The Ethnic Minority Markets in Ha Giang Province
Ha Giang Province is home to 17 different ethnic minorities, including Tay, Dao (Yao), White Hmong, and Black Lolo. These groups intermingle weekly at regional markets, resulting in a colorful display of traditional ethnic dress and commerce. Livestock, meat, vegetables, herbs, clothing, corn, and rice wine are bought and sold. The majority of the sales are negotiated by women, though men typically tend to the livestock. We visited the Meo Vac Sunday Market and the Bao Lac Market. Witnessing the market scenes felt like entering a parallel universe. Unlike so many other places, it’s not contrived or set up for tourists. It’s real.
In Meo Vac, White Hmong men, women and children enthusiastically shop for clothing, drink rice wine, smoke out of bamboo pipes, and sell livestock. Dressed in vibrantly patterned skirts, pants, and sequin-decorated tops, White Hmong women shimmer as they walk. Boys carry their purchased chickens upside down. Men lead pigs and cows through the packed streets. Buyers evaluate raw meat with a poking technique. Inside the covered market area, noodle soups are prepared and devoured.
At the smaller Bao Lac market, Black Lolo, Dao (Yao), Tay and White Hmong come together every six days based on the lunar calendar to buy and sell their home-grown food.
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