The Bo Y live in the mountains. Their houses have three rooms and a front hall. The frame of the house, which consists of 2 joists spanning a number of columns, is made wood or bamboo. The roof is tiled. The house’s main door is in the middle and the house is connected to a kitchen through a smaller door.
The Bo Y people were originally experienced in wet rice cultivation. However, since settling in the northern mountainous regions of Vietnam, they have had to rely mainly on slash-and-burn agriculture-primarily growing corn, their main crop. In addition, each family usually has a vegetable garden. Apart from raising livestock and poultry, the local people are also involved in various crafts such as cloth weaving, black-smithing, pottery-making, stone carving, silver engraving, plaiting and woodwork, etc.
A typical Bo Y house has 2 floors: the ground floor is where the people live and the second floor is for storing food.
About traditional custom, the Bo Y women wear many accessories such as necklaces and bracelets. Formerly, Bo Y women wore full skirts like those worn by Hmong, or ornamented with batik bee’s wax designs and dyed indigo. The blouse is short, often having five panels with a bodice covering the chest and abdomen. Silver ornaments are popular, such as necklaces, wrist chains and ear-rings. The women wear their hair wound in a chignon at the top of their head. Their headgear is traditionally an indigo turban which or ornamented with colorful embroidery. Nowadays, some Bo Y people have adopted the neighboring Nung’s way of dressing. Some also wear shirts lie the Han but with removable sleeves.
At the wedding ceremony, the Bo Y has remained unchanged for centuries. There was once a tradition that Bo Y could only marry people of their own ethnicity. This practice has been abandoned and now young men and women are free to choose partners from different ethnic groups.
The wedding ceremony of the Bo Y consists of three steps. The first step is to ask for the hand of the bride. The groom’s family chooses the two women, who are considered the luckiest and most fertile, to ask for the permission of the bride’s family.After the engagement ceremony, the marriage is agreed by the boy’s and the girl’s families.The next step, the bride-groom’s family presents the wedding presents to the bride’s family. Apart from food, some clothes for the bride are also included. The bridegroom does not go to the bride’s house; instead, the bride rides on a horse to the bridegroom, attended by the bridegroom’s sister who talks alongside. She brings with her a pair of scissors and a small hen, which she will release to the forest at mid-way.They are prestigious people, who understand Bo Y customs and can sing call-and-response melodies very well.