Culture of Laos

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A village pagoda near Pak Ou, Laos.
Laos musicians during a Baci celebration in 1973.
A Laos cloth weaver near the village of Pak Ou.

Laos has its own distinct culture. Through Theravada Buddhism it has influences from India and has also influences from China. These influences are reflected throughout Laos in its language as well as in art, literature and the performing arts.

The Lao way of life is very much influenced by Buddhism, as can be seen in the way that Lao people live and behave. They are taught to be patient and to accept people. In the past, when law enforcement was not in place, Buddhism was the only thing that bound people together, taught people to be good, and discouraged detrimental behavior.

An important festival in Laos is Boun Pha Vet[1] celebrated once a year. This is a two day Buddhist festival that involves the entire community. Traditionally the Boun Pha Vet is held in January or February depending on the moon cycle. During the ceremony the monks give a sermon of all chapters of the Maha Wetsandon Chadok, otherwise called the Great Birth Sermon.


Laotian music is dominated by its national instrument, the khaen (a type of pipe constructed from bamboo). Bands typically include a singer/rapper (mor lam) and a khaen player (mor khaen), alongside fiddlers and other musicians. Lam saravane is the most popular genre of Laotian music, but ethnic Lao in Thailand have developed a popular form called mo lam sing.

One significant archive of ancient Laotian culture is the Plain of Jars in Xieng Khouang province.


Australian filmmaker Kim Mordount's first feature film was made in Laos and features a Laotian cast speaking their native language. Entitled The Rocket, the film appeared at the 2013 Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) and won three awards at the Berlin International Film Festival: Best First Feature, the Amnesty International Film Prize and the Crystal Bear for Best Film in the Generation Kplus program. Mordount had previously made a documentary entitled Bomb Harvest that featured Laos children who collect bomb metal.[2]


The primary language in Laos is Lao, however there are other Laotian dialects spoken by the ethnic minority groups living in Laos. The Lao language is a very polite language with multiple tiers of politeness including common polite particles such as "Jao" and "Doi".


Laos has had no copyright legislation until 2012, which was unusual compared to most other countries.[3]

A draft law based on the WIPO and TRIPS agreements was prepared, and was expected to be enacted in 2010. As of 2011, it had not passed yet, according to one WIPO web resource.[4] The only IP law which then existed in Laos covered trademarks.[5] According to another WIPO resource, the "Law No. 01/NA of December 20, 2011, on Intellectual Property (as amended)" entered into force on 16 January, 2012. The law generally stipulates the length of copyright to be life+50 years, with apparently no freedom of panorama.[6]

Traditional clothing[edit]

Laotian women wearing xout lao.

Traditional Laotian clothing for the Lao ethnic group is called xout lao (Lao: ຊຸດລາວ Lao pronunciation: [sut.láaw]) which literally means "Lao outfit". It can be worn by men, women, and children. Xout lao for women usually consists of a sinh, either a blouse or a suea pat, and a pha biang. Xout lao for men includes a pha hang or pants, a shirt similar to Raj pattern, with optional knee-length white socks and a pha biang.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Boun Pha Vet
  2. ^ "Q&A with director Kim Mordaunt (The Rocket)". Melbourne International Film Festival. MIFF. August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ The law entered into force January 16, 2012:

External links[edit]