The Ma ethnic group and its plentiful traditional culture

Name of ethnic group: Ma (Chau Ma, Ma Xop, Ma To, Ma Krung, and Ma Ngan)

Population: 33,338 people (Year 1999)

Locality: Lam Dong Province.

Customs and habits: The Ma live in bons (villages). Each bon is comprised of five to ten elongated houses. The chief of a bon is called the quang bon. The family of a young man proposes marriage, but after the wedding the groom comes to live in his wife's house. Only when he has enough wedding presents to hand over to the bride's family can he take his wife to his house. The Ma believe in the existence of spirits in the river, the mountains, and the rice field.

Culture: The Ma language belongs to the Mon-Khmer Group. They possess a rich folklore including many ancient tales, myths, and legends. Their musical instruments consist of gongs, drums, pan-pipes with bamboo-boxes, horns, bamboo string zithers, and three-holed bamboo flutes.

Costumes: The women wear skirts that fall below their knees and the men wear loincloths. They also file their teeth, stretch their earlobes, and wear a lot of ornaments.

Economy: The Ma cultivate rice, corn, and cotton. Ma women are very skilled at cloth making. They are also very skillful at forging.


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