Culture

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.

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  Information provided by Laos National Tourism Authority.

 

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