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The Muong people’s thread tying around their wrists rituals

In the early days of the new year, when we had the opportunity to return to the Muong people in Ngoc Dong commune, Yen Lap district, and enjoy the familiar sounds of gongs resounding throughout the Muong villages, we experienced the unique and customary culture of thread tying rituals, a beautiful cultural feature in the lives of the people.

The Muong peoples thread tying around their wrists rituals

Master Mo, craftsmen Nguyen Dinh Thuong conduct the thread tying rituals.

For many centuries, the Muong ethnic people have had numerous distinct cultural characteristics, as well as the rich and distinctive traditional values associated with ethnic minority locations. According to the locals, the thread tying rituals stems from daily life, living, labor, and production. People are always fighting against natural laws, thus they must create a spiritual fulcrum as a source of comfort in order to be more positive in their lives.

We visited the home of craftsman Nguyen Dinh Thuong, better known as the village’s Master Mo, who has spent more than half of his life dedicated to his people’s folk cultural values. Mr. Thuong greeted us as we came home from a morning of celebrating the lifespan of people in the hamlet, next to a pot of steaming tea, saying: "To comprehend the custom of thread tying around one’s wrist rituals, we must first grasp the Muong people’s idea and lifestyle, customs, traditions, and, most importantly, their spiritual world. Muong people have a very unique notion about people, which is the soul. Boys have seven souls, females have nine souls, and tying a thread around the wrist is a means to keep the soul and send it, hoping for good things.

The Muong peoples thread tying around their wrists rituals

The thread is made up of threads of various hues.

The Muong peoples thread tying around their wrists rituals

The Muong people’s thread tying around their wrists rituals occurs on a regular basis throughout the year, particularly on events such as celebrating Spring’s first birthday, the first full month of children, and other distinct spiritual connotations. For elderly people, tying threads around their wrists at the start of the new year, particularly those aged 60 and over, indicates a hope for longevity and a prayer for good health in old age. Tying threads around the wrist is also a means to wish each other a good new year, happiness, luck, peace, success in business, and harmony among children, grandkids, and brothers. For individuals who have just been unwell, tying thread around their wrists in the expectation that their health will soon improve, everything will proceed smoothly in the manner known as “keeping the soul” by the Muong people. Young children’s wrists are knotted to wish them good health, rapid development, and academic success. For elderly people, tying threads around their wrists at the start of the new year, particularly those aged 60 and over, indicates a hope for longevity and a prayer for good health in old age. Tying threads around the wrist is also a means to wish each other a good new year, happiness, luck, peace, success in business, and harmony among children, grandkids, and brothers. Everyone is overjoyed and pleased because the individual whose wrist is bound appears to have gained spiritual strength and good fortune.

The wrist tie is formed of multiple threads in many colors, including red, white, blue, and yellow, which represent the colors of the sky, earth, trees, and people. Master Mo performs the thread-tying ritual. The threads, which are roughly a hand long, are arranged in a dish beside betel leaves and areca nuts. Before tying the thread to the wrist, Master Mo will execute the ritual and say the prayer, after which he will place the thread on each person’s wrist, after the prayer concludes. This is also the point at which the thread has stopped wearing, and individuals will never remove or cut off the wrist thread until it breaks naturally. The homeowner first, then the younger members of the family, and finally the family descendants. To thank Master Mo, the homeowner also tied a thread on his wrist.

The Muong peoples thread tying around their wrists rituals

The custom of tying threads on the wrist is not complicated or expensive; it is simply a ritual of praying for peace for the people here since the beginning of the world and is still practiced today, serving as a spiritual fulcrum to help people stay strong and have more confidence in life, as well as to pray for health, peace, and luck for the village.

This is a cultural beauty that must be conserved and fostered, as it contributes to improving the spiritual life of the Muong people, fostering communal cohesiveness, and strengthening the tie between brothers and sisters, as well as the love of the village.

Thu Huong


Thu Huong

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