Dao ethnic minority enriches national folk culture

A Dao girl

The Dao ethnic minority group is one of 54 fraternal ethnic groups in Vietnam. With a population of nearly half a million, the Dao ethnic minorities live mostly in the northern provinces of Tuyen Quang, Ha Giang, Cao Bang and Lang Son.

The Dao ethnic group has up to 9 local sub-groups with different costumes and diverse cultural features. Their costumes help distinguish different sub-groups and are closely linked to wedding ceremonies where many rituals are held to express the wish for a happy reproductive life. One common wedding present is a pair of chickens to signify that concept.

Prepare for field work

Meanwhile, maturity ritual is the most important event in the life of Dao male teenagers. At 13 or 14, they attend solemn events witnessed by sorcerers and locals. From then on, these boys are recognized by the community as mature responsible adults.

The Dao in different localities are known as Dao Do (Red Dao), Dao Quan Chet, Dao Lo Ngang, Dao Tien, Dao Quan Trang. Dao men wear long hair, which is coiled up at the back of their neck or on their head. Their clothes are normally dyed indigo. Women’s costumes are more diverse and colourful and are decorated with traditional motifs.

A Dao man in rain-pray ceremony

The Dao population has a rich folk culture and history, especially traditional medicine. They don’t have a script of their own but speak a language of the Mong-Dao linguistic group.

Dao people live in houses, either built on stilts on the ground, or adopted from both styles. They subsist on terraced rice fields and also adopt fairly advanced methods of wet rice cultivation. They have switched from their former nomadic way of life, to that of sedentary farming.

A typical Dao's house

The Dao people now live in harmony with other ethnic groups in northern Vietnam. Today they enjoy a better life thanks to the Government’s constant efforts to improve infrastructure construction, which narrow the gap between the Dao population and the rest of the country.