19/07/2015 22:02 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

Silver Jewellery of the Blue Mong people

The Mong Leng (Blue Mong) people have lived in  the northwest provinces of Son La, Dien Bien, Lai Chau, and Yen Bai for many years. Like women from other Mong sub-cultural divisions, Mong Leng women wear silver accessories as a way to beautify themselves and show the prosperity of their family. This  silver jewellery also convey their ethnicity.
Their silver jewellery consists of necklaces, bracelets, and other decorative objects which are finely and delicately made from silver.

There are two types of necklaces for Mong Leng women. One is a round loop with a diameter of 45-55cm. This type is often used as dowry given to girls before they get married. Each woman can wear about eight necklaces of this type to enhance the beauty of their costumes.

Another type of necklace is worn to prevent and cast out demons. This necklace contains three silver loops with strings and chains embellished with silver ornaments of different shapes. A round silver plate carved with patterns representing the sun god is a requisite of the necklace. According to the beliefs of the Mong Leng people, the sun god is the most powerful.

The Mong Leng people often wear intriguing jewellery during festivals.

The Mong Leng people wear silver jewellery with details symbolising the sun god on their chest.
They believe that the sun god is the most powerful of the gods.

Silver coins are used to make jewellery.

Silver coins are attached to strings on the back collar of the blouse.
The number of coins depends on the wealth of the family but it must be a multiple of five, such as 5, 10, 15 or 20 coins.

Silver coins are attached to the clothes of Mong Leng women to show the wealth of their family.

The Mong Leng people wear silver necklaces with details representing the sun god.

A chain worn around the waist consists of many intricate silver strings.

The silver strings and coins attached to the waist belt tinkle when moving.

Silver strings are also attached to the cuff. The tinkling sound of jewellery helps Mong Leng people
recognise their peers when they are in the forest or on the fields.

Silver pieces with patterns of common objects in life of the Mong Leng people such as fish, flowers, drums and shields.

Mong Leng women wearing intricate silver jewellery perform traditional dances during festivals. 

Bracelets are decorated with carvings of birds, animals, flowers and plants, which are closely connected with their daily life. The diversity of shapes makes the bracelets of Mong Leng women more attractive.

Besides necklaces and bracelets, Mong Leng women also adorn themselves with round or rhomb shaped objects on their waist chains to make them more compelling.

Silver coins which were once used in the time of French colonialism are usually attached to the clothes of  Mong Leng women. Mong Leng people traditionally believe that if people wear clothes with many coins, they must come from a very privileged background.

In addition to silver, the Mong Leng people recently started using alum or alloy to make unique jewellery. During festivals, Mong Leng girls often go out wearing their sets of silver jewellery which is an endemic cultural feature of the Mong people residing in the northwest region.

Story: Ngan Ha – Photos: Thong Thien