Laos Culture

By | August 25, 2020

Laos Literature

The Laotian literature has much in common with the Thai and Cambodian.

The written literature is kept in the temples in the form of palm leaf manuscripts. By far, most of the manuscripts are religious texts from the Buddhist canon. Most popular are the tales of Buddha’s earlier existence, the so-called jataka. In Laos there are a large number of the 550 authorized jataka translated, and a significant number of local jataka, with parallels both in Thailand and Cambodia. There are also textbooks in Pali, the religious language of Buddhism, and edifying scriptures about gods and holy people, and especially the stories of the holy pagodas.

The written profane literature is also influenced by Indian literature. There are Laotian versions of the Indian adventure collections Panchatantra, Nandapakarana, Mandukapakarana, Pisacapakarana and Sakunapakarana, all of which have animals as protagonists. Legal narratives are widely used, while the humorous narratives, on the other hand, are not written down, but are still alive in the oral tradition.

However, the literary main form of Laoten is poetry. There are a wide variety of verse forms with complicated rhyme patterns. In the verse novels, the hero is a prince, beautiful and lovingly sick, constantly fighting with demons, spirits and other supernatural beings, which he fights with magical means. The god Indra acts as deus ex machina, resurrects the dead at the right times and provides a happy exit to the entanglements. The most famous are Lin Tong, Kakalet, Suriwong, Cambang and Usabarot. Like the other Southeast Asian countries, Laos has its own version of the great Indian epic Ramayana.

A more modern literature emerged only in the 1940s, in parallel with nationalist trends. In the 1970s and 1980s, literature was used to pay homage to socialism, but over the last couple of decades there has been some embellishment, with room to express individual feelings and views.

In addition to the purely literary forms, there are manuals in astrology and herbal medicine, as well as collections of legal texts, local chronicles and proverb collections.


Knowledge and culture

It is primary school from the children are 6 years; Schooling for 5 years is compulsory for all children. High school is two-fold (3 + 3 years). There is one public university and several colleges.

Laos has 9 daily newspapers published by the authorities. There are 43 radio stations and 32 television stations.

The country’s literature has commonalities with the Thai and Cambodian. Originally it was a rich oral tradition of poetry and folk tales. A modern literature emerged in the 1940s. In zones controlled by Pathet Lao, the literature of 1953–1980 was influenced by social-realistic works from Vietnam and the Soviet Union; writings were published anonymously.

Important novelists in the late 1900s are siblings Pakian (Pa Nail), Dara (Douang Champa) and Douangdeuane (Dok Ket) Viravong. Outhine Bounyavong (1942–2000) is one of the internationally renowned Laotian writers.

Classical dance was developed at the royal court. Laotian classical dance has two main forms, accompanied by Laotian classical music. ‘Khône’ is a dance drama with dancers wearing masks. ‘Lakhône’ is mostly danced by female dancers as mimes. ‘Lamvong’ is a ring dance type folk dance that is considered easy to perform.

Shadow Theater is a popular theater genre.

Traditional Laotian music can be divided into classical music, which is related to Chinese and Thai music, and the folk music ‘lamb’. Rock, pop and hip hop are popular with the younger generation. In folk music, ‘kaen’, a mouth organ of bamboo, is played alone or with other instruments to accompany the song.

The most typical religious edifice is the stupa with onion-shaped spire, such as Pha That Luang in Vientiane. Many temples have two-layered ceilings with curved, elegant arches.

Kickboxing is considered a national sport, but football is most popular.