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Much of the heritage of the minority cultures of Laos can be qualified as intangible (rare languages, oral literature, unwritten music, myths, rituals, social behaviour patterns etc.). Some is ephemeral or vulnerable: garments and textiles, musical instruments, tradition habitat largely built of bamboo etc. This work brings to the public eye the contribution of 36 experts who took part in an international experts' meeting on the “Safeguarding and Promotion of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Ethnic Minority Groups of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic”, in Vientiane in October 1996.
While some chapters will be of particular interest to linguists, other will delight lay readers, enabling them to discover, for example, the important role of weaving. The authors examine every aspect of the craft in detail: fibres, dyes, equipment, techniques, motifs, types of garment, and the beliefs associated with this activity.
A similar wealth of information is to be found in the chapters devoted to music and architecture.
Other contributions, of a more general nature, complete the picture, bringing together the main characteristics of a given group in an attempt to describe the particularities of its identity.
Theoretical considerations regarding the status of minority cultures and the future of intangible heritage are also included in the work, raising questions such as, how to reconcile the preservation of traditions and cultural diversity with development and openness to the outside world. Solutions to this problem are proposed, pointers are given on how to preserve this threatened and little known cultural wealth.
Fine, well-chosen photographs are used throughout the book.
Also available in the Memory of Peoples series