The Dao add cultural colors, flavors to northern mountains

 The Dao Thanh Phan ethnic minority community in Quang Ninh has unique cultural practices including highly colorful traditional attires that brighten up a northern mountainous district.

Binh Lieu is a mountainous district in the northern province of Quang Ninh that is populated mostly by ethnic minority communities including the Tay, Dao and Thai.

The Dao Thanh Phan community mainly lives in remote mountainous villages like Song Mooc A, Song Mooc B, Phat Chi and Khe Tien.

A very distinctive part of their attire is a box like headwear that is covered with a very colorful scarf and kept in place with a string that is tied below the chin. Married women shave their heads and eyebrows and cover their teeth with gold.

One interesting fact about their colorful attire that is dominated by red shades is the Dao believe they help keep wild beasts at bay.

A woman talks on her mobile phone.

Modern intrusions haven't changed the lives and customs of the Dao people much. Instead, their almost unchanged lifestyle has added to the local natural attractions like terraced rice fields.

Their traditional yellow mud houses with the yin-yang tiled roofs are always built near rice fields and water sources to facilitate their work on the farm and at home.

The Dao Thanh Phan hold their most important annual traditional festival on the fourth day of the fourth lunar month. The festival's traditional practices are designed to keep away wild animals, thwart natural disasters and pray for prosperity and bumper crops. These days, some shopping expeditions have become part of the festival activities.

Almost every Dao woman, old and young, is adept at embroidery. Before getting married, the Dao women embroider their wedding dresses by hand and also make dresses for their mother-in-law.

In October-November, their terraced fields enter the harvest season, and are a beautiful sight along the border road at Song Mooc Village in Dong Van Commune, about 30 km from downtown Binh Lieu. The Dao work on their rice fields from dawn to dusk.

Given the terrain, they only plant and harvest one rice crop a year. In recent years, Binh Lieu has become a tourist destination in northern Vietnam during the rice harvest season.

After the full moon of the 12th lunar month, the Dao start celebrating their Lunar New Year, an event that is catching the interest of an increasing number of both domestic and international visitors.

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