Women of the Lolo ethnic group or queens of the Northern mountains
- on Jan 17, 2020       By: BN
One of the smallest ethnic groups in Vietnam, the Lolo do not lack surprises to bring you during your journey in the northern regions. Also called Mun Di, Di, Man Di, La La, O man, Lu Loc Man, the Lolo live mainly in the northern provinces: Ha Giang (Dong Van and Meo Vac district), Cao Bang (Bao Lac district) and Lao Cai (Muong Khuong district).
Since they have continued for centuries to share the same land with other tribes, the bond between the Lolo and their ancestor is always tied strictly as evidenced by the traditions and their way of life today. They live from the culture of rice, corn and live in three types of houses, in the ground, on stilts and a mixture between the first two.
A home has three parts, the main one in the middle of the building used for welcoming guests, weddings and funerals. The one on the right is reserved for grandparents and parents while the one on the left is for descendants. A mezzanine, usual storage area will be available and arranged in order to possibly accommodate the guests.
The colourful Lolo women
Traditionally, they worship ancestors during the annual festivals of the 7th lunar month and the New Year. On the altar, the effigies of wood or bamboo represent the preceding generations. In addition, many of them also reserve a sacred place of memory for former President Ho Chi Minh.
Families of the same lineage gather in a village which normally has around twenty households. A man is appointed as the head of a line to ensure the continuity of the rituals. Previously, it was hieroglyphic writing that was practised among the Lolo people but it is not anymore. However, they keep their own calendar, with eleven months a year, each of which corresponds to the name of an animal.
Black Lolo women
Young people are free to get to know each other and decide who to marry. Out of respect for their beliefs, a loving couple will ask for help from two married couples whose presence is supposed to bring happiness and luck to their family life. Usually, the required offerings prepared by the young man will be brought to the uncle who is the little brother of the mother of his future spouse. Besides, tradition dictates that this uncle plays a decisive role in the distribution of property in the family. In the event of the death of one of the parents, couples are required to wait at least one year afterwards to organize the wedding ceremony.
A remarkable cultural sign of the Lolo ethnic group is a set of bronze drums which they use during important rites dedicated to ancestors and funerals. As a symbol of the soul of the people, the bronze drum makes the bridge connecting the world of the living and that of the spirits.
The Lolo are renowned for a fabulous peculiarity which owes to their traditional costume. Extremely colourful and sophisticated, it is all based on the usual Lolo outfit that we observe in two sub-groups, Black Lolo and Colourful Lolo.
Almost sober, the classic image of the man is an indigo outfit with a shirt split on both sides running up to the knees, pants and a black headdress. This dress is however much more vivid in colour during the funeral, adopting particular standards.
Full of character, the feminine outfit of the Lolo has an eloquent charm which plays on the map of colours and patchwork, highlighting geometric or natural-inspired patterns. The black Lolo women wear black round neck blouses which are vividly decorated with various patterns and inseparable from the legendary birds "Ngo Ba", a symbol of their religious life. The sleeves, quite long, are also impressive for a sumptuous marriage of colours and techniques. The colourful Lolo, meanwhile, pay particular attention to pants that are finely loaded with patterns…
Lolo's Rain Invocation Party
Each of its finesse, the traditional clothes of Black Lolo and Colourful Lolo are meticulous works, experiencing an effort of imagination and time too. In fact, a costume could take two or even three years to complete its decoration. Among the colours in play, red prevails to start and then come white, pink... In addition to the original clothes, the Lolo are also embellished by silver and aluminium jewellery.
Like their ethnic neighbours, the Lolo also have fun during the festivals which are linked to the cultural activities held during the year, namely the corn harvest, the rain invocation... Do not hesitate to come across these colourful folk events from the Lolo in Ha Giang to meet mountain queens in their most beautiful costumes.
>> Are you tempted by a visit to the inhabitants of Lolo to discover the ethnic riches of Vietnam? This is for you. A North Vietnam tour concocted by our local experts!