Lao Traditional Recitation Goes Online

The National Library held a workshop to present the results of Documentation of Lao Traditional Recitation project, which it implemented from June to December with the generous support of the German Embassy, Vientiane.

German support for manuscript preservation work at the National Library of Laos began in 1992 with a nationwide programme which ran for 12 years and culminated in the later Digital Library of Lao Manuscripts (www.laomanuscripts.net), an online repository containing images of over 12,000 manuscript texts from throughout the country.

As in other countries, these efforts mainly focused on manuscripts and their preservation as well as the collection of microfilm and digital images. To complement this previous work, the current project made audio and video recordings of traditional Lao recitation, together with interviews of reciters.

Over 150 audio and video recordings from Vientiane and Luang Prabang are being made available via the Digital Library of Lao Manuscripts, and via the ‘Lao Recitation’ YouTube channel.

Some of the audio recordings include readings of selected manuscript texts for which images are already in the digital library, allowing users to listen to a recording while viewing digital images.

This will greatly assist in the study of the texts and in learning to read the more complex scripts which are restricted to manuscript use and typically unreadable without training.

There is much more to do, with other reciters and in other parts of Laos. However, this digital record of the endangered manuscript recitation cultures of Laos will ensure that these examples remain available for future generations and will be a resource for the promotion of these traditional skills.

The National Library hopes that this online collection will be appreciated by both Lao and foreign listeners.

Source: Lao News Agency