Co Lao ethnic group
Name of ethnic group: Co Lao (Ke Lao). Population: 1,865 people (Year 1999). Locality: Dong Van and Hoang Su Phi districts in Ha Giang Province.
Customs and habits
Each village has about 15 to 20 households. The Co Lao houses are built level with the ground. A patriarchal system has been adopted. During pregnancy, Co Lao women observe strict abstinence to facilitate delivery and to give healthy babies. In Dong Van District, people incinerate the placentas of new born babies. Three days and nights after their birth, male babies are baptized by their parents.
The Co Lao language belongs to the Kadai Group. Ceremonies and festivals are held on the 3rd day of the 3rd lunar month, the 5th day of the 5th lunar month, the 15th day of the 7th lunar month, and the 9th day of the 9th lunar month. The Lunar New Year Festival is the biggest festival of the year.
Men wear trousers like many other ethnic groups around the northern borders. Women also wear trousers and a five-panel dress running below the knees. The dress buttons under the left armpit and is decorated with bands of different coloured cloth that are attached to the chest from the middle to the right armpit along a fringed slit.
The Co Lao practice terraced farming and grow maize in mountain rock hollows. Basketry and woodwork are popular handicrafts that are produced by this group. The Co Lao are also known for their bamboo mats, lattices, large winnowing baskets, panniers, tables, chairs, and horse saddles.