April 30, 2012

LLR (book): Kingdom of Laos

Title:  Kingdom of Laos - The Land of the Million Elephants and the White Parasol / ​ສັມ​ພາດ ​ຮາ​ຊອາ​ນາ​ຈັກ​ລາວ / Sumpat hasao anachuklao
Edited by:  René de Berval
Publisher/Year:  France-Asie, 1959
Lao literature reviews (books) - Kingdom of Laos edited by Rene de Berval
One of the best books covering all-around topics on Lao culture.  A book that was published first in 1956 in French, it was later published in English in 1959 with over 500 pages.

I love the in-depth details of Lao culture this book goes into.  Other current Lao country profile books these days are quite generic.  You know you've seen those books where it'll cover people, environment, language, etc. in Laos but all done in a very bland kind of way.

However this book goes much further into Lao culture.  Covering topics such as medicine, art, festivals, rituals, to Lao games, recipes, folklore, and so fourth.  It really does cover a lot.  It's essentially a collection of essays written by the members of the royal family and other government officials of the time.

These days you may be able to find a copy and it may be quite expensive if it's from the original printing from the 1950s (ranging from $70-200USD).  But if you can, try to find a more recent reprinting - it'll be a lot cheaper!  Or check out your library and borrow it for free.

This is one of my all time favorite books on Laos so I highly recommend it.  Full table of contents shown below and yes it's a hefty one!

Table of Contents
Introduction to the French Edition by René de Berval
  • Geographical and Human Aspects by René Tissot
  • An Introduction to History of Laos by George Coedès
  • Historical Aspects of Laos by Katay D. Sasorith
  • Chronological Table of the History of Laos by A.R. Mathieu
  • Two Accounts of Travels in Laos in the 17th Century, prefaced and annoted by Paul Lévy
  • Decorative Art by Henri Marchal
  • The Sculptured Caves in the Province of Vientiane by Suzanne Karpelés
  • Synoptic Table of the Various Characteristics of the Images of the Buddha
  • Music by Prince Souvanna Phouma
  • The Laotian Calendar by Tiao Maha Upahat Phetsarath of Laos
  • Profane and Religious Festivals by René de Berval
  • The Baci by Thao Nhouy Abhay
  • Birth Rites by Charles Archaimbault
  • Marriage Rites by Thao Nhouy Abhay
  • Death and Funeral Rights by Thao Nhouy Abhay
  • The Boun Khoun-Khao (Harvest Festival) by Marie-Daniel Faure
  • The Sacrifice of the Buffalo at Vat Ph'u by Charles Archaimbault
  • The Sacrifice of the Buffalo and Forecast of the Weather in Vientiane by Paul Lévy
  • Fishing and the Ang Festivities by Raoul Serène
  • Temple Drugs by Charles Archaimbault
  • People's Names by Thao Nhouy Abhay
  • Childhood in Laos by Princess Souvanna Phouma
  • The Game of Pha-Tong by Katay D. Sasorith
  • Courts of Love and Poetry by Thao Nhouy Abhay
  • The Code of Good Behaviour by Pierre S. Nginn
  • Weaving by Pierre S. Nginn
  • The Khene-Marker by Thao Khène
  • Laotian Cookery by André-Yvette Gouineau
  •  Some Recipes by André-Yvette Gouineau
  • Buddhism in Laos by Thao Nhouy Abhay 
  • Organization of the Sangha by Kruong Pathomxad
  • New Year Festivities (Fifth Month Festival) by Pierre S. Nginn
  • The Boun Bang-Fay (Rockets Festival, 6th Month) by Marie-Daniel Faure
  • Lent and the Water Festival (8th-11th Month) by Pierre S. Nginn
  • The That Luang Festivities (12th Month) by Thao Nhouy Abhay
  • The Boun Pha-Vet (4th Month) by Marie-Daniel Faure
  • Some Practices of Traditional Medicine by Dr. Oudom Souvannavong
Language and Literature
  • Laotian Writings by Louis Finot
  • Language by François Martini
  • Literature by Phouvong Phimmasone
  • Versification by Thao Nhouy Abhay 
  • Sin Xay From the Translation by Thao Nhouy Abhay 
Annals of Lan Xang
  • Legendary Origins - From the Translation by Louis Finot
  • The Testament of Khun Borom - From the Translation by Auguste Pavie
  • Foundation of the Kingdom of Lan Xang - From the Translation by Louis Finot
  • The Coronation of Fa Ngum - From the Translation by Auguste Pavie
  • Birth of the Phra Bang - From the Translation by Auguste Pavie
  • Establishment of Buddhism - From the Translation by Louis Finot
  • Sayings - Collected by Paul Lévy and Pierre S. Nginn
  •  Legends and Fables - Told by Banyen Lévy and by Pupils of the Lycée Pavie
  • The Buddhist Institute and Religious Teaching by Phouvong Phimmasone
  • Primary Education by Tay Keoluangkot
  • Secondary Education by Marc Mauger
  • Future Prospects of Technical Education by Lucien Vaissière
  • Present State of Laotian Economy by Claude Vergouttre
External Relations
  • International Relations of Laos by Bernard B. Fall


  1. is this book in english or lao? i want to get this book for my dad for fathers day.

  2. The copy that we reviewed is written in English. In fact there's not much Lao in it except for the cover title.