Unique Traditional Costumes of Red Dao People

Made with love of their culture, Red Dao women create their own unique cosumes featuring in intricate, striking patterns.
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Red Dao women stand out in traditional costumes. (Photo: Nam Suong/VNA)
Red Dao women stand out in traditional costumes. Photo: VNA

The country of Vietnam has 54 ethnic groups, each ethnic group has its own nuances with unique values both in terms of customs and traditions, contributing to a rich and diverse cultural treasure. of the whole country.

Despite many years of cultural interchange, Vietnamese ethnic groups still retain their own cultural identity, from hierarchical relationships in the family to customs, practices, cultural beliefs, and languages.

One of the attractive cultural features of the ethnic minorities in Vietnam is the diversity and uniqueness of the traditional costumes of each ethnic group, including the costumes of the Red Dao ethnic group.

The brilliant beauty on the costumes of the Red Dao women is always an impressive and unforgettable image to travelers around the world.

Art of decorating traditional costumes of the Red Dao people

In 2020, the art of decorating on traditional costumes of the Red Dao people in Na Hang, Lam Binh, Chiem Hoa, Ham Yen and Son Duong districts (Tuyen Quang province) has been recognized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism as the national intangible cultural heritage.

The art of decorating on traditional costumes of the Red Dao people in Tuyen Quang has a long history. In the villages where the Red Dao people live, women still make costumes for themselves and for their family members.

Red Dao women in Na Mo village, Na Hang town. Photo: BaoTuyenQuang
Red Dao women in Na Mo village, Na Hang town. Photo: BaoTuyenQuang

The Dao ethnic group in Tuyen Quang currently has nearly 91,000 people, of which the Red Dao live mainly in Son Phu, Sinh Long, Nang Kha communes (Na Hang district) and Tho Binh commune (Lam Binh district).

For the Red Dao, dress is one of the first important details to recognize and distinguish between one ethnic group and another. With the sophistication in dress, Red Dao women create their own unique features in the decoration of costumes, which cannot be confused with any other ethnic group.

Red Dao girls at the age of nine and ten were taught to sew and embroider to make their own beautiful costumes.

Special features of Red Dao people's costumes

Traditional costumes of Red Dao women include tops, pants, headscarves, belts and other accessories.

Unique decorative motifs and jewelry on the costumes of Red Dao women. Photo: VNA
Unique decorative motifs and jewelry on the costumes of Red Dao women. Photo: VNA

Each outfit has 5 basic colors: red, blue, white, yellow, black. Obviously, red is the main color for the Red Dao people. According to their beliefs, red color brings happiness, luck, fullness and creates positive energy for their community.

The traditional costume of the Red Dao women is decorated with many beautiful and rich patterns with the basic colors being indigo, red and white. On raw indigo fabric along with the technique of creating patterns from embroidery and assembling jewelry, the Red Dao woman demonstrates ingenuity and sophistication in rich and diverse motifs.

The motifs are decorated very delicately, the layout is tight, the colors are brilliant and have their own characteristics.

It takes 1 year to complete a Red Dao ethnic costume, slow people take 1-2 years. It is the meticulousness in the making that creates a distinct identity of the Red Dao ethnic costume that cannot be mixed with any other ethnic group.
Unique Traditional Costumes of Red Dao People
Unique decorative motifs and jewelry on the costumes of Red Dao women. Photo: VNA

Head scarf is one of the indispensable points of Red Dao women. The scarf is decorated with many motifs with white, blue, yellow and red thread all over the scarf.

When worn on the head, the patterns will show off a vibrant, beautiful of the scarf.

Dao women usually only wear black or indigo ao dai. They embroidered decorative motifs with red thread to tie the neckline to the chest of the shirt.

In particular, the two ends of the chest brace are studded with colorful red beads and tassels. Red Dao women embroider on their clothes familiar and close-to-life images such as flowers, trees, forests, and animals. Therefore, each outfit is different in pattern, embroiderers always try to delicately arrange in the use of colors and layout so that it is harmonious and bright.

Unique Traditional Costumes of Red Dao People
Photo: VOV

Red Dao women's pants are usually pure black, without patterns, but at the bottom, the patterns are embroidered very sophisticatedly. The decorative patterns on the two legs are usually squares, red, yellow, white rectangles or pine trees to create a harmonious balance for the whole outfit.

The costumes of the Red Dao people in each locality are basically the same, but there are also differences that create the richness and diversity in the colors of Dao culture. In it, there is a difference in the way of wearing, wearing a headscarf and adding and removing details.

Typically, the Red Dao people's costumes in some places often have a string of red round cotton balls hanging in front of their chest.

The number and size depends on the concept of each region. If in Hung My and Phuc Son (Chiem Hoa) there are 9 large cotton balls, in Son Phu (Na Hang district) there are 11 cotton balls, smaller in size. The costumes of the Dao people in Bach Xa, Tan Thanh, and Minh Khuong (Ham Yen) only have red tassels around the chest hem.

The costumes of the Red Dao men are simpler, with only a head scarf, a short shirt and pants.

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