Laos Buddha

Ref. Number: 1074

Country: Laos

Material: Bronze

Laos Buddha

Laos Buddha

Buddhism was introduced into the region as early as the first millennium CE, but was not widely practiced amongst the Tai principalities until the late 13th or early 14th centuries.

Fa Ngum (1353-1371), founder of Lane Xang, established Buddhism as the state religion, but it is clear that the worship of animist spirits continued to predominate for centuries.

Buddhism only gained a firm foothold in Lao society during the 17th century, during which it began to be taught in schools.

Laos Buddha

Laos Buddha

Today around 60 per cent of the Lao population follows Theravada Buddhism, and most of the ethnic minority communities practice a combination of animism and ancestor worship, as has long been their tradition.

There were no stone buildings, and the few durable structures in Laos were constructed of brick and stucco. The characteristic Buddhist buildings of Laos are all of wooden construction, high on wooden pillars, with long, steep, elaborately stepped-out roofs. Flamboyant finials mark the up curved ends of the ridgepoles, and the eaves extend to cover wide verandahs.

Laos Buddha

Laos Buddha

Lao artisans have, throughout their history, used a variety of mediums in their sculptural creations. Of the metals, bronze is probably the most common, but gold and silver images also exist to a lesser extent.

Bronze is an alloy of copper, containing about two percent tin. Other materials are often added, however, and the balance of ingredients determines the characteristics of the bronze.

In Laos, like Cambodia and Thailand, the bronze, which is called samrit, includes precious metals, and often has a relatively high percentage of tin.

Wooden Buddha images found in central and southern Laos are thus different in style from those of the Lang Prabang and Vientiane schools. It is primitive art that should not be confused with the general art of Lao Buddha image.

The folk art of Laos includes weaving, basket making, wood carving, ivory carving, silver and gold work. The national instrument of Laos, the khaen, dominates the Laotian music that is a major aspect of the culture of Laos.

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