The Bo Y live in the mountains. Their houses have three rooms and a front hall. The frame of the house, which consists of 2 joists spanning a number of columns, is made wood or bamboo.
The roof is tiled. The house’s main door is in the middle and the house is connected to a kitchen through a smaller door.
Ngu Khoi Phuong, a researcher of Bo Y culture, said, “The width and length of the floor should be odd numbers, regardless of the height of the columns. A typical Bo Y house has 2 floors: the ground floor is where the people live and the second floor is for storing food.”
The wedding ceremony of the Bo Y has remained unchanged for centuries. There was once a tradition that Bo Y could only marry people of their own ethnicity. This practice has been abandoned and now young men and women are free to choose partners from different ethnic groups.
Phuong said the wedding ceremony of the Bo Y has three steps. “The first step is to ask for the hand of the bride. The groom’s family chooses the two women, who are considered the luckiest and most fertile, to ask for the permission of the bride’s family," noted Phuong.
"If the bride’s family agrees, two men from the groom’s family are sent to find out what the bride’s family asks for as wedding gifts. When giving the bride’s family the gifts they requested, the groom’s family will ask about the bride’s birthday to make sure the chosen wedding day is auspicious,” added he.
The groom will not be in the delegation to bring the bride home. Matchmakers play an important role in every Bo Y wedding. They are prestigious people, who understand Bo Y customs and can sing call-and-response melodies very well.
|Bo Y women in Ha Giang province
Phuong shared, “The groom’s family brings a pig to the bride’s family to prepare a meal for guests. The bride’s family will use a chair to block the entrance with 4 bowls of wine.
The bride’s family will ask the matchmakers to sing. If any of the groom’s delegation fails to respond, he/she will have to drink all four bowls of wine before being allowed to enter the house.”
Bo Y women wear many accessories such as necklaces and bracelets. Chu Thi Dung said there is always a bronze drum pattern on the sleeves of their clothing.
“The bronze drum should be a standout pattern. It often takes a year to make the traditional dress of a Bo Y woman, which is used in weddings or funerals,” Dung stressed.
Ha Giang province has implemented a number of projects to research and preserve the culture of the Bo Y. Elderly Bo Y people are involved in teaching Bo Y traditions to younger generations as a way to keep their culture alive.