Visit The Tay: A Cao Bang Adventure

With a population of more than 1,500,000 people throughout Vietnam, Tay is the second largest ethnic group in the country and has a truly rich culture. The Tay  people have been living shoulder to shoulder with the Vietnamese since the early days of the Ly dynasty. Almost 1,000 years ago, a Tay general named Than Canh Phuc was well known for his great contribution in the Vietnam War against the Tong Dynasty (China). In this article, we will learn more about your life routine, your culinary culture and your main traditional festivals.

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How they live

The Tay people usually meet to live in a united village in the valleys of Cao Bang, Lang Son, Bac Can, Thai Nguyen, Quang Ninh and some areas of Bac Giang province. In Cao Bang, the Tay people are the most populous ethnic minority. There are often around 20 households in a given town, most people live in houses on stilts or clay. They usually name their town by the mountain or the river near which they live, which shows their strong connection with nature.

tay ethnic minority in vietnam

Tay families have a very close bond. They honor their ancestors so much that the altar is always in the most solemn and honorable place in the house. There is a bed in front of the altar, usually left empty. This is because during the day, informal activities should not be delegated in this area, since it is near the altar. If you are kindly invited into a house in Tay, do not sit in bed if the hosts do not ask for it. Another interesting fact is that a husband and wife couple rarely divorces, this also reinforces Tay’s strong sense of family connection. And similar to the traditional Vietnamese perspective (which may seem outdated, but currently still common), a family usually

Culinary culture tay

culture of tay people

Many of the Tay foods are made from herbs and vegetables collected in the forest. There are more than ten types of herbs used in a daily Tay meal, many of which have great medicinal benefits. In addition, they make beautiful flavors when combined together. You should taste the young and sour bamboo soaked with the flower Ban, for example!
Alcohol is a particular cultural focus of the people of Tay, especially those who live in Cao Bang. Locals use rice, corn, sweet potatoes, or even sugar cane, bananas, etc. to make alcohol. The people of Tay collect leaves in the forest to make the alcohol yeast. Traditionally, inviting guests to a drink is a typical welcome gesture from the Tay hosts. Upon receiving guests in their homes, the hosts will offer traditional Tay alcohol to their guests before starting the conversation. A lovely point about their drinking habit is that they barely get drunk. Instead, the conversational drink usually ends in joy and friendship. People also drink alcohol on every special occasion, such as festivals and ceremonies.

Tay traditional works

tay people in cao bang

Tay ladies are also weaving teachers! While its traditional clothing is a simple garment dyed in indigo, the brocade fabric has long been recognized for its bright color and intelligent designs. The main materials for weaving this fabric are cotton dyed with indigo and silk dyed with other colors. However, due to the high cost of silk lately, local people have used wool step by step in their production. A particular detail to note is that most ethnic minorities in Vietnam, including the Tayes, weave by hand. In the province of Cao Bang, the Dao Ngan commune, the Phu Ngoc commune and the city of Nuoc Hai, the locals have perfected the art of brocade weaving. If you want to take home an authentic souvenir from Northwest Vietnam, it is a good idea to look at the brocade fabric there!

Tay ladies are also weaving teachers! While its traditional clothing is a simple garment dyed in indigo, the brocade fabric has long been recognized for its bright color and intelligent designs. The main materials for weaving this fabric are cotton dyed with indigo and silk dyed with other colors. However, due to the high cost of silk lately, local people have used wool step by step in their production. A particular detail to note is that most ethnic minorities in Vietnam, including the Tayes, weave by hand. In the province of Cao Bang, the Dao Ngan commune, the Phu Ngoc commune and the city of Nuoc Hai, the locals have perfected the art of brocade weaving. If you want to take home an authentic souvenir from Northwest Vietnam, it is a good idea to look at the brocade fabric there!

Singing then

Then it refers to the melodies, accompanied by a performance, that Tay people use in spiritual ceremonies. Then the men (the people who sing Then) are like priests, to whom the villagers believe they can communicate with the invisible, like ghosts and angels. Therefore, they play an important role in the religious life of the people of Tay. Singing Then it is a crucial part of each special occasion of Tay, be it a wedding, an anniversary, a prayer ceremony, a funeral or a festival.

For example, Pang Khoang is the melody Then used to pray for people who are experiencing problems in their life. His lyrics are firm and inspiring, encouraging people to stay calm and overcome difficulties. Thong Dam is then used only for funerals. The people of Tay believe that there are three kingdoms that make up the sky. His lyrics and rhythm remind people of a march in which Man is then the monitor, taking the deceased to a suitable celestial kingdom.

Major festivals

Long Tong Festival
Long Tong is one of the most important festivals of the people of Tay. It is celebrated from 2 to 30 January lunar. The Tay pray to the God of Agriculture for a good year of work ahead. It is a popular traditional festival of people living in the highlands of northwestern Vietnam. However, the exact dates of the celebration are different among ethnic minorities.

Nang Hai Festival
This festival begins from the beginning of January lunar and ends after the second week of lunar March. The people of Tay believe that living on the moon is a Fairy Mother and twelve fairies. These fairies take care of the weather and the field terraces full of food. This festival is like a ceremony in which people invite fairies to visit the Earth and support people with their work.

Wedding ceremony of the people of Tay in Cao Bang

all about the tay people in vietnam

This ceremony is usually at night, so as not to disturb the daily work. There are two parties at a wedding, the first is for the elderly and the second for the friends of the couple. After these two parties, people get up late to chat or have fun together. The crowd even lasts all night.

Interestingly, in some areas of the province of Cao Bang, the people of Tay can celebrate a wedding without the presence of the groom! If the groom must be absent on the date of his wedding, his brother or close friend can help him play the role of the groom during the ceremony. This ceremony is to ensure that the wedding takes place on a good date and to help the bride not feel sorry for herself. During times of war, this habit was very popular due to the urgent tasks of the groom.

54 ethnic groups make up a united Vietnam! It goes without saying that the Tay culture, as well as the cultures of other ethnic groups, play a crucial role in the 4,000-year-old civilization of the country. If you really want to understand Vietnam, it is worth taking a look at our cultural articles. If you want more information about ethnic minorities, we cover a lot about the people of Hong and Red Dao.

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