The Tai Deng ethnic group originated in the Meuang Daeng district of Thanh Hoa province in Vietnam, and emigrated to Laos around 100 – 200 years ago. Today, there are about 30,000 Tai Daeng in Laos, most of them living in the northeastern provinces of Houaphan, Xieng Khouang, and Phongsaly. The name Tai Daeng, translated as Red Tai, may refer to their original homeland, the color of their clothing, or the Red River.
The Tai Daeng have a spoken language that is similar to that of other Tai groups, but they don’t have a separate written language. They practice animism and shamanic rituals, although some have adopted Buddhism or Christianity.
Traditionally, the Tai Daeng do not organize any events or ceremonies in January or February, because the ancestor spirits who take care of and protect the family will then go and join the heavenly festival of “Pi Taen.” Thus, during these months the Tai Daeng avoid holding ceremonies and events out of fear that the sky spirit will cause sickness or death.
The Tai Daeng are master weavers of silk and cotton, and possess complex weaving techniques and dyeing skills. Their textiles often feature motifs of animals, trees, leaves, and human figures, on scarves, blankets, and spirit cloths.