Muong people

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người Mường
Total population
c. 1.3 million
Regions with significant populations
 Vietnam1,268,963 (2009)[1]
Animism, Buddhism, Christianity (Vietnamese Hoà Ban Cathòlič sect of Catholic Church)
Muong Settlement with traditional houses near Hòa Bình
Smoking and drinking banana wine, Muong customs.
A musical instrument of Muong people

The Mường (Vietnamese: người Mường) are an ethnic group native to Vietnam; it is the country's third largest of 53 minority groups, with an estimated population of 1.26 million (based on the 2009 census and five years of population growth). 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). The term "muong" of Thai origin means "district, region". To emphasize their difference from the inhabitants of the valleys and highlanders, Muong call themselves "monglong", which means "people living in the center".

While the Muong are believed to be related to the Vietnamese, ethnologists have theorized that the Muong and Kinh (ethnic Vietnamese) separation happened when the proto-Vietnamese became heavily Sinicised, beginning from the 111 BC invasion by Chinese Emperor Wu of Han, while the Muong, living in the mountains, developed independently. The Muong and the Tai have had a mutual influence on each other's culture, so today the Muong are ethnically and linguistically close to the Vietnamese, but culturally and socially similar to the Tai.


The Muong speak the Muong language, a close relative of Vietnamese. Writing based on the Vietnamese alphabet appeared in the 20th century while 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 distribution[edit]

The Muonges live in the north of Vietnam, mainly in the mountainous provinces of Hoa Binh and Thanh Hoa. Around the city of Hoa Binh there are four large Muong population centers: Muonguang, Muongbi, Muongthang and Muongdong. Mainly, the Muonges settle in this area along streams and rivers.


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.


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). In the past sorcerers sometimes used fear of spirits against people with whom they had personal disputes by declaring them carriers of the spirit ma tai. Deceived peasants beat and sometimes killed innocent people.

The New Life[edit]

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 also[edit]


  1. ^ "The 2009 Vietnam Population and Housing Census: Completed Results". General Statistics Office of Vietnam: Central Population and Housing Census Steering Committee. June 2010. p. 134. Retrieved 26 November 2013.

External links[edit]