Download A Short History of Laos: The Land in Between by Grant Evans PDF

By Grant Evans

A good written account the way it all occurred and the way and why Laos was once the catalyst for the the USA Viet Nam warfare.

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Example text

No doubt in trading circles this blossomed into ‘Siamese’ for the people and ‘Siam’ for the land. The term ‘Tai’ first appears in written form during the Sukhothai period. But here it appears to retain its primary meaning as ‘person’, a usage still found in Lao where one may use Tai ban to mean a person of the village, Tai Vientiane to mean a person of Vientiane city, Tai Sam Neua to refer to a person from a region, or indeed, Tai Lao for a Lao person or persons. The most important distinction in the Tai world at that time was between Buddhists and non-Buddhists.

In the mandala system overlapping suzerainty over smaller principalities, known as song fai fa (two overlords) or sam fai fa (three overlords), was normal. In these terms Siam conceptualised the status of the tributary states on its periphery, such as Luang Phrabang, which acted as a kind of buffer between themselves and the next powerful mandala. Siam was well aware that these states sent tribute in several directions. The nationalist concept of the state that the French colonialists brought with them, however, recognised no such intermediate spaces and insisted on territorial border lines.

The Phra Bang remained in the northern capital, where Sethathirat also built a fabulous new royal temple as a symbol of his kingship, the Vat Xieng Thong, a marvel of northern Tai architecture. But perhaps the most powerful symbol of his kingship was the That Luang, the massive stupa he ordered built in Vientiane as the symbolic centre of his kingdom. The more populous plains of Vientiane and the northern Khorat Plateau made available the labour and wealth required for this spurt in Buddhist monument building, which established Lan Xang as a truly grand Tai kingdom.

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