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The fragrance of the frangipani : an analysis of the calendrical rites and buddhist practices of Luang Prabang

Chareonsonthichai, Thararat

Description

This thesis examines how and why the calendrical rites once associated with the king in Luang Prabang, Laos, have been preserved under the socialist and post-socialist regimes, well after the departure of the king. It investigates the memories and experiences of original townsfolk who are the main preservers of the traditions, in order to understand what meanings the rituals hold for them as they continue to maintain the traditions to a great extent. The thesis also explores changes in the...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorChareonsonthichai, Thararat
dc.date.accessioned2018-11-22T00:07:55Z
dc.date.available2018-11-22T00:07:55Z
dc.date.copyright2011
dc.identifier.otherb2569880
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/151348
dc.description.abstractThis thesis examines how and why the calendrical rites once associated with the king in Luang Prabang, Laos, have been preserved under the socialist and post-socialist regimes, well after the departure of the king. It investigates the memories and experiences of original townsfolk who are the main preservers of the traditions, in order to understand what meanings the rituals hold for them as they continue to maintain the traditions to a great extent. The thesis also explores changes in the meaning of ritual symbols in the new socio-political and economic setting. In analytical terms, the thesis moves away from the familiar framework of previous studies of Lao rituals, which focus on the royalty and the state leaders and which emphasize the structure of the galactic polity embodied in ritual symbols. The thesis instead argues that although the structure of the polity is important in Lao rituals, so too are traditional notions of social hierarchy, gender complementarity, Buddhist civility and local identity, which continue to inform ritual practice and structure socio-cultural life in the former royal capital, even in the absence of the king. I argue that a methodological focus on the state authorities as authors of the rites leaves out the role of the many ritual participants who enact the rituals for reasons of their own, drawing on their own memories, and hence influencing the form and meaning of the contemporary rites to a significant degree. Drawing on the perspective of original townspeople of Luang Prabang, with a particular emphasis on women, and based on observations of rituals as practiced in popular, non-official contexts, the thesis argues that even in centralized communist societies that aim to comprehensively restructure the meaning of the past to serve political interests, the meaning of the past remains socially embedded and hence the transmission of tradition is a decentralized affair. Finally, the thesis emphasizes the value of ethnography, and the benefits of going beyond speculation and semiotic analysis to delve deeply into the memories, experiences and explanations of participants. With its distinctive approaches, it illustrates the ritual reproduction of muang Luang Prabang despite the coming of the new regime.
dc.format.extentxxv, 374 leaves.
dc.language.isoen_AU
dc.rightsAuthor retains copyright
dc.subject.lccBQ4990.L28 2011
dc.subject.lcshBuddhism Customs and practices
dc.subject.lcshBuddhism Rituals
dc.subject.lcshLouangphrabang (Laos) Social life and customs
dc.titleThe fragrance of the frangipani : an analysis of the calendrical rites and buddhist practices of Luang Prabang
dc.typeThesis (PhD)
local.description.notesThesis (Ph.D.)--Australian National University
dc.date.issued2011
local.type.statusAccepted Version
local.contributor.affiliationAustralian National University.
local.identifier.doi10.25911/5d514b4cb6b09
dc.date.updated2018-11-21T09:00:17Z
dcterms.accessRightsOpen Access
local.mintdoimint
CollectionsOpen Access Theses

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