Situated at the foot of Ba Vi Mountain in Yen Son hamlet, Ba Vi commune, Ba Vi district, the Dao ethnic community has, for many years, preserved and promoted their traditional cultural values and contributed to the capital's culture.

Conscious efforts to preserve traditional culture

At present, all of the children in the region know how to speak the Dao language. According to Duong Ngoc Nga, a 12 year-old girl, "All of us can speak our ethnic language because during meals, our entire family uses the Dao language to communicate. We also often participate in traditional festivals and weddings, so we are aware of our ethnic customs. We like the coming of age ceremony and the 'making beo' ritual (part of the coming of age ritual)."

Mr. Trieu Phu Duc teaches his grandchild the Dao script. 

Yen Son hamlet's village head Ly Thi Lan added, "During year-end celebrations, the Dao people often organize this festival. The Dao people in Yen Son are conscious of preserving their cultural values. However, some backwards customs related to marriage ceremonies, such as the requirement for the groom's family to fully serve and offer gifts, have been abolished. Thanks to this, the villagers live in close proximity, understanding each other, and find it easy to settle conflicts and disagreement."

To better understand the culture of the Dao people here, we visited Mr. Trieu Phu Duc's house, one of the few who can still read the ancient Dao script. Mr. Duc expressed his regret, "In the past, every family had books written in the Dao script, and many people could read them. But today, the number of people who can read the ancient Dao script is very small. I cannot read much either. I do not understand many words, and I cannot read fluently. There are still many books, and knowing the script would help us learn more about our people. It is a pity that the Dao people do not have a school to teach the Dao script."

Developing economy from traditional cultural values

For the Dao people in Ba Vi Mountain, their cultural values are a source of not only pride for their ethnicity and traditional beauty, but also economic benefits. Many families have escaped from poverty, and some have even become prosperous thanks to tradition medicines.

Former Chairwoman of the Traditional Medicine Association in Ba Vi commune Trieu Thi Bich Hoa told that according to the State's policy, the Dao people went to live down the hill and that was the start of significant changes in the customs and life of the Dao people. The 1990s were a difficult period because many people did not believe in the usefulness of Dao people's traditional medicines. Mrs. Hoa established the Traditional Medicine Association in Ba Vi commune. In 2014, she proposed turning Yen Son into a craft village to the local authority and made utmost effort to collect data from 170 households engaged in traditional medicine making in the hamlet to create a portfolio. Thanks to these endeavors, the Dao people's Ba Vi traditional medicines has been better known. Many people have come to buy the traditional medicines, meaning that the residents' life here would gradually improved. Mr. Trieu Phu Duc recalled, "Since my grandparents' time, traditional medicines have been commodity. The Dao people used to take traditional medicines to the Central region to sell. Therefore, many people developed more valuable remedies and enriched the reputation of the Dao people's traditional medicines."

Dr. Ngo Kieu Oanh, a scientist from the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, is well-versed in the Nam traditional medicine trade of the Dao people. She used to speak with them and introduced scientists to the Dao people. She invested in the establishment of the Ba Vi rural farm with the desire to transform the area into a health care center. Dr. Ngo Kieu Oanh said, "Scientists are intrigued by the traditional medicine leaves of the Dao people in Ba Vi because there's a large community here, around 2,000 people. They've retained knowledge within the community and shared it to create medicines. They also understand how to do business from the medicines."

Translated by Trung Thanh