Proper name: Nong
Population: 705,709 people
Local groups: Nung Giang, Nung Xuong, Nung An, Nung
Inh, Nung Loi, Nung Chao, Nung Phan Sling, Nung Quy Rin, Nung Din…
Language: The Nung language
belongs to the Tay-Thai language group (Tai-Kadai language family), and
is in the same group with the Tay, Thai, and Choang of China.
History: The majority of the Nung immigrated to Vietnam
two or three centuries ago from Quang Tay, China.
The Nung are very good at cultivating fields. However, because they
live on places where wet fields can not be exploited, they have to work
on terraced fields instead. Beside corn and rice, the Nung also plant
some other root vegetables, calabashes, and green vegetables.
The Nung know how to make many handicraft products from weaving,
metal working, poonah-paper making, and tile making. Though many of
those handicrafts are family
traditions, they are still secondary professions, and done during spare
time when there is a break from farming. Moreover, handicraft products
serve mainly family needs. Today, some of them are diminishing
(weaving), and some are preserved and highly developed (metal working).
In Phuc Xen village (Quang Hoa, Cao Bang), many families practice
blacksmithing, and there is at least one person in each family knows how
to hammer well.
Nung makets are highly developed. They go to fairs to trade, sell,
and buy goods. Young people, especially the Nung Phan Slinh group, like
to go to fairs and sing love duets.
Diet: In many regions, the Nung eat mainly corn. Corn
is ground into flour to make thick soup. Foods are fried, stir-fried, or
well-cooked, but seldom boiled. Many people don’t eat water buffalo,
beef, or dog meat.
Clothing: The Nung’s traditional clothes are fairly
simple, and are often made from rough, handmade, self-dyed fabrics, and
have almost no embroidery or decorations. Men wear shirts with standing collars, which have cloth buttons.
Women wear long shirts with 5 panels, buttoned up under the right arm.
Housing: the Nung live in the northeast of the country,
and mix in together with the Tay. They stay mostly in stilt houses.
Some live in earthen houses built with paper or brick walls. In the
past, on the border, there were houses built like a fort with
blockhouses and loopholes to prevent and defend robbers.
Transportation: Traditional ways of transportation are
carrying goods in the arms, on the shoulders, and using shoulder poles.
In some places today, the Nung use carriages with ties or runners, which
are pulled by animals as a mean of transportation.
Social organization: Before August Revolution, Nung
society had developed as much as the Tay’s. Fields and terraces had
become private possessions, and thus could be transferred or sold. Two
social classes were formed: landlords and tenants.
Marriage: Young Nung men and women are free to date and
to love. While dating, they often give gifts to each other. A young man
may give his girl a shoulder pole, a basket for storing cotton (hap
li), a basket for storing thread (com lot). In return, a
girl may give her young man a shirt and an embroidered bag. It is the
parents, however, who decide if a couple can marry each other. They need
to see if the two families are of the same social rank, and if the
fates of the two children match together. The bride’s family often
demands gifts or meat, rice, wine, and some money. The more the gifts
are, the higher the girl’s value is said to be. Marriage has to go
through many steps, and the most important one is the ceremony to bring
the bride to the groom’s family. After the wedding, the wife still stays
with her own family until she is about to give birth, then she will
move to her husband’s house.
Funerals: There are many rituals with the main goal: to
bring the dead person’s spirit to the next world.
New house: Building a new house is one of the Nung’s
most important tasks. Therefore, when it happens, the Nung pay close
attention in choosing the land, the direction, the day to move in. they
do all of these steps carefully in hopes that in the new house, they
will have a prosperous life.
Beliefs: The Nung mainly worship their ancestors. The
altar is put in the house, and is
nicely decorated. In the center of the altar is a monument (phung
slan) written in Chinese that records the origin of a family. In
addition, the Nung also worship theland God, the Buddhist Goddess of
Mercy, Midwife, door’s ghost (phi hang chan), etc. They hold
worshipping rituals when there is natural disaster, or disease plague.
In contrast to the Tay, the Nung celebrate the birthday, not the anniversary
of an individual’s death.
Festivals: The Nung celebrate lunar New Year like the
Vietnamese and the Tay.
Calendar: The Nung use the lunar calendar.
Education: The Nung use a script based on Chinese
characters, and read in Nung and Tay-Nung language, which is based on
the Latin script.
Artistic activities: Sli is love duet for
young men and women to sing in groups. Often, two boys sing with two
girls. They sing sli together on holidays and festival occasions, at a fair, or even
on trains, cars.
Entertainment: For festivals and holidays, there are
games such as throwing shuttlecock, badminton, spinning top, and tug of