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Anthony Nguyen
Anthony Nguyen

Buy Laos Traditional Dress


The xout lao is composed of different parts. The style varies between genders from regions to regions, and it often depends on the occasions. For instance, in formal settings men typically wear a white silk Nehru-style jacket with a pha hang with white knee-length socks and dress shoes. Men can also optionally wear a pha biang with checkered patterns on their left shoulders. Women typically wear a sinh matching in colors with a pha biang and a silk suea pat.[1]




buy laos traditional dress



Laos developed its culture and customs as the inland crossroads of trade and migration in Southeast Asia over millennia. As of 2012 Laos has a population of roughly 6.4 million spread over 236,800 km2 (91,400 sq miles), yielding one of the lowest population densities in Asia. Yet the country of Laos has an official count of over forty-seven ethnicities divided into 149 sub-groups and 80 different languages. The Lao Loum have throughout the country's history comprised the ethnic and linguistic majority. In Southeast Asia, traditional Lao culture is considered one of the Indic cultures (along with Burma, Thailand and Cambodia).


Laos is geographically isolated and mountainous, bounded by the Annamite Range in the east, forming a traditional political and cultural boundary with Vietnam (a more Chinese influenced Sinitic culture). Much of the western borders of Laos are formed by the Mekong River which provided the major means of inland trade despite limited navigability along the river's length. Prior to the 20th century Lao principalities and the Kingdom of Lan Xang extended to the Sipsong Panna (China), Sipsong Chau Tai (Vietnam), and Khorat Plateau (today the northeast of Thailand) where the river was used as a transportation artery to connect Lao peoples on both the right and left banks. However, the political history of Laos has been complicated by frequent warfare and colonial conquests by European and regional rivals. The history of Laos is unique with a national character defined by its diversity in both culture and customs.


Laos is approximately 66% Theravada Buddhist,[1] which roughly falls along ethnic lines with the majority of practitioners being Lao Loum. The remainder is largely animist, following their unique ethnic traditions and practices. Even among the Lao Loum there is a high degree of syncretism with most Lao acknowledging the traditional animist traditions known collectively as satsana phi. Other religions are in the minority including Islam and Christianity and represent a combined total of less than 2% of the population.


Animist traditions are also very strong in Laos with the belief in traditional spirits being a common cultural tie among the Lao Loum, Lao Theung and Lao Sung although such beliefs are strictly organized according to local traditions.


Lao social structures are comparatively simpler than in neighboring Cambodia or Thailand, which is a logical outgrowth considering the ethnic diversity of Laos. Lao Theung and Lao Sung groups were outside the traditional class structures, but together made up a large portion of the population.


Since the King of Laos was deposed in 1975, there were early attempts to downplay the importance of the monarchy and replace or alter many religious traditions and holidays. In recent years there has been renewed interest in the monarchy but from a nationalistic perspective, in a similar model to China since the 1990s. The socialist revolution theoretically put an end to the class distinctions in Laos, but in reality simply transferred traditional structures onto a different set of elite. The Lao sangha has also recovered their traditional role and status in much of Lao society.


Women traditionally raise the silk worms on a constant diet of mulberry leaves, the silk is woven on hand looms in the north or (less commonly) on foot looms in the south. Each region and ethnic group has their own traditional weaving techniques. In the south weaving is characterized by intricate patterns of elephants, temples, khmer influenced designs and features intricate beadwork. The northeast is known for using raw silk and cotton, and tye-dying raw silk known as matmii or ikat. Central Laos runs along the Mekong River and is known for natural indigo dyes and diamond patterns which symbolize the protective scales of the mythical naga. In the former royal city of Luang Prabang embroidery using delicate gold and silver threads is also preserved. The art was passed from mother to daughter and both patterns and pieces would be embellished with each passing generation.


The most culturally and religiously significant sculpture in Laos today is the Phra Bang a gold statue from which the city of Luang Pra Bang takes its name. According to legend the Phra Bang was cast in Ceylon, transferred to the Khmer Empire and then came north to Lan Xang at the request of Fa Ngum's Khmer queen. Other historically significant Buddha images include the colossal bronze Buddha images found in Wat Ong Teu and Wat Manorom. Smaller images are also found at the Haw Phra Kaew, and Wat Sisaket in Vientiane or in the many temples like Wat Visoun in Luang Prabang. These Buddha images were produced in Laos and show many of the hallmarks of traditional craftsmanship.


Lao metalwork in gold and silver is experiencing a resurgence from its high point in seventeenth century Lan Xang. Silver work is especially prized and popular among ethnic minorities including the Hmong and Yao, and can be found as popular elements of traditional dress among married women.


Laos produces a number of handicrafts which use bamboo and other forms of basketry. Traditionally Lao use intricately woven bamboo mats in homes and temples, although much of the art form has been lost due to the availability and durability of plastic substitutes. Basketry is quite common and is traditionally seen in various forms of domestic kitchen equipment, or even in the house where bamboo thatching is still commonly used.


Mulberry leaves which are not used for silk worm production are frequently used for the production of saa paper. Saa paper is a traditional art form which has been incorporated into a number of crafts for the tourist industry around Luang Prabang.


The old city of Luang Prabang is also a recognized World Heritage Site. Luang Prabang is the most heavily visited city in Laos, and was chosen for both its architectural and artistic heritage in fusing traditional Lao and French colonial architecture. There are more than 30 active temples in Luang Prabang, and was the seat of the Kingdom of Lan Xang from 1353-1560 and the Kingdom of Luang Prabang from 1707-1946.


All traditional theater in Laos is essentially musical in nature. Court music and performances known as khon and lakhon feature the most elaborate costuming and dance. Khon and lakhon originated from the Khmer court and spread throughout the region, beginning in Laos during the Lan Xang era. Typical performances included jataka tales, with the performances of the Pra Lak Pra Lam during Lao New Year in Luang Prabang being the most recognizable today.The nineteenth century spurred the creation of lam luang or Lao opera. Lam luang is a more theatrical version of lam music complete with sets, costumes and orchestral accompaniment. In 1972 the Pathet Lao formed the Central Lao Opera, the first professional lam luang troupe in Laos. The performances center on social issues, traditional themes, and national propaganda.


For the Lao Loum, traditional dress is similar to outfits as their neighbors, however, it is more distinct and unique due to their rich textile history. Among men, the Lao traditionally wear a Khmer style billowed trouser or sampot, a Mandarin collar jacket or Indochinese shirt, and a simple pha biang or checkered shawl. Among older generations and areas of the north it is also not uncommon to see men wearing a checkered or plaid pha-sarong. For women, the traditional dress is a long skirt with a richly embroidered foot called a sinh, a matching pha biang or shawl (longer shawls called hom are worn in colder areas), and is worn with a French inspired blouse. Men and women wear religious amulets, and large amounts of gold and silver jewelry which is believed to ward off evil and is a conspicuous sign of wealth. Colors patterns and embroidery techniques distinguish both region and class. Lao Loum use silk almost exclusively in many of their traditional designs. Traditional Lao clothing can also be found in the Northeast region of Thailand as the area was historically part of the Lan Xang kingdom and the people are majority, ethnically and culturally Lao.


Symbolism. The key national symbols are Buddhist, despite the fact that only around 60 percent of the population is Buddhist. Before the revolution in 1975, Buddhism and the monarchy were linked as key symbols. The Communist regime tried to substitute purely secular national symbols, and a calendar of mostly secular holidays was instituted. The flag of the first independence movement in 1945, the Lao Issara, replaced that of the Royal Lao Government (RLG). With the collapse of communism, the state has reverted to purely nationalist symbols; this "retraditionalizing" of the regime has meant a greater prominence for Buddhism. The national day of December 2 was celebrated after the revolution, but has been eclipsed by the celebration of the That Luang Festival. The That Luang stupa in Vientiane, built by the revered King Sethathirat, is one of the most sacred spaces and is recognized by all groups. Other national icons are also Buddhist, but some, such as the megalithic jars from the Plain of Jars, point to complex origins. Much of this iconography was pioneered by the RLG, including that associated with "hill tribes," who are typically presented in their "national dress." In general, national culture symbols are drawn fro Lao culture, suggesting that other ethnic groups are required to assimilate these symbols. This is a source of low-key contention in the country. The appropriation of "old regime" symbols has muted some of the conflict between refugee Lao and the LPDR (Lao People's Democratic Republic), but has led to debates over how much of the past to "revive." 041b061a72


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