THE HMONG IN VIETNAM


04 Feb 2021

Hmong people in Vietnam is one of the most crowded ethnic groups with the population of about 560,000 people living mostly in mountainous areas like Lao Cai, Ha Giang, Lai Chau,.. With an unique cultural identity, Hmong people seem like a wildly enchanting flower growing and flourishing well among the vast rocky mountains.

Table Contents
  • I - Origin, subgroups, and habitat of the Hmong people in Vietnam
  • 1 - Origin
  • 2 - Subgroups
  • 3 - Residence of Hmong people in Vietnam
  • II - Cultural facts of the Hmong in Vietnam 
  • 1 - Traditional costumes and jewelry
  • 2 - Beliefs and religions of Hmong people
  • 3 - Festivals
  • 4 - Marriage and funerals of Vietnam Hmong people 
  • 5 - Language and writing
  • 6 - Cuisine
  • 7 - Vietnam Hmong people’s markets
  • 8 - Hmong's house
  • 9 - Craft of Hmong people in Vietnam
hmong in vietnam
Source: VnExpress
There are 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam, one of which is the Hmong ethnic group, most of which live in the northern mountainous provinces. Hmong-also known as Meo or Miao-is considered being one of the most significant members of the ethnic group in Vietnam.

I - Origin, subgroups, and habitat of the Hmong people in Vietnam

1 - Origin

The Hmong people live mostly in the northern mountainous regions of Vietnam. Up to the present time, there is no official research and published information on the origin of the Hmong people in Vietnam. There is some information:
The Hmong originated in southern China since the bloody wars of Han rule made them wander around. One of the places they went to was Vietnam, and in particular, the first place where Hmong people were registered was the Meo Vac district, Ha Giang province about 300 years ago. Therefore, although later evacuated to many parts of Vietnam, Hmong people living in Vietnam consider Meo Vac to be their homeland.

 
vietnam hmong in meo vac ha giang Source: Ins Ultradx4

2 - Subgroups

The Vietnam Hmong Ethnic Group has more than 1 million people, ranking 8th among the most populous ethnic groups in Vietnam. They live mainly in Meo Vac district (Ha Giang province), Lang Son province, Lao Cai province, Son La province, Lai Chau province,... There are 4 groups of Hmong people, including the Hoa H'mong, the Green Hmong, the White Hmong, and the Black Hmong.
Similarities and differences between the 4 groups:
- Similarity: Although divided into 4 different groups, the common point of all Hmong ethnic groups is the same in basic language and culture. At the same time, Hmong women's jewelry is the same, often with earrings, bracelets, necklaces, rings, and colorful umbrellas.
- Different:
Group Another name Women’s costume
Hmong Hoa Hmong Lềnh Indigo fabric skirt, flower-embroidered bottom hem, and armpit shirt; the shoulder and chest part with embroidered snail-shaped fabric; long hair wrapped around the head.
Hmong Xanh Hmong Chúa Indigo fabric skirt, the square bottom hem is embroidered with a cross pattern; One-button shirt, left-cut collar, and embroidered flowers.
White Hmong  Hmong Đu White dress, embroidered on the arms and back coverings; Place your hair in a large tip at the top of your head, shave it around, and wrap it in a scarf.
Black Hmong  Hmong Dú Indigo fabric skirts, patterned hem, and skirt length are shorter than that of H'mong Hoa; vest split between chest, arm, and embroidered patterned shirt.

3 - Residence of Hmong people in Vietnam

Hmong people are typically concentrated in the northern mountainous provinces of Vietnam, in mountainous areas between 800 and 1500 meters above sea level with cold weather all year round. They live and work in a fairly wide region spread along with the Vietnam-Laos and Vietnam-China border provinces.

hmong people in vietnam
Source: Wikipedia
Ethnic Hmong people live clustered and independently in the high mountains. The reason Hmong people live separately and mostly focus on high mountains is that this place has the same geography and climate as the Yunnan Mountains of China-where is considered to be their roots. They often want to avoid being hunted by the Han people, so they often cluster and meet in separate places. Hmong has always maintained ties with people of ethnic origin in other countries, such as Laos and China. Significant numbers in the Hmong ethnic community still live up to their traditional customs and unique cultural identities, such as eating two meals a day with cornstarch, pipe tobacco, and pickling. Tet in a year (New Year's Day and New Year's Eve).

II - Cultural facts of the Hmong in Vietnam 

1 - Traditional costumes and jewelry

Hmong women often pay much attention to appearance, most outfits are colorful and bold national identity. Spear shirt is a four-body shirt, split chest, and not button. A Hmong woman wears a skirt or pants, a skirt with embroidered patterns, spread. The skirt is worn on the body with an embroidered fabric belt decorated in the middle. When wearing a skirt, always bring an apron.
Usually, Hmong women's clothes are made from linen or woven, then dyed or embroidered, and colored fabric. Traditional patterns are embroidered with color thread and basic patterns embroidery such as crested flower, bamboo flower, peach blossom, pink daisies, etc. Depending on the subgroup, Hmong women will have their styles of dress, bearing bold colors of the Hmong ethnic customs.

vietnam hmong people in the north
Source: VnExpress
Men's clothing of Hmong in Vietnam is usually a short blouse, narrow body and the sleeves are slightly wider than the body. Men's pants are wide-legged, lame-legged pants that are comfortable when going to the forest, hunting, or planting on the fields. At the same time, men are covered with a scarf or a round hat and a silver necklace around the neck.
In addition to costumes, the Hmong people also use jewelry with giant buns, silver rings, etc If they have two silver, copper, or gold rings on their hands, they are married. Also, Hmong women like to use colorful umbrellas to both make love and to help shade the sun.
On holidays or festivals, Hmong people often choose for themselves the new and most brilliant outfits, wear the best jewelry to meet, and get to know each other. A special thing is that H'mong women will have to knit and embroider their skirts themselves to form their outfits on important occasions. Tet of the Hmong is also an opportunity for many couples to connect red silk strings and is an ideal tourist destination for tourists from near and far.

2 - Beliefs and religions of Hmong people

Hmong people in Vietnam often think that everything has a soul, that everything is divided into two parts: body and soul. The body will dissolve with time, but the spirit will forever remain, blessing children and grandchildren with peace and good luck. This can be considered the most visible cultural and spiritual identity of the Hmong ethnic group in Vietnam.

vietnam hmong people culture
Source: Baomoi
Hmong ethnic groups often show their hearts "when drinking water, remember its source" by setting up an altar and worshiping their ancestors in the home. They consider ancestor worship to be paramount and to have a direct effect on the work and wellbeing of family members. Therefore, the altar is often in the most sacred position of the building, and not everyone in the family can burn incense or worship there.

3 - Festivals

Hmong Ethnic Festival has many festivals with the national identity and culture of the land and people here. These include:
- Nao Song Festival: held on the top of the mountain, worshiping the god with a pair of roosters, a pig, and wine to ask for health, peace, and prosperity for the people. The time to hold the Nao Sung festival is on the sixth day of the sixth lunar month every year.
- Gau Tao festival: is a festival to bless and pray for Hmong people, usually held around the 1st to 15th of lunar January every year.
- Tet of the Hmong: is an event that takes place over a month, starting from November 30 of the lunar calendar every year. Like the Tet holiday of the Kinh, the Hmong people make thick cakes and mend them.
- Family altar. This is also an opportunity for couples to get to know each other and play games such as hitting the bridge, singing Cu Xia, throwing, etc.

4 - Marriage and funerals of Vietnam Hmong people 

Marriage
Customs H'mong marriage practices are maintained within the clan. When the couple has feelings for each other, the boy goes home to speak to his parents to make a secret arrangement, pick a date, and meet his girlfriend at night to ask for her hand in marriage, and then go home. The next day, they call a neighbor for dinner and witness the marriage; the same neighbor goes to the girl's house to announce the marriage. Three days later, the groom's family will go to the bride's house and discuss marriage. The Hmong people attach great importance to the patriarchy. They also give birth to many children with the idea of "God gives birth to elephants, heaven gives birth" and parents live with the youngest generation.

marriage of hmong people in vietnam
Source: Internet
Funerals
When people leave the world, Hmong people will, depending on the cause and object, have different rituals of organizing funerals. In the past, when someone died, family members would use a gun to fire up the sky to announce it, but now it is no longer used because it is dangerous to others. The deceased was changed into a dress and brought to the coffin, the children and neighbors sitting around mournfully, in the middle was the priest doing the ceremony.

5 - Language and writing

In Vietnam, the H'Mong character is a Latin character approved by the Vietnamese government in 1961. It is built according to the phonetic language of the H'Mong branch of Sa Pa - Lao Cai, combining several phonetics of other H'Mong industries. Hmong people are all aware that it is necessary to preserve the national language and identity of their people.

6 - Cuisine

The Hmong people in Vietnam mountainous regions eat corn mainly and rice is a by-product, different from the Kinh. Maybe because they grow many corn plants with different ways of processing such as steamed corn (mén mén) with fat soup, corn cakes with vegetables, meat, etc In dishes, they focus on spices and colors, along with the heat helping warm the stomach in cold weather.

vietnam hmong cuisine
Source: Kenh14
Hmong meals sometimes just need a pot of corn wine and a pan of  “Thang Co”, one by one, they will drink together and eat together. This is a beautiful, and unique feature that shows the community and equality of the Hmong ethnic group.
Some popular dishes that the Hmong often eat and visitors also want to taste while here are for example, Victory, mussel, kitchen guard meat, salted meat, stir-fried wild vegetables, etc Types of corn wine, wheat wine, barley wine, banana wine, etc are drank by men every day and on holidays, funerals, and weddings.

7 - Vietnam Hmong people’s markets

The H'mong's fair is usually held on weekends and is a very busy place for ethnic minorities to exchange and trade. At fair markets, goods can be exchanged for goods without using money. Not only a place to trade, but the fair is also a place for couples to find each other, confide and date. In particular, for men, the fair is also an ideal place for them to meet and drink wine and socialize by the pan.
The Hmong fair market sells a lot of goods such as animals, vegetables, agricultural tools, brocade, jewelry, etc Currently, the entire territory of Vietnam has several famous markets for the ethnic H 'Butt like:
- Pa Co fair market - located between the center of Hang Kia commune, Pa Co (Mai Chau, Hoa Binh) and Loong Luong (Moc Chau, Son La)
- Bac Ha fair market - Bac Ha town, Bac Ha district, Lao Cai Province
- Cao Son fair market - Lo Suoi Tung, Muong Khuong district, Lao Cai province
- Sin Chie fair market - the center of Sin Chie commune, Si Ma Cai district, Lao Cai province.

8 - Hmong's house

Hmong  in Vietnam houses are usually made of earth, stone, or wood to keep warm in winter and cool in summer. A house usually has only one floor, with 3 main doors, 1 or 2 side doors and 2 windows on either side. The house has 3 compartments, the main room to place the family altar, the left one is the bedroom of the host couple and the stove and on the right is a guest bedroom with a fireplace.

house of vietnam hmong people
Source: Nguoiduatin
Hmong people often build houses on high mountains, close to water sources to facilitate living and avoid wild animals. Although the house has been constantly improved to suit natural conditions, it still has many cultural, spiritual values, ​​and national identity. They think that everything has a soul, so their house too, the door often faces south to catch the cool breeze and peace.

9 - Craft of Hmong people in Vietnam

The Hmong people weave fabrics entirely from nature with flax fibers obtained from flax - a large cluster tree in the northern mountainous region. It takes a lot of effort to get the finished product, so this fabric is beautiful, durable, and has high value. The most famous one is Lung Tam commune, Quan Ba ​​district, Ha Giang province with the famous traditional linen village near and far.
The Hmong also focuses on cultivation and shifting cultivation rather than breeding. Due to the mountainous terrain, this place is cultivated with rice and crops on terraced fields to facilitate water intake and irrigation. This also shows the adaptation and creativity in difficult and arduous circumstances of the Hmong people.
It is impossible not to mention the saying "Live on a rock, die buried in rock" of Hmong people. In the dangerous rocky mountains, the corn sprouts are still green and lush, flowers and grass are still vibrating brightly, anyone coming here can not help admire the beauty of labor as well as the intense vitality of all things. They "catch stones to bloom", yearning for a warm, happy life with a strong will that cannot be lost.
The Hmong in Vietnam has a national identity with cultural characteristics that are of great importance and deserve to be preserved and preserved forever. They also attract domestic and foreign visitors with the warmth and honesty of the Hmong ethnic people, not only with their specialties in food, festivals, and costumes.
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Hi, welcome to Vietnam! I am Bich - a passionate traveler. I do love exploring the amazing beauty of nature and experiencing the rich culture of my beloved country. Having the chance to share all my experience & travel information to you is so great!

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