Legend of the Lao Royal Spirits in Dansai District, Loei Province and the Construction of Their Sacred Identity

Payungporn Nonthavisarut




The legend of Lao royal spirits is a story about the spirits of sacred persons who were royal members and played significant roles in Lao society, either having existed in history or just in the imagination of the Lao people. The aim of this study is to analyze, based on the concept of symbols and cultural interpretation, the creation of the sacred identity of Lao royal spirits in Dansai District, Loei Province. The findings show that the Lao royal spirit legend has played a significant role in constructing the sacred space in Thai-Lao border communities at Dansai, at the center of the sacred cities. Phra That Si Song Rak, a Buddhist stupa built in c. 1560 by Laotian and Thai kings, is located on the Man River in Dansai District. The stupa and Wat Phon Chai have been bound together as sacred places of Dansai since ancient times. Spirit houses, rivers, sacred space for the ritual of Lao royal spirits, legends, and other rituals related to the spirits, are symbols reflecting the cultural communication through persons, ritual priority, and timing. Tradition, ritual, color, costume, and language are the symbols indicating power, social class, mental culture, kinship relation, and the practice rules for the ancient Lao royal members. These symbols are the factors for creating the sacred space of spirits linking the state relationship across the geographical border.


(Published in Rian Thai: International Journal of Thai Studies, Volume 4/2011, Page 191-216)


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