With a population of about 1,200,000
inhabitants, the Tay is the largest group in
the community of ethnic minorities in
Vietnam. Tay language belongs to the Tay-Thai
The Tay have other names such as Tho, Ngan,
Phen, Thu Lao and Pa Di. The Tay inhabit
along the valleys and lower slopes of
mountains in Cao Bang, Lang Son. Bac Thai,
Quang Ninh provinces and in some regions of
Ha Bac province.
The Tay preserve a traditional and fairly
developed agriculture with a cultivation of
all kinds of plants including rice, maize,
sweet potato, etc.and seasonable fruit and
The Tay villages are always set up at the
foot of a mountain or along a stream and are
named after a mountain, a field or a river.
Each village contains about 15-20
households. A large village is divided into
many small hamlets. The houses are built on
stilts or level with the ground. The houses
in frontier region are called ''defense
houses" which are often protected against
interlopers by a stone wall along with a
The interior is divided into two rooms, the
front one reserves for men and the rear one
serves as women's bedroom.
The Tay clothes are generally dyed with
indigo. Women wear a below knee-length dress
split at the right side up to the armpit
with five buttons and narrow sleeves.
The Tay prefer sons to daughters.
Prescriptions in relationship between
members of the family are obviously
dictated. The couples live in harmony.
Divorce is rare. Matrilocate is no longer
Ancestor worship is the
regilious rite of the Tay. The ancestor
altar is placed in a central and grand place
of the house. Strange guests are not allowed
to sit on the bed in front of the altar.
Moreover, they ought to refrain from
stepping on a fired firewood in the
kitchener or on the later's side. Those who
are back from a funeral ceremony abstain
from watching cattle and poultry if they
have not taken a bath. After giving birth,
the women are not permitted to come near the
The Tay possess a rich traditional folklore
with all kinds of poems. songs, dances and
music. Proverbs and folksongs are numerous.
Tay folksongs have the turn (a kind of duet
between lovers). wedding songs and
The Tay are hospitable, open-familiar and
talktive. They have respect for the
same-aged people. Once they have fraternized
with other persons-they consider the laters
their next of kin.