Name of Ethnic Group: Ha Nhi (U
Ni and Xa U Ni).
Population: About 12,500
Locality: Lai Chau
and Lao Cai Provinces.
Customs and Habits: The Ha Nhi
have adopted a sedentary lifestyle. Every year during Tet (New Year's
Day), the people of the same lineage get together to listen to an elderly
man speak about their ancestors. Young men and women are free to choose
their partners. Each marriage goes through two stages. In the first
stage, young men and women become husband and wife and take the family
name of the husband.The second stage is organized when the couple becomes
established and has a child. When a person dies, the bedroom partition
of the deceased is dismantled, as well as the altar for their ancestors.
The dead body is placed on a bed in the kitchen and a good hour and
day must be chosen for the burial ceremony.
Culture: The Ha Nhi language belongs
to the Tibet-Burman Group. The Ha Nhi possess many ancient tales and
long versed stories. Young men and women enjoy dancing. Young couples
express their love by playing leaf panpipes, lip organs and a vertical
flute. Young girls like to play "am ba" and "met du"
and young boys like to play "la khu". There are many types
of songs in Ha Nhi society such as lullabies, duet songs, wedding songs,
mourning songs, songs reserved for new houses, receiving guests, and
welcoming Tet holidays.
Costumes: The women
of Lai Chau wear a decorated dress in various raw colours. This is different
from the dress of the Lao Cai women which is only indigo in colour.
Economy: The Ha Nhi
use a slash-and-burn method of cultivation and plant on terraced fields.
Animal husbandry is well developed as well as weaving cloth and basketry