National Day in Laos and Sinxay

National Day in Laos and Sinxay

We’re writing this post in recognition that tomorrow, December 2, is National Day in Laos

        While researching Sinxay we have traveled from the southern part of Laos to the middle and northern parts of the country. Surprisingly, a majority of the murals of Sinxay we have located are in the remote northeastern Huaphan Province (see map below), and we wonder what the reason could be.

Photo 4-2

Historically, Huaphan Province has had a much smaller percentage of Buddhists compared to the lowland areas of Vientiane. The southern part of Laos, where Sinxay has always been much more popular, was considered part of the heartland of the Kingdom of Lan Xang in the late 1600s, when the poem was written. We conjecture that since Huaphan Province was the base for the Pathet Lao during the Secret/Vietnam War and the enemy they were fighting was the United States, the juxtaposition of a little Sinxay against the much bigger Nyak Koumphan could be intended as a metaphor, proof that David can win over Goliath.

         This image of the smaller, “underdog” Sinxay matched against the larger Nyak Koumphan is reinforced in a 1976 poem by Sau Desa, included in the essay “Books of Search: The Invention of Traditional Lao Literature as a Subject of Study,” by Peter Koret. The poem refers to the Lao National Day, which commemorates the establishment of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic in 1975.

The Second of December, the day of precious moonlight, the victory of

wide renown

December translates as “crossbow, great, brave, and long”

(The bow) is stretched, the arrow drawn, aimed, and fired

The “nyak” giants have died in great numbers

The precious day has been transformed into our national day.

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