the celebration of the wedding. Therefore, a boy must work many days for his future in-laws. The Tho worship innumerable genies and spirits. They also have great respect for pioneers who have made contributions to the clearing of the land and the building of the village, and for the numerous war heroes. All families also worship their ancestors. Each year, the most important ceremony called “Going to the Field” is held.
Culture: The Tho language belongs to the Viet-Muong Group.
Costumes: Tho attire resembles the farmers dress of the Kinh in the early half of this century. Tho women buy skirts from the Thai and wear a square white cloth around their heads which serves as a female head dress. The morning ribbon is a long white piece of cloth.
Economy: The Tho cultivate rice and hemp. With rice cultivation, they often use ploughs and harrows to till the soil. Hemp is grown primarily for producing items for daily use. The forest provides various kinds of vegetable for Tho daily life.
Name of Ethnic Group: Ba Na (To Lo, Gio Lang, Y Lang, Ro Ngao, Krum, Roh, Con Kde, Alacong, Kpangcong and Bo Mon).
Population: More than 136,000 people.
Locality: Kon Tum Province and the western parts of Binh Dinh and Phu Yen Provinces.
Customs and Habits:The Ba Na live in houses built on stilts. In each village, there is a communal house called a rong which stands out due to its height and beauty. According to matrimonial customs, a young man and woman can take the initiative in marriage, and the parents are only involved to ensure the respect of traditional principles. After the birth of the first child, they are allowed to set up their own family environment. The Ba Na venerate the spirits which relate to human beings.
Culture: The Ba Na language belong to the Mon Khmer Group. Their musical instruments are very diversified with various combinations of gong sets, t’rung xylophones, bro, klong put, ko ni, khinh khung, and to tiep trumpets. The aesthetics of the Ba Na are expressed in their unique woodcarvings and extraordinary decorative crafts.
Costumes: The men tend to wear loincloths and the women wear sarongs.
Economy: Their main source of income is slash-and-burn agriculture and the rearing of livestock. Almost every village has forges to make metal products. Women also weave cloth to make their families garments and the men practice basketry and mat-making. The Ba Na often barter goods.
Name of Ethnic Group: Brau (Brao).
Population: About 200 people.
Locality: Dak Me Village, Bo Y Commune, and Ngoc Hoi District of Kon Tum Province.
Customs and Habits: The Brau have a tradition of tattooing their faces and bodies and filing their teeth. Their houses are built on stilts. Young men and women are free to choose their partners. The wedding ceremony is organized by the bride’s family and the groom must live with his wife’s family for several years before bringing his wife and children home.
Culture: The Brau language belongs to the Mon-Khmer Group.The Brau like to play gongs and traditional musical instruments. In particular, a set of two gongs called the chieng tha has great value in their culture. Young girls often play Krong Put, a musical instrument that consists of 5-7 bamboo tubes, both long and short, which are joined together. The sound is produced when air is forced into them by the clapping of the hands.
Costumes: Women wear a lot of jewelry around their arms, ankles, and necks. Men often wear loincloths and women wear pagnes.
Economy: The Brau have led a nomadic life for a very long time, but also practice slash-and-burn cultivation in order to grow rice, corn, and cassava using rudimentary tools.
Cham ethnic group
Name of Ethnic Group: Cham (Cham, Chiem Thanh, and Hroi).
Population: About 99,000 people.
Locality: Concentrated populations live in the provinces of Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan. The Cham also live in An Giang, Tay Ninh, Dong Nai, and Ho Chi Minh City.
Customs and Habits: The Cham follow Islam and Brahmanism. Brahmanism’s doctrines draw about three-fifths of the Cham population in Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan Provinces.
Matriarchy still exists in Cham society as daughters carry the family name of their mothers. A woman’s family marries the groom for their daughter. After marriage, the groom comes to live with his wife’s household. The right of inheritance is reserved for daughters only. The youngest daughter, however, must care for her aging parents.
Culture: The Cham language belongs to the Malayo-Polynesian Group. These people enjoy singing and dancing. Cham dances are well-known through the nation. (more)
Economy: The main economic activity of the Cham is rice farming in submerged fields. Pottery making and cotton cloth weaving are two other sideline occupations.
Name of Ethnic Group: Bru-Van Kieu (Tri, Khua, and Ma-Coong).
Population: More than 40,000 people.
Locality: The mountain regions of Quang Binh, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien-Hue Provinces.
Customs and Habits: The Bru-Van Kieu live in small houses on stilts. These villages are usually located near rivers or streams and are always arranged along the water current flows. The houses are arranged in circles around a communal house on flat and expansive terrain. Young Bru-Van Kieu men and women are free to choose their partners. The maternal uncle says the last words at marriage or burial ceremonies for his nephews and nieces. He also has the decision power in house construction. Ancestor worship is the most common religious activity. Also, the Bru-Van Kieu pay veneration to sacred objects such as a sword or a fragment of a bowl, and they especially worship fire and kitchen deities.
Culture: The Bru-Van Kieu language belongs to the Mon-Khmer culture. The Bru-Van Kieu love creative arts and maintain a rich treasury of traditional art and culture. They possess numerous musical instruments such as drums, castanets, knob gongs, wind instruments, and string zithers (including the a-chung and po-kua). Folk singing is popular as is cha chap (sung stories), and sim, an alternating chant between young men and women. Folksongs, proverbs, and old tales make up the rich culture of the Bru-Van Kieu.
Costumes: Both men and women wear Tay Nguyen like costumes.
Economy: The Bru-Van Kieu live on rice cultivation, through slash and burn agriculture and submerging their fields. They also hunt, fish and rear cattle. Basketry and palm mat-making are their sideline occupations.
Name of Ethnic Group: Cho Ro (Do-Ro).
Population: More than 15,000 people.
Locality: Dong Nai, Binh Thuan and Song Be Provinces.
Customs and Habits: The Cho Ro live in houses built on stilts and on the ground. Both patriarchal and matriarchal customs have significance in the family life of the Cho Ro. The Cho Ro believe that all things have souls and spirits. These spirits have an invisible control over humans which forces them to become involved in worshipping rituals and puts special taboos on them. The most important worshipping ritual is the one that pays respect to the souls of the forest and the rice plant.
Culture: Cho Ro language belongs to the Mon-Khmer Group and has close ties to the Ma and the Xtieng languages. Their musical instruments are comprised of a set of seven-pattern gongs, string instruments with a bamboo sound-box, and alternating songs.
Costumes: The Cho Ro have adopted the Kinh style of dress. The women wear necklaces and bracelets made of copper, silver, or beads.
Economy: The main economic activity practiced is slash-and-burn cultivation. In certain places, rice cultivation in submerged fields has been developed. Animal husbandry, hunting, gathering, fishing, basketry, and wood carving are other sideline occupations.
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