Historical chronicles, legends,
myths, and folk epics are closely related as they all are believed to be true accounts at
some point in time and as they also deal with real places, real people, and real
objects. In the previous chapters, we already presented legendary heroes under
"Lao Myth" and "Lao Folk Epics." Thus this chapter will present
historical chronicles (ພື້ນສືບ--phuen sueb) relating to places and religious stories.
Thus, the legend of Vientiane, The Casting of Phra Bang, and Siikhottabong are stories to
be presented in this chapter.
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The Legend of Vientiane1
Once there was a peculiar city
because it was surrounded by thorny bamboo bushes which became the city walls, protecting
it from any enemy. The city was then called Phainaam
(ໄຜ່ຫນາມ--phai means bamboo; naam means thorns).
At that time there was a city ruler
named Phya Fa-ngum. He was the most powerful king during that time. He had led his
army to subdue many cities. Once, after one of his battles, he led his army to
Phainaam, intending to seize the city under his control. However, there was no way
for his army to enter the city. So he thought of many ways to take over
the city, but nothing seemed to work. It took them more than ten days to try to
overthrow the city, but they still could not do anything. Once they thought they
would burn the city down, but they felt sorry for the women, children, and the
elderly. These people took no part in the war, but they had to suffer its
Phya Fa-ngum then came up with a
brilliant plan. He ordered his subjects to wrap the bullets and the arrowheads with
gold sheet. Then, he ordered them to shoot those bullets and arrows at the bamboo
bushes around the city. After that was done, he led his army back to his city.
The people of Phainaam, seeing that
Phya Fa-ngum's army retreated, came out to conduct their lives in their usual ways.
It was so happened that some of the people saw the arrowheads and bullets covered with
gold. These people then spread a rumor that there were gold arrows and bullets stuck
to every bamboo around the city. Upon hearing the rumor, both the common subjects
and the rulers of the city took no time to reason or to think of the consequences.
They all went to cut down every bamboo bush, searching for gold. Finally, the city
had no walls for protection.
Once all the city walls were cleared
away, Phya Fa-ngum's spy sent a message to Phya Fa-ngum, informing him of the news.
Phya Fa-gnum then led his army to take over Phainaam easily, as the city gate was already
opened, welcoming their enemy. Since then, the city was no longer called Phainaam.
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The Casting of
Long, long ago there was a revered
saintly monk, Chunlanaga, who was endowed with magical power. Wishing to make
Buddhism a long lasting religion of 5,000 years, the monk went all over Sri Lanka (Ceylon)
to persuade people to contribute to a ceremony of casting a Buddha image. The
ceremony was to be held under the patronage of the King of Sri Lanka, Lord Indra, and
other celestial beings, Brahmins, and ascetics.
Once agreement was reached,
Chunlanaga started collecting from the people, silver, gold, copper, and brass wares as
well as other ceremonial and worshipping necessities such as flowers, candles,
incense-sticks. When the appointed time came, the patrons of the ceremony picked up the
materials collected and dropped them into the melting pot. After the process was
finished, the newly-cast Buddha image was named Phra Bang (phra, in Lao, is a pronoun
referring to a Buddhist monk or a Buddha image, and bang means "thin" or
"little."). The celebration was held and lasted for seven days. The
"buddhaphisek," ceremony (the religious ritual held during the casting of Buddha
images) conducted by a number of senior monks was held on the night of the full moon.
Because of the auspicious day of the
"buddhaphisek," ceremony, the Phra Bang was endowed with great magical
power. It was so powerful that all creatures on earth and in heavens must worship
Phra Bang. The saintly and revered monk, Chunlanaga brought with him five valuable
and magic crystals from the shrine where the ashes of Buddha were kept. He planned
to put those five objects in the body of Phra Bang. But while the chanting and
praying of the Buddhist monks was going on, the first crystal went flying towards the Phra
Bang and sank itself into the Buddha image's forehead; the second one rested in the Buddha
image's chin; the third one, in the right hand; the fourth one, in the left hand; and the
last one stayed right in the center of the image's chest. So, that concluded
the casting of Phra Bang, but the fame and reputation of sacredness of the Buddha image
has been spread out all over the land.
Many centuries later, the King of
Inthapattha City, Cambodia, went to Sri Lanka to ask for the Phra Bang Image to be brought
to his city. Many generations went by and then the Phra Bang was removed from
Viengkham City to Muang Sua (elsewhere in this course, this city is spelt
"Chawa;" it is now Luang Phra Bang, the Royal Capital of Laos) by King
Suyachakkapatti Phenepheo, the King of Muang Sua.
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Once long ago, in the central part of
Laos, there was a poor couple who had a son named Thao Sii. Thao Sii was quite
clever, but mischievous. So the parents decided to have Thao Sii ordained as a
novice. After being a novice for eight years, he asked for permission to leave
the monastery. When he became a lay man, his title was changed to Xiang. Xiang
Sii realized that his parents were growing old so he wanted to take care of them in
However, his parents were concerned
about Xiang Sii's future. So they decided to take Xiang Sii to the city ruler.
They wanted Xiang Sii to be the king's servant and to do whatever the king wished him to
The king ordered Xiang Sii and other
men to go to the forest to collect resin from dipterocarpous trees. Because Xiang
Sii looked thin and weak, his friends asked him to cook for them instead of collection
resin. One day while the sticky rice was being steamed, Xiang Sii went to cut a
branch of a black kapok tree to make mai kadaam (ໄມ້ກະດ້າມ--a spatula for stirring the
sticky rice after it is steamed).
When the rice was cooked, he poured
it onto a pannier and began to stir the rice to cool it off a little before keeping it in
the bamboo box. But he became much alarmed because the sticky rice turned black when
the spatula touched it.4
Being afraid that his friends would
know about it, Xiang Sii immediately ate the entire pannier of black rice. After he
finished that black rice, a miracle took place. Xiang Sii's body changed. He
became a big strong man! He might have been as strong as many elephants.
To test his own strength, Xiang Sii
reached up to pull down a great big dipterocarpous tree. To all his friends' awe and
amazement, the tree was bent down.
Now in the city of Vientiane, there
were many elephants invading the city, destroying houses and hurting people. The
people, faced with dire danger, were running for their lives. The king of Vientiane
called for an assembly of noble men and ministers for consultation. He ordered them
to go search for a brave person to conquer the elephants. The king promised to give
a reward to the conqueror; "whoever could conquer the elephants, I shall give my
daughter's hand in marriage."
Upon hearing the announcement, Xiang
Sii hurried to the woods to cut a black kapok tree to make a giant club and headed for
Vientiane. Once there, he bravely brandished his giant club,
chasing the elephants out of the
city. All elephants but one ran away from the city. Xiang Sii fought with the
leader of the elephants for three days and three nights before it gave in.
After conquering the elephants, the
king called Xiang Sii to claim his reward. He arranged a wedding between his
daughter, Nang Kheowkhom, and Xiang Sii as promised. The king also sent Xiang Sii
and his wife to rule a city called Muang Sikhot. Since then the city of Muang Sikhot
has been called "Muang Sikhottabong" and the new king Xiang Sii was called,
Later, a jealous minister went to
inform the king in private, saying that, with his miraculous power, Phya Sikhottabong may
one day overthrow the King of Vientiane. The gullible Vientiane King easily
believed such slander. Thus, he told his daughter to find out about what made Phya
Sikhottabong have extraordinary strength and how he could be conquered.
Nang Kheowkhom pretended to be so
sweet and loving that Phya Sikhottabong was deceived. He told her all his secret
because of his love for her.
Once the king of Vientiane found out
the secret, he invited Phya Sikhottabong to visit him in Vientiane. He arranged a
special room for his son-in-law as well as a special toilet with hidden mechanical
lances. Once, Phya Sikhottabong sat down to relief himself, the hidden lances sprang
out to hit his anus and went through his throat.
After Phya Sikhottabong was killed,
his body was floated down the river on a raft. When the people of Muang Sikhottabong
caught sight of their dead king, they became so frightened. The people mourned and
cried for their king for seven days and seven nights, recalling the king's great deeds.
They also recalled that Phya Sikhottabong ruled the city justly and peaceably.
And so the story was told and retold
until it has become the story of Muang Sikhottabong in Khammuan region in Laos to this
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