June 11, 2015

Rare Old Photo of a Temple in Xiengkhouang Province

Why rare?  Read on to find out...

Old photo of the ruins of a temple found in Xiengkhoung province, early 1900s.
 Photo Credit:  Not known.  Colorization by Laoconnection.com.

The significance of this photo is simply that there remains very little early photographic documentation of earlier structures in Xiengkhouang.  They do exist out there probably in old publications or in people's personal collections but they're rare nonetheless.

You might be wondering why the rarity?

To answer that, I'll have to go into a bit of a history lesson.  During the Vietnam War, American bombing spilled over into Laos.  Xiengkhouang province was heavily targeted and bombed.  At first it was because the American's wanted to destroy the Ho Chi Minh Trail which was said to weave through parts of Laos.  However, the bombing did not stop there.  Some of the strongholds of the Lao communists were in this province.  Therefore, the entire province became a target.  This is in part why unexploded ordinance (UXO) and bomb craters are found not just along the border with Vietnam but even in the central parts of the province.  In some cases, entire towns and villages were completely obliterated.

This has left the province physically scarred and with many of its old structures destroyed.  Hence, my surprise when I came across this old postcard with this picture which I thought I'd share here.

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