Chapter 9: Lao Didactic Chronicles

Introduction

ຢ່າໄດ້ພາກັນຫລິ້ນ

yaa dai phaa kan liin

ການພະນັນເບັ້ຍໂບກ  

kaan phanan bia bok
ລາງເທື່ອໂຊກບໍ່ໃຫ     laang theu sok bo hai
ຖົງເຈົ້າຊິຂາດກາງ thong chao si khaad kaang
Don't you go betting or gambling of all kinds;
You might be unlucky; your pocket may be broken in half, dear children
              ຢ່າສອນຫລານ (yaa son laan--Grandma Teaches Grandchildren)1 

Some of the narratives presented in the earlier chapters may belong to more than one type, but narratives in this chapter, didactic chronicles, clearly belong to one type, as the purpose of telling or writing is to teach only.  The verse quoted above is a clear example.  The grandmother teaches her grandchildren to refrain from gambling, pointing out its disastrous consequence. This chapter presents excerpts from two prominent didactic chronicles,  ຢ່າສອນຫລານ (yaa son laan--Grandma Teaches Grandchildren) and ປູ່ສອນຫລານ (puu son laan--Grandpa Teaches Grandchildren).  Both chronicles are written in a verse form called ກາບ (kaap).2  "Most of the time, this type of narrative will present only one voice--that of the older, the superior, or the more experienced.  But the above book, Grandma Teaches Grandchildren, presents the voice of the grandchildren trying to argue with the grandmother.  Then the grandmother further explains the point to make it clearer.  For example,

1.  Grandma teaches the children to be patient and do things step by step and the reward will be precious like gold.

ໃຫ້ຄ່ອຍຄຶດຄ່ອຍແກ້  

hai khoi khued khoi kae  

ຄ່ອຍແກ່ຄ່ອຍດືງ

khoi kae khoi dueng

ໃຫ້ຄ່ອຍຂຸດຄ່ອຍຂົມ

hai khoi khut khoi khom

 ຄ່ອຍຄົມຄອຍຄ້ຳ

khoi khom khoi kham

ໃຫ້ຄ່ອຍທຳການສ້າງ

hai khoi tham kaan saang
ຢ່າວາງໃຈໃຫ້ຄ່ອຍແລ່ນ yaa waang chai hai khoi laen
ໃຫ້ຄ່ອຍອົດຄ່ອຍແງ້ນ hai khoi ot khoi ngaen  
ມັນຊິໄດ້ຕ່ອນຄຳ3      . man si dai ton kham
Think carefully, slowly solve problems, slowly drag and pull,

Dig slowly, bearing bitterness, carefully sharpen, and then push slowly;

Create things slowly; don't be careless, underestimate the task, move slowly,
Curb your craving desire and wait, you will receive a great reward like gold.

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2.  The children like the teaching and responded positively and beg the grandma to continue with her teaching.

ເມື່ອນັ້ນຝູງຫລານຕ້ານ mue nan fuung laan taan  
ສຽງຫລານອ້ອຍອິ່ນ siang laan oy in
ຫລານກໍຍິນມ່ວນແມ້ງ   laan ko yin muan maeng 

ມະໂນຊ້ອຍຊື່ນໃຈ     

manoo soi suen chai
ຂໍໃຫ້ໄອຍະກາແກ້ວ  kho hai ay-ya-kaa kaen   
ມະຫາຄຸນເຖົ້າຍ່າ  mahaa khun thao yaa
ຂໍໃຫ້ໂອວາດເວົ້າ    kho hai oo-waat wao
ເມືອຫນ້າຕໍ່ໄປ4     mua naa to pai
Then the grandchildren replied with delightfully sweet voice,
For they had enjoyed the warning which brings joy to their hearts.
"Oh, please, our Precious Grandma, you are blessed with greatness,
Please give us more teaching we shall continue listening to you."

 

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3.  So the grandma continues her teaching.  She tells them to eat only the body of the fish and to leave the liver, kidney, and lung for her.  She says that when eating the inside of the fish, it tastes good, but it will make the children weak and thin.

ກິນປາເຈົ້າຢ່າໄດ້ກິນໄສ້ kin paa chao yaa dai kin sai  
ຕັບໄຕພຸງປອດ ຫລານເອີຍ  tab tai phung pod   laan oey
ຄັນວ່າກິນຮອດທ້ອງ khan waa kin hod thong
ຊິຫວານຈ້ອຍຈ່ອຍໂຊ si waan joi joi so
ໃຫ້ເຈ້າກິນແຕ່ໂຕໂຂ້ໂຫລ Hai chao kin tae to kho lo
ຕັບໄຕເອົາໃຫ້ຍ່າ tab tai ao hai yaa
ຍ່ານີ້ເຖົ້າແກ່ແລ້ວ yaa nii thao kae laew
ກິນໄດ້ຊູ່ອັນນັ້ນແລ້ວ5   kin dai suu an    nan laew
When you eat fish, don't eat its intestine, liver, kidney, stomach, and lung, dear children;
If you do eat them, they may taste delicious, but you will be thin.
Eat only the fish's body, and give me its liver and kidney.
As I am already an elderly, I can easily eat every part of the fish,  truly.

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4.  This time the grandchildren do not like it.  So, they say that grandma wants to keep delicious things for herself and let the children eat only the tasteless food.  This is just like when eating sugar cane, grandma has told them to eat the end of the stem instead of the bottom.

ຄ້ອມວ່າຍ່າກ່າວແລ້ວ khom waa yaa kao laew
ຫລານເລົ່າເລີຍຫົວ laan lao loey huo
ຍ່ານີ້ຕົວະກິນຕັບ yaa nii tua kin tab
ຕ່ອນໂມທັງໄສ້ ton moo thang sai
ຕົວະໃຫ້ຫລານກິນອ້ອຍ tua hai laan kin oiy
ປາຍລຳມັນບໍ່ແມ່ນ   ຍ່າເອີຍ paay lam man bo maen   yaa oey
ກົກກິນຫວານແຊບຊ້ອຍ kok kin waan saeb soiy
ຊິກິນກ້ຽງຜູ້ດຽວ   ຊັ້ນບໍ6 si kin kiang phuu diew   san bo
After the grandma finished her teaching, the grandchildren began laughing.
"Grandma, you trick us so you can eat the liver and the inside plus intestines.
It's like when you tricked us to eat sugar cane at the wrong end,  dear Grandma.
For the delicious end of the sugar cane, you alone enjoyed it;  Isn't it true?"

 

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5.  After the children have said that, grandma has another chance to explain her good intention, saying that sweet things are not always good for children.   Too much sugar can make anyone sick.  "Children's bodies may become overly thin; their heads may grow as huge as a basket."

ໂອນໍຫລານເອີຍມັນບ່ເປັນຈັ່ງຊັ້ນ Oh no laan oey man bo pen chang san
ຢ່າໄດ້ຮ່ຳເພີງຄືດ yaa dai ham phoeng khued
ຢ່າໄດ້ເຫັນແຕ່ແນວຫວານ ໆ yaa dai hen tae naew waan waan
ວ່າຊິມີຄຸນລົ້ນ waa si mii khun lon
ອັນວ່າຂອງຫວານນັ້ນ an waa khong waan nan
ເປັນລົມລົ້ມງ່າຍ   ຫລານເອີຍ   pen lom lom ngaiy   laan oey
ຄັນກິນຫລາຍມັນຊິເປັນແມ່ແລ້ງ khan kin lai man si pen mae laeng
ຫົວຊິໂປ້ທໍ່ກະບຸງ7 huo si po tho kabung
Oh No!, my grandchildren, that is not true; don't you ever think that way.
Don't be overly excited about sweet things, thinking that they are all good.
Sweet things can be harmful actually; they can easily make you sick, dear children,
Too many sweets will emaciate your body,  and your head will be as huge as a basket.

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In the second example, ປູ່ສອນຫລານ (puu son laan--Grandpa Teaches Grandchildren),8 only the voice of the grandfather was heard.  "As Grandpa Teaches Grandchildren was written when Lan Xang Kingdom was flourishing, moral concepts are based on lives in the feudal system and Buddhist beliefs.  However, this book has long been used  to teach young people about ways of life and social mores so that they will grow up to be honest and pure.  In addition, the narrative also teaches young people to behave properly in various situations, to have respect for one another, to know the right place for each person's status, and to refrain from all evil deeds."9

Read the following excerpts and discuss what lessons students can learn about Lao people and culture.

1.

ຫລົວແລະຟືນຢ່າເອົາຮອງນັ່ງ     luo lae pheun yaa ao hong nang
ເຊື້ອນັ່ງຕ່ຳຢ່າໄດ້ນັ່ງສູງ sua nang tam yaa dai nang suung
ເຊື້ອລຸງຕາໃຫ້ຢຳປານແກ້ວ        sua lung taa hai yam paan kaew
ປູ່ສັ່ງແລ້ວຫລານຫລ້າຈື່ອຈຳ          puu sang laew laan laa chue cham
Do not sit on firewood of all kinds and do not sit higher than the elders.
Pay full respect to your precious elders; remember this teaching from Grandpa.

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2.

ທຳເປັນຂຸນໃຫ້ມີໃຈກວ້າງ tham pen khun hai mii chai khwaang
ຢ່າອວດອ້າງຕວາມຮູ້ບໍຖາມ     yaa uod aang khwaam huu bo thaam
ຕວາມໃດງາມຖາມຂຸນຜູ້ຮູ້ khwaam dai ngaam thaam khun phuu huu 
ມັກຫລິ້ນຊູ້ໃຫ້ຖາມດອມເມຍ mak lin suu hai tham dom mia
A lord must be generously open-minded about knowledge;         
Don't be conceited, not wanting to ask questions.
Whatever that is good, you could ask from experienced and knowledgeable lords.
If you want to have an extra-marital affair, dare ask your wife about it first.

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3.

ໄມ້ລຳດຽວລ້ອມຮັ້ວບໍ່ໄຂວ່                           mai lam diew lom hua bo khwai
ໄພ່ບໍ່ພ້ອມແປງບ້ານບໍ່ເປັນ phai bo phom paeng baan bo pen
One bamboo pipe cannot be used to make a fence;
Without inferior subjects and citizens, a city can not be established.

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4.

ເພິ່ນຄຽດແລ້ວຢ່າໄດ້ກ່າວໄຍ        aaaphoen khiad laew yaa dai khao yai
ໄຟລາມລຸກຢ່າເອາຝອຍມາອ່ອຍ        fai laam luk yaa ao fai maa oiy
When some one is angry at you, don't speak ill about it;
Don't feed the wild fire with fuel.

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5.

ເປັນຄົນໃນໃຫ້ຮຽນຕວາມຮູ້ pen khon nai hai hian khwaam huu
ເຮັດຊູລູເຊົາບ່ມີຍຳ  hed suu luu khao bo mii yam
ເຮັດຊຳງຳເຂົາບໍ່ມີຢ້ານ hed sam ngam khao bo mii yaan
ໄປທຽ່ວບ້ານໃຫ້ເບິ່ງຫົນທາງ pai thiew baan hai boeng hon thaang
To be a complete person, one must seek knowledge;
Without it, you will look silly and you will not be taken seriously.
Without it, you will act silly and you will not be respected.
Traveling into a village, make sure to watch the way.

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6.

ຂ້າຫລີກຫນີຢ່າເອົາຫລາຍເທື່ອ   khaa liik nii yaa ao lai thua
ງ້ວນກິນເບື່ອຢ່າໄວ້ໃນເຮືອນ ngaun kin bue yaa wai nai heuan
Once your servant has left you, do not take him in your house again;
Nguan, the poisonous tree, must not be planted in your house.

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7.                

ຄນຜູ້ໃດມັກນອນຕື່ນສວາຍ                                khon phuu dai mak non tuen swauy
ເທວະດາຫນຫວາຍດ່າປ້ອຍ                                thewadaa hon hwauy daa poi
ໃຫ້ສຸດສ້ວຍຕກຕ່ຳດຳລົງ     hai sud suay tok tam long din
ປູ່ປະສົງບອກຫລານໃຫ້ຜ້ຽຍ              puu pasong bok laan hai phian
Whoever wakes up late in the morning is not wise;
An annoyed celestial being might curse him
To sink down low into the abyss;
Grandpa wishes to tell you to avoid the bad habit, Grandchildren.                   

 

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Notes to Chapter 9: Lao Didactic Chronicles

     1.  Pho Phuangsaba, Yaa son laan (Grandmother Teaches Grandchildren), Vientiane: The State Printing Press, 2000, p. 45.

     2.  Versifications of popular types of Lao verses will be presented in Chapter 10.

     3.  Pho Phuangsaba, Yaa son laan (Grandmother Teaches Grandchildren), p. 17.

     4Ibid., p. 18.

     5. Loc.cit.

     6.  Loc.cit.

     7.  Ibid., p. 18-19.

     8.  Buddha Khosachaan, "ປູ່ສອນຫລານ (puu son laan--Grandpa Teaches Grand- children)" in Baebhian phasa lae wannakhadee san matthayom pithi song (A Textbook on Lao Language and Literature for the Eighth Grade Students), Vientiane: The National Research Institute of Science and Education, Ministry of Education, 1997, pp. 115-121.

         Buddha Khosachaan was a revered Buddhist monk who wrote this narrative during the reign of King Suliyavongsa (1637-1694) of the Lan Xang Dynasty in the 17th century. 

        Excerpts 1 to 7 are all taken from the same source.

     9.  Ibid., p. 115.

 

 

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