Launching Lao-Thai art and culture: Lan Chang Heritage

Launching Lao-Thai art and culture: Lan Chang Heritage

KKU leads a network of historians to tour heritage areas in 6 provinces in Isan and 2 cities in Lao PDR

August 3-9, 2019 – Cultural Center, Faculty of Fine and Applied Art of Khon Kaen University and National Institute of Fine Arts of Lao PDR held the 6th Lao-Thai Academic Collaboration, “Lan Chang Heritage”. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Niyom Wongpongkham, Vice President for Art, Culture, and Creative Economy led a group of KKU lecturers, the art historian network from National Institute of Fine Arts of Lao PDR, Thammasat University, Prince of Songkhla University Pattani Campus, Udonthani Rajabhat University, Burapa University and Kalasin Performing Art College totaling 50 people in a trip to the art and cultural heritage places in Isan: Nakhonpanom, Udonthani, Sakonnakhon, Ubon Ratchathani, Mukdahan, Amnatjaroen, and Pakse city, Paksong city, Jampasak in Lao PDR. The purpose is to study the ancient places, objects, lifestyles to tribal people in order to write academic articles. Experts who went with the group to provide academic knowledge include Professor Emeritus Santi Leksukhum, an architectural expert from the Royal Academy; Assoc. Prof. Dr. Chawalit Athipatkul, Dean of Graduate School of Udonthani Rajabhat University, Dr. Sunet Pothisan, a scholar from Lao PDR and former director of National Lao Museum who compiled Laotian history and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Niyom Wongpongkham, Vice President for Art, Culture, and Creative Economy.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Niyom Wongpongkham
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Niyom Wongpongkham

The opening ceremony took place on August 3, 2019 at Khun Si Than, Cultural Center of KKU. The participants then traveled to see important places such as Phra Buddha Bat Bua Bok, Ban Chiang Museum, Phra That Choeng Chum, Phra That Phanom, Manopirom Temple in Mukdahan, Sema pan pee in Amnatjoroen and Supattanaram in Ubon Ratchathani before traveling to Lao PDR through Chong Mek to visit Wat Phu, Hong Nang Sida, Ohra That Sam Pang and Kratu Tribe culture in Sekong city. The group also visited the Art School in Pakse, an institute that has academic MOU with Khon Kaen University.

During the trip, the participants had a chance to exchange their knowledge and experiences. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Niyom Wongpongkham was the moderator. This discussion aimed at sparkling the interest of art historian so that they will be inspired to write articles. Every participant chose what he or she was interested in and would go on to conduct more studies on it before submission of the articles for publication. The participants in Lao PDR will be one of the writers.

Honorary Professor Santi Leksukhum
Professor Emeritus Santi Leksukhum

Professor Emeritus Santi Leksukhum, an architectural expert from the Royal Academy said, “Attempts to study the past are how we try to understand our roots and know more of ourselves. This can be used as the foundation for the presence and preparation for good future. What we get from art and culture is not the art itself but also the thought of the people who created the art.’

The forum during the trip included the history of historical places, beliefs in art and culture and legends that correlate with what they saw in the Lan Chang area.

Dr. Sunet Pothisan, a scholar from Lao PDR and former director of National Lao Museum
Dr. Sunet Pothisan

Dr. Sunet Pothisan, a scholar from Lao PDR and former director of National Lao Museum said, “My country taught us not to forget the past, as the past, the present, and the future are the 3 things that are closely related. Everything in the past brought the present, where we are trying to understand human relationships.

We learn in order to understand the lessons of failure and success and will step to the future. Historical studies should be done with evidence and good analysis. We should accept changes without holding on to the past. We should learn to build the unity of living together.”

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Chawalit Athipatkul, Dean of Graduate School of Udonthani Rajabhat University said that history tells us about the knowledge that had passed development at a stage of time. It was something that occurred which could be objects or structures and they all answered the thoughts of that time. Studies of history through objects are the principles of archeologists and art historians. We do not study history written from tales of references. We then are able to know what happened at a point of time in the past of our lives.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Chawalit Athipatkul, Dean of Graduate School of Udonthani Rajabhat University
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Chawalit Athipatkul

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Chawalit Athipatkul stressed the importance of historical studies to national socio-economic development, “Art is the matter of human, our locality, our root of civilization. Although people nowadays believe that country development arises from science and technology, we shouldn’t forget that before we have science and technology we had civilization. This passed on from one era to another. If we ignore art and let technology control us, we will lose the spirit of human. I therefore believe that art is important for people of all eras.”

Khon Kaen University laid the foundation for collaboration in art and culture in this project of Thai-Lao Art and Cultural Collaboration, “Lan Chang Heritage” in 2006. The aim is to study history and civilization of Lan Chang Kingdom that lasted for a long time in Isan and Laos. The collaboration will lead to compilation of knowledge and ideas and presentation of articles in Lan Chang art and culture. Three books have already been published in this respect with 129 articles in them.

News: Udomchai Supannawong
Photos: The 6th Lao-Thai Academic Collaboration, “Lan Chang Heritage”

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