Lao people boast a
plethora of distinctive monuments and architectural styles. One of the
most notable structures is That luang, the Great Sacred Stupa, in
Vientiane. Its dome like Stupa and four-cornered superstructure is the
model for similar monuments throughout Laos. Stupas serve to
commemorate the life of the Buddha and many Stupas are said to house
sacred relics (parts of Buddha's body). Generally, Hinayana Buddhists
cremate the dead body then collected the bone and put in stupa which
up in a round the temple.
Deferent styles of architecture are evident in the numerous Buddhist
Wats. Three architecture styles can be distinguished, corresponding to
the geographical location of the temples and monasteries. Wats built
in Vientiane are large rectangular structures constructed of brick and
coved with stucco and high-peaked roofs. In Luang Prabang the roofs
sweep very low and, unlike in Vientiane, almost reach the ground.
These two styles are different from the Wat Xieng Khouang where the
temple roofs are not tiered.
Lao religious images and art are also distinctive and set Lao apart
from its neighbors. The " Calling for Rain" posture of the Buddha
images in Laos, for example, which depicts the Buddha standing with
his hands held rigidly at his side, fingers pointing to the ground,
cannot be found in other south East Asian Buddhist art traditions.
Religions influences are
also pervasive in classical the Lao literature, especially in the Pha
Lak Pha Lam, the Lao version of India's epic Ramayana.
Projects are underway to
preserve classic Lao religious scripts, which were transcribed into
palm leaf manuscripts hundreds of years ago and stored in Wats.
Another excellent example
of the richness of Lao culture is its folk music, which is extremely
popular with the people throughout the whole country. The principal
instrument is the khaen, a wind instrument which comprises a double
row of Bamboo-like reeds fitted into hardwood sound box. The khaen is
often accompanied folk dance is the Lamvong, a circle dance in with
people dance circles around each other so that ultimately there are
three circles: a circled by the individual, another by the one couple,
and a third one dance by the whole party.