All posts tagged: Culture

Dear Guru: How do Lao last names work?

Hello there,  I am currently staying in Laos and got interested in Lao names. It would be interesting to me to get to know more about how and if Lao people change their names after getting married. Also if there are any dynasties of families with famous names, as some other South East Asian countries seem to have those.  Hope you can help me out here 🙂 Thanks and cheers! -Curious Reader in Laos — Dear Curious Reader in Laos, Up until the late French colonial era, Lao people did not typically have surnames. French enforcement was weak and then the country fell into turbulent times, so even today in some remote areas people still do not have surnames. Unfortunately, also due to these factors, there is a great deal of duplication of surnames even when two families are not related at all, unlike in neighboring Thailand where surnames are not allowed to be duplicated when there is no relation. When a rural family wants access to social services, such as enrolling a child in school, …

Folk Musician Bounxeung Synanonh Awarded National Heritage Fellowship

The National Endowment of the Arts recently announced that Bounxeung Synanonh of Fresno, has received a National Heritage Fellowship award from the US government, one of only nine artists in the nation to receive the award this year.  He is being recognized for his mastery of the khaen, a traditional Lao instrument made from 16 lengths of bamboo. Born in 1949, Ajahn Synanonh began playing the khaen when he was youth in Savannakhet, Laos and performs internationally. Now considered one of the world’s best, Synanonh recorded an album titled “Bamboo Voices” under the World Music Institute label under the direction of Terry Miller, a world-renowned ethnomusicologist. One of his most famous performances was for President Reagan at the White House in 1987 for a cultural event. He also performed at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, DC where more 100,000 festival goers from around the world attended. He performed at the Lao Artists Festival in Elgin, Illinois, the International Lao New Year Festival, and many events organized by the Lao Heritage Foundation. He still performs energetically and teaches his art to the next generation of students. Ajahn Synanonh is now …