Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Champasak Provincial Historic Museum Part 2 - Faded Photographs, Musical Instruments & More

In this 2nd part, we will just graze the surface of Laos' history to give this post some perspective. Since many people would rather forget dates, we're opting for slide-show flashes of the country's past. If you're easily bored, skip this post. Bear in mind that we feel the need to document our visit at the Champasak Provincial Historic Museum. This last of a 2-parter concentrates on the photographic displays, as well as some musical instruments, found in the museum.


Laos reeks with history, struggles and strifes. Like much of Southeast Asia, the migration of the Homo sapiens eventually reached Laos and produced the first pottery and bronze metallurgy.Their hunting techniques soon evolved into horticulture and rice cultivation. In the Nithan Khun Borom, the myth of the creation of the Lao people is retold until the eventual founding of the first Lao Kingdom located in the vicinity of present day Luang Prabang. The first extended Lao Kingdom dates from the mid-14th century. The evolution of this ascendancy came about as influenced by the political changes around the region -  the rise of the Khmer rulers, the stepping in of Ramkhamhaeng who founded the Tai-Syam kingdom of Sukhothai, and the loss of interest of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty in further conquering Southeast Asia. Eventually the Kingdom of Lan Xang came about, as recounted by the first Europeans to arrive in Viang Chan (Vientiane).


Lan Xang was composed of three smaller kingdoms - Viang Chan, Luang Prabang and Champasak. This underlines the importance of Champasak in the affairs of the country. In 1867, members of the French Mekong Expedition reached Luang Prabang, and by 1893, France gains sovereignty over all Lao territory east of Mekong which was captured by Japan in 1945. However, the French reoccupied the country a year later, sending the Lao Issara Government into exile. In 1949, partial independence was accorded to Laos by the French. A year later, the Pathet Lao (a communist organization) formed the resistance government. It didn't take long for Laos to ultimately embrace Communism, much to the disappointment of the Americans who, in 1964, began their war against ground targets in Laos. In 1975, the communist movement successfully seized power and declared the country as Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR)!


The name is a misnomer, to be quite frank, because the country is run by the tenets of communism. In fact, censorship is heavily observed in media practices. "Good Morning, Luang Prabang", the very first commercial movie to screen in Laos after it was seized by the communist rule in the 70's, had government monitors plotting the story of the movie (they modified the script as they saw fit and removed what's perceived as criticism to the government) and  were even present during the filming. Take note that the film's genre is light romance - a ruminative travelogue featuring a local beauty queen and a Thai - with Lao blood - superstar) and nowhere near the political commentaries that the government dismisses. Oh well. Baby steps.

These days, Laos is slowly moving forward into the future. Though commercialism plods on snail paced speed, I feel that this is all for the better. And I am honored to have seen the country (and then again very soon - for the third time) before it will eventually be cloaked by commercialism.

Entrance to the Champasak Provincial Historic Museum in Pakse, South Laos.

The second story is filled with faded photographs that plot the history of Laos.

During Laos Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong's first visit in the Philippines, a three-day official visit (June 3 to 6, 2012), the two heads of state signed several agreements that shall foster improved bilateral relations. These include the following: 1) a Memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the University of the Philippines Los Banos (Laguna) and the National University of Laos to develop academic and educational cooperation between the two universities; 2) an MOU between the Foreign Service Institute between the Department Foreign Affairs of the two nations; 3) MOU between the Philippine Sports Commission and the Ministry of Education and Sports of both countries.

According to the Philippine Star, there are 556 Filipinos in Laos, mostly professionals. Last May 18, the very first Laos film to be shown in a commercial cinema was presented to the public during the "Asia as Our Society Film Festival" at the Shangrila Cineplex. The movie: Anousone Sirisackda's 2010 directorial debut called "Only Love" - a film that hybrids social responsibility and light romance.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Musical instruments


This bronze drum dates back to 1000 years and was found in a certain Mr. Bon Eua's house which is now a Provincial Meeting Hall. 


Jars and pots

An elephant howrah

Armaments? Farming gadgets? 

The Fangum King united the divisive regions and formed the Lane Xang Kingdom. Nowadays, the royal regime is given honor by naming a majestic street in Vientiane after it. I originally thought that "Lane Xang" referred to a "lane" - a street, instead of being a royal reign in Laos' past. Lane Xang is now a beautiful street in the heart of Vientiane that hosts a beautiful arch called Patuxai, several embassies, some shopping malls, and - at the end of the street, the Prime Minister's Palace. 

The struggle against Siam

Bare breasted Laven minority girl. This was taken in Attapeu Province, 1940.

Communal drinking from a liquor jar. Bonding time of the Lao Uplaud people.

All the single ladies, all the single ladies... Now put your hands up... Up in the club, we just broke up, I'm doing my own little thing...

Lao alphabets used during the 15th century.

Comrade Kaysone Phomvihane (first from left) and his Vietnamese army cadres.

Lao cadets and volunteer Vietnamese soldiers at the southwest Attapu base in South Laos.

Laos Issara Government Prime Minister Souphanouvong delivers his speech at the Viet Minh-Lien Viet Unification Congress, Viet Bac in 1951.  

President Ho Chi Minh and President Kaysone Phomvihane during the latter's visit in Hanoi in 1961.

President Ho Chi Minh and President Souphanouvong during the latter's visit in Hanoi in 1967.

Foreign prisoners

Lao-Vietnamese anti-aircraft artillery unit, 1972.

Lao women presenting flowers to volunteer Vietnamese soldiers.

Lao artillery women recieve gifts from Madam Nguyen Thi Dinh, a Vietnamese dignitary.

Lao people carrying food and ammunition along the western Truongson Road.

LPRP Central Committe President and State President Khamtay Siphandone makes an official visit in Hanoi, Vietnam. (January 3, 1999)

Champasak Museum Part 1 - Artifacts and More - http://eye-in-the-blue-sky.blogspot.com/2012/06/champasak-provincial-historic-museum.html

Laos PM Thongsing Thammavong and Philippine President Noynoy Aquino during the former's first visit in the Philippines. Welcome, Mr. PM. This photo only courtesy of  Mr. Ryan Lim of the Malacanang Photo Bureau and www.pcoo.gov.ph.

Laos PM Thammavong and Philippine President Noynoy Quino stand to witness bilateral agreement between the two countries. This photo only courtesy of Mr. Jay Morales of the Malacanang Photo Bureau and www.pcoo.gov.ph.

Laos Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong being guided by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III during the former's first visit in Manila. This photo only courtesy of Mr. Jay Morales of the Malacanang Photo Bureau and www.pcoo.gov.ph.

No comments: