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Tày people

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Title: Tày people  
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Tày people

Tay women
Total population
1.5 million
Regions with significant populations
Northern Vietnam: Cao Bằng, Lạng Sơn, Bắc Kạn, Thái Nguyên, Quảng Ninh, Bắc Ninh, Bắc Giang Provinces
Animism, Buddhism, Taoism[1]

The Tày people speak a language of the Central Tai language group, and live in northern Vietnam. They are sometimes also called Thô, T'o, Tai Tho, Ngan, Phen, Thu Lao, or Pa Di.

There are about 1.5 million Tày people living in Vietnam. This makes them the second largest ethnic group in Vietnam after the majority Viet ethnic group. Most are in northern Vietnam in particular in the Cao Bằng, Lạng Sơn, Bắc Kạn, Thái Nguyên, and Quảng Ninh Provinces, where they live along the valleys and the lower slopes of the mountains. They also live in some regions of the Bắc Ninh and Bắc Giang provinces. They inhabit the fertile plains and are generally agriculturalists, mainly cultivating rice. They also cultivate maize, and sweet potato among other things.

Tày villages are usually based at the feet of mountains and are often named after a mountain, field or river. Each village has about 15-20 households.

The Tày are closely related to the Nùng and the Zhuang on the Chinese side of the Vietnamese-Chinese border.

It is common for Tày woman to wear skirts or sarongs which go down to the knee, and are split up the right side with five buttons along the armpit and narrow sleeves.

Tày songs include the "Lượn", which is a kind of duet between lovers and a kind of poem.


The majority adhere to ancestor and spirit worship. An altar for the ancestors is usually placed in a central location in the house. The altar room is considered sacred; guests and women who have given birth are not allowed to sit on the bed in front of the altar.

Nominally, animism is the most popular practice, but recently most Tay people practice Mahayana Buddhism in combination with Taoism, under influenced of Vietnamese and Chinese culture.[1]


The Tay people speak the Tày language, among other Tai dialects. Literacy in their own language is quite low among Tày people, probably around 5% or less. Dialects include Central Tày, Eastern Tày, Southern Tày, Northern Tày, Tày Trung Khanh, Thu Lao, and Tày Bao Lac. There is a continuum of dialects to southern Zhuang in China.

Notable Tày people

  • Hoàng Văn Thụ, General Secretary of the Indochina Communist Party.
  • Nông Ðức Mạnh, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam from April 22, 2001 to January 19, 2011.
  • Hoàng Đức Triều, pen name An Định, a communist and poet, who worked with Ho Chi Minh.
  • Lê Thế Khanh is seemed to be the first poet written in Chinese language in Vietnam with the poem "Cố Hương Từ".
  • Bế Văn Phụng, Tư Thiên Quản Nhạc Madarin of Mạc reign who transfer Theng music into a kind of imperial music, author of lượn "Tam Nguyên".
  • Nông Quỳnh Vân, author of lượn "Hồng Nhan Tứ Qúy".
  • Hoàng Đức Hậu, a famous poet, composing the first of two parallel line of verse that nobody can't make the second one.
  • Nông Quốc Chấn, a famous poet.
  • Nông Văn Dền, alias Kim Đồng, is one of five first unionist of Ho Chi Minh Young Pioneer Union (a children's organization of Communist Party of Vietnam).
  • Nông Văn Phách alias Vũ Lập, is one of beloved hero during the war against Cambodian. He was one of the most successor to guard the north border of Vietnam to prevent china invade. However, with his skill in battles and diplomacy, he didn't need to use force but he kept the Viet-China border clear. He died later because of illness. The whole north region of Vietnam mourning for his death.
  • La Văn Cầu, an army hero in resistant war against French colonial.
  • Bế Văn Đàn, an army hero in resistant war against French colonial.


  • Lồng tồng (literally: "Going down the rice paddy") celebrated after New Lunar Year Festival to pray for yield.
  • Tăm khảu mảu (literally: "Braying the young rice") celebrated as the rice is going to become ripe.


  • Dishes in "Slip Sli" festival (the moonday of the 7th lunar month): pẻng cuội banana cake), pẻng nhứa cáy, pẻng ngá (peanut cake), pẻng mịt, pẻng tải (literally: carrying cake)...
  • Pẻng rày (ant's egg cake): made from glutinous rice (tay language: khảu), ant's black egg (tay language: rày) and wrapped by leaves of a kind of fig (tay language: bâu ngỏa).
  • Pẻng đắng (literally: ash water cake): for Double Fifth Festival.
  • Khảu thuy: is the cake for offering God and the Earth in Lồng tồng festival. Glutinuous rice which is soaked in water of common water hyacinth and red flower- sandbox tree ash is mixed with taro and a kind of wine. Then, it is boiled and brayed. The next step is that it is cut into square-shaped or canarium fruit-shaped pieces and dried in the sun later. When the festival is going to come, it is fried until it is swelled. At last, it is soaked in molasses and then in fried-rice powder.
  • Nà Giàng khảu sli: the glutinous cake with peanuts made in Nà Giàng, Phù Ngọc commune, Hà Quảng district, Cao Bằng province.
  • Pẻng hó: glutinous rice cake with pork and mung bean.
  • Coóng phù
  • Pẻng khạ (God's cake) for New Year festival.
  • Khảu nua nàng tô: glutinous rice with grub for New Rice Festival on the moonday of 8th lunar month.
  • Pẻng phạ: for Lồng Tồng Festival.
  • Áp chao
  • Pẻng chì
  • Khảu slec
  • Pẻng khua (smile cake)
  • Coóc mò
  • Ửng sệch phàn
  • Đăm đeng
  • Khảu lang
  • Pẻng toóc: for New Year Festival
  • Pẻng cao
  • Mác lịch: Trùng Khánh chestnut
  • Ché khôm: Cao Bằng bitter tea: Ilex Kaushue S.Y.Hu. of Aquifoliaceae family.
  • Khau rả: Ampelopsis cantoniensis


  • Mác mật: Clausena Excavata sp.



External links

  • A research on Tay people written by Le Minh Giang- filetype:pdf
  • Lồng tồng Festival
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