1992, 50 Minutes
A trip to a remote village by a group of archaeologists provides a rare glimpse of life in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic as it recovers its past and prepares to face its future.
In 1991 Lao and Australian archaeologists journeyed up the Mekong River to a remote village in northeastern Laos. At Ban Xang Hai, “the village of the jar makers”, they excavated the site of pottery kilns used for the mass production of ceramics more than 600 years ago.
After the civil war ended in the Pathēt Lao communist revolution of 1975, Laos had little contact with the outside world. Now its doors are opening. The exchanges of culture, knowledge and expertise which take place during the three months of the archaeological dig are a small taste of what is to come for a country where marriages and deaths are still marked by traditional ceremonies dating back at least 600 years. At that time Lao culture thrived, and unique styles of architecture, sculpture, music and ceramics were developed.
Though Ban Xang Hai means “village of the jar makers”, ceramics are no longer manufactured here. The discoveries by this group of archaeologists will shed new light on Laos’ past.
A Film Australia National Interest Program. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
Director: John Moyle
Running Time: 50 Minutes
Curriculum Links: Archaeology, Asian Studies, Ceramics, Cultural Studies, HSIE/SOSE, Southeast Asian History.