A Lao girl playing the Khene during Pii Mai.

        According to legend, the khene was created by a woman who was trying to reproduce the sound of the garawek bird which she heard while on a walk one day. The journey was long and difficult, so she decided to invent an instrument that would bring the sound to her. When she returned to her village, she experimented with many different instruments, including percussion, wind and plucked and bowed strings.

        Finally she cut a piece of bamboo and inserted a reed into it. Upon playing it, she realized that it sounded much like the garawek bird. She continued to improve the sound until she felt it was worthy for the king’s ears. When she was ready, she went to the palace and began playing for the king on her newly invented instrument, which was at this point nameless. At the end of the first song, she asked the king if he liked the piece. He said it was fair, and instructed her to continue playing.

          After her last song, she again asked the king if he was pleased. His reply was “Tia nee kaen dae,” which means “This time it was better.” He then instructed her to call the instrument, according to his words, the kaen. [ Source ] 

The instrument, through most of Laotian history, are dominated by men musicians. Fortunately, women and girls are today learning how to play the Khene as shown by the girl above. 

Photo taken by davegolden


Historically Lao silk fabric has been valued and traded like gold and was often the most treasured items in the royal courts.

In the Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD) there was a note in Chinese history referring to Laos, as Nong Sae Kingdom, admiring the skill of the Lao weavers and their knowledge of Seri culture producing some of the smoothest silk fabrics in an array of natural beautiful colours, the note also told about Chinese merchants who traded for Lao silk with the goods from China, describing the Lao women wearing the sinh which is a tubular woven silk or cotton cloth, the high ranking women wore sinh made of silk accompanied by a silk waist band.
Sinhs come in many designs depending on the demographics of the people and techniques used from filaments to the woven cloth. These are a few of the main descriptions used.
sinh Mii (ikat)
sinh Muk (supplementary warp)
sinh Kor or sinh chok (discontinuous supplementary weft)
sinh khid (continuous supplementary weft)
sinh korm (twisted weft yarns)
sinh tiin seo (embroidery hem)
sinh tiin tam Nae (compound weave hem weaving with no comb)
sinh khan (vertical stripe)
sinh kaan (horizontal stripe)
sinh thalan (horizontal stripe with white ikat)
sinh paa pan ((horizontal stripe with different colour ikat but not white)
sinh saimor (horizontal stripe)
sinh maan (horizontal stripe with white ikat and supplementary)
sinh Kaan ngouang (horizontal stripe with supplementary and with no Ikat)
sinh ling (hem and waist band attached to Ling silk fabric from China)
sinh tiin khid (hem supplementary weft)
sinh Tiin soung (large hem)
sinh tiin talat (large horizontal supplementary band hem)
sinh hua bouan (special design at the waistband)
sinh ael khai (special design at the waistband) Ael means waist
sinh tai Nam Noen (refer to people who live along Nam Noen river)
sinh phuan tai Khang (refer to people who live at Khang District)
sinh Lue (refer to Lue ethnic)
sinh Fai (refer to cotton material)
sinh Mai (refer to silk material)
sinh Mai Kham (refer to golden tread yarn)
   sinh Mai Ngeun (refer to silver tread yarn)
courtesy of Lao textiles 


Our Family is Healthy Because Our Home is Free from Cigarette. Southeast Asian Health Project, 1988. The UC Irvine Libraries, Special Collections and Archives.




Indonesian girl graduates with cum laude, lets Dad “drive” her to graduation on his becak

he’s so proud! look at that smile!

ma sha Allah

Timorese Celebrate International Day of Peace by United Nations Photo is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Timorese in traditional dress take part in a ceremony for the International Day of Peace, celebrated annually 21 September. The ceremony also marked the resumption of policing responsibilities in the district of Alieu by the Polícia Nacional de Timor-Leste (PNTL), which took over from UN Police forces. Photo ID 450277. 21/09/2010. Alieu, Timor-Leste. UN Photo/Martine Perret. www.unmultimedia.org/photo/


Ear Ornament or Pendant (Mamuli)
19th century
Indonesia, Sumba Island, East Nusa Tenggara


Abstract of study conducted by Noel Hidalgo Tan, Im Sokrithy, Heng Than and Khieu Chan:

The temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia is one of the most famous monuments in the world and is noted for its spectacular bas-relief friezes depicting ceremonial and religious scenes. Recent work reported here has identified an entirely new series of images consisting of paintings of boats, animals, deities and buildings. Difficult to see with the naked eye, these can be enhanced by digital photography and decorrelation stretch analysis, a technique recently used with great success in rock art studies. The paintings found at Angkor Wat seem to belong to a specific phase of the temple’s history in the sixteenth century AD when it was converted from a Vishnavaite Hindu use to Theravada Buddhist. (via Antiquity)


untitled on Flickr.

Nam Xong River, Vang Vieng, Laos, 2002

Reamker #4 by Choo Yut Shing is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Khmer version of the Ramayana performed by the Apsara Arts Association (Cambodia) at the Esplanade Concourse during the da”ce festival 2010.