Reflecting a People’s Tradition and Change
Over thousands of years Laos’ indigenous cultures have managed to conserve their essential traits while creating new forms by incorporating features from other countries such as the Chinese, Indian and Western cultures. Chinese influence first appeared in the north of the country, before gradually spreading southwards; Indian influences began in central and southern parts, before they spread north- wards with Buddhism. Western influences used to be concentrated in big cities, but now, together with global powers, they have begun gaining ground in the countryside and up in the highlands. Therefore, documentation of languages, folk- lore, textiles, music, customs, and beliefs is essential before they disappear in the minds and hearts of the people. Laos consists of near infinite varieties of features that now are about to loose their character as living conditions change continuously and very fast. Pressure comes from outsiders, tourists, and new objects, such as mobiles, cars, and houses being furnished with toilets, generators for power and TV sets. The population is chal- lenged to give up current ways of life and to become accustomed as quickly as possible to modern and more successful cultural frameworks. However, as we have seen, educational development is far behind this pace. Like many other countries in the world, Laos will not be able to develop if its young population sees no possibility to catch up with modern times. They will leave the country, some forever, others to earn enough money elsewhere to send home and provide a livelihood for their parents...
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