Name of ethnic group: Si La (Cu De Xu, Kha Pe). Population: 840 people (Year 1999). Locality: Lai Chau Province.
Customs and habits The
Si La live in houses built level to the ground. The kitchen is usually
placed at the centre of the house. Relationships between the members of a
lineage are very close. The head of a lineage is usually the oldest man
who plays an important role in the village. He also acts as a leader in
charge of internal affairs, and especially during worship. The “mo”
(sorcerers) is well respected. The Si La wedding ceremony is celebrated
in two stages with one year passing in between the stages. The family
of the groom must hand wedding presents to the bride's family prior to
meeting the bride and bringing her home.
The burial ground of
the dead occupies a plot at the end of the village. Graves of members of
the same lineages are grouped together. The Si La often build the
funeral house for the dead first, then dig the grave for the house. The
coffin is made from a hollowed tree trunk. When a person dies, the Si La
organize different kinds of ceremonies. They never clean the graves or
exhume the dead's remains, but they maintain the custom of mourning
their parents for three years. The Si La also worship their ancestors
and the spirits of the village.
Culture The Si La language belongs to the Tibeto-Burman Group.
attire of women is quite unique. The upper parts of their dresses are
different colors and decorated with silver and tin coins. Their headgear
varies according to age. When travelling, they always carry a woven
handbag with red fringes attached to the hems of the handbag. In the
past, men have painted their teeth red and women have painted theirs
black. This custom is no longer observed by the young people.
main forms of income are rice and corn cultivation. Hunting and
gathering are also a significant part of the life of the Si La.