Name of Ethnic Group: Phu La (Xa
Pho, Bo Kho Pa, Mu Di Pa, Pho, and Va Xo).
Population: Nearly 6,500
Locality: Lai Chau,
Son La, Lao Cai, and Ha Giang Provinces. The largest settlements are
in Lao Cai Province.
Customs and Habits:The Phu La
worship their ancestors and believe in animism. They live in various
villages, each village containing about 10-15 households. The house
is built very simply with three rooms and a thatched roof.
The oldest men, the village chiefs, and the lineage heads play
a significant role in managing public affairs.The young people are not
forced to marry. After an engagement the bride comes to live with her
husband's family; the wedding, however, may be held one or two years
Culture: The Pu La language belongs
to the Tibeto-Burman Group.
Costumes: Men's garments
have unique characteristic such as an open shirt with many glass beads
and figures that are arranged in a cross shape. Women's dresses are
embroidered with many colourful motifs. The women often wear square
aprons that are embroidered with motifs and attached with glass beads
sewn in parallel lines or in an eight tipped star pattern.
Economy: The Phu
La depend on farming using the slash-and-burn method and planting on
terraced fields. They rear buffaloes, horses, and pigs. Basketry is
another form of income and they are well known for their beautifully
decorated bamboo and rattan articles. The Phu La often sell or barter
articles for other commodity goods from other ethnic groups.