Proper name: San Deo Nhin
(or Son Dao Nhan)
Other names: Trai, Trai Dat, Man quan coc (which means
“man-in-shorts”), Man vay xe (“man in split cloth”).
Population: 93,530 people
History: The Sandiu migrated to Vietnam about 300 years
Production activities: The Sandiu cultivate more on dry
fields and less on submerged fields. Apart from their common crops
such as rice, maize and manioc,
they also grow many kinds of root plants. The Sandiu have long used
manure to fertilize the soil. Thanks to an extra blade, their
ploughshares are much shaper and, thus, more suitable for cultivating
the tough and gravelly land of the Sandiu region.
Diet: The Sandiu mainly eat ordinary rice, often mixed
with sweet potatoes and manioc. After meals, they like to have watery
porridge of a type also enjoyed by the Nung.
Clothing: The traditional costume of the Sandiu women
includes a black shawl and a long blouse
with single or double layers. If a double-layered blouse is worn,
there is a white shorter blouse inside the indigo-colored outer blouse,
a red brassiere and a white, pink or blue
belt. Their dress is made from two separate laps connected in
one hem; its length stretches to the knees. It is dyed indigo while the
waist-band is white in color. Sandiu jewelry for women is comprised of
a necklace, bracelet, earrings and the silvery sa tich. Sandiu
men’s costume is much like the Viet’s style: traditionally, they wind
their hair on the top of the head, and wear turbans, black ao dai
(traditional long dress), and white pantaloons.
Lifestyle: The Sandiu mainly live in the midlands in
the northern region, from the left-bank of the Red River to the east. Their villages are similar to
Viet villages, often surrounded by bamboo rows and fences between
houses. They live in cottages with earthen or plank walls.
Transportation: Apart from using their shoulders to
carry things, they also use the no-wheel carts as a means of
transporting goods. This cart is made of bamboo and wood, drawn on sled
ties by buffaloes and used for transporting everything from rice to
fire-wood, to manure. Because the cart does not have wheels, it
operates well on a variety of terrains.
Social organization: Before the August Renovation in 1945, land and fields
had been privatized and social classes was clearly defined. Landlords
and rich peasants occupied most of the land and fields and exploited
peasants and farmers though renting land, hiring labor, and charging
high interest loans. In addition
to the administrative government, each village has a chief elected by
the people to govern public affairs.
Marriage: Boys and girls are given the freedom to love,
but their marriage also depends on their “destiny” and on their
parents’ final decisions.
There are many rites in a Sandiu wedding ceremony. Most
notably, there is often a ceremony called le khai hoa tuu
(opening ceremony of the flower liquor) at the home or the girl’s
family. People prepare a bottle of wine and a dish on which two pieces
of paper flowers are put – the
white flower is put under the red one which rests on top. Two boiled
eggs are put on the dish, threaded with red
string and tied with two coins on either ends. After
worshiping, the shells of the boiled eggs are taken off and their yolk
is mixed with the wine for a drink toasting the couple.
Funerals: When the dead body is lowered into the grave,
his or her children standing at the foot of the coffin should crawl
around the grave. The boys should do it from the left, and the girls do
it in the opposite direction. They should be pushing the soil into the
grave while crawling. When they stand up, each one
will take a handful of soil and run fast towards their homes and put he
soils into the buffalo pens and pigsties with the hope that the cattle
and animals will grow quickly. Then they will also run into their
houses, and sit in a rice basket in belief that those whose have lots
of rice sticking to their bodies will be the lucky ones. Finally, each
person tears a piece from a boiled chicken to eat. The eldest will get
the cockscomb and those next in line receive the head, neck, and wings.
The grave house is often flat-roofed structure covered with forest
leaves. In an exhumation
ceremony, the bones of the deceased are put in a small earthenware
coffin or a big jar and arranged in a sitting manner. If a fortunate day
has yet to be selected beforehand, the dead will be re-buried at the
foot of a hill or on a field bank.
New house: When a person or a family builds a house,
relatives and villagers are willing to come and help out without being
asked to do so. To celebrate a new house, the house owner should invite
an elder in the lineage to bring fire, a lime pot and seeds into the
Beliefs: Usually three incense bowls are put on the altar to worship
ancestors, the shaman and the Kitchen God. If the host is not
initiated, there will be only two incense bowls. An incense bowl is
also put on the altar but at a lower level to worship the dead. In
addition, the Sandiu also worship earth spirits at joss houses and the
village’s tutelary god at shrines.
Festivals: The Sandiu also celebrate different
festivals like other groups in their regions. In particular, the winter
Tet season expresses their hopes for many descendants. Couples who do
not have a child long after their marriage will move to live at the
parents’ house after the Tet festival. The husband, then, will send a
middle man to ask his wife back and they will hold a brand new wedding
Calendar: The Sandiu respect the lunar calendar.
Education: In the past, young people learned Chinese to
become ritual specialists, but few know Chinese today.
Artistic activities: Like other groups, Sandiu couples
also sing alternating songs at night, which they call soong co.
Some performances last for several nights.