Legend of Khun Boron
Immortalized in a glass mosaic located in the Throne Room of the former Royal Palace in Luang Prabang, the legend of Khun Borom parallels historical accounts of the migration of the Tai people, of which the Lao are considered to be a main branch.  According to this popular legend, the heavenly kingdoms were once ruled by powerful Gods, which, as a gesture of goodwill, would occasionally send someone to reign over the lesser earthly realms.

It was for this purpose that Khun Borom, the son of the Heavenly God Phaya Then, descended to the earthly realm on a royal elephant distinguished by its crossed tusks.  Upon landing at an uninhabited place known as Na Noi Oi Nu (small rice field) in the vicinity of Muang Then (City of Gods), believed to be located in present day northwestern Vietnam, Phaya Then provided Khun Borom with an axe and a buffalo as a means to initiate agriculture.  Upon traveling to Xieng Dong-Xieng Thong, a former settlement on the present day site of Luang Prabang, the local inhabitants accepted Khun Borom's offering of the buffalo and agriculture subsequently commenced.   The settlement flourished, however, as a result of numerous adverse deeds committed by the inhabitants, the buffalo died and a giant liana (Kheua Khao Kaat) grew from its nostrils.  Eventually it grew so high that it reached the sky and blocked out all sunlight to the earthly realm threatening the survival of all life forms.  Two deeply loyal servants of Khun Borom, affectionately known as grandfather (Phou Nheu) and grandmother (Nha Nheu), selflessly undertook the heroic deed of chopping down the liana with the axe.  Knowing that by undertaking this dangerous task that they would be killed in the process, they requested only that they be remembered for their bravery.   Upon chopping the liana down, sunlight streamed into the earthly realm once again and humankind was saved.  Phou Nheu and Nha Nheu were subsequently honored as the settlement's Devata Luang, a tradition of reverence that continues to this day.

An illustrated signboard within the Wat Aham compound depicts Phou Nheu, Nha Nheu, and the little lion Singkao Singkham from the popular legend of Khun Borom, whose eldest son Khun Lo is believed to have been the first of many Lao Kings.


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2002 SEAsite Laos.  Legend of Khun Borom