Name of Ethnic Group: Si La (Cu
Population: About 600
Locality: Lai Chau
Customs and Habits: The Si La
live in houses built level to the ground. The kitchen is usually placed
at the centre of the house. Relationships between the members of a lineage
are very close. The head of a lineage is usually the oldest man who
plays an important role in the village. He also acts as a leader in
charge of internal affairs, and especially during worship. The "mo"
(sorcerers) are well respected. The Si La wedding ceremony is celebrated
in two stages with one year passing in between the stages. The
family of the groom must hand wedding presents to the bride's family
prior to meeting the bride and bringing her home.
The burial ground of the dead occupies a plot at the end of the
village. Graves of members of the same lineages are grouped together.
The Si La often build the funeral house for the dead first, then dig
the grave for the house. The coffin is made from a hollowed tree trunk.
When a person dies, the Si La organize different kinds of ceremonies.
They never clean the graves or exhume the dead's remains, but they maintain
the custom of mourning their parents for three years. The Si La also
worship their ancestors and the spirits of the village.
Culture: The Si La language belongs
to the Tibeto-Burman Group.
Costumes: The attire
of women is quite unique. The upper part of their dresses are different
colors and decorated with silver and tin coins. Their headgear varies
according to age. When travelling, they always carry a woven handbag
with red fringes attached to the hems of the handbag. In the past, men
have painted their teeth red and women have painted theirs black. This
custom is no longer observed by the young people.
Economy: The main
forms of income are rice and corn cultivation. Hunting and gathering
are also a significant part of the life of the Si La.