The Si La’s unique costume

With a population of about 1,000 people, the Si La are one of the 5 smallest ethnic groups in Vietnam.

The Si La's unique costume

Si La women’s traditional clothes. (Photo:

They live in remote mountain districts of Dien Bien and Lai Chau province. It’s easy to distinguish the Si La from other groups by their clothing and headscarves.

Researchers of ethnic culture say the Si La originated in Central Asia. In the past, they led a nomadic life and subsisted on terraced farming.

Through generations of migration, they have preserved their traditional culture and clothing.

“A strong characteristic of the Si La is self-awareness. Although the group has only about 1,000 people, they are focused on preserving their identity,” said researcher Mai Thanh Son.

Si La clothing reveals social and marital status, gender, and aesthetic taste. Particularly women’s clothing indicates age and marital status.

Si La men wear plain, indigo clothes with loose trousers and button-front blouses with 2 or 3 pockets. They always wear white headscarves.

Si La women wear long dresses, body-fit blouses buttoned on the right, belts, and headscarves.


The collars and hems of blouses and dresses are designed with different colors of cloth to set off the main indigo color. Si La girls wear white headscarves when they turn 13 or 14 years old.

The headscarves are embroidered with red threads. When they get married, they tie up their hair in black headscarves.

The Si La's unique costume
A Si La bride (C) on her wedding ceremony. (Photo:

A Si La woman named Hu Co Xuan talked to VOV about their customs: “We tie up our hair and a handkerchief of our husbands in a black headband. This represents faithfulness. The husband gives us the headband and we never remove it, except when we have to a funeral.”

Married women sometimes add their husband’s hair to their hair bun to symbolize their love and faithfulness.

The Si La always wear their traditional clothes at festivals, new year celebrations, weddings, funerals, and community events.