The most popular costumes in Cao Bang are of the Nung and Tay’s that are made from simply-decorated indigo-dyed fabric. The Dao’s garments are more colourful and diverse, including two types, which can be identified by their black trousers embroidered with flower or small star patterns. The garments probably express their different perceptions of the world. While the Tay and Nung people want to live at peace with the nature, the Dao people try to indicate that they are the owners of the place by wearing chunky high-sounding silver jewelry on their necks, hands and waists.
- The Tay men’s garments include an indigo-coloured long dress, white trousers, a turban (the top of which slanted backwards) and cloth-made shoes. The Tay women wind the plait of their hair horizontally and cover it with a square kerchief. They wear an indigo-dyed long dress with bronze buttons on the right and an indigo cloth belt the two ends of which are let straight down on back. The Tay people themselves weave and dye their indigo cloth.
- The garments of the Nung people are more diverse than those of the Tay people; however in general, the main features are similar. The Nung women’s shirt has a collar and large sleeves decorated with bright multi-colored cloth pieces with indigo still as the major color.
- The Dao ethnic group has various types of clothes, which have distinctive features. The main Dao branches in Cao Bang are Dao Tien (Coin Dao) and Dao Do (Red Dao). The Red Dao women wear splendid garments made of black material embroidered with red cloth pieces. The 8-si kerchief (Ca pha) is wound around their head, looking like a flat hat. Their sides are covered with cloth bands (pha xi) decorated with a number of embroidered motifs in red threads. Their belts (xi lo chin) are embroidered with sophisticated motifs. Their shirts have long taps and hemmed sleeves. They open on the breasts to reveal the light-coloured bras with two strings of eight tassels (nom lang gau) each inside. Their large-legged trousers (hau tao) are decorated with green, red, brown or white squares. On their backs, there are material squares (nom kie) skillfully embroidered.
Tay men and women’s garments
Red Dao women’s garments