The Dao ethnic minority people in Son Dong district, Bac Giang province mainly live in communes and townships such as Tuan Mau, Thanh Son, Thanh Luan, Duong Huu, Van Son, Huu San and Thach Son ... Amid the modern life, they still preserve their cultural identities and pass them on to future generations.
Visiting the house of Hoang Tien Tho (born in 1989 in San 1 hamlet, Huu San commune, we have a chance to contemplate the colorful costumes of adults, children, men and women with patterns of the Dao ethnic group. He said that in order to have the right clothes, it takes him and his wife many months to prepare.
The traditional costumes of the Dao ethnic minority people.
His wife is in charge of embroidering and she does it meticulously. The manual work takes a lot of time, but in return, clothes are made carefully so they are much more beautiful than ready-made ones sold in the market.
For the Dao people, the ‘cap sac” ritual, a rite of passage declaring the coming-of-age of the Dao men within the community, is of especial importance. According to their conception, this is an indispensable proceeding in the life of any Dao male. When a Dao man passes the ritual, he is just recognized as mature and has full right to participate in community affairs.
The ‘cap sac’ ceremony of the Dao people is usually held in the 11th, 12th and first lunar months every year, with many diverse and unique rituals of the Dao ethnic sub-groups. Each Dao sub-group has a ritual-practising space bearing its own characteristics.
According to La Huu Hiep, head of the Ethnic Affairs Division of Son Dong district, the Dao in the locality mainly belong to the sub-groups of Dao Thanh Y, Dao Thanh Phan and Dao Lo Gang. Like many other ethnic groups, they also farm in the forests and on the hills, grow wet rice and raise animals, etc.
Regarding the Dao women's costumes, there is a slight difference in patterns, depending on each sub-group. The shirts are in dark indigo or dark. The Dao men’s shirts have a dark indigo color and are simply sewed from four pieces of cloth. The male pants are also simple, with no patterns.
In the past, the houses of the Dao people in Son Dong were made of bamboo and leaves, but now due to the better economic conditions, they build brick multi-storey houses and buy many modern facilities and equipment to serve their life.
However, social changes do not make the Dao ethnic people in Son Dong lose their cultural traditions. The generations of the Dao people always have an awareness of preserving and passing on the traditions to their descendants.
Ban Van Cuong (born in 1946), in Thanh Chung hamlet, Tuan Mau commune is a good example of keeping, searching and transmitting ancient writings to local people. The ancient books of the Dao people are a treasure of knowledge. There are books on how to cultivate crops, raise animals and irrigate fields as well as how to become a good person...
Currently, Cuong keeps hundreds of book titles, including ancient and rare books. Not only keeping books for himself, he also teaches what in the books for many people. Every day he meticulously takes notes and collect books to preserve the national culture.
The new rural face of ethnic minority areas in Son Dong is changing positively.
In the spiritual and cultural life of the Dao ethnic people in Son Dong, they attach great importance to the custom of worshipping ancestors. The ancestor-worshipping ritual of the Dao people is deeply humane as it makes people remember their roots and ward off evils as well as promotes solidarity in the community.
Each year, the Dao have a number of festivals such as the Spring Festival (held in the first lunar month), the festival to wish for bumper crop (also held in the first lunar month, from October 10 to 15), the worshipping ceremony of the Dao Thanh Y ethnic people and the ritual to seek wealth.
Today, the Dao in Son Dong are more integrated with other ethnic groups and actively participate in socio-economic development in order to build the upland more prosperously while still preserving cultural features in terms of costumes, beliefs, and customs, thus creating diversity and plenty in the colors of ethnic groups in Bac Giang.