The Si la are also
called Cu De Xu who inhabit in three hamlets
of Seo Hay, Si Thau Chai and Nam Xin. Muong
Te district of Lai Chau province. They have
a population of about 600 persons. Si-la
language belongs to the Tibeto-Burman Group.
The Si la live on rice and corn cultivation
of burnt-over land. For some recent decades,
they have grown rice in submerged fields.
Though agriculture plays a major role,
hunting and gathering are also of
significance in the life of the Si la.
The Si la live in houses built level with
the ground. A kitchener is placed at the
central bay. Si la women's attire is quite
unique. The upper part of their dress is in
a different color from the rest and
decorated with silver and tin coins. Their
headgears vary according to age. When
traveling they always carry a woven handbag
with red fringes attached to the hems. In
the past, Si la men painted their teeth red
and women theirs black. Now this custom is
no longer observed by the Young people.
The Si la have many family lineages. All of
them refrain from eating cats. Relationship
between the members of a lineage is very
closed. The head of a lineage is the oldest
man who plays an important role among the
members and judges in charge of internal
affairs, especially the worship. In Si la
society, besides the head of the lineage,
the mo (sorcerers) are respected by all.
According to custom,
the wedding is celebrated in two stages,
with an interval of one year. At the second
rite, the family of' the groom must hand
wedding presents to the bride's family prior
meeting the bude and bringing her home.
It is also customary that the burial ground
occupies a plot at the end of the
habitation, in which the graves of the
members of the same lineages are grouped.
The Si la often build funeral house first,
then dig the grave inside of the house. The
coffin is made from hollowed tree-trunk. In
particular, when a person dies, the Si la
organize kinds of entertainment and sing
without any cries. They never clean the
graves or re-inter the dead remains but
still retain the custom of mourning for
parents in three.
The Si La celebrate many religious rituals,
the most important is the worship of the
ancestors and the genie of the village.
Abstaining is related to agriculture.
The life of the Si la is still hard. The
distance of communications, the lack of food
and clothing, the increase of diseases
(popularly goiter and malaria) and state of
being born but die at an early age, and the
existence of backwardness have made the Si
la's life more difficult. An appropriate
concern needs to be paid to the Si la group
by all levels and branches.