The Chao Ai- Chao Noong Legend and Tradition
Director and Co-Founder
“Association for Research Development”
This paper focuses on the tradition of ‘Chao Ai, - Chao Noong’ as it existed between the Phia Kasak as ‘Chao Ai’ (older Prince), and the King of Luang Prabang as the ‘Chao Noong’ (younger Prince), and sheds light on the ritual relationship that existed between them.
The tradition of the two unequal Prince-brothers, based on a legend about two brothers, reflects the real life and social reality of the Kmhmu’ Kasak people as the older ones and the Lao as the younger ones.
The Phia Kasak and the King both lived together in Luang Prabang in an unequal status relationship. The elder of the two princes was the slave and servant of the younger. Many people today are not familiar with the legend, the ritual, or its social background.
The older of the two Prince-brothers, the Phia Kasak, had two ritual functions: 1. to feed the spirits of the Meuang, (area) and 2. to send the fruit of longevity to the King as a blessing.
As reward he earned just scoldings of the younger brother (the King) and would be chased away with a curse.
The topic of Chao Ai, Chao Noong also touches on the unequal status of the indigenous Kmhmu’ in comparison with the Lao, which has existed in Laos in times past, with the Lao holding the power, and exploiting the Kmhmu’ population that was lacking rights and had no power.