The Cong have about
1,300 inhabitants living in Muong Te
district of Lai Chau province. A large part
of the Cong people settles along the Da
(Black) River. The Cong are also called Xam
Khong, Mang Nhe and Xa Xeng. Gong language
belongs to the Tibeto-Burman Group.
The Gong mainly cultivate burnt-over land
using traditional techniques of knives and
fire and sticks to make holes to put seeds
into the holes. Recently, they have used
hoes to hoe land and oxen or buffaloes to
draw ploughs. Apart from them, agriculture,
food gathering and fishing play a major role
in the Cong life. The Cong catch fish by
hand or by using poisonous plants.
Cong women are unfamiliar with weaving. They
grow cotton then use t to barter for cloth.
Cong men and women are skilled at making
basketry articles, particularly making
rattan mats with red dyeing.
The Cong live in houses on stilts. Each
house comprises three or four bays separated
by partitions. The central bay is reserved
for receiving guests. Only one entrance door
is opened in one end of the house and a
window in the central bay.
Each Cong lineage has a leader and its own
taboos and manner of celebrating the worship
of the ancestors, placing its altar. The
patriarchal nuclear family is the nucleus of
society. When the father dies, his eldest
son will replace his position in the family.
In the past, only Cong
men and women of the same group got married
one another. Of late, they have accepted
marriage with members of other ethnic groups
such as the Thai and Ha Nhi. According to
custom, persons of direct descent can get
married only from the seventh generation.
The man's family actively proposes marriage.
After the betrothal, the man lives in his
future wife's family for several years and
women wear their hair knotted in a chignon
on the top of their heads, which shows that
they are married. The wedding is often
celebrated when the couple has children.
Then the man must offer to the parents of
his wife pieces of silver money and a
certain amount of other cash. The woman
family must prepare dower for the bride to
bring it to her husband's house. Several
days after the wedding, the couple comes to
visit the family of the wife.
The Cong follow their own calendar. A year
has 12 months (each corresponding to an
animal) and a month has 30 days.
The Cong's ancestors belonging to the second
or third generation are worshipped. A ritual
sacrifice to the souls of the ancestors is
performed several times a year-at weddings,
after harvest, at the birth of the child or
upon the death of a relative. Like the Ha
Nhi and La Hu, every year each Cong village
holds a communal ceremony for the start of a
rice crop. Besides, several rites are also
held to pray for bumper crops and
The Cong folk arts are d Verse with smooth
melodies of alternating songs that they like
to sing at the communal ceremonies.