Chapter 1: Introduction to Lao Folklore

Definitions of Lao Folklore  

    Before discussing definitions of Lao folklore, one needs to look at terms of folklore in Lao.   There is no precise term in Lao to refer to folklore, although plenty of folklore materials exist in Laos.    Kongdeuane Nettavongs,1 director of the Lao National Library in Vientiane commented, "Concerning a Lao word for Folklore, I have used a similar term in French when I was in Canada. ' I went to see the Dance folklorique,' which means dance of the local people, or in Lao words, fon phuen muang.  Thus I would say that the English word, "folklore" could be papheni phuen muang or papheni khong xaoban in Lao.  However, the Thai term could be used."   Art Crisfield2 in consultation with Than Kidaeng Phonkasemsuk, a Lao scholar, also agreed with the Lao National Library director's final comment that a Thai academic term could be used.     For this course, "Lao Folklore," I would like to use a Lao term, "khati khong xaoban lao," which will include customs as well as other materials such as proverbs and sayings, songs and rhymes, riddles, games. 

    The history of the academic term in Thai for "folklore," "khatichonwitthaya," goes back as far as the 1960s.  Such a word came to be recognized in Thailand only after the return of Dr. Kingkaew Attathakora3 from her Ph.D. studies in Folklore at Indiana University.    A brief history of the word goes back to Phya Anumanrajadhon, the first Thai folklorist who suggested the word, "praphenii saat (science of customs)" for the word folklore.  Later, Dr. Kulab Mullikamat,4 the first Thai Ph.D. graudate in folklore from Indiana University, used the word khatichaoban (ways of life of the local people or people from the old times) to refer to the studies of folklore.  However, that Thai term was not, currently used in Thai  folklore studies often, as the term folklore may cover more areas than just local or old time people.  Dr. Kingkaew Attathakora, the second Thai folklorist, suggested the term khatichonwitthaya (the study of ways of lives according to the customs of the ethnic groups).  The latter term has been adopted in Thai folklore studies as it has a broader meaning while the former might be misleading.  Some people might think that folklore only refers to local people in rural areas, not other groups of people.5   For now, we can use the Thai term for folklore in Lao, "khatichonwitthaya" to refer to "folklore" in the broadest sense.   Saowalak Anantasan, one of the most recent Thai folklorists, gives a comprehensive definition of the Thai term, "khatichonwitthaya."  She defines the Thai folklore in the following words; "an academic term relating to the study of ways of life, thoughts, and works of the collective people.  The people of all levels and statuses in a society are important to folklore study."6

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Brief Background of the Studies of Lao Folklore

Due to time restriction, folklore materials to be examined for this course will be mostly from the Lao side of the Mekhong River.   Lao folklore materials are not collected as such, but as separate topics such as Lao folktales, Lao folk customs, Lao folk literature, Lao folk history or Lao historical chronicles.   The late Maha Sila Viravongs,7 for instance, composed many historical chronicles, transliterated Lao folk tales from palm leaf manuscripts into modern Lao script, and published materials on Lao customs.  His offsprings and relatives, like Duongdeuane (Viravongs) and Outhin Bounyavong and Dara (Viravongs) Kalaya have been working on transliteration of ancient Lao folk epics and publishing them in modern Lao script.   One of the outstanding works of Doungdeuane (Viravongs) Bounyavong8 is to reprint Thao Hung Thao Chueang Epic into modern Lao script with notes, explanations, and glossaries.  In this volume, English speaking readers find Maha Sila Viravongs' preface explaining the origin of the original version of the epic, summaries of the story, a brief discussion of historical references appearing in the epic, and a forward to the entire volume by Kongdeuane Nettavong, Director of the Lao National Library.    Pho Phuangsaba, Somsi Dechakhamphu, and Khumphan Latanavong, are among a few modern scholars9 who are still working on compiling and producing folklore materials relating to folktales, culture, and customs.  Apart from individual authors, the Ministry of Education and the Research Institute of Lao Culture have also been publishing folk materials in modern Lao script.     Click here to see Bibliography on Lao Folklore*  

As mentioned earlier, plenty of folklore materials exist in Laos, yet not one of the above Lao scholars has studied those materials.   In Thailand, Siraphon Na Thalang, Prakhong Nimmanhemin and Lamoon Janhom have worked on Tai materials, but only a small part of Lao materials are mentioned.    Siraphon Na Thalang10 discusses versions of a Lao creation myth of the Tai from both the oral tradition and the literary tradition.  In her study,  versions of Lao creation myth were examined.  She concluded that the Lao creation myth shows that all Tai ethnic groups share the same belief system; thus, they are "relatives."    Prakhong Nimmanhemin,11 in a comparative study of versions of Phya Juang: the Hero of the Tai Legend, discusses versions of the myth of the Tai hero, Phya Juang.   Similarities and differences were discovered from versions of the story:  the Lanna (northern Thai version), the Sipsongpanna (in Khunming district, south China), Chiangtung (Burma), Lanxang (Lao), and the Black Tai (Vietnam).  Lamoon Janhom12 prepared a study on "The Grandfather Teaching the Grandchildren," a didactic chronicle of the Tai, focusing on the Lanna (northern Thai) version.   Versions of the same story from Laos were mentioned very briefly.  Pranee Wongthet13 wrote "The Jataka Tales and the Lao Phuan's Worldview in 1980.  Even though her study was done in Prachinburi, Thailand, it reflects ways of life of the Lao Phuan ethnic group whose ancestors had been relocated from towns in the present day Laos, such as Khamkoed, Khammuan, Laophuan, Laokao, Vientiane, Luang Phrabang, Viengkham, and Campasak.  In this study, Pranee Wongthet examined roles of  the Jataka tales in the lives of the people, such as in the monks' sermons, in funeral wakes, and other customs.  Sisak Wanliphodom,14   in his Aeng arayatham Isan (A Northeastern Site of Civilization) made mention of Lao historical chronicle in "The Lao of Thailand: Laotian Settlements in Thailand."  In 1995, Sujit Wongthet15 published a collection of papers on Thao Hung Khun Cheung contributed by notable scholars, Sila Viravongs, Jit Phumisak, Sisak Wanliphodom, Duongdeuane (Viravongs) Bounyavong, Prakhong Nimmanhemin, and Thida Saraya.  Jaruwan Thammawat16  is perhaps the only Thai scholars who has contributed a great deal to the studies of Lao folklore, as her studies involve quite a few of Lao materials from Laos.  In Lae Lod  Lao Chronicles (Peaking at Lao Chronicles), she presents four versions of Lao historical chronicles in modern Thai scripts (Luang Phrabang, Vientiane, Phuan, and Campasak); a travel journal entry of Dr. P. N. Muller, Ecole Francais d' Extreme Orient in 1908; the Khun Borom and the writing of Lao historical chronicles; the Reformation of Laos and the Writing of Lao historical chronicles; Religion and Beliefs of the Lao; the Establishment and Decline of the Royal Family; Battle outside of Lan Xang Kingdom; Women in Lao Historical Chronicles; and the Migration of the Lao People.  In Local Literature: a Case Study of Isan/Lan Xang, she discusses general information on local literature, five categories of Isan/Lan Xang folk narratives; values of folk narratives, local characteristics and functions of folk narratives; and suggestions on how to pass on the folk narratives. 

Apart from the Thai and Lao scholars mentioned, three more international scholars  have also contributed to the studies of Lao folk literature.  Carol Compton17  presents the textual and linguistic analysis of Lao courting poetry in Courting Poetry in Laos: A Textual and Linguistics Analysis published by Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Northern Illinois University in 1979.  Peter Koret,18 "Laos" in Traveller's Literary Companion to South-east Asia, edited by Alastair Dingwall, Brighton, UK: Print Publishing, 1994, has given a bird's-eye-view of the entire body of Lao literature with a brief history of the country and the literature.  He gives brief summaries of Lao literature both ancient and modern in this study, as well as a brief discussion of the Western authors writing about Laos.   Finally, Sachchidanand Sahai19 did his studies on the Lao Ramayana, transliterating the entire two volumes from six sets of palm leaf manuscript in northeast Thailand and Laos into modern Lao in 1970 with an informative introduction in English.  Later, he published Ramayana in Laos : a study in the Gvay dvˇrahbi, foreword by Suniti Kumar Chatterji. Delhi : B. R. Pub. Corp. ; New Delhi : distributed by D. K. Publishers' Distributors, 1976.   His other volume is The Krsna saga in Laos : a study in the Brah Ku’td Brah Ban : or, the story of Banasura,  Delhi : B.R. Pub. Corp. ; New Delhi : distributed by D.K. Publishers' Distributors, 1978.   

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Scope of Lao Folklore Study in the Course

Jan Brunvand20 states that in the early stage of the study of folklore, . . . "the word "folklore" is very loosely applied."  People may "know the word only  with reference to children's literature or in the sense of rumor, hearsay, or error."   As Lao folklore is at its early stage, one needs to make clear its meaning and scope.   Like Damiana L. Eugenio, I would like to include, in Lao folklore, "all kinds of traditional knowledge of the folk; their oral literature, their arts and crafts, customs and beliefs, games and amusements, their magic and ritual."21   However, due to time limitations, this course will be able to cover only materials from the major collections in the Lao National Library which are mostly Lao Lum (the Lowland Lao).   This course will not be dealing with materials from the Lao Thoeng (the Mountainside Lao), the Lao Sung (the Mountain-Top Lao), and the Lao abroad.  However, for those interested,  bibliographies of materials in English on these three groups can be accessed.

Folklore scholars study folk literature, folk music, folk dance, folk drama, material culture, folk costume, folk customs, literally anything which is passed on among a people as tradition.  Due to time limitations, this course will cover mostly oral literature which include folk narrative (fiction and non-fiction), folk speech which include proverbs and saying, folk songs and poetry, and riddles.  Other interesting topics like material culture (house and temple architecture, costumes, food and ingredients, utensils and etc.), social folk custom (rites, rituals, beliefs, religious beliefs, games, and other activities), performing arts (dances, lam (folk opera), and music) will be presented as images, and slide shows in the Lao Website.

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Lao Folk Narratives

          In general, folk narratives refer to any traditional literature that has been passed on by word of mouth.  Folk narratives could be in verse or in prose.   At first, these narratives were passed on only by word of mouth, but later they were recorded on palm leaf manuscripts.   Myths, legends, folk epics and folktales are all examples of folk literature.  However, the body of Lao folk narrative which we wish to study includes both fiction and non-fiction narratives.  Jaruwan Thammawat.22 divides Lao folk narratives into five categories--didactic narratives, law narratives, folktales, Buddhist narratives, and epistolary narratives.  Jaruwan Thammawat has left out two categories of non-fiction narratives--folk medicine, remedies, incantation words and historical chronicles.   Folk narratives which we wish to study include also, narratives about folk medicine, incantations, narratives about folk law, historical chronicles, and other didactic chronicles.

    Thus, in this course, folk narratives will include myth, legends, folk epics, folktales, historical chronicles, folk medicine, folk law and ruling system, epistolary chronicles, and didactic chronicles. Before discussing further, it may be necessary to understand some of those terms mentioned. 

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Fiction Narratives

    Myths are "traditional prose narratives, which in the society in which they are told, are considered to be truthful accounts of what happened in the remote past.  Typically they deal with the activities of gods and demigods, the creation of the world and its inhabitants, and the origins of religious rituals."23   Lao folk literature is rich and varied with several types of myths which are both in poetry and prose and most of them are considered sacred.  This collection gives examples of the myths of origin of human beings, the myths of the relationship between humans and gods, the myths of the origin of the Lao people, and so on.  Usually, myths are regarded as secred texts.   Lao myths include Phya Khankhaak, the Toad King,24 the myth of the Great Gourd of Heaven, the myth of Khua Khao Kad, the Giant Creeper, and Phuen Khun Boromrajathirat25 (The Myth of Lord Boromrajathirat) by Maha Sila Viravong and the Literature Department, Ministry of Education. 

    Legends, like myths, are explanatory narratives, regarded as true accounts. Unlike myths, legends are considered secular.  Legends can relate how things happen the way they do in terms of  names of places, animals, and trees.  They also explain natural phonomena.  Sometimes, they are part of a larger story.    Legends can also relate historical accounts relating to a place. Examples are The Black Smith, Crow and Peacock, Dog and Pig, Chakacan (The Cicada), Maeng Nguan (The Singing Cricket), and The Dog's Habit.

    Unlike general definitions of legends, Jaruwan Thammawat26 calls this type of narrative "phuen sueb" (legends of true accounts).  (See also Historical chronicles.)  She classifies this type of narratives into two major types, phuen sueb fai a-na-chak (the legends relating to the community settlement history as well as political and ruling systems), phuen sueb fai satsanachak (legends relating to religious beliefs and cosmology).  For the settlement legends, she cites Phuen Luang Phrabang, Sikhottabong for instance.  For the religious legends, she cites Phuen Phra Saegkham, Phuen Phrakaew, Phuen Urankhathat for instance.  Lord Boromrachathirat according to Jaruwan Thammawat can be classed as part settlement and part religious legend.  However, in this course, Lord Boromrachathirat is considered a sacred text; thus, it is classed as a myth. What Jaruwan Thammawat calls settlement legends and religious legends will be classes as historical chronicles in this course.

     Folk Epics 27 are usually in verse and were originally in the oral tradition.  Later, they may have been written down.  They are mostly stories of culture heroes or about a civilization.  The story has been passed on as a true account that took place in the remote past.  Usually, other types of narratives may be incorporated within an epic.  Thao Hung Khun Bulom or Khun Bulomrajathirat (Lord Bulom or Lord Bulomrajathirat), Thao Cheuang (King Hung and King Cheuang)28 and Phadaeng Nang Ai (King Phadaeng and Princess Aikham29 are three examples of folk epics.    

    Folktales are stories passed on by word of mouth from generation to generation. Some Lao folktales had been recorded on palm leaf manuscripts, for it was believed that copying books is a way of making merit of giving away knowledge.   Recently, some of those tales have been printed in modern scripts.  They could come in both prose and poetry.  Peter Koret30 divides Lao folktales into two major categories: tales of the Bodhisattva and tales in which the hero is not the Bodhisattva.  Within the former category, Koret sub-divides the tales into four more types: 1) the story of the prince's adventure after he departs from his home city.  At the end he comes home triumphant.  The story covers the adventures of two or three generations within the same family; 2) "the story of a man born to a poor family with a grotesque outward appearance . . . " Through his heroic deeds, he wins praise from all, sheds off his grotesque form, marries a beautiful princess, and becomes king of her city at the end; 3) the story of the orphan who usually has a magical wife who helps him fights the injustice of the king.  At the end, he gains victory and becomes king; 4) the tragic love affair that ends with suicide or deaths of the hero and the heroine.   Koret gives examples of stories in each type and each category; some of which he gives extracts.

    Margaret Read MacDonald and Wajuppa Tossa31 divide the folktale into fourteen sub-categories.  Animal tales, moral tales, Jataka tales, humorous tales, trickster tales, tales of the fools, tall tales or tales with lies, riddle stories, endless stories, ghost stories, local legends, tales of helpful gods and spirits, elaborate tales or tales of magic, and folk epics.  

    In the Lao folklore course, local legends and folk epics are classed as two major types.  The definitions of folktales will cover all, but two, types listed in MacDonald and Tossa's collection above.   There will be some extracts of the Lao folktales to illustrate each type in this collection. The following is a list of all types of folktales to be covered in this course with definitions for those that are not self-explanatory and familiar:

  • Animal tales are tales with animals as characters; they could take up human characteristics or they could illustrate natures of each animal.  Some Lao animal stories show the hierachical relationship between humans and animals. Usually, humans have the upper hand.  Examples include Turtle and Swans, Monkey and Crocodile, Crow and Peacock, and Dog and Pig.  Some of these animal stories could also belong to other types such as legends, the Jataka tales, or moral tales.
  • Moral tales are tales intended to give moral lessons to the audience.  Characters could be humans, animals, deities, or demons.  They are considered quite serious.  Many of them have been recorded in the palm leaf manuscripts.  Turtle and Swans, the Pious-Son-In-Law, The Magic White Swan, and If It Belongs to Us, It Will Come to Us, for example.
  • The Jataka tales are believed to be tales about the past lives of the Buddha.  These stories were believed to be told by the Buddha himself in certain situations: when he wanted to give examples to make his teachings clear;  to teach certain groups of people who need a lot of explanation; to teach kings and rulers; when certain incidents occurred, he would relate that incident to a story with a similar theme or motif that had happened to him in his past life.  Later, the Buddha's disciples retold these stories in their sermons or teachings.  Thus, the Jataka tales have been closely related to storytelling in various forms.  (Click here for more information on The Jataka Tales and Storytelling.)   As time goes by, more stories may be added to the original collections of the Jataka collection; some may come from the Panchatantra.  In Lao folktales, the stories within the story of the Panchatantra could be overlapping with those in the Buddhist Jataka tales.   No matter which collections these tales are from, they share a similar purpose; they are told to teach some moral points.  Thus, we may be able to call these tales moral tales as well.  Examples are Turtle and Swans, Turtle of Yamuna, The Golden Geese, The Tales of the Ten Lives of the Buddha, The Golden Deer, etc. 
  • Humourous tales are mostly short and they are rarely recorded in the palm leaf manuscript.  These stories are collected mostly from certain informants.   They are definitely told for entertainment, but they could have hidden purpose as well.  They could provide a check on certain social norms, beliefs, or conducts.  Examples are Luang Pho Khi Kai Po (The Abbot and the Novice), Thao Mon Kew (The Ignorant Boy Named Mon Kew--mon=pillow; kew=dented), the Day Dreamer.
  • Trickster tales are tales of a notorius character who is clever, most of the time deceitful and cunning.  In Lao folktales, this trickster is called Xiangmiang.  Some tellers tell of separate episodes of Xiangmiang, but there is a version of Xiangmiang that gives biographical information of this trickster, about his birth, growing up, his victories and defeat at the end before his death.
  • Tales of the fools are stories of incredible characters whose lives are not based on normal logic.  They are overly foolish.  Sometimes, this type of tales is called numbskull.  Examples are The Crescent-Moon Comb and The Day Dreamer, The Ignorant Boy Named Mon Kew.
  • Tall tales or tales with lies are tales of exaggeration.  They are told mainly for entertainment.  However, in Lao narrative tradition, there are tales of this type that can be classed as Buddhist riddle tale. An obvious example of this type are called the Seven Pots and Seven Jars and Seven Friends.
  • Riddle stories are stories that end with questions that must be answered by the audience.  Some of the Lao riddle stories are from the Buddhist traditions.   An example is the Seven Friends, etc.
  • Endless stories are stories that could continue at the will of the storyteller.   Sometimes cumulative tales could be included in this type as well when storyteller keeps adding detail with the repetition of the plot.  An examples of Lao cumulative tales is the story of The Sick Deer.
  • Ghost stories are stories with ghosts as characters.  In Lao ghost stories, ghosts could be both harmful and helpful.  Examples are Phi Kongkoi (The Ghost Named Kongkoi), Phi Ya Won (The Grandma Ghost Named Won).
  • Tales of helpful gods and spirits are tales in which gods or spirits help the heroes or heroines of the stories from dangers or harmful events.  Lao stories in this category are plentiful.  Most long and elaborate tales of other types could have the element helpful gods and spirits as major turning points of the stories.  Examples of this type of tales include Sinxai, Khatthanam, Kalaket, Suriwong, Thao Sowat, Champa Si Ton, Thao Kam Ka Dam, Kampha Phinoi (The Orphan and the Little Ghost, etc.
  • Elaborate tales or tales of magic are long and involved tales in which magic plays an important part in the development of the story.  Normally, this type of stories could go on through two or three generations of characters.  Examples of this type include Kaew Na Ma, Sinxai, Khatthanam, Kalaket, Suriwong, Thao Sowat, Champa Si Ton, Phra Lak Phra Lam, etc.

    It is noteworthy that in Lao folktales, there are many stories whose heroes or heroines are orphans.  Some of these tales could belong to the Jataka tales, the moral tales, the tales of helpful gods and spirits, and elaborate tales.   Examples are Kamphra Phinoi (the Orphan and the Little Ghost), Nang Kaikaew (The Magic Hen Princess), Thao Kamphoi Thukkhata (The Poor Suffering Orphan), Maak Taenglai (Multi-colored Melon Orphan), Kamphra Maakkhua (The Eggplant Orphan), Kamphra Salaad (The Clever Orphan), Nang Phomhom (The Sweet Smelling Orphan Girl), and Suphrommokkha (The Orphan Named Suphrommokkha).  Jaruwan Thammawat and her associates conducted a research in 1999, collecting the orphan tales from northeast Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, and examining reflections of people's lives with restricted opportunities and ethnic relationships in the middle Southeast Asian region.  In this research report in Thai, the researchers presented the results of their research together with a collection of tales from northeast Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.  There is an English abstract in this book at the beginning.  Click here to view the abstract.

 

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Non-fiction Narratives

     Folk medicine and remedy collections are collections of palm leaf manuscripts that explain about medicinal herbs and how to use them to heal or cure certain symthoms.   Rituals to be performed to heal the sick and words of incantation for each type of healing are also included in some of these collections.  Examples are two collections complied by Sommon Phunsawat one in 1986 and one in 1990.32

    Folk law and records for traditional ways of conducting ruling systems. An example is kotmai buhan soi sai kham (ancient law called soi sai kham) by Samlid Buasisawat.33   Jaruwan Thammawat34 states that most of Lao folk law comes from two collections: khamphi phra thammasat luang (Royal ruling scripture) and phra khamphi phra thammasat buhan lao (Ancient Lao ruling scripture).  She cites two volumes: one complied by Maha Sila Viravongs in 1956 and one by Samlid Buasisawat in 1993.

     Historical chronicles record legendary history of the Lao people as well as some true historical accounts about what happened to the people.  Examples are tamnan phrabang (The Legend of Phrabang Buddha Image) by Maha Sila Viravongs;35 prawatsat lao buhan (Ancient Lao History) by Buaphan Thammavong;36  Sikhotabong by Sai-u-koed;37 Sikhottabong by Duangkhai Luangphasi.38   Jaruwan Thammawat classes this type of narratives as phuensueb or true legend. (See also Legends)

    Didactic chronicles are half story and half proverbs.   They are didactic in nature, but they could not be classed as proverbs because there is characterization in each story.  In this type of narrative, there will be an older character or a superior telling the younger character or the subject to follow certain rules and regulations in the society.   I would like to call this type of narratives "didactic chronicles." Yaa son laan (Grandma Teaches Grandchildren39 is an example of this type.

    Epistolary chronicles (lko--saan which means message) are folk narratives whose writers intended to send messages to receivers or readers.  Jaruwan Thammawat40 gives a few titles of this types of narrative as examples.  She cites Saan som thi khud (the message of wishes), Saan khaning hak (the message of lovesickness), Saan nok sarika kaew (the message from the precious mynah bird), and Saan rak samoenet (the message of love which is as much as one's eyes).  

     Folksong and poetry, proverb and saying, and riddle are the last types of oral literature to be presented in this course.  Folksongs in Lao are called lam, a type of verse for singing.  The words of lam will be examined in this section, but the performance aspect of it will be discussed under "Performances."   Along with the folksong comes the Lao poetry of less complex structures.    Most of them are used to tell stories.   Proverbs and sayings are called phaya or phanya which means wisdom or knowledge.  Most of the proverbs and saying use simple forms of poetry to deliver messages.  These proverbs and sayings could be divided into several categories.  They could be about religions, beliefs, proper or moral conducts of people in the society.  Riddles are "traditional questions with unexpected (albeit, traditional) answers--verbal puzzles (only a few involved writing) that demonstrate the cleverness of the questioner and challenge the wit of his audience" 41 Riddles can be divided into general riddles and Buddhist riddles.  Phra Inta Kaweewong's unpublished versions of these Buddhist riddles will be used for examples of this type. 42

 

Notes

    1. Realizing the fact that the term 'papheni,' means customs and it does not include beliefs, proverbs and sayings, songs and rhymes, and games, Kongdeuane Nettavongs suggested that the Thai term be used to cover more materials in the course. From electronic mail communication on 10 May 2001 with Kongdeuane Nettavongs, director of the Lao National Library in Vientiane, in response to my inquiry concerning an official Lao term for the word, "folklore."

    2. Art Crisfield is author of a definitive collection on the teaching of Lao language.  Presently, he works with the non-government organization, "The Consortium" in educating Lao youth (take from Art's email explaining about his work later.)  From electronic mail communication on 10 May 2001 in response to my inquiry concerning an official Lao term for the word, "folklore."

    3.  Kingkaew Attathakora, The Folk Religion of Ban Nai, A Hamlet in Central Thailand, Bangkok:   Khurusapha Press, 1968.

    4. Kulab Mullikamat, Khatichaoban (Folklore), Bangkok: Chaunphim, 1966.

     5.  Kanyarat Wetchasaat, "Wong kan katichon witthaya : phu buk boek lae phon ngan (Folklore Circle: the Pioneer and Her Works)" in khatichon kap khon Thai-Tai: ruam botkhwam thang dan khatichonwitthaya nai boribot thang sangkhom (Folklore and Thai-Tai People: anthology of articles on folklore and its social context) Siraphon Thitathan Na Thalang, Sukanya Phattharachai, Bangkok: Khrongkan Tamra Khana Aksonrasat, Chulalongkonmahawitthayalai, 1999, pp. 6-7.

    6.  Saowalak Anantasan, "Khammai lae khobkhai khong khatichaoban- khatichon-khatichonwitthaya," ibid, p. 23.

    7.  Maha Sila Viravongs,  phong sawadan lao (Lao Historical Chranicles), Vientiane: Ministry of Education, 1953.

________. nithan nang tantrai (Tales by Lady Tantrai), Vientiane: Krom Wannakhadee, Ministry of Education, 1957.

________.  Heet Sip Song (Fourteen Rules for Rulers and Commoners), Vientiane: Krom Wannakhadee, Ministry of Education, 1974.

    8.  ________. Thao Hung Thao Cheuang Epic: Adaptation into Modern Prose (sic. Verse), adapted and annotated by Doungdeuane (Viravongs) Bounyavong and others, Vientiane: The National Library of Laos, 2000).

    9.    Pho Phouangsaba  was deputy of Sieng Khaen Lao Magazine and member of Lao writer association . Somsy Desakhamphou was former vice minister of Ministry of Information and Culture (MIC).  He is now retied but continues to be an advisor for MIC.  This year the National Committee ASEAN Award nominated him to be a candidate of the SeaWrite Award.  Now he is retired but continues to write.  Humphanh Latanavong, now he is Director of  Reseach on Culture Department,  MIC.    Apart from those mentioned,  a few more writers are still active in their works on Lao folklore.  Lungaloune  Hounaloune Denvilay, pseudonym for Othong Insou, is now deputy director of Vannasin Magazine and editor of many children picture books. Amphone Khanthavilay  is now working at theChildren's Home for Education and Culture  Ministry of information and Culture. She is writer.    Samlid Buasisawat is retired and works at home  He is an advisor of Palm leaf Manuscript Preservation Project .  Phoumi Vongvichit was former president of Laos, former minister of the Ministry of Education and writer.  The above information is kindly provided by Kongdeuane Nettavongs.

    10.  Siraphon Thitathan Na Thalang, "Tamnan sang lok khong chon chat tai : tao yang kan suksa watthanatham cak tamnan (Tai Creation Myth: an Example of Cultural Study from Legends)" in khatichon kap khon Thai-Tai: ruam botkhwam thang dan khatichonwitthaya nai boribot thang sangkhom (Folklore and Thai-Tai People: anthology of articles on folklore and its social context) Siraphon Thitathan Na Thalang, Sukanya Phattharachai, Bangkok: Khrongkan Tamra Khana Aksonrasat, Chulalongkonmahawitthayalai, 1999, pp. 220-224.

    11. Ibid, pp. 225-247.

    12. Ibid, pp. 248-257.

    13. Pranee Wongthet, Nithan chadok kab lokkathat khong lao phuan (The Jataka Tales and the Lao Phuan's Worldview" in Phuen thin phuen than, a special edition of Sinlapawatthanatham Magazine, edited by Wannee Wibunsawat Anderson, Bangkok: Ruankaew kan phim, 1988, pp. 132-143.

    14. Sisak Wanliphodom, "The Lao of Thailand: Laotian Settlements in Thailand" Aeng arayatham Isan (A Northeastern Site of Civilization), Bangkok: Phikkhanet Printing Center, Ltd., 1990, pp. 278-287.

    15. Sujit Wongthet,  Thao Hung Khun Cheung (King Hung Lord Cheung), Bangkok: Phikkhanet Printing Center, Ltd., 1995. 

    16. Thammawat, Jaruwan,  Lae lod phongsawadan Lao (Glimpses at the Lao Historical Chronicles), The Research Institute of Northeast Thai Art and Culture: Mahasarakham University, nd.  

________. Wannakam thongthin: korani isan lan chang (Folk Literature: a Case Study of Isan and Lan Chang (Laos), Mahasarakham: Mahasarakham University, nd.

    17. Compton, Carol,  Courting Poetry in Laos: A Textual and Linguistics Analysis DeKalb, IL: Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Northern Illinois University in 1979. 

    18. Koret, Peter,   "Laos" in Traveller's Literary Companion to South-east Asia, edited by Alastair Dingwall, Brighton, UK: Print Publishing, 1994, pp. 120-153. 

    In 1999, Peter Koret wrote another article on Lao Literature entitled "Books of Search: the Invention of Traditional Lao Literature as a Subject of Study" in Laos Culture and Society, edited by Grant Evans, Chiangmai: Silkworm Books, 1999, pp. 226-257.  Koret presents various interesting topics relating to Laos such as traditional Lao literature and its role in Lao society, printing technology and its effect on Tradisitonal Lao literature, life and works of Maha Sila Viravongs.

   19. Sahai, Sachchidanand, Ramayana in Laos : a study in the Gvay dvˇ_rahbi, foreword by Suniti Kumar Chatterji. Delhi : B. R. Pub. Corp. ; New Delhi : distributed by D. K. Publishers' Distributors, 1976.  

________.  The Krsna saga in Laos : a study in the B_rah Ku’td B_rah Ban : or, the story of Banasura,  Delhi : B.R. Pub. Corp. ; New Delhi : distributed by D.K. Publishers' Distributors, 1978.   

   20. Brunvand, Jan Harold,  The Study of American Folklore, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1978, p. 1.

   21. Eugenio, Damiana L.,  Philippine Folk Literature: An Anthology, Diliman, Quezon City: The U.P. Folklorists, Inc., 1982, p.1.

   22. Jaruwan Thammawat,  p. 37.   

   23. Brunvand,   p. 99.

   24. The Lao National Library, the Ministry of Education, Phya Khankhaak,  Vientiane: The Lao National Library, the Ministry of Education, 1970.

   25. Maha Sila Viravongs, Phuen Khun Boromrajathirat sabab doem (The Myth of Lord Boromrajathirat, the old version), Vientiane: the Ministry of Education, 1967.

        The Literature Department, Ministry of Education, Phuen Khun Boromrajathirat sabab buhan tae (The Myth of Lord Boromrajathirat, the truly ancient version), Vientiane: The Literature Department, Ministry of Education, 1967.

   26. Jaruwan Thammawat,  p. 72-3, nd.

   27. In Eugenio's collection, folk epics have been called heroic narratives.  Eugenio cited E. A. Manuel from "A Survey of Philippine Folk Epics, " Asian Folklore Studies, XXII (1963), 3 that Manuel called "heroic narratives" "folk epics or ethnoepics," with specific common characteristics: a) narratives of sustained length, b) based on oral tradition, c) revolving around supernatural events or heroic deeds, d) in the form of verse, e) which is either chanted or sung, f) with a certain seriousness of purpose, embodying or validating the beliefs, customs, ideals, or life-values of the people.  Thus, I adopted the term "folk epics" for this collection.

    28.  Maha Sila Viravongs, Thao Hung Thao Cheuang Epic: Adaptation into Modern Prose (sic. Verse), adapted and annotated by Doungdeuane (Viravongs) Bounyavong and others, Vientiane: The National Library of Laos, 2000).

   29. Phra Ariyanuwat Khemajari, Phadaeng Nang Ai (King Phadaeng and Princess Aikham), Mahasarakham: Srinakharinwirot University, 1981.

   30. Koret,   pp. 129-131.

   31. Margaret Read MacDonald and Wajuppa Tossa, Folktales and Storytelling, Mahasarakham: Aphichat Kanphim, 1997, p. 16.

   32. Sommon Phunsawat, Tamla ya phuen muang (Folk Medicine), Vientiane: Long phim haeng rat (The Lao Government Printing Press), 1986 and 1990.

   33. Samlid Buasisawat, kotmai buhan soi sai kham (ancient law called soi sai kham), Vientiane: Long phim suksa (Ministry of Education Printing Press), 1992.  This version could be found in the Lao National Library.

   34. Jaruwan Thammawat, p. 36.  However, these volumes are not listed in the most recent bibliographies published by the Lao National Library 1975-1995.

   35. Maha Sila Viravongs, tamnan phrabang (The Legend of Phrabang Buddha Image), Vientiane: Ministry of Education, 1967.

   36. Buaphan Thammavong, prawatsat lao buhan (Ancient Lao History), Vientiane: Mahawitthayalaisangkhu (The National Teachers' College), 1990.  

   37. Sai-u-koed, Sikhotabong, 1989.  Listed without publisher.

   38. Duangkhai Luangphasi, Sikhottabong, Vientiane: Longphim haeng lat (The State Printing Press), 1990.

   39. Pho. Phuangsaba, Yaa son laan (Grandma Teaches Grandchildren), Vientiane: The State Printing Press), 2000.  

   40. Jaruwan Thammawat, p. 120.

   41. Brunvand, p. 63.  

   42. Phra Inta Kaweewong is an abbot of Wat Sa-ahd-sombun in Roi-et province in northeast Thailand.   He has been compiling many collections of Isan/Lao narratives.  He is also a poet specialized in all forms of Lao folk poetry.

    1. From electronic mail communication on 10 May 2001 with Kongdeuane Nettavongs, director of the Lao National Library in Vientiane, in response to my inquiry concerning an official Lao term for the word, "folklore."

    2. Art Crisfield is author of a definitive collection on the teaching of Lao language.  Presently, he works with the non-government organization, "The Consortium" in educating Lao youth (take from Art's email explaining about his work later.)  From electronic mail communication on 10 May 2001 in response to my inquiry concerning an official Lao term for the word, "folklore."

    3.  Kingkaew Attathakora, The Folk Religion of Ban Nai, A Hamlet in Central Thailand, Bangkok:   Khurusapha Press, 1968.

    4. Kulab Mullikamat, Khatichaoban (Folklore), Bangkok: Chaunphim, 1966.

     5.  Kanyarat Wetchasaat, "Wong kan katichon witthaya : phu buk boek lae phon ngan (Folklore Circle: the Pioneer and Her Works)" in khatichon kap khon Thai-Tai: ruam botkhwam thang dan khatichonwitthaya nai boribot thang sangkhom (Folklore and Thai-Tai People: anthology of articles on folklore and its social context) Siraphon Thitathan Na Thalang, Sukanya Phattharachai, Bangkok: Khrongkan Tamra Khana Aksonrasat, Chulalongkonmahawitthayalai, 1999, pp. 6-7.

    6.  Saowalak Anantasan, "Khammai lae khobkhai khong khatichaoban- khatichon-khatichonwitthaya," ibid, p. 23.

    7.  Maha Sila Viravongs,  phong sawadan lao (Lao Historical Chranicles), Vientiane: Ministry of Education, 1953.

________. nithan nang tantrai (Tales by Lady Tantrai), Vientiane: Krom Wannakhadee, Ministry of Education, 1957.

________.  Heet Sip Song (Fourteen Rules for Rulers and Commoners), Vientiane: Krom Wannakhadee, Ministry of Education, 1974.

    8.  ________. Thao Hung Thao Cheuang Epic: Adaptation into Modern Prose (sic. Verse), adapted and annotated by Doungdeuane (Viravongs) Bounyavong and others, Vientiane: The National Library of Laos, 2000).

    9.    Pho Phouangsaba  was deputy of Sieng Khaen Lao Magazine and member of Lao writer association . Somsy Desakhamphou was former vice minister of Ministry of Information and Culture (MIC).  He is now retied but continues to be an advisor for MIC.  This year the National Committee ASEAN Award nominated him to be a candidate of the SeaWrite Award.  Now he is retired but continues to write.  Humphanh Latanavong, now he is Director of  Reseach on Culture Department,  MIC.    Apart from those mentioned,  a few more writers are still active in their works on Lao folklore.  Lungaloune  Hounaloune Denvilay, pseudonym for Othong Insou, is now deputy director of Vannasin Magazine and editor of many children picture books. Amphone Khanthavilay  is now working at theChildren's Home for Education and Culture  Ministry of information and Culture. She is writer.    Samlid Buasisawat is retired and works at home  He is an advisor of Palm leaf Manuscript Preservation Project .  Phoumi Vongvichit was former president of Laos, former minister of the Ministry of Education and writer.  The above information is kindly provided by Kongdeuane Nettavongs.

    10.  Siraphon Thitathan Na Thalang, "Tamnan sang lok khong chon chat tai : tao yang kan suksa watthanatham cak tamnan (Tai Creation Myth: an Example of Cultural Study from Legends)" in khatichon kap khon Thai-Tai: ruam botkhwam thang dan khatichonwitthaya nai boribot thang sangkhom (Folklore and Thai-Tai People: anthology of articles on folklore and its social context) Siraphon Thitathan Na Thalang, Sukanya Phattharachai, Bangkok: Khrongkan Tamra Khana Aksonrasat, Chulalongkonmahawitthayalai, 1999, pp. 220-224.

    11. Ibid, pp. 225-247.

    12. Ibid, pp. 248-257.

    13. Pranee Wongthet, Nithan chadok kab lokkathat khong lao phuan (The Jataka Tales and the Lao Phuan's Worldview" in Phuen thin phuen than, a special edition of Sinlapawatthanatham Magazine, edited by Wannee Wibunsawat Anderson, Bangkok: Ruankaew kan phim, 1988, pp. 132-143.

    14. Sisak Wanliphodom, "The Lao of Thailand: Laotian Settlements in Thailand" Aeng arayatham Isan (A Northeastern Site of Civilization), Bangkok: Phikkhanet Printing Center, Ltd., 1990, pp. 278-287.

    15. Sujit Wongthet,  Thao Hung Khun Cheung (King Hung Lord Cheung), Bangkok: Phikkhanet Printing Center, Ltd., 1995. 

    16. Thammawat, Jaruwan,  Lae lod phongsawadan Lao (Glimpses at the Lao Historical Chronicles), The Research Institute of Northeast Thai Art and Culture: Mahasarakham University, nd.  

________. Wannakam thongthin: korani isan lan chang (Folk Literature: a Case Study of Isan and Lan Chang (Laos), Mahasarakham: Mahasarakham University, nd.

    17. Compton, Carol,  Courting Poetry in Laos: A Textual and Linguistics Analysis DeKalb, IL: Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Northern Illinois University in 1979. 

    18. Koret, Peter,   "Laos" in Traveller's Literary Companion to South-east Asia, edited by Alastair Dingwall, Brighton, UK: Print Publishing, 1994, pp. 120-153. 

    In 1999, Peter Koret wrote another article on Lao Literature entitled "Books of Search: the Invention of Traditional Lao Literature as a Subject of Study" in Laos Culture and Society, edited by Grant Evans, Chiangmai: Silkworm Books, 1999, pp. 226-257.  Koret presents various interesting topics relating to Laos such as traditional Lao literature and its role in Lao society, printing technology and its effect on Tradisitonal Lao literature, life and works of Maha Sila Viravongs.

   19. Sahai, Sachchidanand, Ramayana in Laos : a study in the Gvay dvˇ_rahbi, foreword by Suniti Kumar Chatterji. Delhi : B. R. Pub. Corp. ; New Delhi : distributed by D. K. Publishers' Distributors, 1976.  

________.  The Krsna saga in Laos : a study in the B_rah Ku’td B_rah Ban : or, the story of Banasura,  Delhi : B.R. Pub. Corp. ; New Delhi : distributed by D.K. Publishers' Distributors, 1978.   

   20. Brunvand, Jan Harold,  The Study of American Folklore, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1978, p. 1.

   21. Eugenio, Damiana L.,  Philippine Folk Literature: An Anthology, Diliman, Quezon City: The U.P. Folklorists, Inc., 1982, p.1.

   22. Jaruwan Thammawat,  p. 37.   

   23. Brunvand,   p. 99.

   24. The Lao National Library, the Ministry of Education, Phya Khankhaak,  Vientiane: The Lao National Library, the Ministry of Education, 1970.

   25. Maha Sila Viravongs, Phuen Khun Boromrajathirat sabab doem (The Myth of Lord Boromrajathirat, the old version), Vientiane: the Ministry of Education, 1967.

        The Literature Department, Ministry of Education, Phuen Khun Boromrajathirat sabab buhan tae (The Myth of Lord Boromrajathirat, the truly ancient version), Vientiane: The Literature Department, Ministry of Education, 1967.

   26. Jaruwan Thammawat,  p. 72-3, nd.

   27. In Eugenio's collection, folk epics have been called heroic narratives.  Eugenio cited E. A. Manuel from "A Survey of Philippine Folk Epics, " Asian Folklore Studies, XXII (1963), 3 that Manuel called "heroic narratives" "folk epics or ethnoepics," with specific common characteristics: a) narratives of sustained length, b) based on oral tradition, c) revolving around supernatural events or heroic deeds, d) in the form of verse, e) which is either chanted or sung, f) with a certain seriousness of purpose, embodying or validating the beliefs, customs, ideals, or life-values of the people.  Thus, I adopted the term "folk epics" for this collection.

    28.  Maha Sila Viravongs, Thao Hung Thao Cheuang Epic: Adaptation into Modern Prose (sic. Verse), adapted and annotated by Doungdeuane (Viravongs) Bounyavong and others, Vientiane: The National Library of Laos, 2000).

   29. Phra Ariyanuwat Khemajari, Phadaeng Nang Ai (King Phadaeng and Princess Aikham), Mahasarakham: Srinakharinwirot University, 1981.

   30. Koret,   pp. 129-131.

   31. Margaret Read MacDonald and Wajuppa Tossa, Folktales and Storytelling, Mahasarakham: Aphichat Kanphim, 1997, p. 16.

   32. Sommon Phunsawat, Tamla ya phuen muang (Folk Medicine), Vientiane: Long phim haeng rat (The Lao Government Printing Press), 1986 and 1990.

   33. Samlid Buasisawat, kotmai buhan soi sai kham (ancient law called soi sai kham), Vientiane: Long phim suksa (Ministry of Education Printing Press), 1992.  This version could be found in the Lao National Library.

   34. Jaruwan Thammawat, p. 36.  However, these volumes are not listed in the most recent bibliographies published by the Lao National Library 1975-1995.

   35. Maha Sila Viravongs, tamnan phrabang (The Legend of Phrabang Buddha Image), Vientiane: Ministry of Education, 1967.

   36. Buaphan Thammavong, prawatsat lao buhan (Ancient Lao History), Vientiane: Mahawitthayalaisangkhu (The National Teachers' College), 1990.  

   37. Sai-u-koed, Sikhotabong, 1989.  Listed without publisher.

   38. Duangkhai Luangphasi, Sikhottabong, Vientiane: Longphim haeng lat (The State Printing Press), 1990.

   39. Pho. Phuangsaba, Yaa son laan (Grandma Teaches Grandchildren), Vientiane: The State Printing Press), 2000.  

   40. Jaruwan Thammawat, p. 120.

   41. Brunvand, p. 63.  

   42. Phra Inta Kaweewong is an abbot of Wat Sa-ahd-sombun in Roi-et province in northeast Thailand.   He has been compiling many collections of Isan/Lao narratives.  He is also a poet specialized in all forms of Lao folk poetry.

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