The Lo Lo number just over 3,000 and their language is closest to Burmese within the Tibeto – Burmese family. They live in Dong Van and Meo Vac in Ha Giang Province, Bao Lac in Cao Bang Province and Muong Khuong in Lao Cai Province. They lived in tight-knit communities where ancestor worship is very important. They use charcoal to draw the faces on statues of deceased family members which are placed near the family altar.
They divide into two sub-sections, the Black Lo Lo and the Flower Lo Lo who actually live in Meo Vac and have 4,000 sewn triangles on their traditional costume.
The kettledrum is a traditional instrument. Legend says that god saved two siblings from the floods by putting them into a drum which floated. They subsequently married and were the first of the Lo Lo tribe.
The Lo Lo are farmers, growing rice and maize to create income. They use both wet fields and terraceswith sticky rice and corn flour made from their production. They also raise cattle as a good potential source of income.
Goods are carried in bamboo baskets on the back with children helping out as well if parents are otherwise engaged or away for any reason.
Women often wear a low-neck vest and a pair of trousers under a short skirt. Men wear pajama-style trousers and a square necked vest.There is plenty of colour in their turbans, vests, skirts, and trousers. They create lovely patterns in their weaves.
Their villages have between 20 and 25 houses, built either on stilts or the ground and generally near a source of water. The Thau Chu is the leader of the village, responsible for ceremonies and the preservation of customs.
They are monogamouswith the wife living in her husband's house after their marriage. Women follow a strict diet when pregnant and the child is named after 12 days.
Their calendar divides the year into 11 months, each called the name of an animal. Their folkloreis expressed in dances, songs, and old tales. The Lo Lo celebrate the Lunar New Year along with other Vietnamese and the Chinese. In addition, there is the New Rice Festival, the Double Five Festival held on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, and the 5th July Festival.
Many Lo Lo are actually university graduates with more having finished secondary education. They actually had a written language back in the 17th Century using picture images but few can read the ‘’script’’ these days.
Art & Play
Bronze drums are used for special occasions and buried in the earth for maintenance. The head of each family is responsible for their drums. They are especially important at funerals when their sound helps the deceased spirit reach ancestors. Two drums are placed on a shelf at the feet of the deceased and played using drumsticks. Only single men and men whose wives are not pregnant are allowed to play them during the ceremony.