Culture and customs of the people in SapaDate08-04-2023
Sapa is home to six ethnic groups including Kinh, Mong, Dao, Xa Pho, Tay, and Giay living together in communities. The unique cultural identity of Sapa is shaped by these ethnic communities.
Customs of Sapa’s people:
The customs of the ethnic groups in Sapa are characterized by unique features that are closely tied to the life cycle of people, crops, and livestock. Even though there is a naming ceremony for newborns, each ethnic group has its own ritual. In the Tay community, only grandmothers have the right to name their grandchildren. In the Xa Pho community, only shamans or the wife/husband’s sibling can name a child. The Mong people name their newborns according to the melody of lullabies sung by their grandmothers.
Wedding customs in Sapa among the different ethnic groups are also very different. The wedding ceremony of the Hmong people is a unique folk cultural activity. In their wedding ceremony, there is a custom called “pulling the wife”. The rituals are led by a matchmaker and accompanied by traditional songs. The Red Dao people’s wedding ceremony uses a lively music ensemble consisting of horns, drums, gongs, and flutes. In particular, the horn music has up to 72 pieces played during the wedding ceremony, including inviting ancestors, setting up the horn table, delivering news, greeting the groom, welcoming the bride, celebrating with the family, and warding off evil spirits. The bride’s welcoming ceremony among the Tay people is very solemn. The bride rides a pink horse and has a younger brother-in-law leading the horse.
Costumes in Sapa:
A standout in the folk art of the ethnic groups in Sapa is the art of decoration on costumes. Sapa has a tropical climate, with a long and cold winter, so the local people’s costumes also have their own unique features. The Dao and Xá Phó people prefer costumes with prominent warm colors. Thick embroidered bands are made in red, combined with yellow and white, creating a brilliant beauty on the background of the chàm fabric.
Clothing in Sapa:
A highlight in the folk art of the ethnic groups in Sapa is the decoration on clothing. Sapa has a tropical climate, with a long and cold winter, so the clothes of the locals here also have their own distinctive features. The Dao and Xá Phó people prefer clothing with prominent warm colors. Thick embroidered bands are made with red thread and combined with yellow and white on a black background, creating a brilliant beauty.
The everyday clothing of the Hmong people is mainly dark indigo. The patterns on the belt and collar are green and yellow. The Hmong clothing has its own tone, not as vibrant as in the border regions. But the wedding attire or the clothing worn before passing on to the other side by Hmong women is colorful with red and yellow patterned strips on the shoulders, sleeves, and skirt.
The art of decoration is also prominently displayed in the paper-cutting art of the Hmong people on the altar of the shaman. The shaman altar reflects the Hmong’s miniature spiritual world, consisting of three layers: the upper layer of the sky with the moon, the sun, the stars, and white flying birds. The middle layer is the world of humans, horses, and paired chickens. The underwater world is represented by the shape of paired fish. The paper-cutting art of the Hmong is vivid and realistic.
Traditional professions of the people in Sapa:
The cultural heritage of the ethnic groups in Sapa is also reflected in some typical handicrafts. The Xá Phó people have weaving, embroidery, and knitting skills. The Dao people are skilled in embroidered brocade, making wine, and papermaking. The Tày people specialize in making blankets and mattresses. The Hmong people are skilled in forging and casting. A survey of the Cat Cat village revealed that there were 54 households engaged in growing flax and wax printing, three blacksmith workshops, one silver engraving workshop, five carpenters, two stonemasons, and some skilled artisans who excelled in paper-cutting and knitting baskets. These handicrafts with their unique cultural secrets are truly the folk cultural heritage
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