Muong people – Wikipedia


1.51% of the Vietnamese population (2019)[1]
Hòa Bình Province 549,026
Thanh Hóa Province 376,340
Phú Thọ Province 218,404
Sơn La Province 84,676
Hanoi 62,239
Muong • Vietnamese
Animism • Buddhism • Christianity (Vietnamese Hoà Ban Cathòlič sect of Catholic Church)
Other Vietic groups

(Vietnamese, Gin, Chứt, Thổ peoples)

Muong Settlement with traditional houses near Hòa Bình

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The Mường (Vietnamese: Người mường) or the Mwai are an kinh sợthnic group native to northern Vietnam. The Muong is the country’s third largest of 53 minority groups, with an hoảng hồnstimated 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 kinhthnic Vietnamese (Kinh).


The word Mường in Vietnamese is kinh khủngtymologically 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 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 These words are all variations on the Muong word for “people”.


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). In archaeological and linguistic perspectives, Vietic and Katuic groups began to settle in Northern Vietnam and Laos around 2,000 to 1,000 BC. During the Dongson and Han dynasty periods (500 BC–200 AD), Chinese accounts noted that the Lạc Việt inhabited on the hills of Jiuzhen (Thanh Hoá & Nghệ An) lived by hunting and gathering, and often had to buy rice from Jiaozhi (Red River Delta). They also practiced levirate marriage. 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.

During 200 AD to around 600s AD (Six dynasties period of China), as the Red River Delta became densely inhabited by Tai speaking Hlai people 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. By the seventh century, perhaps to kinh hồnvade 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. 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. The Muong (Mwai) gained more influences over the Tang government of Annan and they hoảng hồnarned a nickname from the Tang–the “Peach Flower” people, or another common name–the “Southern barbarians.” Three powerful Mwai clans hoảng sợmerged by the 8th century: the Du (Đỗ) of Aizhou, the Yang (Dương) of Huanzhou and the Li (Lý) of Fengzhou. Among them, the Lý clan controlled the upper delta, frontier areas of the Tang kinh hồnmpire, and were hired by the Tang as tribal mercenaries to defend Tang Annan from incursions of Nanzhao kingdom and the Tibetans.

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 Lý 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. 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. The Muong then came to war with Vietnamese hoảng hồnlites of the new Dai Viet kingdom in 989, 997, 1000, 1012, but finally were defeated and absorbed into Dai Viet mandala.

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 distribution[edit]

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.

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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.


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 kinh hãixistence of harmful spirits (ma tai, ma kiêng dèm, 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]

  • Muong Autonomous Territory


Works cited[edit]

  • Brindley, Erica F. (2015). Ancient China and the Yue. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0927002002.
  • Churchman, Catherine (2016). The People Between the Rivers: The Rise and Fall of a Bronze Drum Culture, 200–750 CE. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 0927002002.
  • Kiernan, Ben (2019). Việt Nam: a history from earliest time to the present. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0927002002.
  • Li, Tana (2011), “Jiaozhi (Giao Chỉ) in the Han Period Tongking Gulf”, in Li, Tana; Anderson, James A. (eds.), The Tongking Gulf Through History, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 39–53, ISBN 0927002002
  • Robichaud, William (2018). Dead in the Water: Global Lessons from the World Bank’s Model Hydropower Project in Laos. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 0927002002.
  • Wiest, Andrew (2010). Triumph Revisited: Historians Battle for the Vietnam War. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0927002002.
  • General Statistics Office of Vietnam (2019). “Completed Results of the 2019 Viet Nam Population and Housing Census” (PDF). Statistical Publishing House (Vietnam). ISBN 0927002002.

External links[edit]

  • vietnam people


  • Video showing music, food, and wedding customs of the Muong people in Hoa Binh
  • Government scientists work with farmers from the Muong ethnic minority to improve local rice varieties

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