Culture, Architecture and Sculpture
Buddha images, temple walls, northern style, curled hair, Khmer
The precepts of Theravada Buddhism dictate the principles of Lao architecture and inspire the scenes that are often carved or painted in murals on temple walls. A typical temple compound includes a structure for ordaining new monks, a library for storing scriptures, living quarters for the monks, and various shrines for storing relics of the Buddha. Temples have high-peaked, tiered, outward-curving roofs, which in the northern style descend to within 2 m (6 ft) of the ground. The form of the Lao temple and its roof decoration reflect the influence of Thai architecture. Lao innovations include the tiered roof style that curves near to the ground, and a bronze roof ornament with five spires that symbolizes the Hindu Mount Meru. Laosís most sacred Buddhist shrine is the 16th-century That Luang stupa in Vientiane.
Sculpture, too, has been mainly in the form of images of Buddha, from huge temple statues to small images done in gold or silver. While standing Buddha images assimilate Khmer (Cambodian) and Thai influences, seated images reveal characteristics that are uniquely Lao, such as extended earlobes, tightly curled hair, and long hands and fingers.
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