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LAOS - PPT

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LAOS - PPT

  1. 1. LAOS Prepared by: GROUP 1 II-Mendel
  2. 2. Geography A landlocked nation in Southeast Asia occupying the northwest portion of the Indochinese peninsula, Laos is surrounded by China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thai land, and Burma. It is twice the size of Pennsylvania. Laos is a mountainous country, especially in the north, where peaks rise above 9,000 ft (2,800 m). Dense forests cover the northern and eastern areas. The Mekong River, which forms the boundary with Burma and Thailand, flows through the country for 932 mi (1,500 km) of its course.
  3. 3. Culture Laos has at least 49 ethnic groups and each of them preserves their own dialect, customs, culture and tradition. However, because over half the population are ethnic Lao (previously called Lao Loum) this is obviously the most dominant group in Laos and the one that most people encounter as the Laos culture. The rich culture of Laos is rooted in immense spirituality, as the predominant religion of Theravada Buddhism has influences extending from lifestyle to art and architecture. This is encountered in ceremonies like the baci or Sou Khoun(a ceremony to enrich the spirit) and the common practice of alms giving every morning at sunrise.
  4. 4. Most villages have at least one temple. These temples are not only places for monks to live and pray, they are also the main centre for social and recreational activities such as village meetings, religious ceremonies and festivals. In urban areas, temples sometimes serve as shelters for homeless and disadvantaged people. Sometimes when someone dies in an accident or outside their houses the body will be Golden Temple, Vientiane, Laos taken to the temple and kept there for a few days for religious ceremonies before it is cremated.
  5. 5. Architecture Lao architecture is mainly a mix of French colonial, Buddhist (in temples), traditional Lao and modern architecture, with some influences from Thailand and other countries. In rural areas most Lao people live in Lao traditional houses, built of wood and raised off the ground on stilts, but in urban areas modern style houses are more common and Lao traditional houses are slowly disappearing. Many ethnic groups have their own house styles, such as the Hmong, Iu Mien, and some other ethnic groups in the northern mountainous areas, where the weather is cold and windy in cold season. These groups build houses on the ground with the end of the roof almost touching the ground.
  6. 6. Religion Buddhism first appeared in Laos during the eighth century A.D., as shown by both the Buddha image and the stone inscription found at Ban Talat near Vientiane, now exhibited at Hor Pra keo Museum. After the foundation of the unified Kingdom of Lane Xang, King Fa Ngum (14th Century) declared Buddhism as the state religion and urged the people to abandon Animism or other beliefs such as the Cult of Spirits. His policy meant to develop the Lao culture based on a common faith: Theravada Buddhism. Today, Theravada Buddhism is the professed religion of about 90% of Lao people. Buddhism is an inherent feature of daily life and casts a strong influence on Lao society. Lao woman can be seen each morning giving alms to monks, earning merit to lessen the number of their rebirths. It is expected that every Lao man will become a monk for at least a short time in his life. Traditionally, men spent three months during the rainy season in a Wat (Buddhist temple). Today, however; most men curtail their stay to one or two weeks.
  7. 7. Lifestyle Lao people typically socialise as families, and most live in extended families with three or sometimes more generations sharing one house or compound. The family cooks and eats together sitting on the floor with sticky rice and dishes shared by all. Sometimes when someone pays a visit unexpectedly at meal time we automatically invite them to join us without any hesitation. With the Lao people’s simple life, it is perfectly normal for relatives or friends to drop by without calling in advance. So, if you live or work in Laos, don’t be surprised if your Lao friends suddenly appear at your front door. If they do that, it’s not because they are tactless, it’s because it seems perfectly usual behaviour for them, and also perhaps because they don’t know or understand your cultural habits. Time is also a fairly flexible commodity in Laos culture. Planning ahead and making firm times for occasions can sometimes be frustrating for foreigners who find the idea of something happening at “maybe two o’clock” difficult to cope with. Also invitations to parties and weddings are often only issued the day before the event and the host is sometimes surprised that others need more notice that this in their social lives.
  8. 8. The fact that most Lao people were brought up in extended families that required a high level of harmony, kindness, patience and readiness to help each other has made the Lao a generous, kind and soft hearted, tolerant and socialized people. Lao people tend to value privacy less highly than foreigners, partly because it’s a normal way of life in extended families, especially in the countryside where everyone knows everyone else’s business. Sometimes for those foreigners living here this can be a surprise, especially with what they might find are slightly personal questions and the fact everyone in their village knows all about their lives.
  9. 9. Wedding / Marriage In Laos culture, before a Lao wedding takes place, (after the proposal) a traditional procession call Sou Khor is arranged (an envoy of the boy sent to the girl to ask if her parents will allow the marriage). If her parents agree to let their daughter to marry the boy, a Kha Dong (bride-price) is negotiated as well as who pays for what at the wedding. This is usually the groom, but today often both parties share the expenses. The Sou Khor session takes place several days or even months before the wedding. Visit Laos Wedding page for more info. Once married, the couple lives with the parents of the bride until after the marriage of the next daughter (if any) or in some cases they move out earlier but the earliest is seven days after their wedding.
  10. 10. When the couple has children, the stay-at-home parents or grandparents usually help raise their grandchildren before they reach school age. Grown-up children usually also live in until they get married and sometimes even until after they have their own children so that the grandparents can help raise them or sometimes until they save enough money to build their own house. However, one of the children (usually the youngest daughter in big families) lives with the parents, inherits the main house, and takes the responsibility of taking care of aging parents. The moved-out children support their parents by sending money back if they live far away, otherwise they come to visit and eat together as a family very often. In Laos there is no social security or other welfare, such as homes for the elderly provided by the government. However, as our family bonds are strong and everyone in the family helps everyone out it is an important part of our culture to take care of our aging parents and grandparents. This might change in the future because the Lao simple life is slowly being replaced by modern lifestyles and the extended families are gradually being replaced by nuclear ones as people have fewer children these days.
  11. 11. ARTS AND LITERATURE Laos has a long tradition of oral literature, including folk tales, children's stories, proverbs, parables and poems. Talented narrators can recite lengthy poems, some as much as six hours long, entirely from memory. Lam or khap is love poetry set to music, performed as a solo or in duets. Some songs go on all night and sessions have been known to last for up to 72 hours. Contests for spontaneous poems and songs are also popular.
  12. 12. There are three masterpieces of Laotian literature: the Vetsantrasadok, the Sin Say, and the Thao Hung. The Vetsantrasadok is the most popular and deals with the life of Buddha before his enlightenment. Education through reincarnation is the theme of the story. The poet Phangkham wrote Sin Say. Sin Say, the hero, was born holding a bow and arrows in his hand. His brother, Sang Thong, was a golden snail, and his half-brother was an elephant with golden tusks. The story tells how the ogre Nhak Koumphan stole the brothers' aunt and how the brothers defeated the ogre and rescued their aunt. Thao Hung is a historical epic. Its hero belongs to the Mon-Khmer ethnic group. It recounts the struggle between ancient ruling families in Indochina.
  13. 13. The Dhammapada is an important book in Buddhist literature. It contains 423 verses spoken by the Buddha on various occasions. For example, "Mind is the most important thing. It is the source of all actions. If we act or speak with an impure mind, we suffer. But if we act or speak with a clean mind, then we shall be happy." The Dhammapada was originally written in Pali, a language that closely resembles Sanskrit.
  14. 14. Laotian folk music is not written down but is played from memory. Musical instruments include the khen (a bamboo flute), buffalo horns, tam tam drums, xylophone and a two-string violin. Maw lam, or Laotian theatre, is part of many Laotian festivals. It may be a rehearsed production complete with costumes, or an informal, improvised dialogue between two players. Taos has a rich architectural heritage. One of its most famous buildings is the Great Stupa in Vientiane, which is considered a symbol of the country. The temples at Luang Prabang, the former capital, have been designated a World Heritage Site. They have graceful roofs that sweep down close to the ground.
  15. 15. Traditional Laotian handicrafts include weaving and carving. Women weave colourful cloth of cotton or silk that is worn as a long, wrap-around skirt. The intricate patterns may include gold or silver thread. The patterns depict river dragons, flowing water or a mythical creature that is partlion, part-elephant. Men carve in wood or bone. Some carvings have religious significance, others portray scenes from everyday life.
  16. 16. Lao artisans have, throughout the past, used a variety of media in their sculptural creations. Of the metals, bronze is probably the most common, but gold and silver images also exist. Typically, the precious metals are used only for smaller objects, but some large images have been cast in gold, most notably the Phra Say of the sixteenth century, which the Siamese carried home as booty in the late eighteenth century. It is in enshrined at Wat Po Chai in Nongkhai, Thailand, just across the Mekong River from Vientiane. The Phra Say's two companion images, the Phra Seum and Phra Souk, are also in Thailand. One is in Bangkok and the other is in Lopburi. Perhaps the most famous sculpture in Laos, the Phra Bang, is also cast in gold, but the craftsmanship is held to be of Sinhalese, rather than Lao, origin. Tradition maintains that relics of the Buddha are contained in the image.
  17. 17. Arts and Culture One of the trademarks of Laos is the diversity of its people and cultures. There are a number of traditional arts and crafts that represent their way of life. Lao has a rich cultural heritage with religious art and architecture forming the cornerstone of artistic traditions. There exists across the country a plethora of distinctive monuments and architectural styles. One of the most notable structures is the That Luang, the great Sacred Stupa, in Vientiane. Its dome-like stupa and fourcornered superstructure is the model for similar monuments across Laos. Stupas serve to commemorate the life of the Buddha and many stupas are said to house sacred Buddha relics (parts of Buddha s body).
  18. 18. Generally, Hinayana Buddhists cremate the dead body and then place the bones in the stupa, which are set around the grounds of temples, or wats. Different styles of architecture are evident in the numerous Buddhist Wats. Three architectural 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 covered 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 wats of Xieng Khouang where the temple roofs are not tiered Lao religious images and art is also distinctive and sets Laos apart from its neighbors.
  19. 19. The Calling for Rain posture of Buddha images in Lao, 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 Southeast Asian Buddhist art traditions. Religious influences are also pervasive in classical 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 onto palm leaf manuscripts hundreds of years ago and stored in wats. Another excellent example of the richness of Lao culture is in its folk music, which is extremely popular with the people throughout the whole country. The principle instrument is the Khaen; a wind instrument, which comprises a double row of bamboo-like reeds, fitted in a hardwood sound box. The khaen is often accompanied by a bowed string instrument or Saw. The national folk dance is the Lamvong, a circle dance in which people dance circles around each other so that ultimately there are three circles: a circle danced by the individual, another one by the couple, and a third one danced by the whole party.
  20. 20. Most Popular Tourist Spots The temple was built in 1565 as a royal chapel and repository for the celebrated statue of the Emerald Buddha, which the Laotians had taken from Northern Thailand in 1551. The jasper statue remained in the temple until 1778, when the Thais invaded and recaptured the statue, taking it off to Bangkok (Wat Phra Kaeo). The temple was destroyed in 1828-1829 during the Thai sack of Vientiane; rebuilt in 1936; and restored again in 1993. Ho Phra Keo was called "Wat Phra Keo" ("Temple of the Emerald Buddha") during the time that the statue was in residence there. It is now called "Ho Phra Keo" ("Altar of the Emerald Buddha") because only an altar is there, the image still remaining in Thailand. Ho Phra Keo Vientiane, Laos 20th century restoration of 1565 original
  21. 21. Crossing the Mekong river near Champasak, one sees the mountain called "Lingaparvata," so named because the natural formation (top of mountain, center of photo) seems to resemble Shiva's linga. To many visitors, it even more closely resembles a female breast. Wat Phu nestles at the base of this mountain, which has been a sacred site from at least the 5th century A.D., being associated with the early kings of Chenla. "Parvata" means "mountain," so "Lingaparvata" is literally "Linga Mountain." It is the same word-root as "Parvati," the name of Shiva's consort, a mountain-goddess. Lingaparvata Champasak, Laos
  22. 22. This early-nineteenth century temple, the oldest remaining in Vientiane after the Thais sacked the city in 1828-1829, shelters a substantial collection of 18c-and-earlier Buddha statues (next pages).
  23. 23. Legendarily considered an Ashokan foundation, the site was determined by archaeologists to date originally back to Khmer times (11th-13th century). The stupa, seen here, was built in 1566 during the reign of King Setthathirat, destroyed in the 1828-1829 sack of Vientiane, and rebuilt in the 1930s.
  24. 24. Thanks For Listening!

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