Laos Arts and Literature


Lao’s oral poetry has its chief expression in phagna souphasite, short proverbs on rhyme, and in lamb, narrative ballad, the most popular form of poetry. The motifs in the latter often originate in jataka. Classic in the genre is “Sin Xay” by Thao Pangkham (18th century). From Ramayana was retrieved “Prince Lak and Prince Lam”, once the most staged drama. Popular literature consists of long lambs and has ingredients such as jealousy, magic and supernatural things but can also be burlesque. Many medical, legal and astrological texts of Brahmanical origin are also classic works, and banknotes of poetry often appear.

Laos Population Pyramid

  • Countryaah: Population and demographics of Laos, including population pyramid, density map, projection, data, and distribution.

Modern literature emerged with 1940’s nationalism, and it was only then that the art of letterpress was introduced. An important writer is the mouth teacher Maha Sila Viravong, who translated and edited countless older palm leaf manuscripts, usually unsigned and undated. Others, like Somsi Dechakamphou and Souvanthon Bouphanuvong, write in a social-realist spirit. Since 1975, the task of literature has been to honor the ideals of socialism. Towards the end of the 1980’s, a more open policy began, and literary journals have published short stories and poems expressing individual feelings and hidden regime criticism. In parallel, the influence of commercial Thai literature has increased.

Art and architecture

Lao’s art and architecture is a provincial offshoot of Thai and consists mainly of Hinayan Buddhist architecture and sculpture. The Stupan That Luang in Vientiane, built in 1586, is the most beautiful religious building in Laos. Its low dome, with a curved tower spire in the middle, rests on a square base, surrounded by smaller spiers of the same kind as the central one. A Chinese-type brick wall surrounds the entire complex.

Most Buddhist buildings in Laos are wooden structures that rest on wooden pillars with long, steep and prominent ceilings, ornate roof rails and characteristically curved s-shaped roof ends. Extended eaves cover wide porches. The sculptures in gilded bronze and wood found in these buildings are usually raw variants of Thai type. Many of the wooden figures have a primitive strength which distinguishes them from similar sculptures in neighboring countries.


Solo singing and alternate singing, in which language tones and more or less intricate poetry forms play a prominent role, are important elements in both minority and majority people. In Lao tradition (also northeastern Thailand), lamb (in the north called khap) with accompaniment on the mouth organ dominates the kha and sometimes even the long-necked phin, the hand cymbals sing (which are alternately muted and sounding) and so on. instrument. The kha is available in different sizes. It has two rows of barrels, each with a free-swinging tube blade inside, which is attached to the bottom of a wooden air container. The hmong people’s crowdwith six pipes and long pipes are played at i.a. funeral ceremonies by musicians who simultaneously perform a slow dance.

The minority people in Laos traditionally form ensembles of bamboo percussion instruments as well as metal gongs. In modern times, bronze drums, a kind of tickling ganglia, have had important religious and social functions in the mountains of the north, especially with the Kammu people.

The orchestral music piphat and maholi at the court in Luang Prabang are closely related to the music of Thailand and Cambodia. Education in traditional Laotian music is given at the music school in Vientiane.

Laos Arts and Literature