1. Dao Ethnic Group
The Dao originated from China, they moved to Vietnam from the 12 and 13th century until to the first half of the twentieth century. Dao people usually live in the mountain slope in most of northern mountainous provinces. However, a group of white pant Dao people live in the valley, and Red Dao lives in the high mountain. Hamlets mostly scatter into five or seven rooftops. The Dao's house is very different, depending on where they live in the ground house, stilt house or a kind which is designed half of ground house and half of land house. For the production activity, upland cultivation, cultivation on ground, rock hollow and field are popular. Each area, each group has its typical cultivation, for example, the White Pants Dao, Long shirt Dao, Thanh Y Da specialize on wet field, while Red Dao specialize on cultivation of land, rock hollow. Most other Dao groups do shifting or sedentary cultivation. They raise cattle, pigs, chickens, and in the mountains and highlands they also raise goats, horses. Cultivation of cotton and weaving fabrics are popular in the Dao groups. They prefer indigo dyed cloth. Most of the villages have smithy to repair farm equipments, in many places, they also manufacture flint-lock a typical gun of their own group and cast the iron ball. Silversmith is heirloom career, they mainly manufacture jewelry.
Previously, men keep long hair with a bun in the nape or keep the long hair cap on the head top, shaved around. The different Dao groups always have the different way of wearing turban. There are two types of shirts, long sleeves and short sleeve. Dao women wear very diversely, normally wear long robes, bibs, skirts or pants. Clothes are embroidered colorful. According to Dao customs, when the family has woman giving birth, they hang the green leaves or banana flowers in front of doors to make a sign and to avoid strangers to come because they consider that bad souls will influence on child health. In wedding, there is ritual to spread the wire and antiphonary between bride and groom’s family before coming home and sing at the wedding. When groom goes to take bride, bride is carried out of her house, she must step through the rafter which is put the witchcraft into, before going to groom’s house. The Dao both believe in the primitive beliefs, agricultural rituals and deeply influences by Confucianism, Buddhism and especially Taoism is. People who build up the village are considered as Dao primitive ancestor therefore, they are worshiped together with each family’s ancestors. The Dao has rich folk art treasure, many tales, songs, poetry. Especially, the story "Gourd with Deluge", "The history of primitive ancestor" are common in the Dao ethnic group.
2. H’mong Ethnic Group
Hmong people concentrate on the high mountainous province of Cao Bang, Ha Giang, Lao Cai, Lai Chau, Son La, Tuyen Quang, Yen Bai, Thanh Hoa and Nghe An. Economy mainly depends on shifting cultivation or sedentary cultivation and terraced fields of maize, wheat, barley; additional occupations are growing flax, opium cultivation (previously), and fruit trees such as apples, pears, peaches, plums and weaving linen. The Hmong mainly raises cattle, pigs, chickens, horses. The horses are very close to each Hmong family. Markets in the Hmong areas satisfy both the need to exchange goods, and emotion and cultural activities. Hmong costumes are colorful and varied among the groups. The Hmong groups are distinguished by color and women's clothing. White Hmong women wear white dresses, shirt with a rip on chest, embroidered patterns in the sleeves, back bibs, shaved hair with a cap and wear turban with wide brim. Flower Hmong women wear indigo skirts embroidered floral motifs or printed flower by wax, with underarm rips, shoulder and chest are covered by color fabric and embroidered, keep long hair and bun hair with wig. Black Hmong women wear skirts in indigo cloth, printed patterns by wax with chest rips. Blue Hmong women wear tube skirts. When Green Hmong women have husband, they bun hair to the top of the head, with horseshoe combs and cover a turban to form into two horns.
The Hmong family respects their family, including those who have common ancestors. Each family’s typical characteristics are shown in ancestor worshipping rituals, door ghost, or midwife ghost ... People who have the same family are prohibited absolutely to get married. Emotion among people in the same family is very profoundly. Head of the whole family has prestige and is respected and believed. They follow small family under patriarchy regime. The bride who experienced ritual of “walking through the groom’s door, is regarded to belong to the husband's family. Spouses are close, always together when going to market, going to upland and visiting relatives. Wife robbing ritual is popular. For worship, in the house, there are many sacred places specialized for the worship such as a place of ancestor worship, house ghost, door ghost, kitchen ghost; many worships which do not allow strangers into the house, into the village. After mourning the ghost, they usually wear charms to get blessed. The Hmong enjoys traditional holiday in early lunar December, after this holiday, there is the Sai San festival (climbing) held from the 3rd-5th day of the holiday, this is a traditional and unique festival. Youth likes trumpet, blowing and dancing together; reed and lip trumpet are a means to exchange sentiments.
3. Pa Then Ethnic Group
The Pa Then concentrates in a number of communes in Bac Quang district, Ha Giang Province and Chiem Hoa district of Tuyen Quang Province. Economy mainly bases on upland cultivation; gathering still plays a significant role in economic life; weaving appeared for long time, their products are preferred by the surrounding groups.
Villages are concentrated along streams, valleys or in low mountainous areas; they are familiar with the stilt house, house with land ground or half of stilt house and half of land ground. Costumes are colorful, men wear blouses, indigo leaves long pant, head is wrapped long turban; women wear long skirts, shirts, bibs and turbans are designed with many patterns and red is the main color; women are interested in wearing all kinds of silver jewelry ring. They follow the monogamous family regime. People in the same family are banned strictly to get married, adultery is condemned by society, there are two kinds of living in wife’s family, one is temporary living (maximum 12 years) and permanently living, children will follow mother's surname. Rich cultural life includes singing, blowing flute and folk games.