Muong people

The Mường (Vietnamese: Người Mường) are an ethnic group native to northern Vietnam. The Muong is the country's third largest of 53 minority groups, with an estimated population of 1.45 million (according to the 2019 census). The Muong people inhabit the mountainous region of northern Vietnam, concentrated in Hòa Bình Province and the mountainous districts of Thanh Hóa Province. They are most closely related to the ethnic Vietnamese (Kinh).

Phụ nữ Mường xưa.jpg
Total population
1.51% of the Vietnamese population (2019)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Hòa Bình Province549,026
Thanh Hóa Province376,340
Phú Thọ Province218,404
Sơn La Province84,676
AnimismBuddhismChristianity (Vietnamese Hoà Ban Cathòlič sect of Catholic Church)
Related ethnic groups
Other Vietic groups
(Vietnamese, Gin, Chứt, Thổ peoples)
Muong Settlement with traditional houses near Hòa Bình
Smoking and drinking banana wine, Muong customs.
A musical instrument of Muong people
Muong playing gongs.


The word Mường in Vietnamese is etymologically related to the word mueang from the Tai languages, meaning "cultivated land" or "community", and referred to pre-modern semi-independent city-states or principalities in mainland Southeast Asia. This comes from their close association with the Tai peoples. The Muong call the Tai as ɲew, Nyo or Âu, while referring to themselves by various names, such as "Monglong", which means "people living in the center", to distinguish themselves from the people of the valleys and of the highlands. In Hoa Binh, They call themselves mol or moăn. In Thanh Hoa, they call themselves mon or mwanl In Phú Thọ Province, they call themselves mon or monl. Sometimes written as Mal, Mwal or Mwai. These words are all variations on the Muong word for "people".

Economic FeaturesEdit

The Muong residents primarily grow wet rice and some of them also grow corn, cassava. Breeding is attached special importance to development. The main livestock is cattle and poultries. The significant economic resources of the Muong family are exploiting products of forest including mushrooms, jew’s ear, cardamom, lac, cinnamon, honey, wood, bamboo, rattan … The typical crafts of the Muong are weaving, knitting, reeling.


The Muong epic Đẻ đất đẻ nước (Te tấc te đác) traces their ancestry to a legendary bird couple called Chim y (male bird) and Cái Ứa (female bird). During the Dongson and Han dynasty periods (500 BC–200 AD), Chinese accounts noted that the Lạc People inhabited on the hills of Jiuzhen (Thanh Hoá & Nghệ An) lived by hunting and gathering, and often had to buy rice from Lạc People in Jiaozhi (Red River Delta).[2] They also practiced levirate marriage[3]

Following Trung sisters' rebellion (39–43 AD), a certain leader named Du Yang (Đỗ Dương) of Jiuzhen revolted against the Han and joined the sisters' rebels.[4]

In archaeological and linguistic perspectives, Vietic and Katuic groups began to settle in Northern Vietnam and Laos around 2,000 to 1,000 BC.[5] During 200 AD to around 600s AD (Six dynasties period of China), as the Red River Delta became inhabited by Kra-Dai speakers[6] (Tai speakers[7][8] or both Hlai and later Tai speakers[9]) and more sinicized, the traditional Vietic realm declined to areas of Jiuzhen. In 248, a rebellion in Vietnam led by Lady Trieu of Jiuzhen against the Wu regime briefly spread into Jiaozhi before being suppressed.[10] By the seventh century, perhaps to evade pressures from the Khmers in the southwest, the migrating Tai in the northwest, and the Tang Empire in the northeast, Vietic groups began migrating northward to the Red River Delta, including the Muong.[11] Vietic settlers in lower delta were known as the Kinh people who were influenced by Chinese culture, opposed to the intact Vietic Muong in the hills of upper delta.

In the 850s, frustrated by Chinese governor Li Zhou's abuses on hill populace in southern areas, the Du rebelled against the Tang. The chief of the Muong tribe, Lý Do Độc, also joined the revolt, and invited Nanzhao military. Together they sacked Annan's capital Songping (Hanoi) in 858 and 861, briefly driving the Tang out of the region. In 863, they successfully captured Annan and held it for three years, before being defeated and suppressed in 866 by Tang reinforcement led by Gao Pian.[12][13] The Tang continued to campaign against the Muong and other aboriginals in 874–879, until they voluntarily retreated in 880 that ended one-thousand years of Chinese rule in northern Vietnam.[14] The Muong then came to war with Vietnamese elites of the new Dai Viet kingdom in 989, 997, 1000, 1012, but finally were defeated and absorbed into Dai Viet mandala.[15]

The Muong are one of the 4 main groups of Vietic speakers in Vietnam, the others being the Kinh, Thổ and Chứt. Many Muong have over time intermixed with the Tho and Chut. The Nguồn, who are classified as Kinh, are sometimes believed to be the southernmost group of the Muong, who intermixed with Chut people.


The Muong speak the Muong language, a close relative of Vietnamese. Writing based on the Vietnamese alphabet appeared in the 20th century, introduced by Western scholars. The Muong aristocracy were already familiar with Chinese writing through their study of the Confucian canon.

The Muong language is mainly used in the domestic sphere of communication. Most native speakers also speak Vietnamese.

Geographic distributionEdit

The population of Mường in Vietnam was 1,452,095 according to the 2019 census, 1.51% of Vietnam's population.[1] They mostly live in the north of Vietnam, mainly in the mountainous provinces of Hòa Bình (549,026 people, comprising 64.28% of the province's population), Thanh Hóa (376,340 people, comprising 10.34% of the province's population), Phú Thọ (218,404 people, comprising 14.92% of the province's population), and Sơn La (84,676 people, comprising 6.78% of the province's population).[1] Around the city of Hoa Binh there are four large Muong population centers: Muonguang, Muongbi, Muongthang and Muongdong.


The Muong have many valuable epics (Muong language: mo), such as Te tấc te đác (meaning: Giving birth to the Earth and the Water).


The main holidays of the Muong are New Year and agrarian holidays. During the celebration of the New Year Muong people pray to the ancestors. Such prayers are also arranged on the revolutionary holidays after which the whole village treats themselves to pre-cooked dishes.


Trang phục dân tộc Mường (ảnh chụp tại Bảo tàng Dân tộc học Việt Nam)

Different Muong groups will wear different clothing styles. Some wear clothing borrowed from the Thái, while others wear clothing similar to the Vietnamese. In general, clothing for women consists of some type of tunic or robe, headscarf, and skirt. Some women in the past wore neck rings like other minorities in Northern Vietnam. Men generally wear simple tunics and pants.


Mainly, the Muonges follow Buddhism and Christianity (Catholics), often with local animistic influences. They believe in the existence of harmful spirits (ma tai, ma em, and others).

The Muong practice their traditional ethnic religion, worshiping ancestral spirits and other supernatural deities. They are primarily animists, which means that they believe that non-living objects have spirits. They also deify local heroes who have died. However, with the introduction of modern medicine, adherence to many folk beliefs has declined.

The New LifeEdit

After the August Revolution the way of life of Muong people has changed. Large families have given way to small ones. Married brothers no longer live with their parents, but in separate families.

The peasants received community allotments of 1 to 3 Mau per family and industry began to develop. Most villages have primary schools.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c General Statistics Office of Vietnam (2019). "Completed Results of the 2019 Viet Nam Population and Housing Census" (PDF). Statistical Publishing House (Vietnam). ISBN 978-604-75-1532-5.
  2. ^ Li 2011, p. 42.
  3. ^ Kiernan 2019, p. 51.
  4. ^ Brindley 2015, p. 236–237.
  5. ^ Kiernan 2019, p. 46.
  6. ^ Churchman, Michael (2011), ""The People in Between": The Li and the Lao from the Han to the Sui", in Li, Tana; Anderson, James A. (eds.), The Tongking Gulf Through History, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 67–86
  7. ^ Schliesinger, Joachim (2018b). Origin of the Tai People 6―Northern Tai-Speaking People of the Red River Delta and Their Habitat Today Volume 6 of Origin of the Tai People. Booksmango. p. p. 3-4, 22, 50, 54.
  8. ^ Chamberlain, James R. (2000). "The origin of the Sek: implications for Tai and Vietnamese history" (PDF). In Burusphat, Somsonge (ed.). Proceedings of the International Conference on Tai Studies, July 29–31, 1998. Bangkok, Thailand: Institute of Language and Culture for Rural Development, Mahidol University. p. 97, 127
  9. ^ Churchman 2016, p. 26–27.
  10. ^ Churchman 2016, p. 126–127.
  11. ^ Robichaud 2018, p. 97.
  12. ^ Kiernan 2019, p. 120–123.
  13. ^ Wiest 2010.
  14. ^ Kiernan 2019, p. 124.
  15. ^ Kiernan 2019, p. 147–150.

Works citedEdit

External linksEdit