Traditional cultures of Tay people


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

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

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.

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

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

festival-art-performances-of the-tay
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.