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Culture & People


Folk Literature
Since coming into existence, Vietnamese literature has been rich in folklore and proverbs; tales that have been handed down from generation to generation, gradually becoming valuable treasures.

Folk literature grows during the processes of activity, labour, construction and struggle of the people. It is the soul and vital power of the nation. At the present time, all kinds of artistic and folk literature from each ethnic group are being collected and maintained.

The Muong ethnic group in northern Trung Bo has an epic poem called “de dat, de nuoc” (giving birth to the earth and water), whie the Thai ethnic group in the north-west has “xong chu xon xao” (seeing off and instructing the loving heart). This list could go on for quite some time.

Modern Literature
Vietnamese literary tradition has evolved through the multiple events that have marked the country’s history. New literary movements can usually be observed every ten years but in the last century, Vietnamese literature underwent several literary transitions.

A revolutionary campaign occurred at the beginning of Romanized Vietnamese literature, in an attempt to standardize its styles such as prose, poetry, and criticism. All the writings produced had one thing in common: the authors were using a powerful and flexible style to update events and trends and therefore predict social events.

For more than a half century the Vietnamese people fought two wars of resistance, and at the present time, are in a period of construction, industrialization and modernization. In this situation, in Vietnamese literature, movement and vital force currently exist.


Vietnamese clothing is very diverse. Every ethnic group in Vietnam has its own style of clothing. Festivals are the occasion for all to wear their favourite clothes. Among the ethnic Vietnamese majority, (Kinh people), traditional costumes are unique to each region.

The costumes of the Northern people: (Áo Tứ Thân)
The Ao Tu Than (Áo Tứ Thân) or "Four-flapped dress" worn by the northern women. It is a predecessor to the Áo Dài and is a four part flowing tunic, worn with a long skirt and an Ao Yem (Áo Yếm) underneath. Áo Yếm is worn by the Vietnamese women as the undergarment since the ancient time.

The costumes of the Central people: (Áo Dài)
Áo Dài is the most popular and recognised Vietnamese national costume. It was originally worn by the royal and upper-class women. It's famous for bringing out the fabulous female-body curves yet still keeps its classiness. Since then, Áo Dài has gained its popularity and become the Vietnamese national costume. Áo Dài consists of a long gown with a slit on both sides, worn over silk pants. The long gown is made from expensive soft fabrics (unique to the owner's desire) with special decorations on the gown. Many people have believed that Áo Dài is similar to the Chinese Cheongsam (Qipao); however, it's uniquely different from the Chinese Cheongsam. The Chinese Cheongsam consists of the slit on both sides, but the slit only goes up to mid-thight wheareas the slit in Áo Dài goes all the way to the waist. Besides, Áo Dài must be worn with the silk pants wheareas the Chinese Cheongsam does not.

This Vietnamese national dress is made compulsory in many high schools (& sometimes in many middle schools) and some colleges in Vietnam. Some female office workers (e.g. receptionists, secretaries, tour guides) are also required to wear Ao Dai. Sometimes, Áo Dài in the male form is sometimes wear by the Vietnamese men during wedding, funeral, or new year, etc. Owing to its popularity, the dress has become a national symbol, representing cultural values of Vietnam. Khan Dong is the popular head-wear of both Vietnamese women and men. Khan Dong is made different for both genders. It is often worn with Ao Dai (both females and males) during New Year, Wedding, or other special Vietnamese festivals.

The costumes of the Southern people: (Ao Ba Ba)
Ao Ba Ba is the popular costume that is worn by the Vietnamese Southern people, usually in brown or black.

In feudal times, there were strict dress codes. Ordinary people were not allowed to wear clothes with dyes other than black, brown or white. Monarchs had the exclusive right to wear the colour gold, nobles wore red or purple. There are also strict rules concerning the diverse types of clothing worn by royalty and aristocracy, which could change dynasty by dynasty.

In the mountain areas, people live in houses built on stilts, wear trousers or skirts and indigo vests with design motifs imitating wild flowers and beasts. In the northern uplands and the Central Highlands, the young women have made skirts and vests with beautiful and coulourful decoration in a style convenient for farm work in terraced fields and to travel on hilly slopes and mountain gorges.

In daily life, the traditional Vietnamese styles are now replaced by Western styles. Traditional clothing or costume is worn instead on special occasions, with the exception of the Ao Dai for females.

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