Proper name: Bo Y
Other names: Chung Cha, Trong Gia.
Population: 1,420 people
Local groups: Bo Y and Tu Di
Language: The Bo Y group speaks Tay-Thai language (which belongs to the
Tai-Kadai language family while the Tu Different speak Han or Chinese
History: The first Bo Y people traveled south to
Vietnam from China about 150 years ago.
Production activities: The Bo Y people were originally
experienced in wet rice cultivation. However, since settling in the northern mountainous regions of
Vietnam, they have had to rely mainly on slash-and-burn
agriculture-primarily growing corn, their main crop. In addition, each
family usually has a vegetable garden. Apart from raising livestock and
poultry, the local people are also involved in various crafts such as
cloth weaving, black-smithing, pottery-making, stone carving, silver
engraving, plaiting and woodwork, etc.
Clothing: Formerly, Bo Y women wore full skirts like those worn by
Hmong, or ornamented with batik bee’s wax designs and dyed indigo. The
blouse is short, often having five panels with a bodice covering the
chest and abdomen. Silver ornaments
are popular, such as necklaces,
wrist chains and ear-rings. The women wear their hair wound in a chignon at the top of their head. Their
headgear is traditionally an indigo turban which or ornamented with
colorful embroidery. Nowadays, some Bo Y people have adopted the
neighboring Nung’s way of dressing. Some also wear shirts lie the Han
but with removable sleeves.
Lifestyle: The Bo Y live in Quan Ba (Ha Giang province)
and Muong Khuong (Lao Cai). They live in houses built on the ground
with a thatched, wooden or tiled roof and clay walls. The house usually
has three sections, with an extra bay for the unmarried boys or used as a
The society’s social classes are clearly defined. The upper classes
consisted of the village chief (known as Pin Thau) and his
assistant (Xeo Phai)
Marriage: There are three steps involved to organise a
Bo Y wedding:
Step 1: The boy’s family sends two female matchmakers to ask the girl’s family for her personal information, date of birth, so
tht match-making calculations can be made. The girl’s family, in
return, often shows their good-will by offering the guests 10 red
colored chicken eggs. If the boy’s family finds that the couple is
well-matched, then they will again send two matchmakers-this time male
to read the horoscope of the girl and to consult the girl’s family on
the price for an engagement ceremony.
Step 2: After the engagement ceremony, the marriage is agreed by the
boy’s and the girl’s families.
Step3: The wedding. The bride-groom’s family presents the wedding
presents to the bride’s family. Apart from food, some clothes for the
bride are also included. The bridegroom does not go to the bride’s
house; instead, the bride rides on a horse to the bridegroom, attended
by the bridegroom’s sister who walks alongside. She brings with her a
pair of scissors and a small hen, which she will release to the forest
Birth: In the past, according to local customs, the
women often sit when they deliver. They cut the baby’s umbilical cord
with a bamboo knife and the placenta is often buried right under the
bed. Three days later, a ceremony is held for the goddess, believed to
be the creator and protector of the baby, and also to nickname the baby.
Only when the child reaches two or a tree year is he or she given an
official name. It a child is ailing all the year round, a foster father
will be chosen so that the child’s spirit has a place to rest.
Funerals: Funerals reflects the sentiments of the
living towards the dead, which, according to Bo Y beliefs, will take the
deceased’s sprit back to his or her country land. Four rifle shots are
fired before the funeral, and the deceased’s feet should go first as the
coffin is carried to the grave yard. Between the deceased’s home and
the grave yard, three stops are made (if the deceased’s wife or husband
is still living) or four (if both have died). Mourning is maintained by
the family members for three years, during which time, the men are not
allowed to drink wine, the women can not wear ornaments, and boys and
girls are not allowed to get married.
Beliefs: Three incense bowls are placed on the altar,
which is dedicated to heaven, to the spirit of the heart, and to
ancestors. Under the altar, three is an incense bowl dedicated for
worshiping the land’s god. If the wife’s parents both died without a
son, the son-in-law is responsible for setting up a small altar in the
Festivals: There are many Tet occasions celebrated by
the Bo Y, such as Nguyen Dan (Lunar New Year), Ram Thang Gieng
(mid-lunar-January festival), 30th of Lunar January festival, Han Thuc,
Doan Ngo, 6th of Lunar June, mid-Lunar-July and New Rice festival, in
particular, is held on the 8th or 9th day of Lunar September, featuring
the square sticky rice cake, chay cake and colored steamed
Calendar: The Bo Y calculate the date based on the
Education: In the past, some Bo Y people still used
Chinese for writing their family annals, their ritual texts, and their
destiny accounts sheet.
Artistic activities: In the Tu Di group, the youth
often take part in exchanging songs sung at the beginning of the spring
marketplaces or at their homes. Most songs are in Chinese, accompanied
by ken la, a wind instrument made of leaves.
Games: On special occasions, the Bo Y play with swings,
Chinese chess, spinning top, and