Name of ethnic group: Cong (Xam Khong, Mang Nhe, and Xa Xeng). Population: 1,676 people (Year 1999). Locality: Muong Te District in Lai Chau province and along the Da River.
Customs and habits The Cong live in houses built on stilts. Each Cong lineage has a leader, its own social taboos, and its own manner of worshipping their ancestors at the altar. According to customs, young men and women can each take initiative in marriage. People of direct relations can only get married to their seventh generation relative. The man's family actively proposes marriage. After the betrothal, the man lives with his future wife's family for several years. Women wear their hair knotted in a chignon on top of their heads which shows that they are married. The wedding is often celebrated once the couple has had children. The man must then offer pieces of silver money to his wife's parents. The woman's family must prepare a dowry for the bride to bring to her husband's house. Every year, each Cong Village holds a communal ceremony where several rites are performed to pray for bumper crops.
Culture The Cong language belongs to the Tibet-Burman Group. The Cong folk arts are diverse. Their songs are characteristically composed of smooth melodies with alternating songs that are sung at communal ceremonies.
Economy The Cong use a slash and burn method of cultivation. The Cong grow cotton which is used to barter for other cloth. Other handicraft activities include basketry and, particularly, red dyed rattan mat making.