Name of ethnic group: Lao (Lao Boc and Lao Noi)

Population: 11,611 people (Year 1999)

Locality: Concentrated in Dien Bien City (Dien Bien Province); Phong Tho and Than Uyen districts (Lai Chau Province); Song Ma District (Son La Province).

Customs and habits: The Lao worship their ancestors and are influenced by Buddhism. The Lao often take the family names of Lo, Luong, or Vi. Children take the family name of their father. When a person dies, a funeral ceremony and burial are carefully organized. Cremation occurs only if the deceased is the chief of a “muong” or a “ban” (village).

Culture: The Lao language belongs to the Tay-Thai Group. The “mo lam” (sorcerers) of Lao culture are very good at writing and narrating ancient tales and folk songs. Lao folklore and its legacy is heavily influenced by Thai culture. The “lam vong” (Lao folk dance) are always performed during festivals and ceremonies.

Costumes: Women wear black skirts that are knotted at the front and come up to their chests. The hems are usually decorated with two bands of embroidered motifs in different colors. Lao men used to have a Han script and an animal tattooed on their wrist and thighs.

Economy: The Lao primarily grow rice in submerged fields using advanced techniques such as ploughing, harrowing, and irrigating. Additional family income is generated through weaving, blacksmithing, pottery, and silver production.

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