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[Photos] A Child Wedding of Tay Ethnic Minority in Lao Cai in 1920s

The rare set of photos depict a wedding ceremony in the 1920s between young members of the ethnic minority Tay people in Bac Ha District of Lao Cai Province.

Not uncommon for the time, the children were joined in an arranged marriage in their northern homeland. Though it's no longer always the case in modern time, parents once selected their child's spouse. The wedding then involved a series of rituals including the giving of at least 100 kilograms of pork, round glutinous rice cakes, roosters, alcohol and money. Now, young Tay people are free to marry for love, but in most cases they still have to seek the approval of the parents from both sides.

According to Tay traditions, the groom's family will pay for the wedding, symbolizing the family's appreciation for the bride's family in raising her. Her family will use part of the money to buy new clothes, jewelry, household items for the new couple and food, rice wine for the wedding reception with neighbors. Depending on the groom's financial situation, the amount of bride service could be negotiated prior to the wedding between two households.

The groom pictured with a friend.

This set of photos depict the simple but traditionally attired bride and groom meeting their future in-laws surrounded by family members and performing ceremonial greetings. The groom is listed as 12 years old while the bride's age is unknown, though she was also an adolescent.

In modern days, many have taken steps to end the tradition of arranged marriages across Vietnam's ethnic groups, especially amongst minors. Educators are pushing for cultural changes, believing that by getting married too young, children might miss out on attaining a proper education.

As of 2009, there are nearly 1.7 million Tay residents in Vietnam, making them the nation's second-most populous ethnicity after Kinh. Most Tay communities are scattered among mountainous northern provinces such as Bac Kan, Lang Son, Lao Cai, Thai Nguyen, etc.

Take a look at the photos from a time rapidly slipping away below:

The bride sitting with a friend.

The bride and groom presenting themselves in front of her parents, surrounded by members of the Tay community.

The groom and bride, along with the "maid of honor" and "man of honor" bow before the bride's parents three times during the wedding ritual.

A young Tay girl who was invited to the wedding.

[Photos via RedsVN]


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