Thai, 74, Si La Ethnic Group, Vietnam
“Since I was a kid, I have never cut my hair. I just let it grow until it falls out. This bunch of hair is from my mother in law” Thai says pointing to the bunch of hair she is wrapping on her head in a black cloth.
“It’s real hair! When I got married, my mother-in-law gave it to me” she exclaims. In Sila culture, there is a tradition for women to collect their hair as it falls out and gift it to their daughter in law when their son gets married.
“In the past, couples had to smoke together. There is a history of that. Now I am old. I forget it. If you love each other, you smoke together until one of you gets high. It is said the smoke flies to the sky. Couples smoke together and it is good that the smoke flies to the sky. If you really love each other, I smoke and you smoke… At that time, my husband got high first.”
“He played his musical instrument and sang in front of my house to call me. Normally, boys would go to a girls’ house. That’s how love was. Later on, we loved each other more and decided to get married.”
Thai, 74 years old
Si La Ethnic Group
Lai Chau, Vietnam
Sometimes when exploring the ethnic villages in Vietnam on the surface it might not seem like they have a strong culture or own traditional clothes, but we’ve learned that if you get to know them a bit better it can be a completely different story!
The Si La are one of the 6 Tibeto-Burman Ethnic Groups living in the remote mountainous regions of Northern Vietnam, connected through a shared ancestry, language, and culture. Their ancient nomadic lifestyle is reflected in the various pieces of different colored cloth and adornments of nuts, shells, and silver coins on the front of their traditional clothes.
Si La Ethnic Group — Summary