The Lu people are one of Viet Nam’s 54 existing ethnic groups, belonging to the Tay-Thai language group. In Lai Chau, the Lu reside mainly in the two districts of Tam Duong and Sin Ho. Nowadays, the Lu still preserve many of their unique traditional cultural features.
The Lu women wear indigo-colored clothes. Photo: Tran Ngoc Thang
When visiting the villages of the Lu people, visitors are often surprised to see that the main roads leading to the villages are all built with concrete, with countless trees and fruit trees planted along the roads and in the garden. The Lu people live together in villages. They build stilt houses, which are always clean and neat. These stilt houses have only one staircase each, which is built toward the back to avoid toxic winds and evil spirits from entering the houses. The Lu people’s daily routines consist of farming, raising cattle, and poultry. After work, the Lu women often gather around to embroider and weave together. Every family usually has their own looms and other needed tools. The Lu's textile products are diverse, including skirts, shirts, towels, bags, and so on.
The Lu’s customs are famous for their coloring, which are all handmade by the Lu women with very sophisticated and unique patterns. The women here wear indigo-colored clothes and split-chest dresses with the left flap on top of the right, decorated with colorful tassels. Lu's favorite necklaces and bracelets are made from silver, aluminum, and copper. In addition, Via bracelets, which are made from indigo threads, are usually worn to avoid evil spirits and bad luck. They also wear earrings that are shaped like tubes with threads to hang colorful cotton buds. The Lu women also wear head scarves that are rolled up and tilted to the left to reveal the beautiful embroidered patterns.
The Lu people gather around to embroider and weave together. Photo: Nguyen Thi Thuy Nga
Men’s clothing is simpler with dark indigo clothes, which are split-blouses with fabric straps, two pockets on the front, and one pocket on the left chest. The shoulder bag is a very valuable item both in terms of aesthetics and in terms of traditional value for Lu’s men. These shoulder bags come in different sizes and are decorated with floral motifs and cotton buds in vibrant colors. In contrast to the fact that weaving is associated with women, for men, there is carpentry, blacksmithing, and knitting of household utensils. These items are well-designed and sophisticated, for instance, baskets, fishing tools,... Women of the Lu ethnic group often dye their teeth black, with some replaced with golden teeth.
The Lu’s folk music is very rich and diverse, reflecting the Lu’s daily life. When performing, they play traditional instruments such as drums, gongs, and double flutes. The Lu ethnic group still preserves their beliefs and rituals in worshiping the forest god. The forest worshiping ceremony is held in the 3rd and 6th lunar months every year to pray to the gods to protect the village, its houses, crops, and livestock. In addition, the Lu people still preserve and maintain very rich and unique traditional games such as traditional bowling, badminton, fighting, spinning tops, performing love songs, etc. on the Tet holiday.