Thread bracelet tying originated from the beliefs of Thai people that humans are born with a soul and body parts, of which the soul is more important. Each person has 80 spirits supporting him or her. Mr. Luong Van Hung, a Thai in Thanh Hoa province, said each person has many spirits, which may easily get lost or captured when he visits a strange or dark place: “The spirit represents one person, thus the lost spirit may be brought up, get married, or left hungry and cold. When one’s spirit is lost, he or she will have health problems”.
Thai people believe that one’s spirit may be lost or may affect them, bringing bad luck or causing health problems. In this case, a shaman is asked to call one’s spirits back. The spirit calling ceremony is linked with thread bracelet tying because the ethnic people believe that the wristband ties one’s spirit to them and keeps them healthy and lucky. Luong Van Hung again: “The thread bracelet tying custom began in ancient times, showing one’s ownership to an object or a person. A person wears a thread bracelet to tie and keep his spirit”.
A thread bracelet keeps a person safe from evil and serves as a sign of marriage or being protected by a shaman. A visitor to the home will be welcomed with a thread bracelet which means that visitor is considered a family member.
Thai people also believe that the thread bracelet will keep their visitors safe and lucky and show their hospitality to their guests.
Ms. Truong Thi Thu Thuy, who has been working to improve livelihoods of Thai ethnic people for more than 10 years, said: “Whenever I visited a Thai village, they welcomed me with a thread bracelet ceremony to show their hospitality. At the ceremony, a shaman read prayers then tied the bracelet on the guest and wish them good health and luck”.
Giay ethnic people in the northwestern region of Vietnam also observe this custom. Vu Thi Ngoc Huong, a Giay person in Sapa town, said: “Giay people usually wear thread bracelets during Then village festivals or when someone has health problems and want to be healed in a spiritual method. A thread bracelet tying ceremony will be performed by a shaman. The family members wear black thread bracelets while the guests wear red thread bracelets”.
Like Thai people, Giay ethnic people wear a thread bracelet to show their ownership to an object or a person. Huong said, “Giay people also tie threads to household objects such as tables and chairs as well as plants in the garden to pray for good luck”.
Thread bracelet wearing has been observed by people in the northern mountainous region for long with a hope for good health and good luck.