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Rural Society in Laos

In Laos, society in rural villages engaged in subsistence agricultural production. Ethnic, geographic, and ecological differences create variations in the pattern of village life from one part of the country to another, but the common threads of village selfreliance , limited regional trade and communication, and identification with one's village and ethnic group persist regardless of the setting. Rural trade networks, however, have been a part of life since the 1950s. Except near the larger towns and in the rich agricultural plains of Vientiane and Savannakhet, villages are spaced at least several kilometers apart and the intervening land variously developed as rice paddy and swidden fields or maintained as buffer forest for gathering wild plants and animals, fuelwood, and occasional timber harvest.

Lao Society

Laos is a rural country whose relatively low population density has allowed the continuation of a village society reliant on subsistence agriculture. Ethnic, geographic, and ecological differences create variations in the pattern of village life from one part of the country to another, but the common threads of village selfreliance, limited regional trade and communication, and identification with one's village and ethnic group persist regardless of the setting. Rural trade networks, however, have been a part of life since the 1950s. Except near the larger towns and in the rich agricultural plains of Vientiane and Savannakhet, villages are spaced at least several kilometers apart and the intervening land variously developed as rice paddy and swidden fields or maintained as buffer forest for gathering wild plants and animals, fuelwood, and occasional timber harvest.

Lao Folk Dance

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Lao circle dance or Lamvong

The typical Lao folk dance is kind of circle dance or to dance in circle. This Lao circle dance is called "Lamvong" in lao language and it is a famous dance and greatly enjoyed during parties, weddings, festivals and other local celebrations.

Lamvong is a very easy dance that doesn't require any special skills and it's great fun so don't be shy. If you spend more time on the sidelines than on the dance floor at Lao parties and celebrations then you're missing out.

To dance the Lamvong, you basically move continuously round in a large circle, moving your arms, legs and bending your fingers to the music, but you should never be touching your dance partner. It is typically performed to mor lam (traditional) or luk thung (country) music. In Lao nightclubs, however, Western forms of dance predominate.

Lao circle dance

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As in neighbouring Thailand and Cambodia, one of the most popular social dances in Laos is the celebrated of circle dance (lamvong in laotian), in which couples dance circles around one another until there are three circles in all - a circle danced by the individual, a circle danced by the couple, and a circle danced by the whole crowd. It is a famous dance and greatly enjoyed during parties, weddings, festivals and other local celebrations.

Lamvong is a very easy dance that doesn't require any special skills and it's great fun so don't be shy. If you spend more time on the sidelines than on the dance floor at Lao parties and celebrations then you're missing out. Featuring delicate and precise movements of the hand, the lam vong is danced to a slow rhythm performed by an ensemble led by the khene. Subtle differences characterise the style of lam vong performed in different regions.

Lao Arts

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Except for modern and contemporary visual arts, Lao artistic traditions developed around religion and the political and social circumstances that governed the lives of the various ethnic groups in Laos. Many of these traditions, particularly sculpture, music, and classical dance, were strongly influenced by the Khmer, Vietnam, and Thai civilizations. The physical artistic heritage of Laos encompasses archaeological sites, religious monuments and cultural landscapes, traditional towns and villages, and a variety of highly-developed crafts including textiles, wood carving, and basket-weaving. The two great performing art traditions of Laos are rich and diverse folk heritage of the lam or khap call-and-response folk song and its popular theatrical derivative lam luang; and the graceful classical music and dance (natasinh) of the former royal courts.

Lao sinhs

Lao shin (Lao skirt fabric) is a traditional garment worn by Lao women. It’s a simple tube skirt which can identify the woman who wears it in a variety of ways. The sinh is made of silk, [silk and cotton or cotton only] woven in exquisite motifs as well as delicate embroidery. They come in different textures and designs and are usually created in rural areas by ethnic groups… The sinh, woven with diverse motifs and colors, reflects the culture, social relationships and beliefs from community to community and region to region. Often times a certain type of sinh is usually worn for a specific event.

Lao New Year

The Lao New Year called "Bpee Mai" or "Songkan" is celebrated every year from April 13 to April 15.

Greetings

There are several variations of wishing people on the occasion of the Lao New Year with the most common expression being souksan van peemai or sabidee pimai which in English means "Happy New Year."

History

Bpee Mai is the most widely celebrated festival in Laos. The festival is also celebrated by Laotians in the United States of America, Canada, France, and Australia. When the Lao people first emigrated from southern China, New Year was celebrated on the first day of January. Since settling in mainland Southeast Asia the Lao have adopted the new year's traditions of the Khmer and Mon-Burmese people, based on the Indian calendar and traditions. New Year takes place in April, the hottest time of the year in Laos, which is also the start of the monsoon season in Laos when their crops grow. Lao New Year takes place at roughly the same time as Songkran in Thailand and Chaul Chnam Thmey in Cambodia which are like the same thing.

Lao Language

Language descriptions, especially attempts to standardize a language, cannot be separated from politics, and the Lao language is no exception. In fact, the issue of language has been a topic of continuing debate between traditionalists, on the one hand, and modernists, on the other. In an essay on "Lao as a National Language," N.J. Enfield (1999, p. 258) sums up the situation as follows:
The fact that the Lao language does not have a well-applied and codified standard is therefore telling. As a nation, Laos has experienced long years of difficulty along the road to unification. Many of the political divisions that can be traced across the history of the nation are also reflected in the current inconsistencies of the language as it is used, and in the decades-old arguments about the Lao language and its proper form. The pressures on Lao as a language are many of the same pressures as those on Laos as a nation. There is a tension between the older, ornate traditions associated with Buddhism and aristocracy on the one hand, and the more recent austere rationalist tradition associated with socialism and the culture of modern technology on the other. In addition, the Lao are keenly aware of the need to maintain and delineate their nationhood in the face of pressure from outside, most notably those from Thailand.

Lao Engagement and Wedding

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A wedding in Laos begins with an engagement ceremony, which is held on a day deemed auspicious by an elder in the community called a Houana Satsanaphitee. He sets the day according to the time and day of birth of the bride and groom and the Lao Buddhist calendar. To become engaged the young man takes a khan ha to the bride's house and presents it to her parents. He does this to represent that he and his family are good people, and want to become part of their family.

The length of the festivities surrounding a wedding are determined by the financial means of the families of the bride and groom. In general, Lao weddings last about a day and a half.

Lao Silver

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Lao silver - Bring beauty into your life while helping a culture retain its traditions.

The heartland of Laos in Southeast Asia has always been on the edges of civilization and viewed as an exotic culture by the hardy, early Western travelers and explorers. The Laotian people have a long tradition of silver-working with jewelry designs showing influences from Tibetan, Chinese and Indian cultures.

These territories experienced the most flourishing development of ornamentation in craftwork during the introduction of Buddhist sculpture going back to the 7th century. The outstanding forms of expression in the art of jewelry were thus linked to religious, ceremonial rites and Royal Dynasties contributing to the glorification of the figures and deities worshiped by the people.

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