One thing that does not
change is the magic the old culture including the way of living of Lao
people is the thing that the world tourists wish to see...
It can be observed that only Lao people weave the basket of sticky
rice.The basket is to Lao in the world. Sticky rice is the main food
for Lao.The ware that they used to contain their rice after steaming
is called Tipkao, Elpkao or Kongkao. Lao man have to be skillful in
farming, make bamboo strips, fishing net and other works, while the
women should be skillful in cotton spinning, textile weaving, silkworm
raising, cooking and poultry-raising.
Bamboo strips are made from the bamboo trees, namely : Maibong, Mailai,
Maisand, Maihai and Maithae. The strips made by the above bamboo or
wood are very durable, easy to weave.Other types of wood are broken
easily and not durable. After the bamboo is selected,it is warmed a
few minutes on the fire and then chopped into very thin strips.
After thet dry them under the sun.If we need to colour them, we should
dye them, fry under the sun, then weave the basket as designed. For
weaving, first, we should design a pattern, then weave according to
the structure and pattern.The amount of the strips prepares are
related to the size of the basket of rice. The short one can be used
for the small one and the long one used for the big one.The edge of
the strip should leave in the inner part in order to hide the joint.
It requires a high skill level to avoid seeing the joint in the
basket. If the strips are not soft enough, we have to water them a
little.If the strips are too dry, it will be broken easily.
After 10 years,
I had an opportunity to meet with rocket maker again.The changes
reminded me to think to the past time.At that time Vankhamdara
Pathammavong made a rocket inthe small and quiet house which was
surrounded by good smell of new paddy and voice of children and
ducks.His two sons helps him make the explosive powders.
Today the rocket maker moved in to the city at Sisawat village,
Chanthabouli district, capital of Vientiene.There is a workshop with
more than 20 assistants. The small farm house is only the place for
making the explosive powder. The rocket maker is still strong and
healthy. His neck and arms are decorated with gold. His waist busy
with mobile phone. There are a scars in his arms and hands. He lived
in the big house with the satellite dish. He has changed a lot, but
the thing no change is that the happy eyes. So he could turn himself
into big Rocket business. In a year there are many rocket from
The other business of Vankhamdara is the work relating to the funeral
arrangement. For the funeral ceremony, he provided the truck, coffin,
fireworks and etc. The firework is the product from the explosive
powder. The fire flower included the rocket flower, rocket color,
rocket wares. The experience in rocket for funeral ceremony
Vankhamdara has learnt from Chiangmai Thailand. He was there for
visiting his children who studied there. He got the experience in
exchange with his rocket making techniques.
Vankhamdara told about his life relating to the rocket that his house
was located neat Watcham temple Chanthabouli district Vientiane
Municipality. There is a beautiful beach for the National rocket
festival.Since he was a boy, he has known about the explosive making,
saw the rocket decoration, rocket parade and rocket launching. That
event has tied in Vankhamdara mind. Finally, he got to know on how to
make the small rocket and since that time, he participated in
different rocket festival.
When he was asked who your teacher was, Vankhamdara told me that Monk
Boua, the abbot of Nong Saphangmeuk temple, who got experience on how
to produce the big rocket for Bane Saphangmeuk people, a village
located to Dong Dok Institute of pedagogy. At his free time.He went to
abserve on how to make the big rockets by Mink Boua. Years by years,
Vankhamdara participated in the rocket festival. When he realized that
he paid respectation and asked for being his student. However, rockets
making has been improved. In the past time, rocket powder is compacted
by hands, but today they used the jack. The rocket tube was made by
bamboo but now is used by PVC pipe. Everything is for fun.
purchased by tourist once in Laos are handicrafts made from silver. A
unique silver handicraft of LuangPhrabang, world heritage city, is
from the craftsmanship of Mr. Thit Pheng. He sells handmade souvenirs
from his own home situated in the southern part of Bane Vat That, not
very far from Phousi and the Museum. Just ask any villager along the
streets or any taxi driver and you'll find out how easily it is to get
there. There are many variety of products made from his skilled
craftsmanship arranging from the smallest to the biggest items such as
: rings, bracelets, bowls and trays used in religious ceremonies.
Most of the engraved carvings are pictures of religion, Naga and 12
different kinds of animals. It is not an easy task to finish such an
item, it takes time, precision and concentration, before all the
silver must be flattened out then engraved. The first step in
producing this type of handicraft is to flatten out this silver. The
hands along with skilled experience are used o feel for the
appropriate thickness in the silver sheet. And using only the sight of
the eyes to decide that the beauty in each item has been achieved.
this is what makes his handicrafts become not only just another
product but also an art of the hands with unique qualities inevitable
for anyone to match. Many people both local and foreign are interested
in distributing his products, but his souvenirs are very limited.
Therefore anyone wanting to be an owner of his handicrafts must
purchase it at the only shop found nowhere else but in LuangPhrabang.
" I use my hands.., I
enjoy making religious bowls more than anyone, because it symbolizes
life and Lao culture. We use it to pour drinking water, to serve water
to guests, and many religious ceremonies", says Mr. Thit Pheng.
In the past he has been a goldsmith for the Royal Kingdom of
LuangPhrabang. Now at the age of 72, he still uses his hands to feel
for the smoothness and thickness needed in each sheet of silver before
being engraved and carved. this profession is being handed down to the
next generation through his son, Thongsavat Manipone, in the exception
that his children have all gone there separate ways in careers. He
uses his house as a place for production, selling and as a target for
teaching his children and nephews without knowing or thinking that
they will become the goldsmith of art in the future. Upon the next
purchase of souvenir made from silver at the shop of Mr. Thit Pheng,
not only will you be purchasing a beautiful product made from 100%
silver created with skilled craftsmanship but you will also be
promoting Lao arts.