return icon

On the outskirts of Hanoi, Dao people are struggling to retain an ancient script

A writing system is the asset, culture and pride of every ethnic group. But for the Dao people on the outskirts of Hanoi, there is a fear that their ancient script is fading away from their cultural, religious and daily activities.



Ancient books written in the Nom Dao script


In a commune called Ba Vi, nearly 70 kilometres from central Hanoi, there are more than 600 households with an estimated total population of 2000, of which 98% belong to the Dao ethnic group, who have been inhabiting the region for hundreds of years.

As economic life improves, the Dao people are looking to maintain and restore their traditional culture and religious activities. It should be noted that the rituals must be performed in a script called Nom Dao, the literary Dao language, not in the vernacular language.

But such a valuable cultural heritage, which is associated with the cultural and religious life of the Dao people, is facing the risk of vanishing.

68-year-old Trieu Duc Phu, Chairman of Ba Vi from 1999-2011, stated that, in the past, the traditional rituals of a Dao family could be performed by a family member, but now they must hire outside people who are well-versed in the Dao script and literary Dao language for such activities. Young people are not very interested in the ancient script while the older generations who can read the script are dying out.

According to the Department of Cultural Heritage, the Nom Dao script is system of traditional Chinese characters whose readings are adapted for the Dao language while their meanings remain the same as their Chinese originals. The pronunciation is completely different from the vernacular speech, that is why researchers call it the literary Dao language.

The pronunciation of the literary Dao language is also not the same as the Sino-Vietnamese reading because it has undergone a series of changes to make it closer to the vernacular Dao language.




Trieu Phu Duc is reading a book written in the Nom Dao script.



The script is not popular among the ordinary Dao people and only a small group of shamans have to learn it, but only enough to be able to read the ceremonial books handed down by their ancestors, without a deep understanding of the text’s content and the philosophy contained in it. Today such ancient books are still kept by most Dao families in Ba Vi where the older generations are still living.

In Yen Son village, only four Dao people of advanced age can read and write the Nom Dao script, and another seven can read while the rest are mostly uninterested in this unique script.

In the past, the script was retained by being passed from father to son, with further learning gained from older people, but today this method has completely disappeared. Young people are giving priority to making money with no regard for their ethnic group’s distinctive script. Therefore, if there are no prompt measures to save it, the script might soon fall into oblivion.

Learning the Nom Dao script is not too challenging and whoever with a strong passion can read and write it in a year. Two decades ago, an evening class was opened to teach the script to people in the commune, but the class did not last long because the teaching facility was poor and there were no funds to support it.

According to Ba Vi commune’s leaders and those keen to preserve the script, the task should not stop at a general call to learn it, but requires a clear conservation policy and a mechanism to encourage Dao people to learn and use the script.

The safeguarding will not be too difficult if there are funds to open Nom Dao teaching class for local residents. Once finance is provided and with the efforts of older people in the commune who can read and write as well as the authorities’ conservation plan, the question of how to preserve the script would be solved.

And the valuable cultural heritage of the Dao people in this region will be conserved and will continue to grow. Nhan Dan

Mong ethnic people cultivate on rocks

Mong ethnic people cultivate on rocks

"Live on rocks and die buried in rocks". That is how people from the Mong Meo Vac ethnic group define their identity. 

Bamboo treasure on Ngoc Linh Range protected by Ca Dong ethnic minority

Bamboo treasure on Ngoc Linh Range protected by Ca Dong ethnic minority

For many generations, Ca Dong ethnic minority living near Ngoc Linh Mountain have been protecting bamboo in Long Rieu Hamlet in Tra Nam commune in Quang Nam province.

Ede ethnic people preserve traditional brocade weaving craft

Ede ethnic people preserve traditional brocade weaving craft

The Ede ethnic people have long been proud of their brocade weaving and are trying to preserve the traditional craft amid the rapid industrialization, modernization, and fashion changes.  



More than 100 Vietnamese and foreign firms are showcasing advanced wood processing technologies, machinery and raw materials at the 2022 Vietnam BIFA Wood exhibition which opened in southern Binh Duong province on August 8.


Localities demanded to promptly brace for storm Mulan

Industrial parks, economic zones attract US$100 billion over 30 years

Over the past 30 years, industrial parks (IP) and economic zones (EZ) across the country have attracted more than US$100 billion of investment, and created jobs for more than 4 million labourers.

Largest Vietnamese private enterprises become key driver to national economy

Although top 500 largest Vietnamese private enterprises (VPE500) represents a small part of the number of enterprises, it has greatly contributed to the operations of the private enterprise sector and the national economy, according to insiders.

Global inflation threatens Vietnamese exports

Rising global inflation occurring in several major consumer markets such as the United States, Japan, and the EU, are putting increasing pressure on Vietnamese exporters.

Minister of Public Security takes responsibility for unaccepted new passports

The Ministry of Public Security accepts responsibility for the failure of the new passport model which has not been accepted by some countries, said Minister of Public Security To Lam at the National Assembly Standing Committee's Q&A session today.

Finance Ministry transfers 35 unusual stock mark cases to investigation unit

Minister of Finance Ho Duc Phoc has responded in writing to a NA delegate of Lam Dong province on issues related to the management of capital, stock and bond markets.

Vietnam looks to draw reputable US investors: Ambassador

Ambassador Dang Hoang Giang, Permanent Representative of Vietnam to the UN, has suggested Nasdaq Inc of the US introduce reputable and experienced US investors to invest in Vietnam.

Gov’t adopts action plan to combat money laundering, terrorist financing

The Government has adopted a national action plan on combating money laundering, and financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism for the 2021-2025 period.

Two die in methanol-poisoning incidents in 3 days

Two college students have died, while 11 others have remained in critical condition after drinking alcohol of unknown origin in restaurants in HCMC and Thu Duc City in the last three days.

WMO supports Vietnam, Southeast Asia to cope with floods, landslides

Vietnam and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the Regional Center for the Southeast Asia Flash Flood Guidance System (SEAFFGS) in Geneva, Switzerland on August 8.

Tourism ministry proposes extending tax cuts for travel firms

Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Van Hung has proposed the National Assembly and the Government extend the tax and fee reductions for travel firms until the end of 2023 to help them recover post pandemic.

Vingroup, S.Korean firm to supply EV battery separators

SK IE Technology, a subsidiary of South Korea’s SK Group, has cut a deal with Vingroup, to supply separators of electric vehicle (EV) battery cells to Vin Energy Solution (VinES), an arm of the Vietnamese company.

Doctors call for sanctions against rising health staff assaults

Leading doctors have said it is high time the Ministry of Health proposed the Government issues sanctions against acts of violence and assault of medical staff in hospitals.

Poor motorbike taxi driver helps disabled, elderly for free for five years

Many people think Le Minh Thien is someone who needs help but he has always believed since he was a child that he should help others.