Proper name: Kim Mien, Kim
Mun (jungle people)
Other names: Man
Population: 473,945 people
Dao Do or Red Dao (Dao Coc ngang, Dao sung, Dao Du lay, Dao Dai Ban),
Dao Quan Chet or Dao with tied or belted trousers. (Dao Son Dau, Dao Tam
Dao, Dao Nga Hoang, Du Cun), Dao Lo gang (Dao Thanh phan, Dao Coc Mun),
Dao Tien or Dao with silver coins
or money (Dao Deo tien, Dao Tieu ban), Dao Quant rang or Dao with white trousers (Dao House), Dao Thanh Y
or Dao with blue vest, Dao Lan Ten (Dao Tuyen, Dao Ao dai or Dao with
Language: The Dao language belongs to the language family of Hmong-Dao.
History: Dao people originally came from China,
immigrating between the 12th or 13th century and the early 20th century.
They claim themselves descendants of Ban House (Ban vuong), a famous
and holy legendary personality.
Production activities: Dao communities cultivate
swidden fields, rocky hollows, and wet -rice paddies. These cultivation
activities play a dominant role among different groups and areas. Dao
Quan Trang (white trousers) people, Dao Ao Dai (long tunic) and Dao
Thanh Y (blue clothes) specialize in wet-rice cultivation. Dao Do (Red
Dao) people mostly cultivate in rocky hollows. Other Dao groups are
nomadic, others are settled agriculturists. Popular crops are rice, corn
and vegetables, such as gourds, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes. They
raise buffaloes, cows, pigs, chickens, horses, goats in the middle
regions of mountains and highland areas.
Cotton farming and weaving are popular among the Dao groups.
They prefer garments dyed indigo. Most village wards have forge kilns
serving for farming tools repairing. In some places, people make
matchlock and flint-lock rifles and cast-iron bullets. The silversmith
trade, handed down through generations, mostly produces necklaces,
earrings, rings, silvers chains, and betel nut boxes.
Dao Do (Red Dao) and Dao Tien (Coin or Money) groups are
well-known makers of traditional paper. The paper is used when writing
history, story and song books, when making petitions, when sending money
for funeral services, and on
other occasions. Other Dao groups are noted for pressing certain fruits
to extract oils which they use to illuminate their lamps. Sugarcane is
Diet: Dao people have two main meals a
day-lunch and dinner. Breakfast is eaten only during the busy
harvesting season. The Dao eat mostly rice. However, in some places,
people eat corn or soup instead of rice. Popular rice meal is made of
wood and bamboo. Mortars are divided into several types, such as
pillar-shaped mortars or water sprout mortars, with rice-pounding
pestles controlled by hands or feet or by water power. The Dao prefer
boiled meat, dried or sour mixed meat and sour bamboo shoot soup. When
eating is finished, the Dao have a tradition that they never put down
the chopsticks on the bowl because it signifies that there is a death in the family. Dao people usually
drink distilled alcohol. In some places, they drink a kind of local
wine, having a slightly sour and hot taste. Dao people smoke cigarettes
or locally grown tobacco with pipes.
Clothing: In the past, men had long hair with chignon
or top tuft, with the rest shaved smoothly. Different groups have
different types of head-scarves and ways of wearing them. They wear
short or long shirts.
Dao women’s clothes are diverse. They usually wear a long
blouse with a dress or trousers. Their clothes are colorfully
embroidered. When embroidering, they create designs based on their
memories. They embroider on one side of the cloth so that the design is
seen on the other side. They have several designs such as the letter
“van”, the pine tree, animals, birds, humans, and leaves. Their method
of creating batik garment is unique. They put the batik stylus or pen
into hot bee’s wax and then draw the design onto the cloth. The portion
of the cloth receiving the waxed patterns resists the indigo blue dyeing
a cloth of beautiful blue and white patterns.
Housing: Many Dao communities are found about half-way
up most of the northern mountainous regions. However, there are several
Dao groups that live in valleys, such as the Dao Quan Trang (white
trousers), as well as high-mountain dwellers like the Dao Do (Red Dao).
Wards and houses are scattered around. There are a variety of
architectural styles, as some Dao build their houses directly on the
ground while others build them on stilts. Some Dao houses combine both
Transportation: Dao people in highland areas use black
baskets with two straps to transport goods and produce. Those living in
the lower elevantor carry goods with a pair of containers suspended on
each end of a carrying pole that rests on the shoulders. Cotton bags or
net bags or net back-packs are preferred here.
Social organization: Village relationships are
essentially regulated by parentage or by being neighbors. The Dao people
have many family surnames, the most popular being Ban, Trieu. Each
lineage or each branch possesses its own genealogical register and a
system of different middle names to distinguish people of different
Birth: Dao women give birth to their children in the
seated position, and usually in the bedroom. The newborn is given a bath
with hot water. The family of the expectant
mother usually hangs green tree branches or banana flowers in
front of their door to prevent evil spirit from doing harm to the baby.
When the baby is three days old, they celebrate a ritual in honor of the
Marriage: Boy and girl who want to get married must have their
dates of birth compared and consult with a diviner who interprets their
future in a ritual using chicken legs to see if they are a compatible
match. During the course of the marriage ceremony, the Dao have the
custom of stretching a piece of string in
front of the procession, or exchanging songs between the
couple’s families before entering the house. When the bride comes to the
groom’s house, she is carried on his back, and she must step over a
pair of blessed scissors when crossing the threshold into the husband’s
Funerals: A men called thay tao plays an
important role in the funeral. When there is a death in the family, the
deceased’s children will have to invite him to supervise the rituals and
fine a piece of land for the grave. Care is taken so that the corpse
will not be laid out at the same time someone in the family has been
born. The deceased, who may be wrapped in a mat, is placed in the coffin
inside the home. Then it is carried to the grave. The grave is built of
earth and lined with stones. In some Dao areas, the body is cremated if
the deceased is older than 12 years old of age. Funeral rituals
celebrated to ensure that the deceased rests in peace may take place
mane years after the burial. The ceremony usually coincides with
initiation rites (cap sac) for a Dao man of the family. The
celebration takes place over the course of three days. The first day
liberates the spirit of the deceased, and is likened to a break from
jail. On the second day, the deceased is worshiped in the house. Then, on the last day, the man’s initiation
rite takes. At this point, a particular rite returns the deceased’s
spirit to its homeland, Duong Chau.
Building a New House:
the age of different members of the family must be considered before a
new house is built. This is especially true in the case of the age of
the head of the household. The Dao ritual for selecting the land for a
new house is considered very important. It takes place at night and
involves digging a hole as big as a bowl, arranging grains of rice to
represent people, cows, buffaloes, money, rice, and property. And this
is placed into the bowl. Based on the dreams that follow in the night,
the family will know whether it is good to build the house. The next
morning, the family inspects the hole to see if the rice remains and if
it is possible to build the house.
Beliefs: Dao religious beliefs include traditional
practices and agricultural rituals mixed with elements of Confucianism,
Buddhism and Taoism. Ban vuong is considered the earliest
ancestor of the Dao people, so he is worshiped together with the
ancestors of the family. In Dao tradition, all grown-up men must pass an
initiation rite, cap sac, which expresses the traits of Taoism and the
Calendar: Dao people use the lunar calendar for all of
Education: In most wards, people know Han nom (Chinese)
characters and the Dao language. Instruction is necessary for reading
the ritual texts, folktales and poems.
Artistic activities: The Dao have a rich folk
literature and arts with old stories, songs and verse. The Gourd and
the Flood Disaster and the Legend of Ban vuong are
particularly popular Dao stories. Dancing and music are performed mostly
in religious rituals.
Games: Dao people like playing swings, spinning top,
and walking on stilts.