Quáy, 102, Dao Ethnic Group, Vietnam

Red Dao Ethnic Group Vietnam Alden Anderson

This old woman still goes to work. She works every day! Very strong! Each day she goes to work twice! She col­lects veg­eta­bles for pigs and cuts the wood for fires.” (her neigh­bor explains)

It was a rainy day dri­ving through the moun­tains of North­ern Viet­nam when Trinh and I saw Quáy in front of her house wear­ing her full tra­di­tion­al cloth­ing of the Red Dao eth­nic group. We pulled over and began to talk with her but soon real­ized that we need­ed a trans­la­tor to facil­i­tate. Her first lan­guage is not Viet­namese but that of the Dao peo­ple (pro­nounced like “wow” with a Y or Z: Yow or Zow).

I had the clothes made 2 years ago, but I wear them every day so they look old fast” (her daugh­ter in law hand embroi­dered all the pat­terns on her shirt). “I don’t like wear­ing the oth­er (non-eth­nic) clothes,” she tells us, sit­ting in her liv­ing room as Pink Pan­ther plays on the TV in the background.

Can I hold your hands?” Quáy asks Trinh before reach­ing out and gen­tly grasp­ing her hands. “It remind­ed me of my great-grand­ma,” Trinh says wistfully.

Phàn Mạy Quáy, 102 years old
Red Dao Eth­nic Group
Ha Giang, Vietnam

Dao embroidery close up Alden Anderson_

Beau­ti­ful­ly hand­wo­ven embroi­dery of the Red Dao Eth­nic Group.

Dao Ethnic Group — Summary


Official Name


Population (Vietnam)



Northern Vietnam

Language Group

Hmong–Mien (Dao)

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