The Arts

The arts play an important part in the life of Luang Prabang. Ranging across a broad spectrum of artistic disciplines, from traditional theater, puppet shows, music, dance and every imaginable manifestation of graphic arts, the Luang Prabang community surrounds itself with artistic endeavors.

As with most of the community's culture, the arts are often interwoven with Buddhist practice, both literally and figuratively speaking.

The photographs below are drawn from Hans Georg Berger's community-based projects and give a glimpse of the intricacies of Luang Prabang and its cultural heritage, past and present.

  • At Vat That Luang, children participate with joy in the circumambulation of the sacred Stupa, on the evening of the Makha Busaa night, carrying an offering to the Triple Gem: the Buddha; the Dhamma; the Sangha. Archive No. 355-12

  • During the Lao (Buddhist) New Year Festival in April each year, as a gesture of deep respect, lay people splash water on the monks and novices as they pass by in the annual parade. Archive No. 503-09

  • A simple flower offering graces the bow of a long boat in preparation for the anual boat races held in Luang Prabang during the middle of the Buddhist Lent retreats. Archieve No. 122-07

  • The hugely popular annual boat races draw tens of thousands of people. The races represent an extraordinary mix of sport, social interaction and supplication to the Naga kings and queens living in the depths of the Nam Khan river. Archive No. 132-01

  • A decorated and lit "Fire Boat" sits in front of Vat Xiang Thong in preparation for the important ceremony to mark the end of Buddhist Lent. During this ceremony thousands of people launch candle lit boats of all sizes onto the Mekong River, sending off the detritus of the last year. Archive No. 275-11.

  • A young man surveys his handiwork in decorations on a Naga staircase to celebrate the end of Buddhist Lent. The Lao inscription on the star reads, "Thank you for looking here". Archive No. 320-01

  • As part of the Lao (Buddhist) New Year celebrations, hundreds of people construct elaborate and decorated sand stupas on the sand bars in the Mekong River. These eventually wash away with the coming of the rainy season. Archive No. 495-04

  • Hundreds of people join a ceremony returning historic manuscripts to a temple, reflection the cultural importance they represent to the society. Archive No. M1038-12