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The Tay is the second largest ethnic group in Vietnam, after Kinh people, with some other local names including Pa di, Tho, Ngan, Phen, Thu Lao. Let’s see how amazing their culture is.

Tradition of Tày people

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Traditional costume of the Tay

Most Tay people live along the valleys and the lower slopes of the mountains. The Tay people speak Tay language, among other Tai dialects, which are a branch of the Tai-Kadai language family. That’s why Tay people have a really close relationship with Zhuang people in China.

The Tay have a long history in Vietnam, according to research studies, perhaps as early as 500 BC. Thousands years of history had created a greatly special culture of the Tay, which is shown by their lifestyle, costumes and traditional dances.

Tay people’s lifestyle

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Traditional stilt-house of Tay people

Tay people usually live in groups as villages of 20 households, even hundreds of households in some big communities. Houses are made of rare woods with tiled or thatched roof. Fences are made of wood or bamboo, which is also the main materials for the local to make their handicrafts, such as bamboo mat, extracting plant oil, textile or forging.

Most Tay families are nuclear families with 2 parents and kids, and the husband is the head of the family. A noticeable thing is that the parents are usually cousins, in fact. Nowadays, young people can date with anyone before getting married. Traditional marriage of Tay people includes these procedures: proposal, engagement, ‘seu tet’, meet and bring the bride to the groom’s home.

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Trang phục của người dân tộc Tày với những nét hoa văn hấp dẫn

Tay perspective about death is also really special. They believe that man’s soul will live on heaven after death. If someone suddenly dies, they will have to be buried right in their current place. Dead children will be buried far from their house. Ancestor worship is a religious rite of the Tay.

They only clean and decorate their ancestral graves in April (‘thanh minh’) and do their worship rite in fullmoon and Tet holiday.

Traditional Tay costumes

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Traditional costume of Tay women

Traditional costumes is considered the most typical feature of Tay culture. Tay costumes are made of cotton with indigo color and almost no decorations. Tay women wear short-sleeve 5-piece dresses with buttons along the right side, usually going with towels and belts, or a short shirt inside during festivals. Nowadays, women usually wear low-crotch long dresses or another similar type of Vietnamese traditional ao dai.

Men wear knee-length tunic with 5-piece style and high collar, low-crotch trousers and canvas shoes.

Traditional arts of Tay people

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Festival art performances of the Tay

The Tay own a diverse culture system, especially art, with a huge number of poems, songs, folk tales, music, dances and humorous stories, etc. Some of the most common folk music are lullaby, wedding songs and ‘luon’ singing (including Sluong luon type, Then luon type and ‘nang hai’).

There are also some other types of singing such as “then” singing, also called ‘van ca’ singing used in funerals, ‘co lau’ songs in weddings and Long Tong festival.

Take your chance to explore these unique cultures of Tay people.


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Long Tong festival, also known as Xuong Dong festival, is a typical event in Tay tradition. This is the biggest rainmaking ritual of the year of Tay people in Sapa.

Tay cultural features in Long Tong festival

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Long Tong festival in Pjoo village

Long Tong festival is considered a religious event reflecting the desire of good weather and crops. It usually takes place in the biggest area with highst quality on the field.

A lot of research has bene done on this but there’s no evidence showing when this festival first appeared exactly. However, it could be assured that Long Tong festival was born with the establishment of the first Tay villages.

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Put Tong festival of Dao people

Apart from Long Tong festival of the Tay, there are also many similar rainmaking rituals among ethnic groups in Sapa such as H’Mong’s Nao Song festival, Giay’s Roong Pooc festival, Dao’s Put Tong festival, etc. However, Long Tong festival is still the most remarkable one in Sapa.

Holding Long Tong festival

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People pray for luck in Long Tong festival

Based on cultural and living conditions, the official days for holding Long Tong festival can vary from area to area. Normally, all families clean their houses and living area as well as prepare food for the guests on the day before the festival.

On the official day, each family prepare a meal, including some common dishes including chung cakes, giay cakes,  che lam (glutinous rice cake) and puffed rice cake, etc.

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People pray for luck in Long Tong festival

Other than that, there are also a multicolored flower-shaped cake and 2 colorful fabric “con” balls, which are used by the sorcerers to pray for good weather and crops.

Activities in Long Tong festival

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Con’ throwing in Long Tong festival

Like many other festivals in Sapa, ‘con’ throwing is one of the most essential activities in Long Tong festivals. In this activity, there is a 20-to-30-meter pole right in the middle of the main yard with a 50-cm-diameter circle on top. This circle has two sides, Nhat and Nguyet, which represent the Sun and the Moon respectively. Players are supposed to throw the ‘con’ inside the circle and go through the paper, which requires both strength and skillfulness.

Normally there should be at least one person throw the ‘con’ through the circle since it means, according to the local’s belief, a prosperous year is coming. Otherwise, they will be very disappointed.

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Long Tong festival of the Tay

There’s also another way to play ‘con’ throwing, in which 2 teams of boys or girls will throw ‘con’ to each other. This is considered a more favorite way to play ‘con’ throwing for it’s a good way for young adults to express the love to their crushes.

In addition, there are many other games in the festival including lion dance, stilt walking, bamboo swings and martial arts, etc. All these activities are not only supposed to praise the sportsmanship of Tay people but also a good opportunity for young people to make friends. This is the day when men try to show off their strength and bravery to attract the women.