The Lao, who are they, and where they came from?, Pre-Lan Xang kingdom
The Lao, who are they, and where they came from?, Pre-Lan Xang kingdom
Jun 30 2005, 12:37 PM
Joined: 10-August 04
Keo INTABON (Former name, Keo Inthavongsa)
Ph. D. in Agronomy, Kyoto University, Japan, Assistant professor, the Agricultural & Forestry Engineering Institute, Tsukuba University, Japan. E-mail: Keo@sakura.cc.tsukaba.a.c.jp
ABSTRACT. Lao in Lao Shan, Lao Tian or Laos (Laosu, Laotsu), the people of ‘High Mountain’ is our true name. Laosu or Laotsu signifying ‘Seuar Lao’ (Lao race) is the philosopher name of Taoism, Laotsu. Laotsu means ‘noble race’ for ‘Lao’ means ‘noble’, ‘sacred’ or ‘great’. Our ancestors were known as occupiers of wide land south of the Yangtse River around the year A.D. 2 down to Yunnan and beyond of that in China to live on rice cultivation. Their most backward former homeland is believed to be in Kiu-Lung or Lao Mountain range in the north Yunnan, and they are know by another name as ‘Tai’ for ‘highland’ in the actual Yunnan. ‘Thai’ means ‘people group’, an unit to count human tribes. From their feudalistic politeness, it is revealed that they have had some kind of highly developed ruling system as we can see in the Testament of Khun Borom. Nantchao kingdom was Laotian, and Lao language might be used officially in the kingdom. It is believed that the Laoshans intruded into Indochina from Sip Song Phan Na to form the first ‘Lao Royaume’ in the actual Laos leading to the rising of Lan Na kingdom and Xieng Tong of Luang Prabang.
(Note: This paper is to be presented in the Lao history symposium. Any portion or whole content should not be printed for publication without permission from the author. However, it can be used for reference.)
1. The Shans of the Shan States in Burma are Lao
‘Ancient Indo-Chinese inseparable from the formation of the Chinese nation- their affinities have originated before they settled in their present seats.’ This is the first paragraph written by Terrien De Lacouperie in the introduction for the book: ‘Amongst the Shans’ written by Colquhoun (1885).
With a heavy task of how to exploit British Burma into a commercial road to China, starts his work from researches on the ‘Shans’ because he knows very well that these people are good traders. By living among and learning from them, Colquhoun finally realized that their race name is ‘Lao Shan’ (Lao mountains) as we may recheck from his words: ‘We know more of the original seat of the Lao, or Ngai- Lao than the others. The very spot which their traditions point out is the Lao Shan, i.e. Lao mountains’.(Colquhoun, 1885, p. LII). Hence it is clear that Lao is the racial name of the Shans living in Burma. What is ‘Shan’? ‘Shan’ or ‘Shang’ means ‘mountain’ in both Chinese and Lao for ‘Phee Shang’ means ‘mountain demon’ in Lao.
2. Lao comes from Laosu or Laotsu, the name of the Great Teacher of Taoism
Explaining a portrait of a woman in the book: ‘Amongst the Shans’, Colquhoun (1885) writes: ‘A Laos or Shan woman’. (p.176). Garnier (Cochrane p. 189) too uses ‘Laos’ for the nation name by saying: in alluding to those in the Laos provinces… Why a Laos? Two possibilities should be considered. One possibility is ‘Laos’ might be due to the addition of ‘s’ to ‘Lao’, and the other is ‘Laos’ is ‘Lao-su’ or ‘Laotsu’ with minor pronunciation on ‘su’ or ‘tsu’. It is the name of the Great Taoist philosopher, Laotsu. In Chinese, ‘Laosu’ is written with ‘Rou’ (Old, the same letter for Lao country), and ‘Su’ for a ‘born child’ or ‘offspring’. Hence, the word is equivalent to ‘Lao-seuar’ or ‘Seuar-Lao’. Cochrane (1915, p. 88) believes: We know that Taoism was largely influenced by the Shan.’ If Laotsu was born reared, and wrote in Ts’u, he may have been a Shan by race. What is ‘Tao’ in Taoism? We like to say ‘Tao Tarng’ or ‘Tar Tarng’ for ‘attitude’ or ‘human behavior’. Taoism is the ‘way to follow’ because in Chinese letter, ‘Tao’ means the ‘road’ as in Lao for ‘attitude’. This is a primitive Buddhist form, teaching that a ‘God’ (Phya Thaen) is sitting on the ‘Heaven’ (high mountain) waiting to take care of the Laoshans after their earth life if only good acts or ‘Boon’ were done by them. Char Yoam Pi Barn (the Hell Judger) was added later in the Teaching. It is believed that Buddhism was expanded from India into China through Tibet by the first non-Han Chinese people. However, seeing from the physical interface, Burma should be the most important transferor of Buddhism into China through Yunnan. The Buddhist temples the author have seen in Shanghai were of the Burma style, and the transferors of the Buddhism were seen to be Laoshans. The Burmese of the Pegan believe that their ‘Lord of the Great Mountain’ resides in the Mount Poppa which is regarded as sacred mountain (Coedes 1967, p. 112). And, the Laoshans image their gods sitting on the ‘Earth Heavens’ (High Mountains) anywhere they were settling. These mountains became their successive homelands while their primitive racial name still remains the same ‘Lao’ from ‘Laotsu’ or ‘Laos’.
It is believed that these Lao of high mountains have formed many old kingdoms in China, including Nantchao in A.D 629 (Colquhoun 1885, p.LII) before the coming of the Han people from the north, while the Laoshans were occupying almost the areas from south of the Yangtse down to Yunnan of the present days.
3. Laoshan is a synonym of Lao-Then or Laotian
‘The Laotian is king of the waters’, ‘The Laotians are great travelers’ and so on writes Rene Tissot (Kingdom of Laos, p. 14 ). In the same book p. 24, one of our famous leaders, Katay D. Sasorith writes: ‘According to our thousands of years old legends all the populations that are racially Laotian…’ It is a well known fact that the Laotian prefers to be called just the ‘Lao’, and not ‘Laotian’ for ‘Tian’ may be confused with ‘Chien’ of the French for ‘dog’. In our proper way of writing ‘Tian’ is ‘Then’ or ‘Thian’ or ‘Theng’ with the meaning of ‘high stage’ or ‘plateau’ in both Chinese and Lao. The synonym of ‘Then’ is ‘Tai’ or ‘Dai’ when we say ‘Phee Tai’ or ‘Phee Then’ with meaning of ‘spirit of the high stage’ (plateau). We have ‘Muang Then’ for the Thai Dams in the ‘History of Laos’ (p. 3) written by a Thai writer, Manich (1967). In the ‘legendary origins’ of the Laotians’, through a translation, Louis Finot (Kingdom of Laos, P. 379) writes: ’We are back at the beginning of the world. Heaven and Earth communicate with each other (Elevated Land). In Heaven the ruler is the Phya Theng’ as in Taoism. For the meaning of ‘Then’, Finot writes: ’Heavenly Spirits’. We say ‘Muang Far, Muang Then’ in daily life for ‘highland’ somewhere or ‘heaven’. Hence, ‘Laotian’ or ‘Laoshan’ is composed with ‘High’ or ‘Great’ and ‘Mountain’ or ‘Highland’ or ‘Sky’ to say the people of ‘High Mountain’. This fact is also mentioned by Colquhoun (1815, p. LII) in writing: ‘We know more of the original seat of the Lao, or Ngai- Lao than the others. The very spot which their traditions point out is the Lao Shan, i.e. Lao mountains…’. It is clear that these people need to locate their gods somewhere in high mountains according to the teaching of Taoism. South of Yunnan at the border with Laos, there is a mountain range named ‘Laoshan’. In Shanghai region too, there is a famous mountain range named ‘Laoshan’ with a famous Buddhist temple. In Luang Prabarng, there is a famous mountain named ‘Poushee’ with a famous Buddhist temple. Since the mountain name is ‘spirit mountain’, it is clear that the Laotians locate their Taoist god on the mountain.
Since the Laotians are used to call themselves referring to big mountains, the meaning of ‘PouThai’ or ‘PouTeur’, our close relatives should mean ‘the mountain people, since ‘Pou’ is ‘mountain’ and ‘Thai’ is ‘people group’ in both Chinese and Lao.
4. The Laoshans in the Shanghai region
In Shanghai, there is a famous mountain range called exactly ‘Laoshan’, and Colquhoun (1815, p. LII) takes the same stand in writing: ‘We know more of the original seat of the Lao, or Ngai- Lao than the others. The very spot which their traditions point out is the Lao Shan, i.e. Lao mountains, at the intersection of Honan, Hupeh, and Nganhury provinces, whence they extended westwards in the Kiu-lung range, forming the boundaries of Shensi and Setchuen provinces. The fabulous birth of their ancestor Kiu-Lung (Hoong, the sacred Narq), and his nine brothers, who intermarried with ten girls of another (Man?) stock, is traced up to a Lung floating bamboo….We hear of a branch of the Ngai-Lao (Ai Lao), in the 3rd century B.C., when the Ts’in (of China) advanced in Setchuen. They appear again in A.D. 47, making raids on the Chinese territory descending the Han (Hwang Ho) and Yangtse river (the river runs into the sea at Shanghai bay) on bamboo rafts… Chinese officials appointed to represent the suzerainty of China, their king, Lei-lao, was defeated in a great battle, which caused many of their tribes to migrate into northern Shan states … to form Nantchao in A.D. 629 (it is very important to note the fact of Nantchao here in order to prove that Lanna Kingdom was Laotian state extended from Nantchao)… in the matter of reunification, the work already begun by the state of Teru = Tsu followed by that of Tsen = Tien…Other branches were the Shen Lao, Ko-Lao, Po-Lao, etc…In the vicinity of the Lao mountains was the eastern-most branch of the race…their habit of building their houses on piles…They extended southwards in Kiang-si and formed part of the Tsu kingdom, and were not dislodged from their seats before the 10th century of our era, when they were driven into Hunan, west of Kwangsi and Kweitchou. Many of them migrated altogether from China at that time, but they are still largely represented by the Tu-jen, Tchung-Kai, and other tribes of Kwangsi and Kweichou of the present day, speaking dialects much resembling the Siamese (former name of Thai before the country was colonized by the Laoshans to change Siam to Thailand), of whom they are undoubtedly the elder brothers.’
The story tells clearly that the oldest path backward to the homeland of the Laotians is birth place of the Rivers of Lanxang, Yangtse and Hwangho. A Japanese TV program 2 years ago showed the Mekong or Lanxang River source located in a mountain range in the north of Yunnan, and the local people on the mountain range foot never try to reach the spot for it is in the ‘sacred’ range or the ‘birth place of the Narq’. Since the Hwangho was almost occupied by the Han Chinese, the Laotians or Laoshans were obliged to settle along the Yangtse and the Lanxang valleys to live on rice growing. The fact can be checked from Grigg (1982): ’… in the year around A.D. 2, there were 58 million people in the Han Empire, and of these 43 million lived north of the Yangtse delta, 35 million on the alluvial plains of the Hwang Ho, and its tributaries. South of the Yangtse there were few Han Chinese; most of the area was occupied Thai-speaking peoples (here Grigg should use ‘Thai’ because it is the most popular) who practiced shifting cultivation in the uplands and primitive form of wet-rice cultivation in the river valleys, and kept zebu cattle, water buffaloes and poultry. The expansion of the Han Chinese should mean both expulsion and admission of the Laoshan cultures, the rice cultivation with buffaloes while they keep their pigs and abandoned their sheep.
5. In Chinese Lao means ‘Great’, ‘High’, ‘Noble’ or ‘Sacred’
The Chinese also uses the word ‘Lao’ for something ‘elder’, ‘noble’ or ‘sacred’. In Chinese, ‘Laoshi’ means ‘great teacher’. In Shanghai province, there is a famous and beautiful mountain range named ‘Laoshan’ with a famous Buddhist temple. The Great Wall is started from the sea in the chineseuangto province, north of Peking, and the Chinese call the point as ‘Lao Long Tou’ meaning ‘Old Dragon Head’ by the Chinese. We should note that the expression is basically Lao since ‘Long’ is ‘Hoong’, the ‘Narq in the Sky’, and ‘Tou’, the head. But taking ‘Lao’ simply for ‘Old’ here is not correct. It should be ‘Sacred’ or ‘Noble’ for the Dragon is to protect China. South of Yunnan near to the border with Laos, there is a mountain range named ‘Laoshan’ as in Shanghai region.
In Lao, ‘Lao’ means ‘elder’, ‘greater’ or ‘noble’ of the 3rd person against ‘Khoy’ (esclave) for ‘me’ and ‘Chuv’ (the prince) for ‘you’. Hence, it seems that the Laotians are called by the other tribes as ‘great’ or ‘noble’ from older time. This might be due to they were elites as we can see in Laotsu, the great Taoist teacher in the past kingdoms in China. However, taking that the Laotians admire themselves is totally a mistake, since we never use ‘Lao’ for ourselves. The word is used to call a 3rd person. To call themselves, the Laotians use ‘Thai’ when we say ‘Thai Huv’ for ‘us’. We do not say ‘Thai Lao’ for it means the ‘noble people’.
From the author experiences, Pa-y tribe people in Kungming, Yunnan, call me ‘Meung’ (you), and themselves ‘Qou’ (us) even I am older than them. The word ‘Thao’ in Lao is just for a common ‘mister’ while in Thai the word means ‘Prince’. This shows how much feudalistic is Lao language.
6. ‘Tai’ should means ‘highland’ and ‘Thai’ , the ‘people group’ or tribe
In the introduction of ‘The Shans’, Cochrane (1915, p. XV-XVI) says: Colonel Gerini asserts that ‘it was only after their (the Shans) successful career of conquest (to build Lanna and Lanxang Kingdoms after Nantchao) in the northern parts of Siam (indicating that Siamese is not Shan) and Burma that the Shans adopted the title of Tai (it should be noted that Tai with heavy stress and Thai with horizontal tone have different meanings) in order to distinguish and exalt themselves.’ Continuing he says: ‘The racial name of this people was Lao…’. and Thai was simply a title that they substituted for that name'. And about the 'Thai' means 'Free', the book says like that: Neither is it assured that Tai really means "The Free" the Tai or Shans were freemen as contrasted with the K'as. If Tai means 'Free', it is remarkable that the Shans of Eastern Burma and beyond know nothing of it. They stoutly deny that the word ever had such a meaning at all.
As Colonel Gerini stated, in Yunnan the Shans are called ‘Tai’ in Chinese style of writing, and ’Cochrane too accepts that from Taw Sein Ko (Cochrane, p. XVI) explanation in stating: ‘…that Tai is derived from the Cantonese dialect …which equivalent to Ta in Yunnanese (and in Laotian too), means great’. Taw Sein Ko also adds that ‘…the older names for the Shans was Yau (Yeur or Yuy), meaning great (in Laotian and Yunnanese) and Tai is the exact equivalent.’
However, we can define ourselves from our daily life when we say ‘Phee Tai’ (spirit of high stage or of the highland) or ‘Phee Then’ (spirit of the upper world). Clearly, in our daily language ‘Tai’ holds a continuity of meaning of ‘highland’ as ‘Shan’ with a defined Chinese letter for it. Therefore, taking ‘Tai’ here as ‘great’ is false. On a board explaining about the ‘Dai people’ in a famous exposition of minorities in Kungming, about the meaning of ‘Dai’ it is explained like this:’ …according to their (the Dai or Tai people) understanding, Dai means to search for…’. It is true to interpret ‘Dai’ for ‘to search’ since in Lao we say ‘Dtai’ (Dtai Num) for ‘to search’ for something. Here is the confusion. It should be too simple to take this ‘Dai’ or ‘Tai’ for racial name of the famous Thai as ‘Free’ (to move searching for…) people! Since there is no continuity of meaning for ‘the sacred highland’ to locate our Taoist God in taking ‘Tai’ for ‘great’. ‘Tai’ should mean ‘highland’ for always as ‘Shan’.
As stated before, according to Taoism, the Laotians are protected by our God called ‘Phee Tai’ or ‘Phee Seuar’ ‘racial spirit’. In nature, the Laotians locate their God in a sacred mountain where they settle. In lowland where there is no mountain, the Laotians locate their gods in a house (Hor Phee) outside their villages. In their house, they locate them in a ‘Theng’ meaning ‘high stage’ in a special room with their ancestor spirits.
Another meaning of the same Chinese letter ‘Tai’ is ‘relative’ or ‘tribe’ or simply ‘group of people’. The suitable letter for this meaning is ‘Dai’ (generation) as an unit in counting people groups, and it should correspond to ‘Thai’ of the meaning of ‘group or team of people’. When we say ‘Thai Bangkok’ we do not feel any spiritual resistance, but we are not used to say the same thing to the people of different racial traits, for example, ‘Thai Saigon’. In other word, ‘Thai’ is a special word the Laotians use to call themselves for the ‘people of the same race’. The Thai uses this word as Thai racial name because of this confusion. There are two Chinese letters meaning ‘group’; one is simply ‘team’ or ‘group’, and the other is ‘tribe’ formed by relatives or tribe.
7. Our ancestors were great philosophers
As stated before, Laos comes from Laosu or Laotsu, the name of the Great Teacher of Taoism. The meaning of this name is ‘Seuar Lao’ (Son of a Lao or Lao race). According to Cochrane (1915, p. 88): We know that Taoism was largely influenced by the Shan.’ If Laotse (Laotsu)was born reared, and wrote in Ts’u, he may have been a Shan by race. The observation continues: The postposition of the adverb to the verb in the Taoist books is due to Shan influence. The postposition of the genitive to its noun, in the Book of Poetry, is traced to the same source. Clearly, our ancestors were spiritual leaders in former time in China.
In ‘the Testament of Khun Borom’ in the Kingdom of Laos (Rene de Berval, 1959) the records are: ‘Then speaking to the Princes, he said: <I ask you to be good Kings to your peoples; to do your best to earn their love; to avoid quarrelling and live in friendship together and to see to it that your peoples look upon one another as you yourselves look on one another between elder and younger brothers, and that the rich help the poor; always to take advice before action, and never to fight against each other.>’. Khun Borom gives lecture about disciplines of the leadership.
About the racial quality of the Lao, according to Garnier (Cochrane p. 189), in alluding to those in the Laos provinces, says that even savages who are captured and sold as slaves are treated so kindly…they would seem part of the family of their masters. And, judging from how much Lao language is feudalistic, using majestic or noble words, such as, ‘Khoy’ for myself as a slave, ‘Chuv’ as prince for you, and ‘Lao’ as elder for he or she, it is easy to guest that these people were occupying high leading position in socio-political life.
8. Why so many minorities in Yunnan still understand basic Lao language?
From a visit to Kungming, Yunnan in Nov. 2002, the author had opportunity meeting young people still remembering basic Lao. Such words: Dtaoq Chuy, Yang Mar, Yarng Quy, Quy (hen) Khun, Noaq Horng, Norn Lhup, Fhun Dee, Arb Narm, Qin Khuv, Bpar (fish), Marq Qeev (banana), ‘Marq Mee’ (Honey fruit), ‘Qou’ (myself), ‘Mung’ (you), ’Mun’(he/she) and so on are still using daily in their family in the rural area around Kungming.
From a visit to Shanghai, the author have had opportunity hearing the Shanghai people say: ‘Bor Torng’(do not understand), ‘Bor Hou’(do not know), ’Tsin Wan’ (SurnFung), ‘ShuyNuLi’ (ShuyNee), ‘TaoLu’ (TuvLu, ‘arrived’ with ‘Tuv’Thung) and so on. However, comparing to the northern part of China, the minorities in Yunnan region know more Lao words. About the fact that there are so many scores of Lao words in the Chinese, Cochrane (p. 87) states like this: ‘The Shans and the Mons were once important races in central and southern China. The (Han) Chinese first imposed their civilization on many of them and then absorbed them. In absorbing them it is not only natural but inevitable that they would absorb their languages in part with them. Terrien De Lacouperie (Cochrane, p. 88) asserts like this: The phonesis, morphology, and sematology of the Han Chinese language bear their testimony to the influence of the native tongues. The postposition of the adverb to the verb in the Taoist books is due to Shan influence. The postposition of the genitive to its noun, in the Book of Poetry, is traced to the same source. Continuing, he says: ‘We know that Taoism was largely influenced by the Shan.’ In the Laotian ‘language’ by Martini, the paragraph begins like that: ‘Laotian belongs to the Thai (not Siamese. Thai as representative of modern Tai people) family of languages. This group of languages is widely spoken between the Yangtse and Burma (Shan) and the Gulf of Tonking’. As for a Lao understands naturally Thai, Martini writes: ‘The Thai (or Tai for Martini, not Siamese!) dialects, are so alike that they form no barrier to mutual understanding. For example, someone who knows Laotian will learn very quickly to understand and speak Siamese (Thai) or any one of the Thai dialects of Northern Viet-Nam.’ About the language, the northern Tai (Yunnnan) should be superior over us, and myself have had such experiences for the exactness of the language of the young of twenties living in rural area of Kungming. At this point Coedes (1967, p. 27) describes: …that the Mon was spoken in part of the lower Menam valley as well as in the Burmese deltas; the Siamese (Thai) and Laotian were non-existent, although T’ai was almost certainly in use by then in the upper valleys of the Menam and the Mekong;…’. The story continues: Siamese (Thai) and Laotian, along with the Shan language of Burma and the Ahom language spoken in ancient Assam are the most important of the T’ai family of languages, which has dialects covering a vast area including the mountain regions of northern Viet-nam and part of the Chinese provinces of Yunnan, Kwangsi, and kweichow.’
The reason why these minorities remember very well the Lao basic words is due the Nantchao Kingdom founded from A.D 629 (Colquhoun (1815, p. LII). The Tai Kingdoms after that were only the extension of the Nantchao. These Laotian kingdoms were pushed southward by the Mongol pressure from the north (Coedes, 1967). It is recorded that the Laotian Nantchao kingdom was under the Han Chinese control form 791. However, even now the young of twenties around Kungming are still conserving their own language and cultures.
9. ‘Lao Royaume’ is the first Shan kingdom appeared in the French Indochina
As stated before, Nantchao Kingdom appeared from A.D 629 was one of the most powerful Laotian kingdoms in Yunnan（Colquhoun (1815, p. LII). How much powerful was this Kingdom was described by Coedes (1967, p. 79): (About North Vietnam) Meanwhile, towards the middle of the ninth century, the delta area (of North Vietnam, about the region occupied by T’ai Tho) found itself exposed to the attacks of Nan-chao, a kingdom which had come into being during the first half of the eighth century within an area extending over the west and north-west of Yunnan. The people of Nan-chao, whose aid had been sought by the mountain tribes of Viet-nam who had grievances against the Chinese governors to settle, came to attack Vietnamese strong-holds in 858. Forced to retreat after their first attack, they returned in 862, when they succeed in taking the capital, and thereafter proceeded to organize the country in their own way. The (Han) Chinese general Kao P’ien (Cao Bien) was put in command of reprisals, and he chased the invaders away in 866-67 and built the fortified town of Dai-la-thanh, to the north-west of present Hanoi. What would be the outcome of the attack if there were no Han Chinese intervention. However, how great Nan-chao was in North Vietnam is the presence of Tai Tho (meaning the Earth), and it is said that many Tai Tho are elites in the Communist party of Vietnam.
Situated just south of Nan-chao kingdom, Burma was suffered the most by the kingdom. However, as can see in the histories of Laos or Thailand, Burma was one of the most powerful nations in the region, and Pegan kingdom of the country was the most famous for it was very strong blocking the intrusion of the Laoshans of Nan-chao into the region. Pegan kingdom founded in 1044, occupied the region between Irrawaddy river of northern Burma and Lanxang river just south of Sip Song Phan Na as the actual borders between Burma and Laos. It was a stronghold kingdom blocking the intrusion of the Laotians along the Salwin River. However, the mountainous region between Pegan and the border of the actual Laos with North Vietnam (Tongking) was very sparse land, and there was almost no presence of power since the Khmer influence was up to the actual Vientiane region only. The Laotians entered into Indochina for the first time from Sip Song Phan Na which is partially Laotian territory (Coedes, 1967 p.176 ) at Chiang Saen and Chiang Rai of the and then to Luang Prabang. It was after that Chiang Mai Kingdom rose. In a map drawn in 1714 in ’L’Indochine’, p. 131, it was the first time for the appearance of ‘Lao Royaume’ with the actual Luang Prabang as the most southern border. In the map, about the actual ‘Thailand’, it was recorded: ’India Siam’ occupying the Maeklong delta (Bangkok of our present day). It is clear that this ‘Lao Royaume’ was the first Laoshan power with their racial name of Lao appeared in Indochina, including Thailand. There is no records about this first ‘Lao Royaume’ before the foundation of Lanxang Kingdom. In the history of Laos, it is very interesting to learn about the royal family lines connected Xieng Mai (Lan Na) and Sip Song Phan Na to Laos. Another historical event was the peaceful translocation of Pra Keo from Lan Na to Vientiane, and not to Sukhodaya which is believed as the first Thai kingdom of Thailand. Learning about the history of Sukhodaya, it is learned that Rama Khamheng (Khamheng itself is Laotian name) was the third son of ‘Indraditya’. Clearly, this name is Indian (Coedes 1967,p.139). The son king name became ‘Khamheng’ might be due to his LaoShan mother. For Thailand, the inserting of the Laoshan power might be achieved by gradual infiltration into the Khmer royal families to rule over the Khmers, the Karens and others. On the other hand, the expansion of the actual Laos by might be accomplished by slow migration in groups with leaders or by translocation to new settling sites of Laoshans, as we can check by the lines of their new town names in Xieng or Kiang: Xieng Hung, Xieng Saen, Xieng Rai, Xieng Mai, Xieng Tong (Luarng Prabang), Kiang Chan (Vientiane), Xieng Hung in Savannakhet and so on. By moving in group, the Laoshans could preserve their racial name, the Lao.
By Colquhoun (1815, p. LII) we can check that it was that ‘Lao Royaume’ was the first nation of Nantchao subjects bearing the ‘Lao’ racial name in Indochina: (the Nantchao subjects) Many of them migrated altogether from China at that time, but they are still largely represented by the Tu-jen, Tchung-Kai, and other tribes of Kwangsi and Kweichou of the present day, speaking dialects much resembling the Siamese (the Thais), of whom they (the Laos) are undoubtedly the elder brothers.’
‘Lao’ is our true racial name, meaning ‘great’, ‘noble’, ‘sacred’ and the like. ‘Lao’ is sometimes used as an adjective. Laos is Laosu or Laotsu, the name of the famous Chinese Taoist philosopher since the meaning of Laosu is Seuar Lao (the noble tribe). Lao Tian (Laotian) is Lao Shan for the ‘Noble Highland’. The Laotians believe their God staying in ‘highland’. Mountain name, Laoshan (Sacred Mountain) can also be found in Shanghai or in Sip Song Phan Na’. In Yunnan, ‘Shan’ is also known as ‘Tai’, but this new name still reserves the original meaning for ‘plateau’ (highland) as we can see from ‘Phee Tai’ (mountain spirit), but ‘Tai’ never means ‘great’. In the other hand, ‘Thai’ means ‘people group’, an unit to count human tribes.
Since ‘Lao’ means ‘noble’, it can be easily guessed that the Laotians were ruling tribe from former time in China, including Nantchao kingdom. Laos, the nation name is from Laotsu or Laosu, the name of the Taoist philosopher of the actual China. About the reason that some minorities are still remembering basic Lao words, this should be due to the historical fact of Nantchao kingdom, and the ruling tribe of this kingdom should be Laotians who were and still are central power over other tribes.
It is believed that the Laoshans intruded into Indochina from Sip Song Phan Na to form the first ‘Lao Royaume’ in Indochina that lead to the rising of Xieng Saen, Xieng Lai, Xieng Mai (Lan Na kingdom) and Xieng Tong of Luang Prabang.
1) Cochrane. 'The Shans'. 'Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data', USA. 1915.
2) Coedes, G. The making of South East Asia. University of California Press 1967.
3) Colquhoun. ‘Amongst the Shans’. Field & Tuer; Simpkin, Marshall & Co., London, 1885.
4) Georges Maspero, G. ‘L’Indochine’, volume Ⅰ, les editions G. Van Oest, 1929.
5) Grigg, D. B. The Agricultural Systems of the World. Cambridge University Press, 1982.
6) Manich, M. L. History of Laos. Niyomvithaya printing press, Bangkok, 1967.
7) Rene de Berval. Kingdom of Laos. France-Asie, Saigon, 1959.
- Born at Barn Phonmuarng, Savannakhet province
- Attended Primary school at Barn Phonmuarng and Donghene, Lycee at Savannakhet and Vientiane
- Enrolled at Chiba University, Gifu University (Undergraduate and Masters Program) and Kyoto University (Doctoral Program) up to 1978.
- Resettled in Japan since 1979
- Staff member of the Asian Rural Institute (1979-1980), Tsukuba University (since 1980)
Dec 10 2007, 06:32 PM
Joined: 24-September 07
From: Isaan, Mueng Thai
Sabaidee Ai thong, hue vaa, Paurtoo thong dee nor
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