Located at an altitude of 1,500 to 1,650 meters in the mountainside of Lo Suay Tong, Sapa looks right down to the Ngoi Dum valley to the east and Muong Hoa valley to the southwest.
Overview ofA�ethnic groups in Sapa
Most of the local peoples in Sapa are ethnic minorities, including Ha��Mong, Giay (Zay), Dao, etc., with different lifestyle, costumes and typical cultures.
According to scientific reports and hystorical documents, the Ha��Mong people, also called Mieo or MA?o, immigrated to Vietnam approximately 300-100 years ago. They are classified, based on their cultures and languages, into different types namely White, Flower, Red, Black, Green Ha��Mong and Na Mieo (Water Mieo).
The Black Hmong is the most numerous community in Sapa making up about 53% of the population. They are called a�?Black Hmonga�? since their costumes are predominantly in black color. Specically, men usually wear black or indigo trousers, shirts, a long waistcoat and a small hat embroidered with traditional texture sometimes. Women wear black clothing, head coverings with a shiny black sleeveless waistcoat made of melted wax. Unlike other ethnic groups, Hmong women wear knee-length trousers instead of skirts.
Speaking of Mong culture in Sapa, Gau Tao festival should be on top of the list. It is held once a year within 1 to 15 of January (lunar dates) associated with belief in happiness (usually gender preference or related desire for their children) and health. In order to deliver their wishes, one person in the family has to bring a a�?nA?ua�? tree to the festival and plant it on top of the hill, where the festival takes place. After that, family owners kneel down under the tree to pray their ancestors, with help of a shaman, to give all family members health and good harvest.
Then, all families gather in the main yard. The elderly drink and talk together, and kids play spinning top in a flat area. There are also many other games in the festival such as shooting with bows and crossbows, horse racing, Khen dancing, singing a�?gau plenha�� and love songs, etc. At the end of the festival, a�?neua�� tree will be taken down. The family will take the red cloth tied on the tree and bring it home with desire of getting blessed for life.
Dao people, also called Man, Dong, Trai, Son Dau, etc., is the second largest ethnic group in Sapa. Amongst subgroups of Dao community, Red Dao people make up the majority with traditional costumes in red color. Men wear simple brocade clothing while women have more abundant a�?fashiona�� variaties with traditional textures and red head coverings.
Dao people are famous for various colorful cultures. Research studies showed that among historical books, 60% were history books, religious and culture books. Literature books only took up 20% in total but their value was immeasurable.
Apart from old written folk songs, many poems such as Han Bang, Dam Thanh, the poor Trang (doctoral level), Bat Nuong, Dang Nguyen Huyen story, Than Sat song, etc., were also discovered. Most of these poems tell readers about how hard it was for Dao ancestors to find a land to settle down in Sapa.
Dao people in Sapa also have a lot of special festivals, including Tet dancing festival and Love-exchange singing. Like Mong culture, these festivals are held to pray for good harvest, harmony amongst neighbors and health for family. Besides, this is also a good opportunity for people to come together to improve their unity and to find their partner.
Giay people, also called Nhang, Dang, or Xa, etc., is a subgroup of Thai Tay group, taking up only 2% of the total population in Sapa. They live in groups of hundreds of households, making different small villages and inhabit around the foot of mountains or hills. For they live in the same areas with other groups like Tay, Thai, Nung, their culture is also affected by the other ones.
Giay costumes in Sapa are quite simple. Women wear ankle-length trousers in indigo color, embroidered brocade bag, long loose-sleeve blouse with hair wrapped around head. Men wear round collar shirt with buttons, trousers with wide waistband.
Roong Pooc festival of Giay people in Sapa puts an end to the whole relaxing lunar January and opens a new harvest. Plus, this festival is also the time for people to pray for good harvest, cattles and health for family members. This is considered a agricultural festival, which reflects some part of Giay history of Lingaism and Polytheism.
Ita��s originated from their hard-working life of Giay people themselves throughout hundreds of years, which has profound historical value, expressing spiritual community culture of Giay group in Sapa.