The Black Thai in Pu Luong Nature Reserve
Eco Travel Go Green invites all his customer to meet the Black Thai in Pu Luong and discover the essential parts of their culture including the impressive and typical waterwheels used for agriculture system. The Black Thai are living the same way since decades in Pu Luong Nature Reserve . Below , you will find some interesting informations before going there to meet them personally.
In Pu Luong Reserve Nature, there are two main ethnic minorities, the Thai (White and Black) and the H’Mong. The Thai is the most representative one in the area but they all live together in a perfect harmony.
The Thai ethnics are originally from Yunnan, China and they arrived very early in Vietnam at the beginning of the 11th century. The white Thai came first, then the black Thai. Their population is about 1 million and mostly located in the South-East of China.
The Black Thai (called Thái Đen in Vietnamese language) is an ethnic minority part of the Thai peoples. Black Thai comes from the black clothing they are usually wearing, especially women. Thai people are the 3rd largest ethnic group of the 54 recognized by Vietnamese government
The Thái Đen, during the Indochina War, mostly supported the communists. A small part of them decided to allied the French. After the defeat of Dien Bien Phu, all of them had to leave to Vientiane and finally Thailand.
The Black Thai in Pu Luong ( as in other areas ) is a male dominant culture but women play a very important role in the community. They have the responsibility to maintain the altars to deceased parents. Spirits is essential, and particularly spirit of ancestors. Wear white clothes is prohibited except for the funerals as a symbol of grief.
After the funeral but before the cremation, coins are thrown into the crowd. The dead are cremated with gold and jewelry as to provide payment for the passage on the other side. After the cremation, they sit through the ashes and sift with water to collect the melt jewelry. They finally burry the ashes. Food like a pig or fruits are usually give as an offering before to set the headstone.
Pregnant women are not allowed to assist to the funeral as they are convinced that spirits around can penetrate the foetus and reborn through him.
Family members are expected to cry and women are asked to scream loudly. To symbolize their grief, they cannot take a full shower or bath until after the funeral. They also cannot attend or organize ceremonies, such as weddings and graduations, for up to one year.
The Thái Đen use their own writing system and reject Buddhism. The Thai people, whose writing dates back to the 5th century, got diverse achievement in literature, from poetry, love songs to folk tales.
Once they had arrived, the Thais turned valleys into advantage, and made them more fertile, then grew and cultivated rice on valleys. Especially thanks to hydraulics, the Thais have achieved high productivity. They have adopted the wet rice cultivation (digging canals, consolidating banks, guiding water through obstacles, and fixing water gutters).
The Black Thai in PU Luong have designed some impressive bamboo waterwheels to develop the rice field irrigation which make the particularity of the Natural Reserve. They are now able to make two harvest a year instead of one. Even if rice and corn are the main production for daily commodities, they also produce cotton, indigo and mulberry that they use for garment making.
It is very easy to recognize the Thai women because daily they often wear a long, black dress like a Sarong. Thai women are beautifully adorned in short and colourful blouses, accented down the front with lines of silver buttons. The bell is a green coloured silk band. They wear a key chain round their waists.
The black Thai forbid themselves to wear white colour which signifies mourning. They often drink alcohol with a bamboo pipe. Women wear a scarf called pieu. The young women wear their hair in as bun or chignon, decorated with a silver coin (Dien Bien) immediately after this first wedding ceremony. They wear a red, pink, green or blue blouse.
Nowadays, ordinary rice has become the main food of the Thai, while sticky rice is still being eaten traditionally. Sticky rice is steeped in water, put in a steaming pot and put on a fire and cooked. A meal cannot go without ground chili mixed with salt and accompanied by mint, coriander leaves and onion. Boiled chicken liver, fish gut, and smoked fish (“Cheo”) could well be added to the meal. Ruminate meat should be accompanied by sauce taken from the internal organs (“Nam pia”).
Raw fish should be either cooked into salad (“Nom”) or meat-in-sauce (“Nhung”), or simply salted or sauced. The Thai enjoy food with hot, salty, acrid and buttery tastes.
They smoke with bamboo pipes, lighted by dried bamboo pieces. Before smoking, the Thai maintain their custom of hospitality by inviting others to join in, much as they would do before a meal.