Alcohol in Tay ethnic culture in the Northeast of Vietnam

Author: Nguyen Hoa (Thai Nguyen University of Education, Vietnam)
Speaker: Nguyen Hoa
Topic: Language, Community, Ethnicity
CALA 2020 Poster Session


Alcohol represents a highly familiar beverage in the culinary culture of many ethnic groups and nations, very much so in the lives of the Tay people. Ethnic group practices symbolize their own characteristics as well as those of national and other cultures. Tay people (also Tho people) are the second largest ethnic group in Vietnam (after the Kinh) and first as a Vietnanese ethnic minority. Tay people live in all provinces but mainly in the Northeast mountainous areas (Ha Giang, Cao Bang, Tuyen Quang, Thai Nguyen, Bac Kan, Lang Son) with 67.65% (based on Vietnam Population and Housing Census 2009). In the life of the Tay, especially those in the Northeast of Vietnam, alcohol represents a special culture, and has been closely attached to ethnic life.

This paper aims to discuss research on alcohol and drink anthropologies of Tay ethnic groups located in the Northeast of Vietnam. The author exposes the characteristics of both material and spiritual cultures, and compares traditional and current wine culture, so to assess the shifts in Tay ethnic culture. The study focuses on fieldwork and exploration of alcohol culture in Tay culture in mountainous provinces of Northeast Vietnam. The author uses historical methods rhetorical methods, interdisciplinary research methods (synthesis, statistics, analysis, comparison), and ethnographic methods, so to conduct data collection and to implement research.

The article clarifies conceptions of the production and consumption of alcohol in food, in rituals, and in traditional activities of the Tay people in the northeastern region of Vietnam, in the past and in the present. The results inform the uniqueness of culture of the Tay ethnic group in Vietnam in general and in the Northeast mountainous regions in particular.
The study can contribute to further study of cultural features of Tay people and to a comparative study of cultures, so to investigate the anthropology of alcohol or of other races. The results also inform the education of traditional values, patriotism, national pride and the sense of preserving traditional ethnic cultures in the globalization trend.

Keywords: Alcohol, Tay, Tay ethnic culture, Northeast of Vietnam