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Faculty of Vietnamese

Email: [email protected]

Tel: 0915.363.229











Chapter1 introduction


  • 1.1. Basic terms (kháiniệmcơbản)

  • - Culture = system of physical and mental values  mankind >< nature & society.

  • Nation (dântộc) = a community which includes many ethnic groups, each with its own language, lifestyle, and cultural heritage.

  • Ethnic (tộcngười) = a smaller community within a nation, which has its own language and customs.

  • However, in many cases, it is possible to use the word ‘dântộc’ (nation) to refer to an ethnic group.

  • 1.2. Some main characteristics (Một số đặc điểm cơ bản)

  • 1.2.1. Number

  • - 54 ethnic groups (53 ethnic minorities).

  • Population:

  • 5 ethnic minorities> 1 million people (Tày, Thái, Mường, Khme, Mông);

  • 5 ethnic minorities< 1 million people (Si La, Pu Péo, Rơmăm, Brâu, Ơ Đu)

1.2.2. Distribution (Tínhchấtcưtrú) Co-habitation forms cultural regions (Cưtrú xenkẽ)

- The ethnic minorities often inhabit together with others in an area (province, district).

E.g: There is even 20 ethnic groups within a district.

- In each area, there is 1 or 2 groups with higher development level, which play the main role in establishing a cultural region. Ethnic minorities mostly live in 5 regions.

- Within a region, there are sub-regions. In each sub-region, there is a centered ethnic group which might be the centered ethnic group of the whole region or another one

6 cultural regions:

1. The Northwest (Thái, Mường)

2. The Northeast (Việt Bắc: Tày, Nùng)

3. The North Delta (Việt)

4. The Central (Trung Bộ: Việt, Chăm)

5. The Central Highland (Tây Nguyên: Mon-Khmer Groups)

6. The South Delta (Việt, Chăm, Hoa and native groups such as Khmer, Mạ, Xtiêng, Chơro, Mnông...)

 Việt (Kinh): deltas. Ethnic minorities: other areas.


  • Effect of co-habitation (Hệ quả củacưtrú xenkẽ)

  • - Advantages (Thuậnlợi):

  • + Share each other’s techniques and good customs strengthen the union.

  • + Form multi-cultural areas for cultural tourism.

  • Disadvantages (Khó khăn):

  • Social management: Disagreements between different ethnic groups, which origin from the differences in religions and customs.

  • 1.2.3. Specific territorial distribution (Vị trí cưtrú cụ thể)

  • Most ethnic minorities live in border parts and other area which are very important in terms of the nation’s economy, politics, defense and environment.

  • - 3 minority groups: the deltas (Kinh, Hoa, Chăm)

  • - 50 other groups: the midland and the mountainous areas.

  • * Importance of the distribution of ethnic minorities (vai trò địa bàn cư trú)

  • -Kinh tế: the ethnic minorities live in the border part, coastal area and forest, which are very important to foreign trade, agriculture and mine industry.

  • Politics and Defense: It’s important to maintain the peace and development in the border parts  most Vietnamese feudal dynasties have their own policies to strengthen the relationship to ethnic minority leaders:

  • + wedding

  • + office and title

  • + Viet (Kinh) officials

  • - Environment: Ethnic minorities live in forest area/coastal area  important  forest/coastal environment protection

  • 1.2.4. Time of inhabitation (Về thời gian sinh tụ ở Việt Nam)

  • - Native groups: Việt (Kinh), Mường, Tày, Chăm

  • - Early time A.D – 19th century: Hoa

  • 7th – 13th century: Lự, Thái, Nùng

  • Though ethnic minorities came to VN at different times, they has been maintaining a tradition of co-operating in national building and defense.

  • 1.2.5. Cultural characteristics (Về văn hóa) Việt Nam)

  • Culture = tangible culture heritage + intangible culture heritage

  • Economy: self-sufficient economy (agriculture: cassava/corn/rice cultivation)

  • Administration: village (làng/bản/buôn) is the basic unit; some others (Thái, Mường) apply a larger administrative system (mường: mường > village).

  • Religion: mostly polytheism.

Chapter 2 customs of vietnamese ethnic minorities


2.1. Introduction (Khái quát về phong tục) Việt Nam):customs = diversified

* Economy:

- hunting + gathering + cultivation (rice/corn/cassava + veg.)

Some cultivates in terraced fields (Mông, Pu Péo, Phù Lá….)

Some: wet fields (Chăm, Hoa, Tày…)

- Some traditional crafts: pottery (Chăm, Khơ me, Hoa), textile weaving (Khơ me, Tà ôi...), bamboo weaving (Thái, Cống, La Chí, La Hủ...).

- Goods transportation: human/boat/horse carry goods to trade. Popular: human-carrying.

* Lifestyle (Về sinh hoạt - ăn, ở, mặc) Việt Nam)

  • - Cuisine:chapter 3.

  • Clothes:

  • +The Northeast + Northwest: women wear dresses, men wear shirts and trousers.

  • + The Central and the Central Highland: women wear dresses, men wear loin-cloth….

  • - House:Popular: stilt house (from wood); a few: ground house (from bamboo or soil).

* Social relationships (Về quan hệ xã hội) Việt Nam)

  • Most ethnic minorities use village as the basic administrative unit, in which the leader is a respectful elder.

  • In some ethnic community: gap between rich & poor

  • Some ethnic minorities: maternal society (Chu - ru, Cơ – ho, Ê – đê, Gia – rai, Khơ – me, Ba – na, Khơ - mú....). Some in the transition from maternal society  paternal one (Chơ – ro, Giẻ Triêng...)

  • * Rites of passage (wedding, childbirth, funeral):following parts

2.2. Marriage ( Việt Nam)Hônnhân)

Purpose: tight the relationships between couples, families and clans.

2.2.1. Giới thiệu khái quát

- Decide: parents, head of the clan.

- Depending in the system (paternal/maternal)  the bride/bridegroom’s family organize and pay for the wedding. Maternal society: bridegroom  live with the bride’s family. Some: respectively live with bride’s family and bridegroom’s one.

- Most ethnic minorities forbid cousins to get married. Some allow (Bru Vân Kiều, Tà – ôi, Cơ – tu, Gia – rai, Ê – đê).

- Most: couples are free to marry their lovers. Some groups create ‘wife/husbad kidnapping’ to allow couples overcome social/financial obstacles.

- Wedding procedure: engagement ceremony, wedding, report ceremony (visit bride’s parents)

2.2.2. Some wedding styles Việt Nam) Wedding ceremony of the Tay (Đám cưới của người Tày)

- Ceremonies:Greeting, engagement, New Year gift giving, wedding time selection, wedding day, taking the bride, accompanying the bride to bridegroom’s house.

- Cost:paid by bridegroom’s family  show gratefulness to bride’s parents

- Meals:

+ 4 - 5 p.m: for elders

+ 7 - 8 p.m: young people (couple’s friends). Everyone stays after the meals to talk/drink/play games/sing all night.

- Taking the bride Việt Nam):

+ Party:quan lang (male matchmaker), pả mẻ (female matchmaker), bridegroom, 2 best men, a young girl and some young, unmarried people who carry the presents.

+ Presents: 100 green cakes, 400 white cakes, 2 big white cakes (traditional cakes), 1 roast pig, 2 chicken, wine, trầu cau, 2 fishes, some pork innards, a bag of seeds, some sugar, a red bag, a wet-dry cloth  bride’s parents

- Receiving ceremony (Đón tiếp): Việt Nam)

+ Greeting: bride-sided female matchmaker greets the party, bridegroom-sided male matchmaker greets back.

+ Obstacle game: hanging rope/ laying the groom or leave a cat at the door  bridegroom-sided male matchmaker needs to sing politely and cleverly to win over.

+ Present receiving Bow at the ancestor’s altar Wine offering  People give wishes to couple  dinner together.

Chăng dây trong đám cưới của người Tày Việt Nam)

(Hanging rope in wedding of the Tay)

Búi tóc ngược trong lễ Việt Nam)Tằng khẩu (đám cưới người Thái)

Upside down hair bunning in wedding of the Thai

Mâm cỗ cưới của người Bru Vân Kiều Việt Nam)

Wedding meal in wedding of the Bru Van Kieu

2.2.3. Funeral (Phong tục tang ma của đồng bào dân tộc thiểu số)

* Introduction (Giới thiệu chung)

- An important rite of passage to Vietnamese ethnic minorities  shows the love and respect towards the death.

- Differences:

+ Some ethnic minorities in the Northern mountainous area: fresh funeral + dry funeral.

+ Some ethnic minorities in the South: grave-leaving ceremony. Some provide meals and buffalo to the death.

+ Especially, some ethnic group in the Central Highland organize big grave-leaving ceremony and build the new tomb for the death.

Some typical funerals tộc thiểu số)

(a) Dry funeral of the H’mong (Đám ma khôcủangườiMông)

- Held 13 days after the fresh funeral (burying the death). The Mông people believe that the death only recognizes that he/she was dead already after 13 days. No annual anniversary for the death in Mông culture  dry funeral is the last ceremony to say goodbye to the death  important.

  • - tộc thiểu số)Careful preparation: : food + funeral facilities + announcement

  • + The death’s family gathers relatives to drink and choose the time for the dry funeral.

  • + Invites the previous funeral band (priest, music band, coffin carriers).

  • Dry funeral:

  • + Family members bow to the funeral band and offer them wine.

  • + Fake figure of the death wears the death’s clothes.

  • + Priest does ceremony to deliver the death’s spirit to the other world officially separate the livings and the death.

  • Meanings of dry funeral tộc thiểu số)

  • (Ý nghĩađám ma khôcủangườiMông/Tày/Nùng):

  • - Explain about the salvation of the spirit in the other world  belief: universe = world of the living + world of the death

  • - Piety of the children to parents + sharing of the families member and villagers to the death’s family  strengthen the relationship within community.

Đám ma khô của người Tày Cao Bằng tộc thiểu số)

Dry funeral of the Tay in Cao Bang

(b) tộc thiểu số)Grave-leaving ceremony of some ethnic minorities in the Central Highland

(Lễ bỏ mả của một số dân tộc miền Trung Tây Nguyên)

* Temporary tomb: a simple hut for the death. The death’s head is turned towards the sun’s rising. Family members have to clean the hut and offer meals to the death regularly  Believe: the death’s spirit is still around the family members.

* Grave-leaving ceremony:rid of the temporary hut build a new, long-life tomb Meanings:

- Sadness: last time to say goodbye to the death

- Joy: the livings pay full responsibility to the death. The death is no longer around to haunt the family.

- Time: 3-7 days + 1 month of preparation. tộc thiểu số)

- New house grave (the Banar): two low roofs, no walls. Top: decorated with bird, animal and man figures.

- Tomb statues (man, monkey, buffalo, bird…): wooden. Rough but lively  Highlanders believe the death’s spirit will possess the statues  statues become slaves of the death in the other world  every feeling of mankind (sadness, grief, happiness, worry) is expressed in the statues’ faces. There are some sexual statues  highlander worship penis  wish for fertility.

Tượng nhà mồ ở Tây Nguyên tộc thiểu số)

Tomb statues in the Central Highland

Chapter 3 cuisine culture of vietnamese ethnic minorities


  • 3.1. Introduction tộc thiểu số)

  • Use ingredients which are available in nature.  clean, fresh and nutritious.

  • Popular dishes: roast/steamed glutinous rice, glutinous rice cakes, roast/smoked meat & fish.

  • Spices and sauces: hạt dổi, mắc khén, húng rừng, mắc mật, mắc kham chẩm chéo, nước nhút...(from forest and garden).

  • - Wine: popular and important drink  use in ceremonies, treat visitors. Ingredients: corn/cassava/rice + ferment from forest leaves

  •  Delicateness and flexibility in cuisine + thorough life stance

3.2. tộc thiểu số) Typical cuisine

3.2.1. Steamed sticky rice with ant’s eggs of the Tay

* Ingredients:black ant’s egg, sticky rice, special onion (củ kiệu), oil.

* Recipe:

-Steam the rice. Stir-fry onion with eggs and spices. Stir everything together and put some fried onion on top.

- Serve hot.

Steamed sticky rice with ant’s eggs

3.2.2. 5-colored steamed sticky rice of the Tay tộc thiểu số)

* Ingredients: sticky rice, ginger leaves, turmeric powder, special red leaves (lá cơm đỏ)

* Recipe: Steep rice and grind red leaves in water  red and purple steamed rice; Rice + turmeric  yellow; red sticky rice  black. 5 different colors are put together in the dish  Five Elements Theory (kim, mộc, thuỷ, hoả, thổ - 5 elements which create the universe)

 Use in sacred ceremonies

3.2.3. Khâu nhục of the Tay, Nung, Hoa tộc thiểu số)

* Ingredients:belly pork, lá tầu soi (special pickled vegetables), black bean sauce, soy sauce, garlic, húng lìu

* Recipe:Boil the pork  add spices roast. Fry purple potato. Mix pork fat, aromatic mushroom, bean, egg together to make stuffing.Put the pork and all the stuffing and spices together in the bowl and steam it in 5 hours.

Khâu nhục

2.2.4. Roasted moss of the Thai tộc thiểu số)

* Ingredients:river moss, hạt dổi, hạt mắc khén (two special spices from forest), pepper, garlic, ginger, lemon grass, lemon leaves + pork fat

* Recipe:Moss is taken from clean river. Mix moss with spices and fat. Use dong leaves to cover the mixture. Put it in warm ash for a while  roast it on burning charcoal. Besides the special flavor of spices, the moss taste fresh and pure.

Rêu sông

3.2.5. Thắng cố of the Mông (H’mong) tộc thiểu số)

* Ingredients: Bones, inner organs of horse/ox, spices

* Recipe: Put all of ingredients into the boiling deep pan. Rid of the froth. Serve hot with salt. Customers can have it together with homemade corn cakes. When some friends join, they buy some wine to cheer up together.

3.2.6. Tube wine (rượu cần) of the Mường in Hoà Bình

* Ingredients: Sticky rice, ferment from forest leaves, pottery vase

* Recipe and serving

- Specialty of Hòa Bình. The wine is made from rice and natural ferment  safe & great flavor.

- Wine is put in a vase and people drink it through bamboo tubes  a wine for drinking together. Tradition: drinking together + game + alternately singing

 Tube wine culture  community spirit

3.2.7. Mountain field pigs of the Central Highlanders Bình

* Ingredients: naturally-raised pigs , parsley, coriander, lemon grass, pepper, salt..

* Recipe

- Pigs are raised naturally in mountain fields  less fat + soft + juicy.- These pigs can be spiced and roasted in two ways: roast barbecue sticks or roast the whole pig.

Heo rẫy

M Bìnhăng rừng (măng lay, măng vầu)

Forest bamboo shoots

N Bìnhậm Pịa ( a sauce made from buffalo/ox/horse/goat’s inner organs)

N Bìnhước lèo thịt dê

Soup made from goat meat (the Cham group)

L Bìnhẩu lá rừng

Hotpot of forest vegetables

Bánh lá ngải Bình

Cakes made from sticky rice and a vegetable

M Bìnhèn mén (Steamed mash corn)

C Bìnhơm lam (Sticky rice cooked in a bamboo tube)


  • 1. Co-operation of Vietnamese ethnic groups

  • - VN is a multi-ethnic country (54 groups: 53 ethnic minorities)

  • - The ethnic minorities share some similarities and well co-operate.

  • - Each have its unique cultural characteristics  contribute to the diversity of VN culture .

  • 2. Diversity and humanity of the culture of ethnic minorities

  • - Their cultural characteristics origin from the Southeast Asia environment and life stance of the inhabitants.

  • - The diversity and humanity of the culture of ethnic minorities  nourish the soul and better the behavior of the people.

  • 3. Preservation and application of the culture of ethnic minorities nowadays

  • There are some factors in modern lifestyle which threaten the culture of ethnic minorities  VN authorities  attention to preserve and apply those values.

  • - There are some customs of ethnic minorities which need to be removed/adjusted  to both reserve the good values of the culture and build up the progressive culture of the whole nation.