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"No Song" traditional institution of H'mong in Luang Prabang, Laos

H’mong people, particularly Zang clan first came to ‘Phu Sung’ - top of High Mountain since previous five generations. They came from Tibet, China, and then went along mountains of north-central Vietnam to Xiang Khoang and Luang Prabang, Laos. They migrated the other way along Mekong River. H’mong people migrate with the whole community or clan. Therefore, cultural values of the group or each clan are maintained and enriched while they adapt to new resettled areas. H’mong people resettled stably in Long Lan village since 1975. ‘Long’ means bamboo for making pan-flute, ‘Lan’ means area. Therefore, Long Lan means area of bamboo for making pan-flute.
‘No Song’ is customary laws, which maintain traditional values and social structure of H’mong people in Long Lan village. ‘No Song’ means ceremony for promises between different clans, families or communities living in a certain geographical area, sharing border and close relationship, so that to discuss, strengthen customary laws, norms, values and traditional social structure of H’mong. Mr. Chua Zang, Long Lan villager said: ‘Trees can be cut, land can be removed, and common wills of H’mong people’s heart cannot be divided’. ‘No Song’ is seen as ‘congress’ of H’mong where inadequate issues are discussed, so that to find out solutions and promises for balancing and stabilization of cultural life, community social structure, norm and belief of the H’mong. Discussed issues of ‘No Song’ includes: provisions of funeral, marriage, forest protection, village border, cultivation, livestock, security, moral norms and mutual helps within community.
Traditionally, all elders, clan leaders, village leaders and respected people in a certain geographical region gather in ‘No Song’. Nowadays, representatives from local authorities, Fatherland Front, Women Union and Youth Union, etc are also invited to the ceremony.
People do not fix the day for ‘No Song’. Whenever different communities, clans find things inadequate or unsuitable to new social situation, they will decide to organize the ceremony for adjustment. The leader of ‘No Song’ is also leader of H’mong people in a certain area should be respected, able to persuade, and the one, who understand H’mong and others’ customs. Representatives of elders or clan leaders will initiate discussion issues to the leader for consideration and decision. ‘No Song’ may take one or few days depending on number of discussed issues. After discussion, agreement, every participants will join ceremony of promiss and worship ‘Zo Sau’ - the spirit, who give birth to everything, ‘Xu Ca’ - the saint of H’mong, ‘Da che, te lau’- ancestor of H’mong and different kinds of spirits, such as ‘Da Ha Zong’ - forest spirit, who support community solidarity, human’s health, peaceful weather, and good crop, etc.
Whenever agree and promises in ‘No Song’ no related persons or communities are entitled to change. Changes are merely accepted via ceremony. If a certain village or individual violate the ceremony’s promiss, they will be fined according to the festival. They have to pay twice as much as offering things to organize the ceremony. For instance, if the ceremony need one cow, the violator have to pay a fine of two cows. The leader of ‘No Song’ is responsible for this decision.
Provision on the role of elders, the leader of ‘No Song’
Elder, leader of ‘No Song’ is a respected, persuasive person, who understand well traditional customs, state policy, and act as pioneer. Elder solve conflicts appear in community. He has rights to decide on time, content of the organizing community ceremonies. Important community decisions should be informed and got advice from elders. In the past each clan select one elder, then they form elders’ council, the head of the council is leader of ‘No Song’. For instance seven clans in Long Lan (Zang, Ly, Ho, Mua, Thao, Vang and Song), then the village should have seven elders. Recently the most respected elder in Long Lan village is elder Xay Khu Zang, Pa Chong Zang, Bua Zia Tho and Chia Xia Ho. Elder Xay Khu Zang is the advisor for elders’ council.  
Provision on the role of clan leader
Clan leader is a descent person, who is reputable, well educated. Clan leader should lead clan members to maintain norms, customs of H’mong in general and their clan in particular. Clan leader is entitled to gather clan members to meeting discuss and solve problems of the clan. This leader has right to decide clan issues, then every members of the clan should follow.
Clan leader and the assistant are not necessary to live in the same village of the clan members. Long Lan has 7 different clans, however there are only 3 clan leaders live there: elder Cho Xy Zang, Zua Xu Ly and Xua Po Mua. Other clan leaders live in surrounding villages.
Clan leader is responsible to inform agreement and  promises in ‘No Song’ to every clan members for abeyance. Clan leader should update development process or changes of traditional customs, cultivation, livestock, etc. of the clan and present their whishes, suggestions, solutions at ‘No Song’ ceremony. Clan leader is responsible to collect contribution from clan members to the ceremony.
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