RAMAYANA MASKS & Mask of Asia : Laos
Laso is another state that is influenced by religion, art, and culture from India. The ruins were built in the time of the Kingdom of Funan and Chenla, which became an important historic site and the UNESCO World Heritage site, such as Wat Phou, an archeological site older than Nakhon Wat and Nakhon Thom. This temple was built around the 10th-century CE. Even though the temple was originally created based on traditional Hindu beliefs, which is evident in the castle’s stone carvings and lintels featuring various Hindu divinities. The temple’s patrons believed in Shiva and Trimurti. Later in the 13th century, the city state’s leadership changed the religion to Mahayana Buddhism, leading to the making of Buddha images that still exist as objects worshipped by many Laotians today.
The spreading of belief through epics – the Ramayana and Mahabharata – has rooted deeply in leaders’ and citizens’ minds. Known by the name ”Phra Lak Phra Ram,” retelling of the epics is adapted for the public starting in the form of a shadowplay. Later it was developed into a folk play and sequentially patronized by the royal court. The royal dance “Forn Phra Lak Phra Ram” is adapted by adding the local characteristics of the Laotian beliefs, values, culture, and tradition. The adaptation integrated local tales and characters, with a slice of the way of life, beliefs, ideals, and local places in the Forn Phra Lak Phra Ram and or Phra Lak Phra Ram drama. It is one of the most outstanding Laotian plays that was inherited to these days, especially in Luang Phabang, Laos’s capital city. Phra Lak Phra Ram drama dance was wildly received in the 1960s. The play implemented child actors with storytelling through songs sung by magnificent maestros. Multiple narrators sing with the music which the actors dance to or along with the tempo.
The Phra Lak Phra Ram drama dance with child actors was a famous theater play in that era; it had been played in the royal court since the absolute monarchy time, which will play once a year on the third day, or the “Sangkhan Kheun” day, of their multi-day New Year festival. It was entertainment that the royalty gift to the visitors and the leading persons in the royal palace, and played on the night Phra Bang, the sacred palladium buddha image of Laos, would be ceremoniously washed.