Xa Phó group (also known as Xá Phó, Phù Lá, Pu dang, Va Xơ Lao, Mú Dí Pạ, etc.) is an ethnic minority living in northern Vietnam and southern China. Xa Pho people in Vietnam are mainly found in Sapa (Lao Cai province) and some live in Lai Chau, Son La.
How Xa Pho traditions are preserved?
Xa Pho people speak Pu La language, which is part of Loloish branch of the Tibeto-Burman family (a member of Sino-Tibetan language family itself). It means Xa Pho is among few ethnic groups that have their own writing system. They live in various villages with about 5-10 households in each village.
The village partriarches, the village chiefs and the heads of family play a significant role in regulating public affairs. Their typical and colorful traditions are clearly exposed by their costumes and traditional dances.
Xa Pho costumes
Women usually wrap their hair around the heads as coverings. They also wear a square black indigo-dyed towel with beads in the middle and on each angles. The typical costume of the Xa Pho women are crop-tops in 5-piece form with square collar, divided ino 2 parts horizontally.
The upper part is fully embroidered in symmetrical designs. Instead of wearing trousers, Xa Pho people wear black skirts decorated sophisticatedly with red or white palm trees, zigzag, monkey palms or diamond patterns, etc. It makes the patterns more noticeable in black background and more aesthetic. Another interesting tradition of Xa Pho people is teeth blackening and eating betel with areca.
Men wear loose big-V-shaped collar and sleeveless shirt, which makes them feel more comfortable and working on farms. The typical jewelry of Xa Pho people are usually made of mountain snail shells and boar’s teeth.
Xa Pho dances
Xa Pho people, like other ethnic groups in Vietnam, also have their traditional dances passed from generation to generation. And each one of them show great respect and seriously preserve this cultural element.
Nowadays, daily life and public affairs of Xa Pho people are still clearly emphasized by various traditional dances including ‘khan’ dance, ‘xe chi’ dance, ‘hai’ dance, ‘luon’ dance, etc.
The musical instrument accompanying the dance is called Ma Nhi, along with a rhythmic instrument using seeds. The women dance and beat the rhythm at the same time. Men and women have separate dances, seldom dancing together.
For performances, girls often wear the traditional skirt and shirt of indigo fabric which they have woven themselves. They embroider and decorate their clothes elaborately and beautifully.
These traditional dances are usually performed in special occasions such as national Tet holiday, Khui Xmo Tet, Mid-Autumn and some other ceremonies worshiping Forest God, Village God, River God, etc.